Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Abigail and the Mittens

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that though Christmas 2008 is now but a fading memory and a stack of credit card bills, you might still like to see my Christmas knitting.

Mittens for Abigail

Child's mittens, two, of the "warm woolen" variety. Cheaper than bright copper kettles or cream-colored ponies, and easier to wrap than schnitzel with noodles. Also, you can start a pair of these on the 16th of December and not sweat the finish line. I was done by the 20th.

The free pattern they're based on is here. I found it through Ravelry's search feature in about four seconds. I decided to work them using Jo Sharp DK left over from Susan's ruana, in a simple color pattern I charted myself. The extra-long cuffs are a handsome feature–no snow is going to get past them, and it snows a great deal in northern New England.

I didn't have Abigail's hand measurements. I couldn't ask for them without spoiling the surprise. I realized I'd have to trust the pattern, and sneak in a fitting after I got to Maine.

Flash forward to a few days before Christmas. With both parents safely at work, my mother and I sat Abigail down to try on her gift. They fit. Delight all around. Abigail waved her warm, woolen hands cheerfully in the air and said a new word: mittens.

I was still working the two-color I-cord on the sly, and whenever Abigail caught me in flagrante me she'd say "Unka Fwank. Knit. Yarn. Mittens!" Or she'd walk into the upstairs bathroom, where we'd done the washing and blocking and trying-on, and say, "Mittens!" Or she'd see somebody on television wearing mittens and say, "Mittens. Knit. Unka Fwank!"

On Christmas Eve, I wrapped up the box in snowman paper. "Unka Fwank, Mittens!" said Abigail. "Present!"

"Listen, honeybunch," I whispered. "Let's try to keep that just between us for another twenty-fours, shall we?"

"Present!" screamed Abigail.

Abigail was fascinated by the presents. They were probably what she remembered most about last year, her first Christmas, when she'd just learned to get around the living room by rolling over. The first place she rolled to was the Christmas tree, and the first thing she did was grab a package and start ripping.

This year, being 19 months old and ambulatory, she had been warned sternly to keep clear of the tree. The presents underneath, furthermore, were not to be touched. She'd often wander over to them and stare longingly, but if she extended so much as a finger a voice would bark, "Abigail! Don't touch the presents under the tree!"

And she'd dutifully back away, leaving the glittering pile undisturbed.

Her mittens were the last gift I wrapped, and I was about to add them to the heap when somebody called me to help with something urgent in the kitchen. In my haste, I left the box on the table next to the sofa.

About half an hour later, arranging cookies on a platter, I heard a jubilant squeak followed by the sound of Phil asking, "Hey! Where did you get those?"

See my new mittens?

We had said over and over not to touch the presents under the tree. We had said nothing about presents sitting around on tables. Abigail (whose father, I might add, is a lawyer) must have decided she was safe on a technicality.

What the heck. It was Christmas Eve. And I got an early present myself, which was watching her parade around in them, refusing to take them off, fully engulfed in a flood of Mitten Joy.

Mitten Joy

You know what this is a picture of? This is a picture of a kid whose uncle will be happy to knit her a cream-colored pony and a stable to put it in if she wants one.

Mittens are cool.

117 comments:

Tricotchick said...

Hurrah for Christmas joy! Way to go Franklin! Abigail looks positively adorable, and the mittens are gorgeous! Love the colors and the pattern. You are a knitter extraordinaire. Well done!!

ohgivemeagnome said...

Awww...what a sweet story. I would knit for that little darling, too. Nothing makes a person more knitworthy than that!

CraftyKate said...

That is so adorable! Yay mittens!

Laura said...

Great job, Unka Fwank! Abigail is an absolute doll, and her joy just shines through.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Fwank! I'm going to delurk after months of enjoying your blog to tell you how much I enjoy getting to glimpse your life now and then through your words. (I'm a quilter, not a knitter, so I'm getting a little nervous now about peeping out from under my fat-quarter stash). So THANK YOU for casting purls before swine and allowing me to share in Abigail's Christmas joy. It makes me want to learn to knit...or eat schnitzel with noodles. --Ashley from GA

Madame Leiderhosen said...

Oh, great story and fantastic photographs. She is just lovely; would you be careful to not let her know about her international celebrity mitten modeling until she's, say, forty?

Unka Fwank is one rockstar knitter.

Anonymous said...

So so cute, those pictures.

Love the mittens too.
Margie in Maryland

Holly said...

Precious! Nauseatingly precious!

CatBookMom said...

Thanks for the joyful story. I'm nearly grinning at how adorable Abigail looks. The last picture is nearly priceless!

Linda said...

This must have been the year of living mittenly. My 3 year old granddaughter ask specifically for three pair and I gladly knit them up...even though the last pair arrived just after the holiday. She was so excited to get a package of mittens in the mail you would have though she had won the publisher's clearinghouse sweepstakes.
Excellent mittens Uncle Frank. Huge Uncle points.

Silly Doodah said...

She's beautiful! (And so are those mittens.)

Cheryl said...

Oh Unka Fwank...........she is sooooo cute and lucky to have such a loving uncle. Thanks for making my day.

Bonnita said...

What a wonderful story to remember forever. That little tale of the mittens will be forever a warm fuzzy.

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

I knit socks for a niece a while ago and she loved them - nothing like giving a hand-knitted gift that immediately becomes a prized possession.

Abigail continues to be completely adorable!

Jasmin said...

That is the best story EVAR! There is nothing like having a sincerely appreciative knitting audience.

Riin said...

She's adorable. I can't wait to see the knitted pony.

cordeliaknits said...

That last picture is THE BEST!!! I adore her, and the mittens. Good work, Uncle!

Tina M. said...

I am overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all, I am slain by a toddler and her mittens. I think it's the Unka Fwank part that delivered the death blow.

Mary said...

Wow! She's gotten big! I swear just the other day you had pictures of her in her lace blanket.

The mittens are great.. kids are so funny :) My boys got nice, expensive ski gloves for christmas. They sit in the mitten basket and both are wearing felted mittens I made them last year.

I made my little grandson a pair this year... he wears them all the time... including to bed :)

anne marie in philly said...

awwwwwwwww, she is one kute kidlet, unka fwank!

it is a pleasure to knit for someone who truly enjoys your creations!

Cara said...

Knitwear appreciation in action - that kid has a great future ahead of her.

Addiopolis said...

Too, too adorable. The mittens too. Great story.

Jaclyn Bailey said...

That is one seriously sweet little girl. Isnt it nice when they actually LOVE your knitting?

Mary said...

eyyeee yi yi yi so much cute ness!

Yvonne said...

Unka Fwank, will you adopt me?

Those pictures are darling and made me tear up.

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

snif

PICAdrienne said...

She has always looked darling in your knitting, however, that she appreciates your knitting puts her into an entirely new catagory. More handknits are in order. You should be thrilled. :)

B and the boys said...

Beautiful mittens. Beautiful story. Beautiful Abigail. thank you for sharing the joy of knitting and giving with Abigail and with us.

SusanB-knits said...

Abigail is so cute! and she is lucky to have a wonderful uncle who knits her such beautiful presents. The mittens are gorgeous!

Gail said...

When I opened your post, I made that kind of breath-taken Ahhhh in appreciation for the perfect mitten: beautiful yet useful with those fabulous long cuffs. (Since I grew up in Wisconsin, I'm not positive which made me gasp, the colorwork or the cuffs.)

Kristen said...

Oh man, now I'm going to be singing that all day. Better go find my blue satin sashes and just make it a parade.

Jeanne said...

God, she's a character, isn't she? That last picture... it would make me melt, too, if my toddler relatives had half as much joy over my hand-knit pwesents as yours does. Those are great mittens.

mwknitter said...

That is why the only people I knit for very much other than myself are children, especially the grands. My oldest grandson was about that age when he began to ask about my knitting (I mostly knit socks & always have them with me). So I finally asked if he would like me to knit something for him & we decided on a hat (the free Elann Dubelmossa style hat knit from sock yarn- a great pattern - goes very quickly even though it's knit on size 3 needles). I finished it in August & gave it to him. Well he wore it around for several hours in the 80°+ weather. We finally had to insist that he take it off because of the sweat running down his face. Every child I've ever knit for has reacted that way (I also knit that hat for my niece's children for Christmas a few years ago & they reacted the same way - running all over the house saying "Look what Aunt D knitted for me!")

Sue said...

Oh, she's adorable! And don't you love knitting for someone who appreciates what you've made! She's lucky to have her Unka Fwank.

Maria said...

Franklin, it sounds like Abigail has you right where she wants you! I've got a couple of little nieces like that, too. Enjoy her while she's young - once puberty sets in, nothing is ever the same with girls!!!
XOXOXOX
Maria in NY

Susan said...

Those are fabulous, and what a great reaction! Wait until she discovers hand-knit socks, though. My then-three-and-a-half-year old nephew saw me knitting and asked for a pair (red. up to my knees.); fourteen months later, I'm on pair #9. His reaction makes it totally worth the time and effort, though!

Joy said...

Extremely high awww content - love the kid, the mittens and the story. It's wonderful when our knitting is appreciated!

Mango said...

I am dying of teh cute!!!

Seriously, the mittens are so beautiful, but I suspect the reason she adores them so much is that she can feel all the love in them.

Lisa said...

Abigail's unmitigated delight is simply charming!

Last year, my nephew (aged 11) wore his newly-knitted Christmas hat...ALL DAY...(he's getting to that "sweaty age" alas, but I was trilled and delighted, nonetheless.
[Yes, trilled...!]

Looking forward to Chicago!!!

Lisa (aka LisaRae)

Lynne said...

Delurking m'self to say what a beautiful story!! What a lucky uncle you are!! (She's pretty luck too! Thank you for sharing! And... love the wacky wry humor!! Wish you a very happy new year!!! L.

greentaraknits said...

What a cute story! She is adorable.

My parents used to wrap dog bones and put them under the tree (along with our presents). Our dog Chip would sniff them out, then proceed to growl at anyone coming towards the tree and his precious bones.
Now I think they partly did that as a security device--they always knew if we were trying to snoop at the gifts!

Yvonne said...

Every little girl should have an Unca Fwank - I'm still grateful to my Uncle Mickie for teaching me how to cable.

My nieces are not interested in the knitting but the 5yr old is fascinated by her Unka Matt's cameras, zoom lenses and tripod!

JellyDonut said...

This has got holiday book written all over it! (Pun intended.)

Lovely. Thanks for posting!

kmkat said...

Awwww. The mittens are great, the story is even better. Abigail has a promising future as a lawyer ;-)

dale-harriet said...

Having a kid who looks so adorable in Unka's knittin' is a real treat. Having a kid who LOVES Unka's knittin'? PRICELESS! I can hardly believe how CUTE she is, when I'd have thought she couldn't possible get cuter, a year ago.

MAKW said...

Love the mittens and what a great story! She is too cute. Looking forward to seeing you at Threadbear this weekend!!

quinn said...

nice work, unka fwank!

Anna said...

She is just so stinkin' cute!!!

Leslie said...

What a beautiful little girl! What a lucky girl to have such a wonderful Unka.

The Knifty Knitter said...

Oh my gosh! Such a cutie patootie! I'm so glad she liked them. They turned out beautifully.

Two Beans said...

Awww. Beautiful child, beautiful mittens. Total cuteness overload. I didn't realize that your niece is only couple of months older than my son. Now I need to knit him a pair of mittens too. Poor child, I have been pulling his coat sleeves to cover his hand because the kid didn't have any mittens. Terrible mom and I need to rectify that. Any chance you can share the color work chart? Thanks
Delurk also to say that I really enjoy your blog. Your book is the first non-technical knitting books that I throughouly enjoyed and would consider buying. I have a very small, tiny book budget and have been very selective on what I buy. You are geeky, in a good way :)

yarnpiggy said...

Nice job, Unka Fwank! And nice job, Abigail! :-)

QuietdanMN said...

Abigail is one very lucky girl! Great photos, lovely knitting and a wonderful story.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

D'oh! Of COURSE we want to see it all. What a charming recipient, too.

Heather said...

Your niece is truly exceptional. That is some excellent Christmas joy! Watch out for that lawyer instinct though, you'll end up knitting a pony the minute she's old enough to read your blog.

Alwen said...

That's a little girl who knows how to get more hand-knits.

Hey. You got me bawling here. *sniff*

Anne O'Nymous said...

I'm in the coffee shop, listening to Joni Mitchell singing "Little Green" on pandora.com and reading your post. I'm glad no one sees the tears in my eyes so I don't have to explain how mittens on a little girl I don't know knit by a man I don't know (except through his writing and photography and the slanderous asides from an angry sheep) could make me weepy.

Lynn said...

Priceless.

puffthemagicrabbit said...

Simply beautiful.

FugueStateKnits said...

And there's something about her that reminds one of .... you!
:)a very good thing!
Lovely pics - such a cutie!

Karin said...

Oh Franklin that is soooo great.
Those mittens are beautiful, so is the child! Hooray for kids who appreciate knitted things...

Pat said...

If you are knitting a pony- I want one too. Or maybe I'd settle for the pattern, being an adult and all.

stash haus said...

I knew what was coming...and I think you're right that she's going to follow in her father's footsteps...the next Clara Darrow.

Joy said...

The mittens (and the mitten wearer) are adorable but, personally, I think you missed a big market niche by not drafting out a pattern for handknitted schnitzel with noodles.

Amanda said...

And somehow I think you're the one who relly got the the present. There's nothing better than a small person who loves what you make for them.

Therese said...

Great story and what an adorable photo, with the connecting cord running across her chest!

Purl Buttons said...

I think I would change the name to SMITTENS! They are lovely.~Sewbeads

Annash said...

Good job Unka Fwank! Abigail is just precious.

Elizabeth L in Apex, NC said...

Now that was an awesome story! And of course she is precious. Would that I ever made anything that made another human being so happy.

eruwenfuin said...

Those are some cool mittens for an adorable child.

CarolineF said...

Haha. She is something.
I'm impressed she can say Fwank. My daughter's godfather's name was Franco, and when she was first talking she called him Uncle Bacco.

By the way, my word verification is 'mancordz'. What do you suppose that could mean??

Jenn said...

She is sooo cute! Great Mittens too! :)

Ellen-Mary said...

Franklin, she is beautiful! I love the looks on her face. I'm glad your mittens were such a hit! What a sweetie! If I come across a knit pony pattern I'll send it your way.

Jenn said...

AWWW! this is just wonderful! It's wonderful when presents make so many people so very happy.

Syd said...

lucyAwwwwww, melts my ol' heart! You got a winner there Unka Fwank! Both the little darlin' and the mittens!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the last photo looks like she's been around Delores in a party mood....

Great mittens. Hint from a mother who knit all the mittens for her kids----when she gets older, make 3and when she leaves on on the playground under the pile of snow, she'll still have a set.

Rosi G. said...

Oh, Unka Fwank, what a beautiful story. Your love for Abigail shines in any post you make of her (not to mention the stuff you knit her). You will always definitely be THE favorite unka. :o)

xoxo

Rosi G. said...

oh, i must also say that you're the first blogger that i didn't unsub from when they got into posting baby pictures a lot (mind you, i have 4 kids). you write them in such a way that i actually LOOK FORWARD to abigail posts!

Eileen said...

You've got one lucky niece. And you're a lucky uncle. She's a gem.

I designed and knit Nascar socks for my nephews last year, at their request! (To say that associating me with Nascar is...interesting...is an understatement. But I love the little beasts, what can I say?)

janellaknits said...

wow, she is supper cute.

Seanna Lea said...

Those are great looking mittens! She must have been beside herself to open them and put them on!

Kate G. said...

You da bomb, Unka Frank. I see fromthe look on Abigail's face that she has plans for you and your needles. Stick around and you'll be asked to knit her prom gown (lace weight, of course).

Laurel said...

Ok, that is the cutest story ever, complimented by a ridiculously cute girl :)

Gamba Girl said...

I know this has been said ad nauseum by those who read and commented before me, but those mittens are cute beyond belief! The pattern has been stashed for future knitting...

Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

What a doll! What an adorable face!! Who wouldn't knit for her? You're a lucky Unk.

Amberlee said...

Simply adorable! What a great gift to get, someone who LOVED what you made for them. Satisfaction!

Gail said...

My new mission in life is to make someone that happy with an FO.

Judy in Indiana said...

I believe that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would like to speak with you about that little matter of Delores trying to climb up his pants leg just as he was administering the Oath of office to president Obama. He was clearly so flustered he couldn't get the words out. If I were you, I would lay low a few days.

Lucy said...

I am slayed by the cuteness! Nice mittens, BTW!

Sharon Rose said...

OMG! I can't decide which of you two is the luckier!

Patti said...

awww. that was such a sweet story. and such lovely mittens, and such appreciation for your knitting!! and such a lovely little girl. I just warm and fuzzy all over.

Rachel said...

Mittens are gorgeous, and Abigail is so cute in them!

I've found with my children that the gifts they remember the best are the ones that are given to them "out of turn"...like 6 month late Christmas gifts sent by my sister last year, or a sweater knitted for them in the middle of fall, etc. Children are cool that way. :)

Anonymous said...

And now I'm crying...thank you.

Susan

Laura in NC said...

That is the cutest face I've ever seen! LOVE that last picture of her in the rocking chair!

woolywoman said...

OH, a giant dose of Vitamin Cute!

KnitNana said...

She is precious. And those mittens are terrific!
(((hugs)))

LegalBecca said...

That is so adorable, and she is definitely a knitworthy recipient!

Jena the yarn harpy said...

So cute. And really, who can resist a toddler who has figured out a technicality? I like the extra-long cuff idea. As a New Englander, I might steal that for grown-up mittens. :)

Vickie said...

You are only lucky Unka! To have a hand-made gift received with that kind of enthusiasm and love is a special gift in itself.

AliP said...

Ungh..the sweetness..The cute..Its killing me! I'm meeeelllttiiinnng in to a big puddle of "Aaawwwwww!"
That is one lucky little sweetie.

Anonymous said...

Unka Fwank, you makin' me cwy.

She is so lucky to have such a loving family and an uncle who so obviously would do anything for her.

Danielle in PEI

Marjorie said...

Oooooh Franklin!! The last photo of Abigail with her I-cord is utterly adorable. You scored bigtime, dude!

pixyPhD said...

That last picture almost makes me broody. Almost.

Anne said...

Awwwww, what a sweet story! And sweet pics!

SunshineDreams said...

I hadn't been over to the purple kitty website in awhile. Thanks for reminding me it was there; I love vintage patterns!

The mittens were adorable and that last picture of Abigail was just the greatest. She's worth a knitted pony & stable, definitely :).

Linda said...

De-Lurking to let you know in my house those would be called "Automatic Mittens".

Here's why: I grew up in a 'burb of Chicago, where if you lost your mitten in winter it really mattered. In 1961 my mother got a phone call from a mother in my sister's kindergarten class wanting my Mom to tell her what automatic mittens where, because her daughter was begging for some for her birthday.

It seems that this girl loved my sisters mittens to distraction and the mom could not figure out what they were, much less where to get them. My mom was quite amused, because mittens on "special strings" had to be marketed to us as "automatic mittens" because somehow those were cool, and not baby-ish, like those that clipped onto your cuff or just had plain string and no nifty name. Also, ours always had extra long cuffs, including all of the ones I have knit for my kids. Mom was a genius.

Abigail is a lucky little girl to get such fabulous hand knit automatic mittens, created by an uncle who obviously is crazy about her. Be prepared to knit her mittens forever, because now that she knows the joys of hand knitted mittens, the store bought ones will never be good enough.

Final thought: when she gets into high school, double layer mittens will be needed for the football games, in her school colors, of course.

Really final thought: Excellent book. Thanks!

ponyknit said...

Abigail is so adorable! Thanks for sharing the story. Lovely mittens!

MagpieWench said...

yay! I was a mitten knitting factory most of December as I knit mittens for *7* nieces and nephews and my own daughter.

Everyone was tickled with their mittens, even if the adults were a little miffed that *their* holiday presents were to be delayed (6 adult presents down, 5 to go, fortunately, they don't mind getting easy care, chunky knit items).

Maybe next year I'll plan better.

Somehow I doubt it! :)

Gorgeous mittens, btw!

Penny said...

oh what precious cuteness. :)

Diana said...

An excellent story. I'll probably smile throughout the day as I think of that glowing little face. How nice. Thank you, Franklin.

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