Chevron Mittens, Or, What Was I So Afraid Of?

Have you ever been so afraid of a technique that you avoided it, missing out on beautiful garments and new patterns simply because they contained the thing that you feared? Have you ever capped yourself at a certain level, thinking “I can sew, but I can’t sew that?”
As if sewing a skirt is possible, but moving on to sewing coats is just too much to take on?

Well, that was me. I was afraid of colourwork knitting. Knitting with more than one colour in the same line, knitting motifs and patterns in various colours. I even took a colourwork class, but I was sort of expecting there to be a secret to colourwork, and when there wasn’t I went back to avoiding it. Beautiful fairisle sweaters, I thought I would never own them. I was resigned to knitting only solid things, telling myself that solid things were way more practical anyways.

And then – I did it! I knit colourwork. And it really wasn’t so hard, not at all painful, and actually quite fast. (It’s fast because there’s a mini-goal, get to the next colour! And the next colour, and the next…)

chevron love mittens

The pattern is Chevron Love Mittens, also available as a kit with yarn and pattern included, which is what I did so that I didn’t have a ton of leftover yarn. And also because I really liked the colour schemes. (If I’d bought full skeins of yarn for each colour that would be a ton of yarn leftover at the end!) Buy mitten kits and the pattern here. Ravelry link to my project here.

chevron mittens close up

I picked these colours to match my coral rubber boots, which I bought on my birthday because it rains all the time here. Why not give yourself a reason to be excited about rain? (I realize that this is very much what children do, get excited about rain so they can wear rain boots and splash in puddles, and I don’t care!)

coral hunter rubber boots match my mittens!

But in my case, I’ll be putting on my awesome blue Robson Trench, my coral rubber boots and my toasty-warm Chevron Love Mittens. Bring on the rain, rainy Vancouver! I’ll be facing it in style.

robson trench coat and chevron mittens

I liked these mittens so much, I wore them before they were finished! With colourwork, there are strands of yarn going across the back of your work, so whatever you’re knitting ends up twice as warm because it’s twice as thick.

super warm mittens

Although, you do end up with a lot of loose ends that need to be woven in at the end! (I think I counted 124 ends.)

a lot of loose ends of yarn to work in!

So yeah. Colourwork, not actually that scary. I didn’t even master the fancy way of doing it, holding one colour in the left hand and the other in the right. I picked up the colour, knit what I had to knit, let it drop, picked up the second colour and knit with it, let that one drop and pick up the first colour. Sure, there are other ways, probably faster and better ones, but you can see that we all end up at the same result – mittens!

chevron mittens - love them!

I’ve been sewing for over twenty years (probably closer to 25 at this point!) and knitting for nearly two, and I still find myself fearing certain techniques. I know deep down that nothing in the knitting or sewing world is life or death, and yet still I avoided knitting with two colours! How silly. Now a whole new world of knitting in colours and fair-isle patterns has opened up to me!

So if there’s something that you’re afraid of, think of me and my silly fear of knitting with two colours of yarn. That sort of mental block can happen to anyone, no matter how confident they are in other areas of their craft! Don’t let fear stop you from making stuff!

(And now, I’m off to pick out my next colourwork project. Have a great day!)

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55 Responses to Chevron Mittens, Or, What Was I So Afraid Of?

  1. Susan April 22, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    A great post Tasia! I know exactly what you mean about “blocks” and I’m much older than you, still setting goals in terms of deciding which “fear” I feel ready to face. A couple months ago I learned to weave and produced a wearable scarf — it was so much fun.

    Your mitts are beautiful.

  2. Sarah April 22, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    I’m afraid of sewing button holes. I don’t know why. I was terrified of sewing in a zipper until I actually did one. My next dress is a wrap, so I’m still putting it off!

  3. Jeri Sullivan April 22, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    I am like you when it comes to knitting with more than one color. I started knitting about two years ago and while I wasn’t scared of knitting large projects such as skirts and sweaters, I still haven’t gotten the nerve to knit with more than one ball of yarn at a time. It is silly really considering I absolutely love prints and multicolored clothing. In fact, I have knit many items with varigated yarns just to get the multicolor look without having to drop and pick up the different color yarns!

    Your mittens are beautiful and if it wasn’t already warming up to the 80F levels in South Carolina, I would cast those on ASAP.

  4. Roxanne April 22, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Beautiful mittens to wear with a great raincoat! How about spit splicing to avoid all the loose ends?

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      Good idea if the colours were the same, but I would be splicing red to pink, and I think that would look weird! Spit-splicing is kind of gross and people look at you funny when you do it but I love that you have less ends to work in that way :)

  5. Julie April 22, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Yep, I’m the same way! After sewing for 20+ years (though not frequently until last year), I only just tackled buttonholes this weekend. It took a lot of practice but they actually turned out great, like your mittens :)

  6. Sew Exhausted April 22, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    They are gorgeous! I love the colors- The chevron DOES look challenging and as a non-knitter I am impressed! ~Laurie

  7. Marloes April 22, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Those mitts look great. One of my first projects was colourwork and since have followed quite a few but never a single one with that many ends to sew in. If always try to carry my strands up to avoid to much sewing in;) Hope that you get quite a lot of wear out of them, I try to think they will last twice as long as regular knitting because of their double layers:)

  8. Jane April 22, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    I had the same fear of colorwork, but I wanted the Endpaper Mitts SO BADLY that I got over it. Colorwork is fun now! Except that I do hold my yarn the way you do…I’ve never been able to hold yarn like a pro.

  9. Cathi April 22, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    I know exactly what you mean Tasia! Congrats on facing a knitting fear and winning so beautifully. Your mitts are gorgeous.

  10. Jan April 22, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Beautiful! Congrats!!

  11. Bridget April 22, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Lovely mittens! They do make a cheerful combination with your wellies and coat. There’s no need to dress gloomy just because the weather is less than ideal!

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Oh exactly! If I only dressed nice when the weather was nice I’d never get to dress up :)

  12. Pamela April 22, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    So cheery, along with your wellies!

  13. Kristin April 22, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    This was such an inspiring post! :) Your mittens turned out beautifully. I’ve been knitting for about a year and a half, and colorwork is one of those things that has always mystified and intimidated me. I’ve recently been working on a project (a stuffed Dalek from the TV show Doctor Who) that has been challenging for me in several ways…tons of bobbles (which I’d done on one project before), a tiny bit of colorwork, knitting I-cords (which is so much simpler than I expected!), etc. I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out, and I’m glad I pushed myself.

    This year I want to knit myself a sweater (I’ve only made a baby one before) and experiment with more colorwork. Have you seen the mittens by SpillyJane (http://www.ravelry.com/designers/spillyjane) on Ravelry? She has so many with adorable colorwork motifs, and I want to try one of her patterns eventually. :)

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      I have seen the SpillyJane designs! So many colours and cute patterns. I haven’t done bobbles yet but I have some patterns that have you making bobbles, so that’s on the list! Best of luck knitting your first sweater and your colourwork mittens!

  14. Colleen April 22, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Adorable!!!!!!

  15. Jan Anderson April 22, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    I love the knitting projects that you post, Tasia. Although I have sewn for many years, knitting is the craft I fear the most. I was one of the girls who could not knit a square potholder for my brownie badge! My mother was a wonderful knitter, but she gave up my knitting skills.

    Another thing I fear greatly is machine buttonholes, which I am doing on a man’s shirt right now. I practice and practice till I get the right size, and still it DOES NOT look right. Any suggestions?

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 11:02 am #

      Hm, machine made buttonholes.. What doesn’t look right about yours? Too big, stitching too far apart, not straight, frayed opening?

      I like to use Fray-Check before cutting open the buttonhole. It will keep the buttonhole from fraying and looking sloppy. A buttonhole cutter is better than scissors as it cuts cleanly in a straight line. If the stitching is too open and not dense enough, shorten the stitch length. If the machine is eating your fabric as you try to make a buttonhole, clean out the bobbin case to get rid of lint or dust, check if your machine needs oiling. Change to a new, sharp machine needle. Be sure to use nice-quality thread so the stitching is smooth.

      These are all the things I would try! Hope this helps!

  16. Stephanie April 22, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I have the opposite problem! I find some sewing techniques scary. It’s simply because I’ve been knitting since I was a kid but sewing only in the last few years. My latest fears are trousers and bound button holes. I hope to get over them this year :) It’s a learning process and never as bad as you think it’ll be once you get going.

    Those mittens are so cute!

  17. Sarah April 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Really pretty! Lovely work. :)

  18. LLBB April 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    So pretty! I love how you have a whole ensemble with them! A kit seems like a great idea to get started in colorwork. Like you say, I think it’d be great not to have many random amounts of leftovers.
    It’s funny because I was just thinking a couple weeks ago that I bet a lot of people are going to get into colorwork. I was doing my first striped project and realizing that a lot of us newer knitters haven’t gotten into color work yet. I was thinking I might see some of it soon (like in the sewing world when people get more experienced and stretch themselves with new types of projects, like jeans, bras, jackets, etc.) And here’s your post!

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Yup, it’s colourwork season! Or it is here at least. I have a whole bunch of new projects planned now that I can knit with different colours! Stripes are fun as well. I like to see the progression, and you notice it more when there are different colours instead of a sea of plain colour.

  19. Lucy April 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Beautiful! And then I thought, I’m sure I could do that. I’d like colourful knitted stuff! And then I saw 124 loose ends to weave in.

    I think I’ll just stick with single colours ;-)

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Haha! Well, at knitting night, someone told me I could have carried them up, by twisting them around the other colours, so that would have saved me about 60% of the ends. Should have asked them before starting! :)

  20. Lori Linton April 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Spectacular. Really eye catching…I’d love to know how you did it. Looks aweful commplicated and time consuming but soooo worth it. Lucky , talented you!

  21. Rachelle April 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Great job Tasia! Those are beautiful mittens.
    I feel the same way about many sewing techniques, but so far I haven’t been able to make enough time to just sit and try out new things in projects! It continues to be something I aspire to do soon though.
    I also felt the same way about knitting socks. Now that I’ve knit one pair (http://abackwardsprogress.blogspot.ca/2012/09/finishing-fridays-socks.html) , I know I can do it, and funny thing is, I also know that when I mess up, it isn’t always a big deal! For this pair of socks, I misinterpreted the pattern pretty badly, but they still fulfill the purpose of socks quite well. Tackling that feared project taught me a great lesson about relaxing while crafting!

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Yes! For me the lesson about relaxing is about speed, I want to knit ALL the things right now and wear them and plan sewing projects to match them… but realistically, it can take two to three months to knit a sweater, so I have to be patient. :)

  22. Lizzy April 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    These mittens are awesome, and I don’t care what you say, they still look intimidating to me!

    Side note, is anyone else sick of everyone using the term chevron to describe zigzags? A chevron is just a single “V”. I guess the term zigzag doesn’t sound fancy enough? I got really confused a couple years ago when I was searching for zigzag fabric on the internet and couldn’t find any… turns out everyone just started calling it chevron. Stop changing the names of things!

  23. Deb April 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    I do not knit Tasia but these mittens are gorgeous and well done. Bravo!!!!! You are a talented girl and I am so glad I have found your blog. Inspirational for this ol’ gal.

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      Thank you! I was always inspired by knitters on sewing blogs before I started knitting, it’s never too late to learn if you want to! (I’ve only been knitting for two years now, so it’s totally possible!)

  24. Meredith April 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    I was afraid of colorwork, too! I’ve now down several small colorwork projects, and while my tension is still not what I’d like it to be, I love doing them.

    I’m much more fearless when it comes to choosing knitting projects than I am with sewing projects. There’s so much about sewing that makes me feel less confident: fitting issues, permanence of cutting, not knowing how a fabric and pattern will work together. Maybe I should funnel my fearlessness in using new knitting techniques into my sewing!

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Yes! And what’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t turn out? At least you got some practice and you’re farther along than having never started. Sewing, matching fabric to pattern, and fitting is a lifelong learning experience. No one gets it perfect right out of the gate and even us who have been sewing for years and years still make some odd choices matching fabric to pattern, but we file that one away and keep on going!

  25. Jen April 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Yes yes yes!! All the time! Before I do go all out and incorporate TWO (woah!) colours into my knitting, I still feel like I need to brush up on my skills first. But watch this space :)

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      I thought it was going to be way worse – the trick is not to pull the yarns too tight as you switch colours. I was terrified of making a hole so I would pull it super-tight, but then the whole thing ends up too small. Relaxed, loose yarns floating across the back is the way to go. Good luck!
      Tasha had some good posts on colourwork knitting here – http://blog.bygumbygolly.com/p/vintage-knitting-college.html

  26. Flavie April 23, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    Gorgeous :)

  27. Alex April 23, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    The look so pretty and match so well. Massively jealous of your rain boots!

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Ah thanks! Yup, it rains here so much, it’s well worth investing in pretty and well-made rainboots.

  28. Katherine April 23, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    Those are beautiful mittens! I might have to check out those kits! I really love stranded knitting!

    I’ve found that a lot of new knitting techniques appear very challenging before you actually try them, and then once you have tried it, you kick yourself for not trying it earlier because it’s SOOO EASY!!

    And interestingly, I have the reverse experience as you – over 2 decades of knitting experience and less than 2 of sewing (well, sewing with serious intent). Maybe I should apply my fearlessness in trying new knitting techniques to all those sewing techniques that look intimidatingly scary! Bound buttonholes, here I come!

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Yes! Bound buttonholes are not that bad. I have a thorough tutorial with tons of photos here – http://sewaholic.net/bound-buttonholes-my-favourite-method/ and of all the methods I’ve tried this is my tried and true method. It’s fairly easy and it gives the best results! (But definitely make a practice buttonhole or two first.) Good luck!

  29. Krista April 23, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    These are amazing! The colors are so vibrant and beautiful! What a perfect reward for conquering your fear. :)

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Thank you! The colours totally make the project, the kit seller really had a good eye for picking colours.

  30. Adrienne April 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    That was such a cute post, Tasia! Your positive outlook on craft — and life — never ceased to amaze me.

    • Tasia April 24, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Aw, thanks! You have to be positive when you’re running a business because there is so much that can get you down otherwise! Taxes, problems with vendors, delays, postal strikes, technical issues, the list goes on and on! But at the end of the day, I get to make something cool and share it with even cooler people, and that makes it all worthwhile :)

  31. Clipped Curves April 24, 2013 at 2:34 am #

    I’m completely fearless when it comes to knitting. Sewing however, I have a chronic fear of zips… hopefully a course I’ve signed up to will quash that and my block will be lifted.

  32. Jessica April 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Oooooh! Lovely. You will be facing the rain in STYLE! Ah, I’ve definitely got my sewing blocks – coats and pants are what’s left on the list, that and slippery fabric. Somehow I’m more willing to tackle new knitting techniques, it feels less stressful somehow. Something about maneuvering fabric through the machine … the cutting … and also, dealing with fit. Compared to that, knitting is so forgiving! However, I love how much more quickly sewing projects finish up. Then again, I never thought I’d do knits, or dresses or blouses either. Guess it’s just about babystepping my way in :-).

  33. Elizabeth April 25, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Those are super lovely, and this post is just the best! <3

  34. Lisa April 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    OH CUTE!! I just had to go & buy that kit too–in a different colorway! Shoot! ha! Enabler!
    PS…made your Hollyburn skirt, Renfrew Top & now working on my 2nd Pendrell top!

  35. Virginia April 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been terrified about sewing stretch fabric for ages but I’m thinking about trying it now, even if it’s just some stitching samples.

  36. Kelly April 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Beautiful, beautiful mittens!! I feel scared of knitting a sweater, which I know is crazy because I’ve done all sorts of other things like colorwork, cables, charted patterns, etc.

  37. Leigh April 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    My fear of knitting in two colours started with a pair of socks that were all puckered. It took seven years, a Norweigan Aunty, and a whole Marius Swaeter. I’m well cured now! Great mittens the way.

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