Who likes knitting mittens? Toques? Scarves? Now, who is always satisfied that the winter garments they knit are warm enough? This week, we're going to go over the materials and techniques you can use to ensure that your winter mitts will do a good job of keeping ears, fingers and chins nice and warm in the midst of a Canadian December. STEP 1: CHOOSE WOOL!
Wool is naturally insulating and wicks moisture away from the skin. Avoid cottons and acrylics; such fibers often capture moisture, where it can freeze and actually result in a garment that is colder than the surrounding air. Not often the result we're looking for in winter wear! STEP 2: KEEP THAT GAUGE AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN
Loosely knitted fabric will leave a lot of gaps for wind to cut through; an ideal winter garment should feel stiff, which requires working with smaller needles. Needles that are two or even three sizes smaller than what you usually use for summer garments are probably ideal.
STEP 3: DOUBLE-STRAND
To create a warmer garment, always hold your yarn doubled. When you’re double-stranding yarn, there’s a quick calculation that can help you assess the gauge you might get and the needle size you might need. If you’re working two strands of the same yarn together, you can expect to get a gauge of about two thirds of the gauge of the yarn worked single-stranded. That is, if you expect 30 stitches across 4 inches (10 cm) in 1 strand of fingering weight, when you knit it doubled, you can expect a gauge of around 30 x 2/3 = 20 stitches in 4 inches (10 cm), which is the equivalent of a worsted weight.
STEP 4: LINING
Use roving to plug-up the gaps in your knit, use sewn fabric to create a liner to fit inside your knit or knit a smaller, lighter liner to fit inside your knit. Or you can cheat and just go buy a liner at a store. We won't tell, we promise! We wish you the best of luck in creating the perfect winter & holiday knits for your friends and family this year, and hope that the above tips will help to ensure that your garments are as functional as they are beautiful.