Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Mukluks and Happy Warm Feet

When you knit the same pattern several times in a short period -- say eleven pairs of mukluks between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- the repetition leads to perfection or errors-of-distraction or both.  Every year I vow to avoid the end of year knitting marathon and every year, it seems, I find myself doing it all over again. 
Last year it was bed socks and this year mukluks.  The picture above shows the first eight pairs which were mailed in time to be opened on Christmas morning.  Three more pairs were finished up today and are pictured on my Ravelry project page.    Different yarns, sizes, colorways, and leg lengths helped to break the monotony.  The pattern is a Knitting Pure and Simple design and is also offered in a children's version which I have yet to try. 

The adult mukluk is a great pattern and I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone looking for something relatively easy to knit that will also be well received by family and friends alike.  Since I spent so much of the past month with the pattern, I had lots of time to think about how best to execute it.  Following are my personal footnotes to the Knitting Pure & Simple MukLuk Slippers pattern.

Needle(s):  the pattern lends itself especially well to the "Magic Loop" technique.  I used both 32" and 40" double point circular needles and found the 32" loop the most comfortable.  Other knitters may prefer 40" or even 47" circulars.  Knit the sole back and forth.  Be certain to leave the center knit marker in place even after starting the instep.  The center marker can then indicate the "break point" for magic loop as you begin to knit the leg.
Counting stitches:  The pattern instruction for the instep is to repeat the "last 2 rows until you have xx sts."   I quickly tired of counting and finally figured out that a little simple math (subtract instep stitches from goal and divide by 2) would reveal where to end the instep.  For example, if the instep is 12 stitches and the leg is to begin at 42 stitches, then the arithmetic is (42-12)/2 = 15.  Therefore, place markers after 15 stitches on each end of the long circular.  When the instep reaches the markers, the total stitch count will be 42.  The markers will be eliminated as you knit the last two instep decreases during the first full round of the leg.

Errors-of-distraction:  On my tenth pair (20th mukluk), I ended up frogging and reknitting the instep twice -- and finally giving up for the night.  The next morning I re-examined the entire mukluk and discovered that the mistake had occurred back in the end of the sole stitches.  Too many times through the pattern may create an inappropriate level of self-confidence.  Or perhaps the moral is simply not to knit when you should be sleeping.