Mostly, my Iceland knitting has gone pretty well. I haven’t really had too many disasters, despite having had to deal with odd gauge and knitting maths (ugh). I’ll tell you, knitting with handspun teaches you, more than any other thing, the importance – nay, the necessity – of swatching. It’s been worth it. I’ve amassed a really satisfying stack of handknits to take with me and most of them are from my own handspun.
I’m still, however, embroiled in a bit of a disaster. I really wanted to make an impressive, beautiful pair of handspun colourwork mittens. I picked the Deep In The Forest mitts, using a vivid super-purple BFL I spun ages ago with some Corriedale I hurriedly spun as the contrast colour, in a colourway that reminded me of nothing so much as a grey, troubled, cloudy sunset.
But, friends, my knitting skills just weren’t up to it. I ripped half of the first one out once, not happy with the looseness of the knit and the puckering I was getting in the colourwork. Philosophically, I started again, with smaller needles and really paying attention to my floats. I’m still really unhappy with the half-mitt that I’ve got, and I realised that it wasn’t going to happen in time.
That was about a week ago, and I went into emergency contingency mode and spun a braid of mill-carded, hand-dyed roving (as distinct from combed top) that I’d bought from Gnomespun Yarns a while back. The dyeing was pretty; a complex and adventurous colourway called Every Rose Has Its Thorn. The fibre, something called “New England Blend”, was not enjoyable to spin. It’s my own fault for having bought dyed roving – I know better than that. Gnomespun top is much better to spin.
I got the final ply of three done on Saturday, plied the yarn (bulky/12-ply, 120m, 99g), finished it, and cast on for a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Mitred Mitts on Sunday. Guess what? I had to rip that sucker out halfway through the first mitten. I realised I was pushing my luck with how much yarn I had…so, again in contingency mode, I flailed in the stash and surfaced clutching a little cake of handspun I bought back in June, spun by someone else from what looks like one of Ashland Bay’s heathered merino mixes. And then I started again.
Two days later, I had these. They’re not ideal, but I like them a whole lot more than I thought I’d like a pair of contingency mitts. I’m calling the project Katla, because that mighty peak has stared making noises and I’m terrified she’ll blow before we get to Iceland…and the superstitious part of me wants to assuage Katla’s temper by appealing to her vanity.
Please don’t erupt, Katla.