WIP Wrestling Event - Nordic Mittens

In the spirit of the 2008 Olympics, I have been contemplating whether it is 'really' a challenge to finish a WIP that was on the needles one month before the Olympics started. When watching the Olympians and listening to their stories I have heard stories of how they have overcome obstacles to become the champions they are. That set me to thinking about my own Olympic challenge to finish the several projects I have on my needles as I watched the 2008 Summer Olympics.

If I truly give myself a challenge it would not be to finish something I was most likely going to finish the next month. The true challenge would be to finish something you were so frustrated with that you actually pulled the needles out of and walked away from, right? I have such an item and it has languised in a basket for four years, the Nordic Mittens featured in the 2004 Winter Interweave Knits.

This issue was the first Interweave Knits magazine I bought shortly after resuming knitting after a forty year sabbatical. I was smitten with Beth Brown-Reinsel's pattern immediately and let Santa know that I wanted the eight skeins of requisite Brown Sheep Nature Spun yarn for Christmas so I could knit my own pair. Nothing like jumping in feet-first into knitting!

The results were not as I had hoped. I knew nothing then about carrying the dominant color consistantly in one hand. I did not know how to knit two-handed with my left hand knitting Continental style and my right hand knitting English style.

But the results before I knew this method were less than satisfactory. This was a Nordic Star pattern and the 'star' seemed to blend in with everything else. The mitten was also too large for my smallish hands. Guage? What is that? So, just short of finishing the tip of the thumb on the first mitten, I put the mitten in a basket with intentions of finishing the other mitten after I finished a pair of socks.

Needless to say, my sock obsession began and the poor Nordic Mitten never had a chance. I've looked at her periodically, picked her up and tryed her on, frowned and put her away again. I even deleted her from my Ravelry Projects, a sure sign that I was done with her.

Now I'm ready for the Olympic challenge with the more correct goal of competing against myself. Bring on the challenge! Can I push myself to love this project again? Can I get back the fire and spirit needed to push through the challenge? I think I can. I've learned some things through other fair isle projects and think I can make that star "pop" now. Can I get the gold metal? I started the corrugated ribbing last night watching Michael Phelps earn his eleventh gold metal. A good omen for me, don't you think?

Corrugated Ribbing is the name often given to the two-color rib stitch used on many Fair Isle garments, particularly the ribbing at the bottom of a sweater. In this instance it will be used for my Nordic Mitten cuff. The stitch is generally a K2, P2 with the knit stitches knit in one color and the purl stitches in another. It is particulary pretty when the purl rows are in varigated colors while the knit row remains one solid shade. I am going to be more clever this time around and use a hair clip to keep all those loose strands out of the way.

As with stranded knitting, no more than two colors are used in the same round and the yarn not in use is stranded across the wrong side of the work or 'floating' across the knitting. There will be many ends to weave in but this time I will stop and weave those in every ten rows instead of waiting until the end!

This ribbing is worked on 2.25mm needles, two sizes down from what the body of the mitten will be worked on. It is not very elastic when compared with ordinary ribbing but it will be hard wearing when it comes to pulling these mittens on and off through the winter snows.

Corrugated ribbing is much easier to work if the knit stitches are knit Continental and the purl stitches are knit English style.

The Two Contenders

At this point they seem to be neck and neck in the competition but when that Nordic Star motif appears we will know who the REAL champion will be!