Friday, February 12, 2010

Alien Mittens and Other Beautiful Imperfections

Alien mitten at ease

Closely related to the blizzard mittens produced last weekend, except these have... a certain special... something.

I can't quite put my finger on it. Or rather, my thumb.

Alien mitten

I was just sitting here, watching Project Runway (one of the few shows on television I actually watch), and knitting away at this mitten. I was so pleased to actually get this one finished, knowing the five-year-old would be happy to have at least one mitten ready (of the pair she requested as soon as she saw her brother's). I wove in all my ends, snipped off the last tail of yarn, and proudly held it up to show my husband.

And we both dissolved into giggles.

"It's... it's... an alien mitten!" I gasped.

"Na-nu, na-nu!" he replied.

"If she needs to greet a Vulcan, she'll be all set!"

At this point we both had tears streaming down our faces and were shaking with laughter, letting out little shrieks now and then. The teenager came running up the stairs to see what was wrong. I held up the mitten helplessly.

She fell over, literally doubled over with the hilarity. "What the...?"

"I know!"

I know. I cannot explain what happened, except that I was apparently engrossed in the outcome of this week's Project Runway challenge. I must have, I don't know, lost count of some rows? Who knows. Will the five-year-old notice? Will she care? I don't know.

Cactus mittens

I do know that several years ago, I knitted a pair of mittens for my husband. I used the most gorgeous hand-spun wool, and I was so proud of customizing the pattern to fit his particularly long hand. I wanted to make sure they would be roomy, since he's a tall fellow and used to things not quite fitting him right. Well, I got a little gung ho. These mittens are long, people. Seriously long. And pointy. In fact, they are affectionately referred to around these parts as the cactus mittens. But you know what? They are cozy. And my husband wore them proudly through all these snowstorms we've been having around here, and commented each and every time how warm and dry his hands were inside these mittens.

Cozy cacti

Looks aren't everything.


Which brings me to the sweater. Oh yes, I have knitted a sweater. (I know! A whole sweater! Grown-up sized!) It's this very hip, comfy pattern from the original Stitch 'N Bitch book, and I was just about bursting with pride when I finished it. And then, months later, a fellow knitter pointed out to me that all of the stitches were twisted. I remember being flabbergasted... what do you mean, twisted? Well, it turned out that I'd been purling backwards ever since I taught myself to purl out of a book. Every single purl stitch I'd ever made was... backwards. Which means that every piece I'd knitted in stockinette stitch had these twisted stitches. Including my entire, gorgeous sweater. (I don't even want to tell you how much I spent on that yarn, or how many months I spent knitting that thing.)

Detail of funky stitches

You know what? It's still gorgeous. And very, very imperfect. And I'm okay with that. I'm proud of all these things that I've made, not because I did a flawless job or anything, but just because I made them. They contain my time, my care, and my good intentions. In the end, it simply feels good to have something made just for you.

Na-nu Na-nu

Even if you're an alien. Na-nu, na-nu.


  1. Oh, you cannot IMAGINE how nice it is to read your story of twisted stitches. What I mean is, condolences, but oh, thanks for sharing! I taught myself to purl (I think) from a kindly british gal on YouTube, but for weeks and weeks did it backwards. Or upside down. Or both. I don't know. I'm still not sure I've got it right. In fact, I'm going to go have a look and see if mine looks twisted, too! Though I think I might cheer, as I think it looks smashing.

  2. Molly, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I can't tell you how much of a goof I felt like when I found out I'd be purling wrong for, like, a long time. When I finally figured out what I'd been doing wrong, I realized that purling is just the mirror image of knitting. Imagine you are making the same exact stitch on the reverse side of the fabric. So of course you wrap the yarn around the opposite way you would if you were knitting... it's the mirror image. Okay, so it makes sense to me NOW, but I can't tell you how long I blithely soldiered on making ridiculous twisty stuff and not even *noticing*.

  3. I LOVE the alien mitten!! Your daughter should get the rest of the season's wear out of it and then it should be encased in glass and hung for all to see!!!

  4. Cadence would adore those mittens (because they have PINK in them!!), and I'm in awe that you can knit anything! I would love to learn how (found an awesome Dr. Who sweater I wanted to get Mike, but it was $150, and I don't have that, but don't know how to make it myself), and just might attempt it one of these days. I figure that it can't be *that* hard since I already know how to crochet. They have to be somewhat similar, right?

    All of your stuff looks awesome, even if they aren't *perfect*!