A Lady Wears Lace: Bree’s Mittens for her Lord John Grey’s

lacemitts203The historic record is pretty firm on two points: women in the 18th century did not drape themselves in knit shawls, and light, angora, lace, mittens.. weren’t part of the wardrobe either.  

There’s a school of thought which argues that they did exist, they just didn’t make it into the inventories, paintings, or records of the period.  We haven’t found them in a bog, or tucked away in a chest, because they were repurposed into something else, or wore completely out.  But just because we can’t find them doesn’t mean they didn’t exist!

Yes, well… you can’t prove a negative, but based on the information we do have, these little angora mittens are not period.  Period to Bree’s 1960 experience, yes.  And since the two of them are hand and glove in Drums of Autumn (Outlander)
there’s a certain logic to dubbing these Bree’s Lace Liners.

lacemitts208I rushed through creating a third pair of these in an effort to nail down this design because there’s great swaths of the country, Fraser’s Ridge country, which is experiencing what Laura Ingalls would call “A Bad Winter.”  People who never thought they’d need mittens might want to work up a pair.  And people who’ve never thought of doubling up on mittens might want to consider this a lace liner for Lord John Grey’s Felted Mitten pattern.  I’ve been wearing the two together for a couple of years now.. my poor Lord John’s have seen so much abuse I finally brushed the felt, a technique used with Icelandic wool and to make the Swedish Lovikka Mitten.. the Icelandic Sheep Breeder’s Association has thoughtfully put up a free pattern for Lovikka Mittens, if you’d like to try making a pair of mittens with a similar appearance to the Lord John Grey’s, but out of bulkier yarn.

Like the tip of the Lord John’s the mitten is rounded at the top.  Rounding a mitten is actually a little tricky.. rounding with a lace pattern a bit fiddly.  If you find you’ve lost your place, don’t worry about it.  Just add a stitch or take one in to balance things out and keep going.  It’s a mitten.  Nobody will notice.

lacemitts201

Bree’s Lace Mittens

These mittens are knit out of The Farm at Morrison Corner’s Merino/Angora sport weight blend. 1 2oz skein, and the color is… River Run Indigo Blue , which was indecently good fun to work with.  A bit magical to be working with a yarn you created, in a color you grew the plants for.  The needle size is a US 2 or 3.0 mm, either double points or, as i do it, a 32″ circular needle.  If you’re not familiar with the magic loop method of working small pieces on long circular needles a quick trip to youtube should set you right up.

This is one of the oldest, and simplest stitch patterns, and is used in Amanda’s Shawl pattern, called alternately “Feather and Fan” or “Old Shale” I’m omitting the purl row for a flatter lace.  So across 24 stitches the pattern will look like so:

angorabun05K row
K2 tog K2 tog (YO, K1)4x, K2togThroughTheBackLoops, K2TTBL, K2 tog, K2 tog, (YO, K1)4x, K2TTBL, K2TTBL
K row
K row

Raised rib is created by Knitting into the back of the K stitch, P1: K1, P1 rib, just knitting into the back of the stitch instead of the front.

Cast on 53 stitches.
Place 2 + 24 + 3 stitches on one needle for the back (29 total)
RRK1P1, K 24 stitches of the lace pattern, P1 RRK1 P1
Place the remaining stitches either on the other half of the magic loop, or divide on 2 needles: RRK1P! around

Repeat for 6 rounds of the pattern, ending with the third row… or however long you’d like the cuff.  But this length works with the single skein.
Inc. round: K1 inc. 1 K1.. knit in pattern 24 st.  K3 /  For the left mitten, knit across palm, adding 6 st. evenly spaced until the last 4 stitches: P, K, P, K.  The Purl stitches are the edges of your thumb gore.

Knit around, maintaining your 24 pattern stitches within the 3 framing stitches, knit around the palm, preserving those two purl lines.

Now.. you’re going to increase the thumb gore to 19 stitches.  So every other row add 2 stitches between your purl markers while maintaining your lace pattern across the back.  In 6 pattern elements you’ll be able to put 19 thumb stitches on a holder, cast on 1 over the hole, and continue on in the pattern for another 9 pattern elements, or until the mitten covers your little finger.

By now you have more than a passing familiarity with this lace pattern and know that for every decreased stitch you’re doing a YO to add a stitch.  So.. to decrease the tip, but maintain a lace, you’re going to decrease 4 stitches, a set of decreases on either side of your lace element, in the third row.  So K3 K2 tog K8 K2 tog K2tog K8 K2 tog K3.  On the front of your mitten K3, K2 tog ttbl, Knit to the last 5 st. K3 tog, K3.

Knit one round

Now, for your lace pattern, K3, K2 tog, (YO K1) 3x, K2ttbl, K2ttbl, K2 tog K2 tog,  (YO K1) 3x K2ttbl K3.

On the front K3 K2ttbl, knit to last 5, K2 tog K3

Every third row of the lace pattern you’re going to take out 4 stitches, and at this point, this becomes a judgement call.. take them out in a way that appeals to you, either trying to continue your lace “straight” or drawing the two lines of lace together.  Just remember for every K2 tog in the lace pattern there is a corresponding YO.

And every other row on the front, keep decreasing.  The front and back will have matching decreases, just in a different order.

Try your mitten on and when it gets up over your tallest finger decrease rapidly by decreasing every round until you have 12 stitches left.  Cut your yarn, pick up the stitches, and darn them together.

For the thumb: pick up 19 stitches from your holder, and 4 stitches across the gap.  K 1 row.  Now, decrease 2 st. on either side of the gap.  Knit another row around, then knit the two gap stitches together: 20 stitches around.  Knit up until the thumb almost covers yours then dec by (K2 K2tog) around, (K1, K2 tog) around, (K2 tog) around, cut, pu stitches and darn the tip together.

lacemitts202Make a second mitten (being sure to put the thumb on the other side), and tuck them into your Lord John’s!

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