A few months ago I stumbled across an old issue of Laine Magazine in a charity shop, and I’m so happy with my find! Aside from the Virva mitts, there are several other gorgeous pattern in it that I can’t wait to make. Considering it was less than a fiver, it was exceptionally good value!
I chose to make the Virva mitts for a few different reasons: Firstly, I think the stitch pattern is incredibly beautiful. It’s delicate and unique, and it seems like you can see a lot of different images in it… On Ravelry the pattern designer describes it as plants in a greenhouse, and my dad said it reminded him of rain dripping down a windowpane. I personally think it looks like an ornate stained glass window!
Secondly, I love to knit small (and therefore portable) but challenging projects (ahem…socks), and after reading through the pattern it seemed like it would be an achievable challenge.
Here’s how my finished mitts turned out:
Overall I really enjoyed knitting them, partly because the pattern was so well-written. It didn’t have any charts, only written instructions. Some knitters might find this annoying, but honestly charts scare me a bit, so I didn’t mind!
The difficulty of the pattern was absolutely perfect for my current ability (I think of myself as a confident beginner); it was too complicated to knit in front of the TV, but it was interesting enough to knit without needing any distractions. This is probably the most challenging thing I’ve knitted so far, and I did make a few mistakes…
Firstly, something went wrong with the first ‘bobble’ I made. Where I should have knitted into the front of the stitch multiple times, I knitted into the back of the stitch without realising. I noticed my mistake quite soon after, so all the other bobbles/raindrops/leaves are correct!
I also realised that I’ve been doing yarnovers wrong for the entire time I’ve been knitting! (I had a similar revelation with purl stitches a few months ago, but I won’t get into that here…) As you can see, at the base of the thumb increases there’s a little hole where I’ve done one incorrectly. This was easy to stitch up with some matching thread though, so it didn’t really bother me.
This isn’t a mistake as such, just something I found irritating. Similar to the top of the gusset on socks, when I picked up some stitches at the start of the thumb, it looked really messy and I had to get out my matching thread again.
Although the pattern was mostly well-written, there were a couple of thing I disliked. One of my pet peeves with knitting patterns is when they say to pick up/decrease/cast on/etc stitches, but don’t specify which technique you should use. I guess for experienced knitters it allows them to choose their favourite technique, but I personally find it annoying and a little lazy. As a beginner, it’s impossible to know which of the techniques they’re referring to, especially when you look it up and realise there are about five hundred different ways of doing each technique!
So I’m not sure if these holes at the base of the thumb are unavoidable or if I’ve simply used the wrong technique…
All the mistakes I made are on the first (left) mitt, so the right mitt is pretty much perfect in comparison. Below you can see what the yarnover increases are supposed to look like, and to be honest I don’t like them even when done correctly. I think visually it would make more sense if the rest of the mitt included some kind of lace-work, as then the small holes the yarn over increases cause would ‘match’ the rest of the mitt.
All that negative stuff being said, I really, really enjoyed knitting these mitts! It was fascinating seeing such a beautiful pattern form in front of me, and I got familiar with several abbreviations that I hadn’t come across before. Despite the little mistakes, I’m super proud of these, and I feel like they’ve taken my knitting ability up a level.
One piece of advice if you decide to make them: make sure you cast off loosely, and by loosely I mean VERY loosely. On my first mitt I cast off how I normally would, and it’s a bit tight over my fingers. On the second one I made sure to do it as loosely as possible, and it’s SO much comfier! Below you can see the difference:
I almost forgot to mention the yarn I used… Cascade Heritage Silk in the colour way ‘Storm blue’. It’s one of the nicest fingering-weight yarns I’ve ever used; it feels soft and smooth against the skin and has a gorgeous sheen because of the silk content. I definitely see a pair of luxurious socks in my future!
Watch this space for more Laine projects, and until then happy knitting!