There is one potentially tricky section of the Chawton Mittens: the cameos. Traditional fair-isle patterns avoid long stretches of one colour, specifically because it’s hard to maintain tension when you have long floats of the unused colour strung along behind the work. (Also, those long strands are easily snagged on fingertips, rings, etc.) But with the Chawton Mittens, the cameos are the main design feature, and the whole definition of a silhouette is that it’s just an outline. I had to unvent a technique for dealing with the resulting long strands.
In my initial sample for the submission, I did the usual fair-isle trick of ‘locking in’ long floats by twisting them with the working yarn every few stitches. It was… not entirely satisfactory.
I was knitting with a thicker, rounder yarn than I used for the final version (but knit tightly, at the same gauge), and even so, you can see that the silhouette is all rumply and puckery, with little dark spots everywhere the floats were caught. Catching the floats worked fine in the dark area around the silhouette — the dark colour doesn’t show the light colour nearly as much as the other way around — but clearly, I needed another strategy for the final pattern.
Here’s what I came up with:
While you’re knitting, leave long, loose floats behind the silhouette:
When you’re done knitting, turn the mitten inside out, and thread a darning needle with a length of yarn.
Start weaving the yarn through the floats, back and forth on the diagonal. It doesn’t have to be precision work, but make sure you catch each float at least once every few passes.
Every so often, tug the mitten back and forth in all directions to keep the woven strands loose. If your work is too tight, the silhouette will be all bubbly in the front.
Do the same along the other diagonal, too. Again, make sure the work is loose! Weave in the ends by catching them in the woven section.
And voilà! The final product isn’t quite reversible, but at least it’s tidy, and there’s nothing there to snag your fingertips on.