Ideas for Small but Special Christmas gifts

 

Not just for Christmas, but for any occasion. Today I found this pretty pattern for mitts on garnstudio.com’s collection of Halloween items to knit. What attracted me to them is the simple yet elegant pattern, knitted in garter stitch with a pretty picot edge. The pair in the photo is made in fingering weight on size 2.5 mm/1.5 US straight needles. This is a great site with lots of helpful features. There is, for example, a conversion chart for changing between mm and inches, another for adapting the pattern for different weight yarns, and there are nine tutorials for this pattern alone. Drops Delight is the yarn used, and as the mitts require only one 50 gram skein, they can be made for less than $5.00!

I’m going to whip up several pairs to have on hand for last minute gifts. Starting tonight while watching the World Series. Go, Red Sox!

Link to the pattern:


https://www.garnstudio.com/pattern.php?id=6368&cid=17

 

One Cable Hand Warmers

imageToday I discovered my next ” muffatees” project. At the Connecticut  Works festival this afternoon, which was held on the beautiful grounds of the Avery-Copp house museum in Groton,  I sold a pair of cabled arm warmers that were cabled from fingers to elbow. They were very pretty, but felt too bulky for my own use and I never wore them or made any others. When I arrived home,  I found that a very similar design for shorter mitts had  magically appeared in my email,  from the Blue Sky Alpacas newsletter.

The pattern is free, but you do have to create a free account to access the download, which you can get here . The beautiful worsted hand dyed yarn shown is named “Petunia”, and should work up quickly on the recommended size 9 (US) needles.

18th Century Documentation for Knitted Mitts

1765 Notice from Royal Society of Arts

From Museum Rusticum Et Commerciale: Or, Select Papers on Agriculture, Commerce, Arts, and Manufactures, by the Royal Society of Arts, 1765, page 393:

Premiums offered by the Society for Encouraging and Improving Manufactures

1. Knitting Thread Lace For the greatest quantity of Thread Lace, not less than six yards in length, nor less than two inches and a half in width, knit with needles, and made by one person ; the goodness, clearness, and fineness of the work, and beauty of the pattern, to determine the preference; Thirty Guineas, The above thirty guineas to be divided according to the merit of the candidates ; to be produced on or before the first Tuesday in January, 1766.

1. KNITTING MITTS. For the greatest quantity of Mitts made of thread, in imitation of lace, and made with knitting-needles, fit for womens wear ; not less than one dozen pair; each pair to be not less than fourteen inches in length, made by one person ; the goodness, clearness, and fineness of the work, and beauty of the pattern, to determine the preference; Twenty Guineas. The whole sum to be divided in proportion to the merit; to be produced on or before the first Tuefday in January, 1766. N. B. The persons who gain any of the above premiums to leave one yard of the lace, and one pair of mitts, as, the property of the Society.

Article courtesy of alwen at Ravelry.

 

Vintage Gentlemen’s Muffatees

Gentlemen’s Muffatees

A Winter’s Gift for Ladies 1845
Two Needles, No. 14, 4 skeins of colored German lamb’s-wool, and 4 of white

Cast on 54 stitches; bring the wool forward, slip a stitch, and knit two stitches taken together; repeat the same to the end of the row; every row is the same; knit up one skein of colored wool, two of white, and finish the muffatee with one skein of colored wool; sew it up.

A vintage pattern from Handbook of Needlework, 1842

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I’ve never made this pattern, but would try it with size 3 or 4 needles, sport weight yarn (one 2 oz. skein), adjusting the number of cast on stitches to size. For more information about what muffatees are, and a picture of a different set that I did make, click here:

Muffatees

What the heck are muffatees?

“Old Mrs. Rabbit was a widow; she earned her living by knitting rabbit-wool mittens and muffatees.”

[Beatrix Potter ~ The Tale of Benjamin Bunny]

What the heck ARE muffatees???? Well, in the days before central heating, keeping warm in winter was a major challenge. We think we know about dressing in layers, but most of us don’t have to resort to wearing coats and hats and gloves indoors. But heavy layering was necessary. Working with your hands in mittens is clumsy at best. The solution? Wear muffatees.

Muffatees are tube-like, fingerless mitts that cover wrist and hand up to the middle of the fingers, usually with an opening along the side for the thumb. The simplest, and possibly earliest form was comprised of the cuff or leg of a worn-out stocking, minus the foot. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, many pairs were sewn from warm cloth, or simply knitted of wool in plain or fancy patterns.

References to muffatees can be found in many sources from this time period. Ensign Rous, of the Duke of Wellington’s Foot Guard, wrote home in September, 1813, requesting that the ladies of the family knit some muffatees for his fellow officers. The Manual of British Rural Sports (1856) recommends that hunters wear muffatees along with warm gloves when out in the field. And in London’s court at the Old Bailey (1757), one Catherine Nowland was accused of attempting highway robbery while wearing her muffatees (she was acquitted.)

For those wishing to knit their own pair of handwarmers, authentic vintage patterns can be found in The Workwoman’s Guide (1836), available at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, or at some on-line book sellers.

It’s sometimes said that everything old is new again. That’s true about muffatees as well. While Christmas shopping , I came across a display in a trendy shop showing muffatees paired with and worn atop matching gloves. Very chic!