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Tips, Tricks and Treats

Do we like?

I like, I think. The Endpaper Mitts have inspired a little 2-color frenzy in me; specifically, a 2-color accessory frenzy. Mitts and mittens are so tiny, so quick, so flat and simple and blank canvas-y. These are Proper Colorwork Mittens (in contrast to the wham bam mitts); I like to think of it as a project that brings together and tweaks the best elements of more traditional folk mittens (which are wonderful, but not my cup of tea).

For example, it's got a Norwegian-style thumb gore, except it's placed a little closer to the side seam and held separately to create a more natural fit than the palmside gore you usually see:

A better corrugated ribbing cuff - usually, corrugated ribbing is lovely, but pretty inelastic (and therefore useless when a cuff is meant to seal out snow). This slight variation is still pretty cool-looking in a vertical-stripey way, but is a lot more functional, with a sexy corded edge, to boot:

And then, the top of the mitt is a rounded square more in keeping with actual finger shapes than the super-pointy tops of most mittens. This was done with a little fancy footwork around the way the "frame" stitches are decreased with the top of the mitten, and then a 3-needle bindoff from the inside.

The pattern will be mirrored for the right glove to create a quirky little set, and then I'll write up the pattern. In keeping with my book theme, the scrolls on these were meant to bring to mind the lovely throwbacks printed by William Morris' Kelmscott Press - the idea that the functional should be beautiful as well, that craftsmanship matters, seems to me as relevant now as it was when the Industrial Revolution loomed.

(About the naming of the Endpaper Mitts: endpapers are the sheets joining the covers and text block of a book. There's one bridging the inside front cover and the first page of the book, and one bridging the inside back and last page. I believe all hard-bound books have them - in library bindings etc, they're the only thing holding the thing together; in better editions, they serve a host of functions, including taking the stress off the constant opening and closing of the book, covering the raw edges of the cover material, and just plain looking purty. Recto and verso was just my nerdy way of saying "left" and "right" - recto is the first side of a folded leaf you read (the right side), and verso its back. A diaper pattern is any kind of small, repeating allover pattern; though I always think of it as a diagonal lozenge arrangement, it can be any kind of small, tessellated decoration. I believe the root word just means "cloth", independently inspiring "diaper pattern" and "diaper" as in baby diaper - one didn't come from the other).

Fair Isle TIps

Some miscellaneous, almanac-style tips for first-time knitters of Fair Isle:

How do I keep colorwork from getting wonky around the DPN joins??

Things get funny-looking where DPNs meet because the color carried at the back wants to take the shortest path to the next stitch - basically, cutting the corner. You can avoid this in a couple of creative ways: first, try planning the joins so they fall at unobtrusive spots in the pattern (i.e., at side seams), or somewhere you'll consistently switch colors every stitch (if the carried yarn cuts a distance of 1 stitch, it isn't going to make much difference). Or, try to use at least four needles: that way, you can almost straighten out the join before you knit the first stitch on the next needle. Or, use magic loop. Or (and this is the way I do it), simply use a free finger on your right hand to hold the carried yarn tight into the corner when you're knitting the first stitch with that color.

Augh, my colorwork is super-tight/I can't get gauge!

First, try swatching to row gauge. That is, swatch to try and meet the row gauge given in the pattern, and see if you can meet stitch gauge with thorough blocking. You'd be surprised at how much stranded knitting will stretch laterally without looking significantly different. Also, try using wooden needles instead of slick metal. The wood will grip your stitches a little more and let you spread them out before switching colors - that's essential to even stranded knitting.

What do you mean, spread the stitches out?

Just that: say your chart calls for you to knit 3 stitches in color A, and then 2 stitches in color B. Go ahead and knit those 3 stitches in color A. Now, before you knit the next 2 stitches in color B, st-r-e-e-t-c-h out the three stitches you just knit on the right needle - not to the point of straining them, but enough that they're not all jammed together, so there's a little space between them. Learn to be consistent - always stretch your stitches the same amount, and do it every time. It'll become second nature eventually.

I'm being really good about maintaining an even tension, but the pattern still looks funny. It's darker in some places and lighter in others.

Are you being consistent with which hand holds which yarn? Or, in other words, is the same color coming from under and the same color from over every time you switch? Yarn dominance: learn it, live it, love it. It's most apparent in two-color patterns, and it's worth understanding. Basically, the color that comes from under (the left-hand color, if you're knitting in the standard two-handed fashion) will form a slightly longer stitch, or "present" a little more yarn than the color that comes from over (the right-hand color, usually). It's very subtle, but over large areas, it makes a difference. Make sure you're consistent about which color you hold in which hand, or you'll get sections of knitting that look just different enough to distract.

In general, I like to hold the "pattern" color in the left hand, and the "background" color in the left. This emphasizes the pattern color and makes it the focus; with very small patterns, letting the background color be dominant can obscure the pattern to the point of unreadibility. There are other factors, of course - the value difference between the colors, for example - that might tell you which yarn to hold dominant, but as a general rule, pattern under works pretty well.

Check out this post from NonaKnits for more reading and an example of the phenomenon.

How do I increase and decrease in stranded knitting?

At the end of this post, I talked in great detail about how to handle decreases in Fair Isle. Basically, you need to shape in a way that preserves the integrity of the pattern. There are lots of ways people increase in Fair Isle, but here's the way I do it: I tend to think it provides the cleanest, most "readable" and least obtrusive shaping.

Here's a chart that shows increases along a central purled stitch of background color.

The black blocks are "no stitch" blocks, increased out every other row until the shaping is once again complete and there are 23 patterned stitches on the needle total. A cuff-up sleeve would be increased this way, or the sides of a circularly-knit pullover - or the thumb gusset of the Endpaper Mitts.

Here we are, at the last row before shaping (the stitches on the needle are the ones highlighted on the chart).

The first increase row. When you get to those increased stitches (denoted by the yellow arrows), make a YO with the color called for that stitch by the chart

On the next row, knit those stitches in pattern, twisting the YO. This means that if you made the YO by bringing the yarn from front to back, you should knit into the back leg. If you made the YO by bringing the yarn from back to front, you should knit into the front leg. It doesn't much matter which you do on which side, but you should be consistent if you do choose to mirror them.

You can see here how neatly mirrored increases can be done with this method. Since the twisted YO "presents" so much yarn on the right side of the work (more than, say, a lifted bar increase would), the growing pattern looks very natural.

Comments

Wouldn't "Yarn Dominance" make a good title for a blog?

OMG! You're a Knitting Goddess!!!! I'm going to try my hands out at these as soon as you put up the pattern!!!! (Never mind the fact that I've never fair-isled before)

These mitts actually made my breath catch in my throat when I opened your page. My BF had to ask what was wrong. They are beautiful and I can't wait to see a pattern.

Nice work, as always. :-D

That is an utterly charming mitten. The scrolls remind me of steam.

Thank you, also, for the increasing tips. I can hardly wait for your book.

The minute the pattern is up, I'm knitting those! Absolutely lovely!

Love them! Want them! Can't wait to have the pattern. Beautiful!

Eunny, you are a true knitting, spinning, designing genius and a truly great and inspirational teacher

I so love fair isle mitts that I craved a pair but did not feel my skills would be up to the task.
... now that I have seen YOUR pattern - well I just HAVE to have those mitts so I WILL learn how to knit them.

Hope you are looking after yourself and getting enough sleep etc...I don't want you to suffer too much for your art!!

That mitten looks great--I eagerly await the pattern.

I'm not a fan of mittens - I prefer fingerless gloves, but I'm really wanting to knit these!!!! They are beautiful!!

Wow, another great design! I love how these are! I can't wait until the pattern is out so I can make them :)

Yummy...the pattern looks like swirling coffee/cream/steam. Tis lovely, as usual!

Thanks for the fair isle tips. I'm knitting a fair isle cardigan (toddler-sized, thank goodness), but the two handed purling is kicking my butt on the way back across! I'm just not continental enough, I guess. Unfortunately, it's in cotton so knitting it in the round and steeking would be out. =(
Anyone have any tips on the left handed purl?

Eunny, when is the book coming out and will you sign it for me?

I can hardly wait for the pattern. These are gorgeous.

I LOVE your mitten design! Wonderful technique and details. Bravo! Will be waiting to get your pattern...

That fairisle design is utterly gorgeous; I love that it was aesthetically and philosophically inspired by William Morris.

Beautifully done, Eunny, as always. What a lovely pattern. I'm one of your many fans, and am looking forward to buying your book as soon as it is published.

i like them very much!

Go to http://whipup.net and see our Eunny featured there.

Gorgeous mittens! I can't wait to see the pattern.

They're gorgeous! I've been looking for a mitten pattern in fair isle that I like enough to learn the technique, and I think that this could be it.

Thank you. :)

As much as I loved the endpaper mitts? I love these even more. The swirls are beautiful and are enough to inspire me to try fair isle myself.

Is it wrong to wish the Christmas knitting was done so I could try these out?

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Both the mittens, and the fingerless gloves in the last post. Not only am I into fingerless mitts, I'm on a blue/brown kick as well. You are making me want to just sit right down and knit!

Eunny, these are stunning! I love that you did not follow standard symmetry in the pattern as most fair-isle - I think it is a habit of seeing it so much that most do!
Also - endpapers, while prevalent in most hard-bound bindings, are LESS prevalent in fancy-pants bindings, especially with leather work; generally a hinge is used and a doublure (a lovely word that signifies the pasted down piece of paper on the inside of the cover which covers the hinge) is affixed. The doublure is the fancy to cover all the stuff that does the work! I look forward to seeing doublure related knitware! Maybe you will provide me with the amalgamation of bookbinding-nerd and knit-nerd.......

Wow, the mitten is superb! I adore the scroll design and thanks for all the tips of fairisle.. but now I feel my latvin mitten will look a whole better on the last half than the start! :)

Eunny, you have stunned me out of lurking mode. What a beautiful pattern. I'm knitting matching hats and mittens for HeadStart kids and am now a little embarrassed by my simple cables and stripes.

Any possibility of a hat to match?

So beautiful and elegant. I'm really enjoying seeing an art-deco inspired design that's not symetrical in a norwegian style mitten. And such smart functional construction details - you always make me want to be a better knitter. Thanks!

Eunny, you are my muse.

Wow, Eunny - you are a FAST knitter. I would never get that much fair isle done in a week! It looks great!

Absolutely gorgeous. The smoke pattern is lovely. It actually billows.

Gorgeous mittens! And thanks so much for the tutorial!

What a fabluous mitten! I'm just getting into fair ilse, and your tips are very helpful.

Like? LIKE? I LOVE! I adore! And the name... so perfect. There is nothing like a good endpaper... except this amazing mittens!
I'm pining for the chart ... aching for it... waning away to nothing over it's absence from my life...
I NEEED these mittens...

er.
ahem.
sorry.
Yes, they're very nice.

YES we like. Love the swirlies! You are such an awesomely inspired designer...

Wowza! You are amazing. Truly.

Love the mittens--they're beautiful. The pattern made me think of a mug of wonderfully hot & steamy cocoa . . .

And how did you know I was swatching my first-ever fair isle project, and needed to know this stuff? :o) Gauge trouble will be a thing of the past with yarn dominance established, stitches neatly stretched, and switching away from my beloved Knit Picks options . . .

Thanks . . .

I love the scrolls in the mitten. They speak to me. The entire mitten is a wonderful update on the traditional. I look forward to seeing the pattern released.

Hmm..they are so fabulous I dumped scalding tea down my front. I'm going to be okay eventually, but I still love the mittens.

The swirls in different sizes and directions are lovely! Truly elegant mittens -- and not an oxymoron.

Oh, I like. And I've been bitten by the colour bug (in a milder fashion, but it's there)

Gorgeous!

I can't say anything better than has already been said -- Your mittens are lovely and I want to knit some for ME! I'm already musing on colors to wear with a black coat. I love the cocoa and cream look of yours, but I don't wear them well.

What yarn did you use?

Thank you for sharing them!

wabba wubba ubba.. oooooooh.. I am spewing gibberish and I think my heart rate went up WOW those are just well. Spectacular!
You are inspiring!

I always have serious yarn/knitting envy whenever I click on your blog. They are beautiful. I love the way you meld the older styles with something more modern. I'll be making these for sure!

I was wondering how you make your charts. I have a few patterns I would like to chart out, and wasn't sure how to go about it. Would love your imput. Thanks!

Beautiful!

Another trick for avoiding gauge weirdness around DPN joins in stranded knitting is to turn the work inside out, so the purl side is facing outward (though you're still knitting); that way the yarn you're stranding has a longer way to go around, and there are no corners for it to cut.

Wow, what an amazing mitten! I don't normally care about mittens, but I am drooling over this and can't wait for the pattern. Wonderful!!

Those are breathtaking, Eunny. I was swept off my feet with the wristlets and now the mittens have simply taken my breath away.

It is so nice to have you back. =^.^=

I like those very much, especially how the pattern looks like gusts of wind, I am now deciding what colours I will knit this in, for me of course, so I too am waiting on the pattern. No pressure...

Eunny, you always manage to make the most beautiful things, and come up with the most elegant patterns. These mittens are glorious.

Wow, a pair of my mittens came up from your "palmside gore" link. Imagine that, not every day you're linked to from Ennuy, even if it's as a bad example...

That is positively gorgeous. I have been jonesing for some orgeous mittens to call my own. Sadly, there's a lot more holiday knitting between me and them.

And thank you for your invaluable tips too.

They're amazing. The cutest ones I've seen in ages. Oh dear, my to-do list of Eunny-creations is growing longer and longer... Venetia, Bayerische, Endpaper and now these...!

we like. we anticipate the pattern with great enthusiasm.

seriously, i could use a pair of mittens & these are just gorgeous. plus, they look more comfortable than traditional folk mittens.

I am also not a big mitten person. By which I mean that I do not look like a big mitten walking around, and also that I live in Australia, where mittens are much more trouble than they're worth. However, I MUST HAVE THESE MITTENS.

I knew why the minute you mentioned William Morris. They have the same strangely organic look that seems to come out neater than anything organic can. How do you do that? I love them.

Oh my... Here she strikes again. Those mittens are stunning. I just finished my first endpaper mitten. And I can't wait to make a pair of those, too.

Gorgous mittens. A new pattern on your blog (or the promise of one) is such a treat.
BTW, just a a pointer to ask you to clarify which yarns you hold in which hands in the tips section. You say you hold the pattern color in your left hand but then you say you hold the background color in your left also. Did you mean 'right' on one of those phrases?
I can't wait to make those mittens.

Woot! You are back, girl, you are back. Those mittens are incredible ... makes me want to cast them on ...

I think they're pretty wonderful, and am paticularly interested in learning the two color ribbing. Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

seriously, the timing you have with this is scary! I just finished my first two stranded project and am soaking in all these wonderful tips and tricks! those are gorgeous... and did you say Book!? I cannot wait to get a copy! You are a knit-genius!! :-)

oh yes, we like, we Love! I may not need to buy another knitting book again! 'Course, need and want are very different things....Thanks again...Julie

Another great tutorial...thanks for the tips! I'm about to start some colorwork, so all advice is welcome and needed!

I love endpapers - they are one of my favorite things about nice hardcover books.

I think "desperate yearning" pretty much sums up my feelings for those mittens... I can't wait to see the pattern!

OK -- let's recognize the simple fact -- you are a genius. Actually, you are an artistic genius. Clearly, you are always pushing to think beyond what has been already done. You meld this with an eye for beauty. Thank you for letting me peek into your world of artistry.

no, definately don't like, the word would be L.O.V.E!!! beautiful!

I know some others think you posted this just for them, but you really have done this for ME! I made a pair of twined mittens last year with the specially spun Mora yarn and have a TON left over, so I've been looking for another mitten pattern worthy of a twined knitting project, and I have just found them! And I have looked through the Latvian Mitten and Folk Mitten books (as well as countless others!) but these are IT!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

Do we like?

No we don't. We LOVE. Absolutely definitely love.

I love,love, love these and must have the pattern! Pleeeeeease! are they going in your book? or will you have the pattern available here and when is your book coming out?
I can't wait! Thanks for the tips too you must have known I spent a whole night looking for tips on how to do these. thanks again Eunny!

What lovely mittens! And thanks for the excellent tips, especially the over/under yarn bit.

I've been thinking I want to do a quick f.i. to quell my cravings before I start your interweave knits sweater after Christmas. These are absolutely perfect.
The swirls look like a)clouds in Tibetan art or b)fern fiddleheads (two of my favorite things).

What everyone else has said and then some. That is the most beautiful mitten I have ever seen and I'm going to knit it if it kills me! Thank you for all your advice and patterns - I can't believe you give them away and I will certainly be buying the book.

Those mittens are spectacular. And thanks for the great tutorial -- I never knew about a difference between the twisted YO and a lifted bar M1. Nifty!!

Thanks so much for the fair-isle advice. I can't wait for your book!

Holy Toledo!!!! Those mittens are gorgeous...

Your work just amazes me! You are so way out of my knitting capacity. But, thank you so much for all the detailed instructions, so informative. And congratulations on your IK publication.

I love your swirly, untraditional Victorian patterns. They're not Fair Isle at all, and that's what I love about them.

Like? No, LOVE! Fabulous tips, too. I've never tried colorwork before, but now I'm so excited to give it a try. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!

Eunny, I have lurked for ages, but these mittens have brought me out. Simply put, they are elegance. I eagerly await your pattern, but in the meantime I will whet my appetite with the Endpaper Mitts.

Thank you , thank you, thank you!!

Beautiful! I really like the scrollwork. And thanks for all the Fair Isle tips, too--I'm still very much a Fair Isle beginner, and all the advice was really helpful. I can't wait for the pattern!

I am in love.

You are my hero. Seriously. This post is another wonderful example of why I always learn so much from you - you just have so much information to give. Thanks for sharing - again.

It is also possible to successfully minimize the wonkiness between dpns by turning your work inside out and knitting the whole project that way.

What an incredibly generous person you are! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. You make me a better knitter with every post.

I thought the design looked rather Kelmscott- like. Gorgeous mitts! I can not wait to see a pattern for these, makes me want to do stranded colorwork now, this very instant!

Fabulous post. So informative and clear about the knitting technique. And about endpapers and design terms.

Like others have said, makes me want to go and do some now.

When, oh when, will a Eunny book come out, with all your tutorials in one place? I don't always knit in front of the computer.

This is absolutely breath taking. I'm currently in the process of swatching for Fair aisle mittens. Not going too well. I'm just going to wait now. Must Make Your Pattern Instead.

Necia

Thanks for the gorgeous tutorial on your mittens. your fingerless gloves and your mittens are fabulous! I am making hats and mittens this year for Christmas presents. My father cut off two of his fingers in an accident with a saw about 20+ years ago. Therefore, I am re-designing the traditional Norwegian mitten shaping, by beginning the decreases sooner on one side. I hope this works. It will look strange, no doubt, when the mittens are on a table, but I hope for increased flexibility and better fit for my dad. Also, at our last Knitter's Guild meeting, someone asked for a volunteer to make mittens for a young girl who was missing some fingers. You would do an immense service, I am sure, if you would comment about shaping mittens for people with "differently-shaped" hands. Thanks.

I'm sMitten! Great timing for the weather & now I've got something to work on when I'm done the gift knitting. And I've been saving various William Morris designs & snippets as inspiration for something to knit for a while. I love your taste!

i always appreciate how meticulous you are with your knitting.
whenever you design something, the details seem so raw and exposed; they are highlighted so well. you definitely do achieve your goals of craftsmanship, beauty, and function - or at least compel the rest of us to aspire to be more conscious of the same.

I bow at your feet......
We are all so fortunate that you share your incredible talents for knitting, writing and teaching.
Thank you for enriching our lives.

Love the mittens! Great little curly pattern, it reminded me of waves in Japanese art. And I totally agree with you on the weird placement of thumbs and the too-pointy tops of Scandinavian mittens (I have knit a few) I'll have to try these mittens when the pattern turns up.

yay! I love mittens and I've been waiting for some to catch my eye this season! Lovely!!!

Hands sting with cold.
Needles bind and prick, making
A warm masterwork


Oh, me likey! I will absolutely be knitting those when the pattern is ready!

When it comes out I AM BUYING YOUR BOOK- you are tremendously talented (and very generous!). Not to quibble, though, but above you wrote that you like to hold the pattern color in the left hand and the background color in the left (in the section about color dominance). Did you mean pattern color in left hand and background color in right hand?

Hey Eunny, I just wanted to mention that your FI increasing notes are also a good way to increase in a knit-purl pattern stitch (e.g. lozenge), as the texture of the pattern reads much more clearly when the increased stitches "present" more, as you say.

The mitten is awesome -- even though I'm not normally a mitten person, I may have to make these when you post the pattern. I really like the somewhat unusual colorwork design.

A joy to read, as always. :o)

These are the most beautiful mittens I have ever seen. They remind me of a Japanese woodblock.
I can't wait to make myself a pair of these once the pattern is up!

Every time I read your blog I find something wonderful! Does your knitting knowledge come from a lifetime of knitting or are you a voracious student of the craft? Reading your blog certainly makes me want to improve my skills and become a better knitter--if only to be able to knit some of the beautiful patterns you've shared with your readers! Thanks!!

I definitely like these. Gorgeous and inspirational, thank you!

Thanks for the very good tips!!
Were can I find the pattern becauwe I want them to knit.

Oh dear God those are beautiful. I have just been reading Lativan Mittens and got the yarn to start, but I think I will wait until your pattern is up and make those intead. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.
You are an extremely talented lady.
PS - lovely sweater in Interweave Knits. I got my copy over there in the UK yesterday.

That's a beautiful mitt!

And what a great tutorial! I'm just about to start my first real fair isle project: a pair of gloves; so your instructions will come in handy, thank you so much!

Me too, I'm so sMitten with the mitten. I love the steamy swirls - so wintery and hot chocolatesque. I never liked the pointy tops of the more traditional patterns, so yours are "just right." Can't wait for the pattern.

Your attention to detail and depth of knowledge is amazing -- thanks for sharing and explaining.

You're a genius! A knitting Artist! The Endpaper Mitts are too good to be true and these mittens - divine! I love love love the scrollwork design. Thanks for the Fair Isle tips. Very helpful.

I love your mittens. Thank you for posting so many details about fair isle knitting. I'm in the middle of working on a pair of Norwegian mittens (my first) and have really struggled with the gore! Ugh, it looks so easy, but I am running into trouble picking up the stitches (top side) and knitting the thumb. For some reason it looks loose and wonky. Do you have any tips for the Norwegian thumb gore?

So happy your writing it up, it's gorgeous.

Good god. Gorgeous.

STunning, absolutly stunning!!
I love them and they are in my favorite colors too!

This is a terrific pattern! I had some yarn sitting around for when I finally worked up the courage for some colourwork mittens, and decided to give these a go. Your instructions are so clear and and the pattern is quite clever. I just finished my first one, minus the thumb cuff. This leads me to my only question, should you be kind enough to offer a tip: how do you go about picking up stitches in order to avoid gaping holes where the thumb joins the hand? I've knit gloves and mittens before, and always end up having to go back with some yarn and a finishing needle to fix things up.

Thanks again!

*facepalm* And...I posted in response to the wrong post. This was supposed to be about the Endpaper Mitts. I'm good at things.

Fabulous mittens! I can't wait for the pattern to go up. Your knitting is always an inspiration.

Those are such lovely mittens and I love your great stranded color knitting tips! In Knitting Fair Isle Mittens & Gloves Carol Rasmussen Noble says the reason the pattern yarn should be in your left hand (and background color in your right) is because most two-handed knitters knit their continental stitches larger. I tested this by doing two solid color swatches using different hands and it is
true for me at least.

I actually get the opposite effect from wooden and bamboo needles- because the yarn "sticks" more on them my knitting is much tighter and I have much less even tension than when I'm using metal.

Eunny, thanks for all the fair isle tips! I just finished a pair of your endpaper mitts, and they are awesome. I was thinking of making another pair straight away, but now want to wait for this mitten pattern.

Hi, you wrote, "In general, I like to hold the "pattern" color in the left hand, and the "background" color in the left."

Did you mean to say "right" for one of those "lefts"? Kind of confusing this way... I'm not sure which hand should hold the 'dominant' yarn, since I'm continental knitter I figure whichever you recommend should be switched? Thanks! :D Beautiful mittens!

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