It’s high time I showed you the little wristlets I learned to make at the end of February. These were the product of the “Lapland Hand Garments” class I took at Stitches West, taught by Susanna Hansson. The technique is from the area of Finland around Rovaniemi; we learned there isn’t a big knitting tradition there because there aren’t many sheep, hence not much wool. Traditionally, they stuck with small stuff.

In class, we first made a practice wristlet using worsted weight yarn. This was so we could learn the technique before heading into a small gauge with colors of our choosing. Here again is the practice wristlet in traditional colors that I finished in just under 2 hours and the actual project started right before lunch:

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On the practice wristlet, you can see my stitches are looser at the bottom and tightened up toward the top as my technique improved. While I have kind of a super hero-ish feel when I wear it on my wrist, I’m not inspired to make it a mate. I use this as a glass cozy when I get hot tea at Monday Night Knitting.

I was definitely inspired to both finish and make a mate for the fine-gauge wristlet. The actual project is worked on US size 00 needles. It turns out is is far harder to take a picture of my own wrists from the top than I thought it would be. So here they are from the other side:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi1

Pattern: Lapland Hand Garments class project: Wristlets, by Susanna Hansson
Yarn: Vuorelma Satakieli, 100% wool
Needles: US size 00
Size: adult
Started 2/26 and finished 3/22/2010
Worked three repeats of pattern chart

They are very pretty and work well as warmers. I am wearing them right now while typing because it is chilly with a capital C in the apartment today. Susanna was a good teacher. She is engaging, speaks and demonstrates clearly, and knows her mitten lore. She gave a slideshow of various traditional garments, all with the wearers wearing mittens, in the afternoon. I recommend her as a teacher.

The technique is interesting. You use a separate strand for each zigzag of color and the strands are carried up very neatly on the inside. Always working the main color over the contrasting colors means the main color has floats. The contrasting colors then trap the main color’s floats on the following round so you get a tidy interior:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi3_interior

About all those bundles of yarn in the first photo in this post: that’s the trick to keeping the yarn organized. Make little yarn butterflies for all 11 lengths of contrasting colors, thread them onto a straight knitting needle, and rotate either your project or the straight needle every round to keep everything from tangling. It worked like a charm for preventing tangling; however, my straight needle wasn’t long enough so I had trouble pulling more yarn when needed. It kept wanting to stick to its neighboring color. So I waited to make wristlet #2 until I purchased these cool bobbins that have a hole in the middle, allowing me to organize my colors on a straight needle without all the clinginess:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi4_bobbins

Sorry, Susanna. I know the whole point was to use the traditional technique.

One drawback to having 11 bundles of yarn plus a main color is you end up with 24 tails to weave in per wristlet. Yep, “48” was in the running as a post title.

We did have a discussion in class as to whether a full day of class was enough. The general consensus was that a two-day class would be better. I would have wanted a split one-day class: a morning of learning the technique with an afternoon wrap-up the next day to address any questions or problems. I realize this isn’t going to happen at Stitches West, but it’s my opinion. I learned the technique quickly but found my execution to be slow, had less than half a fine-gauge wristlet by the end of the day.

When I went down to visit my parents last weekend, I had my stepdad get a photo of my wrists. Much better here:

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And I have to include gratuitous photos of the elephant seals from that trip:

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My mom says this isn’t many, this is few. When there are many, you cannot see the sand. Something to think about, isn’t it? Here they are in all their glory. There are seals all the way up in the dunes. If you look at the big version of this photo, you can see the ones in the dunes flipping sand onto themselves.

ElephantSeals_3975

What’s that? You wanted to see more mittens? OK, I leave you with cell phone photos I snapped in class. Susanna had a table in back covered in absolutely exquisite mittens and mitts. The little ones are no larger than the top joint of my thumb:

Mitten

Mitts

Mitts

Mitten

Mittens

The gentleman who knits these wee mittens must have incredible eyesight.

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