I then tried double knit mittens from my friend and another awesome knitting mentor, Carolyn, but I still couldn't get my mittens just right. They were chunky, even using different fingering weight yarns...I felt awkward and thought it was just me...I just didn't see how I was going to get them any smaller. I cast on and frogged alot.
Left: my double knit mittens collection, compared to Valda's Latvian ones on the right side.
To the rescue: Valda, my genuine Latvian knitting mentor.
Valda is 86 years young and believe it or not, was friends with my grandparent's back in the early Mpls Latvian Church days--in the 1960's and 70's. Small world--we met at my yarn shop 2 years ago and have been knitting friends ever since. She rocks my knitting world. I love her to pieces. She connects me with my roots, with Latvia.
Latvian made heavy gauge (think tapestry needle strong) size 0000 needles. Switch. Now. She said. How? I asked. She hauled out her set that haven't been used in many years. Here. You knit with.
Who am I to argue?
Use 2 of them, knit "in the round" but on two needles only. Yarns carry but may not create a "hollow" center in the mitten, depending on the pattern. Carefully tension second sts on both needles to neaten the edges. I need to work on those still. Her mittens are very consistent tension, even on the edges.
Replaced my fingering weight yarns with Valda's found in the "vault" circa 1970's. This is vintage yarn and the closest I can find to them is here: Etsy link.
This yarn is smooth, doesn't split at all...and the result is in a much tighter knit mitten. It is worsted spun, not worsted weight. Think of dental floss. Cross stitch threads. Yep.
So, basically I cast on 30 sts total on one needle. I used 2 color cast on. Divide between 2 needles, 15 sts each one. Fold in half, start the chart.
My chart is for one side, but both sides of the mitten are identical.
I left long tails as Valda said they are twisted and then tied together to fasten where ever you would like afterwards.
She kindly gave me charts that were used as samples given away at Elizabeth Upitis' book signings. She also found some "extra" mittens lying around. These weren't perfect enough to give away--but I may use them as samples.
Perfection to me! I whisper a "thanks!"
My two mittens are on the top, hers are the little hat, the light blue ones, the red and green, and the tiny red & whites.
The thumbs are picked up with 2 needles, 8 sts total, (4 sts and 4sts) and are about 5 rows, decreased on one row, pulled through tops to inside.
Notice the red & green mitt has no tails and has a twisted rib cuff. This one IS hollow on the inside, so yarns were twisted as they were carried. That was the "rule" she said. The little white ones you cannot get a finger inside of them. Yarns carried where they were.
The little white/red ones have a braided cuff and are smaller still...EEEK!
My size is now consistent with her Christmas mitten.
I will work on cuff styles next.
These are not easy, but they offer a quick mind absorbing project.
Hope these hints help others who have been smitten with mini-mitten-madness.
Those of you willing to work on size 0000 needles, be patient! After a bit, they do grow on you. Or your fingers.