Monday, December 1, 2014

What's your best knit?

If you had to pick out just one project that stands alone as your best knit, could you do it?

There's lots of criteria to go by.  If you have one and use it, you could look at your Ravelry project page and see which item won the most hearts from other Ravelers.  In my case, that would mean my version of Clockwork, by Stephen West. 

Clockwork, like all Westknits, is dramatic and intriguing and fun to knit... but in my hands and on my body, all that knitting produced a piece that just didn't work.  The shape and weight are all wrong for this woman's body.  So I adapted it into a poncho... which did work well.  I believe I have worn this thing twice since finishing it almost four years ago.  Not a best knit.

I could also choose the project most asked-about at Hugs.  Of my own patterns, the Not Just For Chemo Reversible Cloche is one of the most popular, trailing just after the super simple Lucky Scarf.  But the shawl on the Hugs Banner, Sugared Violets by Rose Beck, generates a lot of e-mail too.  The pattern stitch is delicately beautiful, and my own is knit with fabulous and now-rare yarn.  So maybe it's the best?

Except that I hardly ever wear it either.  For everyday, I prefer a long rectangle of a scarf, and it turns out that most of my days are Everyday.

If on the other hand you base your selection on the knit you use the most, the one that delights you every time you see or touch it, the one that recalls memories and makes you proud and calms any lingering anxiety and also solves a problem, I can tell you exactly what is my best knit.

It's this pair of twined mittens, my first attempt at this process started after a short course in twined knitting and many years of longing to try.

You can't really tell in advance whether a knit is going to work, unless you fall in love with a pattern sample and use the exact same yarn at the exact same gauge.  But not many knitters do that, do we?  Most of our projects are a bit of a gamble, and for me, this one was a rare win.

Twined mittens are very warm; when you twine, you knit with two strands of yarn and wrap one around the other for every stitch, and the resulting fabric is supple and dense and traps heat.  These particular twined mittens are knit with a mohair/romney blend yarn - yarn that feels like silky butter, if such a thing were possible.  The yarn is hand dyed by Silvia at Stoddart Family Farm, so on top of the amazing feel of them, they are full of subtle shifts of colour that glow.   And for some reason that does not at all have to do with my having done a proper test swatch (I didn't) they fit me perfectly.

Now, I mentioned that they are useful and solve a problem and that I use them a lot, and whether or not you're wondering why I am going to tell you.  These mitts are knit with something pretty close to fingering weight yarn, so even though they're warm for their weight, they're not really warm enough for a Toronto winter, while being too warm for most spring or fall days.  But as I've been reminded the last few weeks as the temperature has plummeted, I live in a house with no insulation.  It's not unlike sleeping in a tent, especially since the bedroom radiator is the only one in the place that doesn't quite work.  So....

Hello, sleep mitts. Yep, that's right: sleep socks are not the only accessory you want when you tuck up for a nap or a night.  Next time you feel like knitting mitts and can't think of anybody who might need some - look for loved ones who camp out of season, or live without insulation, or are just always tugging on a sweater, and make them something truly luxurious. 

Maybe mitts will be your best knit, too.

But whether or not you're working on a Best, I hope whatever you do knit today makes you feel good, and that you drop back in tomorrow.  See you then!

No comments: