Jeffrey was born in Virginia in the spring. When he was 2 months old, we headed to Pennsylvania to stay with my parents for another 2 months. By the time he was 4 months old, we settled in south Texas. Since then, we’ve visited other states: Lousiana, Indiana, Washington, and Pennsylvania again…but never in the winter. So while he knows what snow is, he’s never actually seen it in real life.
So, I was hoping for a white Christmas in southcentral Pennsylvania with the same fervor of a young student wanting Christmas break extended for more time to play with my new toys. Weather predictions, in the days leading up to our flight, were promising, and became more so the closer we got. I had many a daydream involving my 3-year-old son running around in the snow, throwing his first snowballs with his dad…even building his first snowman with his GP?
Of course, I woke from these daydreams with the realization that if Jeffrey was going to be playing in snow, he was going to need mittens…and snow-proof mittens are hard to find in a place where it only snows once every 50 years. So I was going to have to knit some.
Ok, let’s be honest–I didn’t exactly look very hard. Of course I wanted to knit the mittens and hats myself!
I even knew what yarn I wanted to use. I didn’t have a lot of time, so a bulky yarn was the way to go…and I’d recently gotten 2 great colorways from my Three Irish Girls Stash Menagerie club. There was a colorful variegated yarn called Tolkein, and a coordinating semi-solid green named Rowling:
Clearly, with his green eyes, the Rowling was meant for Jeffrey, while the Tolkein had just the blue to match Lexie’s eyes. The first challenge was finding a hat and a mitten pattern that used bulky yarn for children. I had some pretty specific requirements. The patterns had to be as simple as possible, since I had 2 hats and 4 mittens to knit in less than a month. Lexie has a tendancy to remove hats as quickly as I put them on, so I needed some way to secure hers on. The best way, I felt, was to have ear flaps with an i-cord tie. And it had to come in enough sizes that I could knit it for an almost-4-year-old and a 1-year-old.
In the end, I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. For the hat, I found the Kid’s Helmet Hat by Lion Brand. I liked the look of it, right yarn, had the earflaps I wanted…but it didn’t come in a size large enough for Jeffrey. And there was a brand new Lion Brand pattern, the Easy-Knit Mittens, that was perfect…except it didn’t come small enough for Lexie. And, in reading through both patterns, I realized they were both written to be knit flat and seamed, and I prefer knitting in the round. Once again, it was time to improvide, adapt, and overcome.
First, Jeffrey’s mittens in the Rowling. I had to increase needle size to obtain gauge, and then I had to fudge with sizes: I used the 24 month size to determine # of stitches to cast on, but I knit to length for Jeffrey–the lengths given in the pattern were much too short for my tall boy. The end result was perfect.
Then I tackled Lexie’s hat in the Tolkein. The greatest frustration was that I couldn’t obtain gauge no matter what I tried, unless I wanted to destroy the integrity of the knitted fabric. I’m not sure why I could get gauge single stranded but not double stranded, but I eventually just figured out what gauge I could get and then recalculated the pattern from there. Yet, by the time I was done, I had a hat big enough for Jeffrey! At first I considered just making that Jeffrey’s hat, but I really wanted the colors that best set off their eyes in their hats. So I decided that, rather than reknit, I’d leave it be for Lexie. It wasn’t too big, and now it’ll fit her for a few years. Plus, it was long enough that she could wear it as a roll brim hat, which looked really cute. Then I added the earflaps, and decided to do them in Rowling for a bit of contrast and to tie them in to Jeffrey’s set. Although I added stitches to those called for in the pattern, the earflaps ended up narrower than I wanted, so I may rip them out and redo. Still, Lexie seemed to like them.
It made sense to move on to Jeffrey’s hat next, since I already knew the right number of stitches to cast on. The hat turned out a little shorter than I would have liked, but it still looked good. Again, the earflaps were too narrow, and I’m not thrilled with the placement as called for in the pattern–but in the pattern they weren’t intended to be functional.
The last project for the set was Lexie’s mittens. Since I’d already knit Jeffrey’s, I had a good idea of how much smaller I needed to knit them without a pattern to get them to fit, and then, like with Jeffrey’s, I knit to the proper length by measuring against Lexie’s hand.
The only problem was that I didn’t get them knit until after we got back to Texas. But it didn’t matter…because we had no snow. The promises made by the weatherman just didn’t pan out. We got plenty of cold–daytime lows dropped to 15 degrees before the wind chill–and plenty of colds (courtesy of a Texas bug that hitched a ride with us), which kept us from wanting to wander out-of-doors any more than we had to. Ah, well. Hopefully they’ll all still fit next winter, when we should need them!