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Mystery Revealed: Vertigo

With the spookiness of Halloween now behind us, it's become time to reveal the mystery behind the 2020 Halloween Mystery Mittens.

This year's inspiration movie was not as much straight-up horror but rather a slow-paced psychological thriller by the Master of Suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock: the 1958 movie Vertigo starring James Stewart and Kim Novak.

I actually had my mind set on another Hitchcock classic first, the 1960 B&W film Psycho. But just thinking about depicting The Mother on the mittens started freaking me out so I opted for a mellower one. I believe I wrote last year about being a chicken *bleep* when it comes to horror movies? Case in point.

Vertigo seemed thematically apt this year, with many people experiencing all kinds of neurovisual symptoms when using the new look on Ravelry. To this day, these issues go unaddressed and those who report them are quickly silenced. That is why all proceeds of the mitten pattern sales made off-Ravelry will — in perpetuity — be donated to the International Bureau for Epilepsy. That includes Payhip, now LoveCrafts as well, and any other non-Ravelry platform I might add my patterns to in the future.

So what's the movie about? Private eye and vertigo-sufferer Scottie, played by James Stewart, is hired by his former college buddy to tail his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) to find out where and how she spends her days. Creepy much? But there's more to the story: Madeleine is haunted by the memory of a woman who used to live in San Francisco in 1800s. Is she possessed or just going insane? Or is there something even more sinister going on? Spoiler: there is. But I'm not going to tell you what it is. You have to watch the movie to its shocking end to find out.

Two of the three scenes depicted on the mittens come from black-and-white promo stills of the movie. On the left mitten is my favorite of the stills, Scottie rescuing Madeleine from the ocean in front of the iconic Golden Gate bridge.

The bottom picture on the right mitten is an amalgamation of a scene in the movie with some artistic license thrown in. Scottie kissing Madeleine with the storming Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. In the movie they pass the crooked and twisting husk of a tree trunk farther away on their way to the shore but it was such a recognizable tree I wanted to throw it in.

The upper portion of the right mitten takes place in the old Spanish mission they visit in the movie. In the still Scottie is accosting Madeleine to spill the beans. In the mitten, though, it looks like Scottie's strangling her so it came out more menacing than was my intention. Oops. 🙈

The palm side of the mittens features a stylized version of the Vertigo swirl that pops up again and again in the movie. Instead of one big dizzying swirl I wanted to do two conjoining ones going in opposite directions. What's the truth, what's subterfuge? Who's the mad one here?

The mittens come with two thumb options, and to tell you the truth, I only came up with the easier one late into the test knitting of this pattern. The simpler thumb features a swirling design that spirals around and around the thumb. This thumb version has shorter floats so it's easier to work if you're using a traditional way of catching floats.

For the other thumb I recommend using the Ladderback Jacquard technique. The small circumference of the thumb makes it tricky to work in the best of cases and even more so with quite a large motif added on it. This thumb design reveals a big hint of the movie, if you hadn't guessed it at this point. Sir Hitchcock's signature move was to slyly insert himself into his movies — in Vertigo he appears just minutes into the movie passing by the docks. Here he is in a hidden profile on the back of the thumb.

What's in store for next year? I already have my sights set on for some creepy crawlies but, who knows, I might change my mind again. 😉


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Vertigo :: colorwork mittens knitting pattern

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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