Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings
It's just the first project but I'm learning new things already. But that's why I picked the book "Folk Knitting in Estonia" by Nancy Bush - she always incorporates a variety of techniques and a variety of stitch patterns to keep things interesting!
The cuff of these mitts is worked in a stitch pattern called "Vausaba" which translates to peacock's tail pattern. Sometimes I scratch my head at stitch names - often they're a bit of a stretch - but this one really does say "feathers" to me. And the stripes really make the pattern pop.
The dramatic patterning across the hand and thumb of the mitt is also typical of Estonian folk knitting. "One characteristic that I find most charming in many aspects of folk art is the horror vacui, or fear of empty space." (Nancy Bush, Folk Knitting in Estonia, p.28). Compared to some garments where motifs are stacked, enclosed with netting and combined with others, the patterning on this mitt is relatively simple. The X pattern continues along the outside of the thumb. On the inside, where the pattern would have been a half stitch off, it's a simpler fly pattern instead. Remind me next time to show the inside of the thumb in the photo!
That first mitt was definitely a challenge; I don't think I've ever tried colourwork around such a small number of stitches as this thumb, and my tension there isn't perfect. Like anything, practice makes perfect, so on mitt two I need to take extra care not to "cut the corners" with the floats on the reverse side. One idea would be to knit it inside out, but I'm going to see if I can do a little better right way round first.
The decreases at the top of the hand and the top of the thumb were also a challenge. The pattern calls for a "one-wick decrease" which is a double-decrease worked across three stitches. When done correctly it should create a centre line of stitches with decrease on either side. On my first attempt my stitches were sloppy and uneven, with distorted stitches on the back of the mitt. Re-reading the instructions there seemed to be another possible interpretation, so I tried it differently with a better result. I'm still not sure that I'm doing it right, and I've searched for an online tutorial without any luck. If you know how to do this decrease correctly I'd love to hear from you!
One way or another these mitts will be completed in the next couple of days, and I think I'll knit a pair of socks next. That's definitely more in my comfort zone so it'll be a mental rest before I take on a more complicated pattern. Like gloves.