Above all else, I think knitting should be useful: the time (and, let’s face it, money) that goes into a finished item seems a waste it the garment can’t be worn or the item can’t be used, and while I can see the pleasure in knitting for the sake of knitting, I would never choose a project that didn’t fit usefully into my life in some way.

I only mention my love of practicality because my latest FO, a pair of fingerless mittens, originally set up a bit of internal struggle and debate. If mittens are for warming and protecting hands, surely a pair that leaves the fingers exposed fail to perform any useful function – especially in such a cold environment as Scotland. Legwarmers are a similar corruption of a very functional item, and the only pair I own sit idle in my sock drawer, as my experience was them was far from successful. Whilst my ankles were snug and toasty, my toes were tiny icebergs, floating in a cold floor ocean.

Oh, but I was wrong! My fingerless mittens have travelled with me all over Edinburgh over the past week, thrown into the darkest corner of my purse and retrieved for chilly afternoons and even colder evenings. I love these little guys, in part because they are even more functional than mittens or gloves during this time of year. My hands don’t end up overheated, and I don’t have to faff about with buttoning and unbuttoning my convertible mittens.

I have been singing their praises all week, especially to the members of my knitting groups who are beginners, but want to branch out. The picot edge and 11-row lace pattern give the mittens some style and a bit of interest for the knitter, but the stockinette stitch body is a chance to relax, before restarting the lace repeat at the other end. In particular, I think the yarn-overs and knit-two-togethers are a good introduction to lace, but won’t confuse a knitter who struggles to read his or her knitting. They are also knit in the round, so the maker can take a stab at double pointed needles, or perhaps magic loop. Finally, a worsted or aran weight yarn is recommended; thus, one can avoid fiddling with 4-ply and tiny needles if that all seems a bit daunting.

Now, not to brag or nothin’, but I’m no beginner knitter. These mittens were still entertaining for me to knit, and I would gladly make another pair as gifts. A very practical thing to do!

Ravelry Link: Spruced

Pattern: Susie’s Reading Mitts by Janelle Masters