Kässäkirstu (loosely translated as 'crafts chest') is a yarn subscription box organized by two Finnish fiber arts entrepreneurs. Laura is the dyer behind Wool Me Once Fibers and Lina runs a crafts store named Pynja and sews handmade project bags and other notions. Kässäkirstu, a yarn subscription box that started in 2020, is their collaborative effort.
In the year 2021, the contents of the subscription box highlight Finnish female painters. Each bi-monthly shipment contains a pattern from a Finnish indie designer, two skeins of yarn dyed yarn, a hand-sewn notion, a stitch marker, and a postcard — all carefully selected to match the month's theme.
I got the extreme pleasure to be chosen to be a part of April 2021 round. The contents of this month's chest were inspired by Maria Wiik's late 19th-century painting depicting a vaseful of wild Linnaea Borealis flowers. The colors of the April box led me to design something delicate, feminine, springy, and old-timey. Linnea Mitts are a nod to yesteryear's opera gloves, a part of high-society women's formal clothing, but with a modern — and more practical — twist with mid-forearm length cuffs and fingerless at the top to leave your hands free.
My original sketch differs somewhat of what the pattern ended up being. Initially, I had planned to include more alternating tiers of garter stitch and lace. Knitting the cuffs, however, I realized it was better to let the delicate lace pattern shine without interrupting it. The thumb and finger opening were supposed to end in twisted ribbing but I decided to tie them together with garter stitch instead of introducing yet another stitch pattern.
The April box comes with not only one but two yarn bases: a soft fingering-weight merino sock yarn and a ethereal, fluffy silk mohair. The long cuffs of the mitts are worked in a simple lace pattern using the raspberry red silk mohair (Wool Me Once Fibers Kid Mohair Silk, 72% kid mohair, 28% silk, 420 m/50 g) in the colorway Art Passionné. The rest of the mitts are knit in the merino sock yarn (Wool Me Once Fibers Merino Sock, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 400 m/100 g) in a lovely variegated yarn with hints of pale pink, soft greens, and tiny flecks of dark purple. The colorway is named after the Maria Wiik painting: Linnaea Borealis.
A couple of special knitting techniques are used in the pattern. The mitts start and end with narrow garter stitch edgings. To match the look of garter stitch, stitches are cast on using the German Twisted (a.k.a. Old Norwegian) cast-on method. Likewise, stitches are bound off using the Icelandic Bind-off to mimic the look of bumpy garter stitch.
The back of the hand is decorated with a slip-stitch cable pattern that imitates the look of the paired flowers on the Linnaea Borealis after which the plant gets its common name "twinflower". The stitch pattern is easy to memorize and quick to knit... and after a couple of twists you don't even need a cable needle to do it. The lace pattern used on the cuff is a simplified variation of the one used on the Milky Oolong shawl pattern, based on Ostrich Plumes from Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.
Linnea Mitts come in three sizes — Small, Medium, and Large — with 52, 56, and 60 sts, respectively. Pretty much everything else in the pattern is adjustable (or adjustable within pattern) to fit your measurements. If you're between sizes, I'd recommend going with the smaller one to make snug-fitting mitts. My sample pair was knit in the Medium size and is a little loose for me.
These mitts are quick to knit and don't take much yarn — leftovers, scraps, or partial skeins are ideal. To knit the pattern you need small amounts of two yarn weights: around 30–45 g (less than half a skein!) or approx. 125–170 m (135–185 yd) of fingering-weight (sock) yarn and 10–15 g or approx. 85-125 m (90–140) of fluffy lace weight.
If you're one of the lucky ones who managed to grab this month's chest — they sold out in a couple of days — share photos of your version of the mitts with the hashtags #linneamitts and #talviknits. Don't forget to tag #woolmenoncefibers and #studiopynja, too. For the rest, the pattern will be available for purchase in April 2022.
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