My First Pair of Saltwater Mittens

by Debbie Sullivan March 19, 2019 13 Comments

My First Pair of Saltwater Mittens

Last fall knitting friend who had just returned to Montreal from a trip to St John's mentioned to me the delightful work of Christine LeGrow and Shirley Scott. They are working hard to document and preserve the Newfoundland tradition of "trigger mitts". I was intrigued by what I heard, and became further interested last December when one of our aunts sent me and Elizabeth the link to a short documentary piece on CBC's the Sunday Edition about their new book. I still hadn't yet gotten my hands on a copy of the it when the lovely folks at Boulder Publications contacted us earlier this year and asked if we would be interested in carrying Saltwater Mittens From the Island of Newfoundland. But by then we had heard such good things about it already that we happily said "yes"!

Colourful ring of mittens with diamond pattern

I had high expectations for this book, and when we got our first batch of them in the mail and I finally got a chance to read it myself I wasn't disappointed. The mittens featured in the book are both practical and beautiful, featuring bold and graphic traditional colourwork patterns. They're traditionally knit from sturdy wool that stands up well to use in all weather and use the unique Newfoundland "trigger finger" construction for warmth and dexterity.

One of the things I love about the way this book is put together is that all of the designs are shown in multiple variations and colour combinations (such as the Big Diamonds pattern in the photo above). This makes the book itself a visual treat, and I think also encourages the reader to have fun and experiment with creating their own combinations, rather than attempting to make exact replicas.

Bowl of colourful baby mittens featuring graphic patterns

For knitters who are new to working with two colours these patterns may seem a bit daunting, but the authors carefully walk the knitter through each step of planning and executing their project. Their conversational tone makes the detailed instructions very accessible, and they cover every aspect of the process from yarn selection and colour choices to increase and cast-off techniques. They also recommend beginners start with a pair of "Wee Ones" (their baby mitt pattern, shown above) as a way to practice the colourwork techniques on a small project with minimal shaping. 

Spring Ice trigger mittens in dark grey and white pattern

 Although the baby mitts are adorable, and I'm sure I will knit a pair or two in the future, I actually need a new pair of mittens myself, so decided that I would try my hand at a pattern called Spring Ice, which is given in a women's size and features the traditional trigger mitt shaping.

Cuff and partially knit hand of mitt in light and dark blue pattern

I'm working these up in Andante (our superwash merino worsted weight) and am super pleased with how they're turning out. Once I got started on the pattern it was hard to put down, I kept wanting to knit one more round to see the design continue to emerge under my needles. 

Another charming aspect of the book is the inclusion of little tidbits of wit and wisdom from Newfoundland knitters, and I think my favourite is this quote from Elizabeth Warner: 

Quote from Newfoundland knitter in red text

I unfortunately am not so practiced at knitting in my sleep, so eventually had to give in and leave my newly started mitt to go to bed, but not before I had nearly completed all the thumb gore increases! 

Palm of mitten in light and dark blue pattern showing thumb gore increases

I think the rest of these mitts will knit up very quickly, and I might get them done while it's still cold enough to need them this year... 

We have the Saltwater Mittens book available now, so if you're inspired to join me in being part of this continuing mitten tradition you can purchase your own copy right here! 





Debbie Sullivan
Debbie Sullivan

Author


13 Responses

Debbie
Debbie

March 16, 2021

Hi Ronda,

The pattern is written to be worked on a set of 4 double-pointed needles, so your stitches will be divided over 3 needles. The instruction to “arrange” them simply means to make sure you have 24 sts on the 1st needle, 13 sts on the 2nd needle, and 12 sts on the 3rd needle (you should have 49 sts total). You may need to slip some stitches from one needle over to another to make this work out.

If you happen to be knitting your mitts with 2 circular needles you can split them so you have 24 on the 1st needle and 25 on the 2nd one instead.

Hope that helps!
Debbie

Ronda Furlan
Ronda Furlan

March 16, 2021

I am making the Mummers Mittens in a ladies size M and on page 129 of the first book, SaltWater Mittens, just before shaping the top it says to ‘arrange stitches 24, 13, 12.’ ‘Arrange’ them to do what?

Jane
Jane

January 12, 2021

how do you pick up the 5 sts in the thumb garret of the blowin, a gale mitt.
please help.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

January 10, 2021

Hi Pamela,

The thumb gusset chart for the Blowin’ A Gale pattern is shaped this way because the gusset starts with a very small number of stitches and then gets bigger as you increase. You can completely ignore the empty space between the squares. I think it’s shown this way with the two columns of dark stitches to give a visual representation because you’ll see these columns on either side of the gusset in your knitting.

So after Rnd 1, you’ll have 5 sts in the gusset between the markers.
Rnd 2: increase 2 more sts to have 7 in the gusset
Rnd 3: still 7 sts
Rnd 4: still 7 sts
Rnd 5 increase 2 more sts to 9 sts
Rnd 6: still 9 sts

And so on until you get to the full gusset width of 19 sts on Rnd 20. I hope this helps! Please do let us know if you’re still getting stuck.

Elizabeth

Pamela
Pamela

January 05, 2021

I’m knitting trigger mitts for men “tangly”, page 178 of this book….i’m having a problem understanding what the blank spares mean for “Blowin’ a Gale thumb gusset chart”….also should I always have 17 sts (start to finish)of the gusset?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

October 05, 2020

Hi Vony,

I’ve sent you an email. If you’re still having trouble with the thumb gussets I’ll be happy to help you out!

Elizabeth
Sweet Paprika

Vony
Vony

September 28, 2020

I do not understand the thumb gusset chart

Debbie
Debbie

August 21, 2020

Hi Marjorie,

I just sent you a quick email, if you let us know what pattern you’re using and a bit more detail about what you’re getting stuck with we’ll do our best to help you out.

Debbie

Marjorie Watts
Marjorie Watts

August 16, 2020

my mind goes blank when I finish the thumb gusset. I am just doing a sample before I use my good yarn.I really want to know how to knit these mitts.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

March 04, 2020

Hi Amanda,

I just sent you an email :) I’m sure we can help you get those thumb gussets sorted!

Elizabeth

Amanda Arseneault
Amanda Arseneault

March 03, 2020

Im not new to knitting and have worked charts before but im mind boggled on the thumb gusset charts. If someone could please email me a response i could send a picture of what im confused by. Im certain im just having a brain fart and need a good knock to clear my head lol. Thanks Amanda

Shirley Gallant
Shirley Gallant

December 20, 2019

My husband purchased book for me so I could improve my trigger finger pattern.I am on my third pair and am
Hooked to say the least !Cant wait to try every pattern !

Jennifer
Jennifer

April 07, 2019

I bought this book and loved reading it! Actual knitting something is next, so please do let us know how yours turn out. I’m very curious if the trigger finger style looks, um, dainty or not. The patterns that call out to me in the book are all women’s sizes that I would have to adjust for my sizable hands, and I just can’t tell if the trigger fingers would look nice when worn or not. Handy perhaps, but would I look like a Lego figurine?

Thanks again for the detailed description of the book that convinced me to buy it. It is a fun read!!

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