Knitting Warms Hands for Winter’s Chill

A note from Kathleen: I've invited Anne Merrow, editor of our eMag SpinKnit, here today to share her mitten knitting story and how she overcame a terrible loss: misplacing her treasured knitting notions! Enjoy.

Meet the Carvers and their flock, knit the Columbia Mittens, and discover the secrets of silk in SpinKnit Winter 2011. (Photo by Anita Osterhaug)     

Northern Colorado is expecting our third snowstorm of the season, and every year I'm unprepared for the first morning of scraping ice and snow off the car. After the first snowstorm, I decided it was time to knit myself some mittens.

Looking through my stash for a quick solution to my cold-hand problem, I found a few ounces of soft, wooly Columbia two-ply yarn from Imperial Yarns that I'd dyed bright turquoise. (Columbia is one of my favorite breeds to spin, but with storm clouds on the horizon, the mulespun yarn was perfect.)

Summer Sunshine for Winter Woolens
Imperial Stock Ranch, located in the high desert of Oregon, has been breeding and raising Columbia sheep for over a century. In the past decade, a combination of economics and passion for maintaining the locally grown wool tradition led the ranch's owners to create their own yarn line.

Under the hot sun of early August, Jeanne Carver introduced me to the flock of several hundred head (including some irresistible bottle lambs who rested in the shade of the ranch's historic homestead). Standing in the shearing barn, Jeanne pointed out the stalls through which the ranch's sheep have passed much the same way every spring for over a hundred years. Jeanne calls her wool "sunshine yarn," reminding me of its transformation from solar energy to the grass that nourishes the ranch's sheep and their fleece. With winter upon me, I need some of that sunshine!

Cold Hands, Warm Knits

    
Star Athena's Columbia Mitten pattern was the perfect solution to my winter chill. (Photo by Joe Coca)

Oregon designer Star Athena, who loves to work with locally produced wool, designed an irresistible pair of mittens for the Winter 2011 SpinKnit. When both hands are pressed together, a simple but clever cable pattern that wraps around each hand appears as a complete motif. The mittens are interesting to knit and quick to complete.

The cables did present one challenge, however. Sometime in the last year I lost all of my knitting notions and supplies. (Pause for wistful sigh… The notions were a near-perfect collection gathered over a decade of knitting, supplemented by some cherished hand-me-downs from my Grandmother.) I've tried to restock my knitting supplies, but somehow I haven't found the right replacement for my cable needle.

My version of the Columbia Mittens will keep my hands warm in this week's icy temperatures! Photo by Anne Merrow     

The cable pattern moves in crosses of two over two stitches, so while I worked on the mittens I worked without a cable needle; when the stitches felt especially snug I used a handy tapestry needle, stitch marker… or paper clip. My methods may not have been elegant, but my finished mittens are lovely to my eye.

Meet the Carvers and their flock, knit the Columbia Mittens, and discover the secrets of silk in SpinKnit Winter 2011. Download it today for the Mac, PC, or iPad!

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