When Life Throws You Snow Storms...

... knit last-minute holiday mitts!

We've been snowed in for a week (more on that later). Unfortunately, we became house-bound before doing our Christmas shopping for C. All the nieces' and nephews' presents were bought and wrapped, but we had only three little things for C when the storms descended. When it looked like we really wouldn't be able to get out at all before Christmas, I started to panic, so I whipped up these fingerless mitts. As you may recall, I'd been planning to make them for awhile. The new job had prevented me from getting all the Christmas knitting done I'd hoped, though.

Pattern: 11th-Hour Fingerless Mitts by me (size: youth)
Materials: My Handspun, 2-ply worsted (83 yds), Green Goes With Orange
Needles: US 5 / 3.75 mm
Started: December 22, 2008
Completed: December 23, 2008

I worked them both at once using Magic Loop and a mere 83 yards of fantabulously soft and springy wool you first saw me handspinning on my amazing Katherine's Cup spindle by Greensleeves. Because I wanted to show off the yarn, I kept the pattern very simple:

They're constructed from the finger(less-ness) to the cuff, with a reverse gusset for the thumbs to provide architectural interest. Knit mostly in stockinette, they do feature a 1x1 ribbed cuff and two rows of single crochet at the finger(less)s.

The crochet rows are more than a pretty detail—they're also functional. Without these rows, I could not have worked the entire body of the mitt in stockinette without having the edge roll. I really didn't want to put ribbing at the fingertips, so this was a great solution.

For the cuff, I used the Russian bind-off.

See that little bit of twist? After knitting the first two stitches and returning them to the left needle, I knit them together through the front loop rather than through the back loop to make a more braided look.

I'm so pleased with how they turned out, and words can't express what a pleasure this yarn was to knit.

And because I worked these top-down, I could use up every last scrap of the yarn making the cuff a healthy 2 inches.

Back to the reason for this last-minute present panic: Snow. Snow. Snow.

But not just ANY snow... we're talking about snow in Seattle, the city where whatever minor accumulation we might get in a year usually melts off within a day... this snow's been with us for a week, and we just keep getting more. This morning I was shocked to wake up to this:

Unimpressive for many of you, I know, but you should know that the snow on that planter (the middle blob at right) was only half that high when I went to bed last night. And look at the weight of the snow on the evergreen boughs!

Go on, you snow bunnies, laugh—I was once like you! As a young person growing up in Ohio's Snow Belt, I had no fear. Not rain nor sleet nor snow nor blizzard could keep me down! I drove in it all.

But in Seattle—where municipal snow removal consists of a handful of plow trucks (equipped not with the sharp steel blades that clear streets so nicely in Ohio but, rather, with rubber blades so as not to damage the roads), where streets are sanded rather than salted (so as not to burn plantlife or cause damage to the Puget Sound waterways), where winter temps usually hover just a degree or two above freezing, and where hills are the new flat—even a prediction of snow strikes fear in everyone's hearts!

This is straight-down snowfall, mind you. Not drifting. Check out the bench!

So we have lousy snow removal. No salt on the streets. Native Seattlites who don't have a clue how to drive in the snow. Hills. And milder climates. That's the real killer... the milder temperatures. That means the snow falls, and everything's nice and cold—and as we all know, it's not so bad driving on snow. But during the day, the temperature usually pops back up just above freezing... so we get a little thaw. And if it's not enough to thaw all the snow off, then when the temps dip below freezing again in the evening, that thaw becomes ice on top of snow. We've had that process for 7 days—with the exception of one day that never popped up above freezing because it just kept snowing.

The ice can be beautiful. But it's terrifying when it's 6 inches thick under the wheels of your tires and there's a thin layer of water between you and the ice.

Even the mail wasn't making it to our area. Think about that in the context of "we had no presents for C" and "packages from family weren't being delivered."

As it turns out, we had enough thaw late this afternoon for J to be willing to brave taking the car out. He had a harrowing trip (we live in a geological formation that is, essentially, a bowl—you have to go uphill to get out and uphill to get back in), but he did come back with some presents for C and some fixings for Christmas dinner. Not how we'd hoped the shopping would go. Still, we can't complain: C will not feel like Santa forgot her!

I promise to post the pattern for the mitts—just not tonight. I couldn't write it up with C hovering over my shoulder today, and now I need to go help J with some wrapping!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


CiCi and CAJtalk said...

they turned out beautiful. I will have to try them with magic loop. Merry Christmas to you!!!

Elizabeth said...

I like them a lot!! The boys have been asking for fingerless gloves. I can't wait to see the pattern! I don't think I've seen snow like that since the Chicago blizzard of '99 when I was pregnant. A hiked a mile to the grocery to get whatever I was craving that day. Took him 3 hours to get back home. Hubbies are the best!! Yay J for risking his life to make sure Santa made it on time!

juicyknits said...

Wow! Now that's the kind of snow I'm talking about... It's great for skiing! ;-)

knitngardnr said...

hey! the assumption is, we're actually prepared for it here in central Iowa too. ha! course if it keeps up like this, I dread the inevitable spring flooding all over again.

great mitts. I cannot wait to see the pattern. and, I finally got my drop spindle out and started practicing again. someday, someday.

Happy Happy 2009 to you.