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Monday, May 9, 2011


One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
~Robert Frost~ 

Birch trees hold a special place in my heart.  They remind me of home. And my childhood, where I'm ashamed to say, I would peel off the bark and make little canoes for my dolls that I floated down the stream in the nearby woods. Whenever I mention that I'm from Michigan, someone always will say, "Oh It's so pretty there, with all those birch trees." or something in that train of thought.  My sister used to work at Fort Mackinac and she heard more questions about the birch trees than the history of the colonial fort.  I guess their beauty tugs at everyone's hearstrings. So when I saw the pattern for these Birch mittens in the Piecework Jan./Feb. 2010 issue, they went onto my ever-expanding list of must-knit patterns.  Since, the colourway of the yarns was so important to the overall pattern, I decided I better get on with it, while the yarn was still available.  There was only one mail order source for the Norwegian yarn, so I had to wait patiently for the yarn to arrive.  After receiving the yarn, I sat down to knit, only to discover that the pattern took size zero double-pointed needles, which I couldn't locate in any of the local yarn shops.  So another wait  for the mailman to deliver the needles.  Such is life! Thank goodness for the internet!  They're slow knitting as you have to juggle all those bobbins of colours, or maybe it's just me.  I'm not a speedy knitter.  But the end result is looks wonderfully folkloric.  I finished them with the old Norwegian way of sewing seams together.  I do that often on socks.  Think it gives them an old-world look.  By the way,I thought this pattern was a lot more complicated than it needed to be.  Whatever happened to the old-fashioned knitting instructions that went line by line?  And when did it become the "thing" to use five double-pointed needles instead of four?  So you have to buy two packages of needles?  


  1. Wow Jane! The mittens are gorgeous. What beautiful intricate work! They do look very rustic. I know what you mean about knitting patterns. I think a good knitting pattern should flow and have an almost musical quality about it. When that happens you can get into the rhythm of the piece. But if a pattern is jerky with lots of stops and starts, it feels like you are fighting it the whole way through. I am having a hard time finding double pointed needles too. I would like to collect all the sizes. I like the metal ones, I know most people don't, but I enjoy the weight of them and the click click sound. :) Every store I go into only seems to have the bamboo. Again, great job on the mittens! I hope you have a pleasant lovely afternoon! Delisa :)

  2. These are beautiful! I like knitting patterns that seem to follow the "common sense" approach to making things. :-)

  3. Dear Jane,

    What beautiful mittens! They do look like birch bark; how fascinating. I'm glad that you have your needles now; I'm sure you'll be turning out all sorts of wonderful work!



  4. Delisa, rustic! That was the word I was looking for. You're such a wonderful wordsmith, I knew you would come up with the perfect word for them. I like the metal needles also. The yarn seems to glide along more smoothly on them.

    Shara, I found a bunch of old pre-1950s patterns. The are so much easier to follow. No nonsense.

    Thanks Marqueta! I'm constantly picking up needles at estate sales, but that was the one size I didn't have. Probably no one else is so foolish to knit with such little ones!

  5. Very, very pretty, Jane, and so "folkloric" as you put it!! I love that word - and that look.

    You are definitely a very accomplished knitter!!

  6. Thank you Sandy! As I get older, I'm aiming towards a more "folkloric" look. I always come back to wearing braids and coronets and funny vintage aprons. Guess I want to look like a storybook grammy for my granddaughter.

  7. Speaking of aprons. I have a collection of vintage Christmas aprons that I brought out for the women in the family to wear for our Christmas Day dinner. Most had fun picking one out to wear - even the "young" Moms!

  8. Sandy that sounds like fun! I had the idea for everyone to buy the ugliest Christmas sweater they could find at the SA, but didn't follow through with the plans. Maybe you'll convert the younger generation to become apron wearers. They are so handy!

  9. hi jane
    the mittens are fantastic!!!great job!

  10. funny you should mention that birch trees hold a special place in your heart.... me too!

    Pretty mittens~

  11. Brenda, I took birch trees for granted until we moved away. I kept looking at the landscape trying to figure out what was missing, until one day it hit me. Birch trees! Didn't realize I was so attached to them. From my front window I can watch an ancient one change with the seasons. It finally has its pretty yellow-green buds this week.

  12. Those are wonderful mittens Jane and I'm sure they keep your DH's hands nice and warm.