Vacation Memory of fabulous yarn store in the shadow of the Duomo, felted mittens

The 3 mile hike I have been taking each morning through Central Park on the way to school with my son has made me think about mittens.  Not just regular knitted that the wind can easily sneak into, but Irish Fisherman, super duper warm 100% wool felted mittens.  I had made a pair a few years ago.  They are very pretty but too big, they look like Oven mitts(see 2nd photo at top.)  Now I have felted quite a few things since then and the basic rule is they shrink about 30% in length(top to bottom knitting) and 20% in width( side to side).  You do need to peek into the top loaded super hot water and pull them out every 5 or so minutes to make sure you dont get a baby sized treat......I was ready to make a pair of mittens or six that fit me or my intended wearer!  I was off to Italy for winter break and I found the felting wool that would make great warm memory mittens.  Mittens to remind me of the winter vacation of 2010!

Campolmi Roberto Filati  

The first time I walked past the unsigned street I didnt see any stores on it and kept walking with my map in hand.  I finally came around the other side of the very very long block and there it was a few hundred yards(or meters) from the Duomo, Via Portinari 19 in Florence Italy.  It is a real local treasure.  You enter through a room piled high with 400 yard skeins sitting in sale bins. Next you walk by Modern-George Jetson style 8 foot tall yarn winders into the real yarn room.  . In a large room the yarn was neatly stacked from the floor to the ceiling on large shelves. There was a small wooden display box on the wall about 2 feet square where one sample ball of each kind of yarn was available to the counter they had color books with many choices (up to 90)for each yarn and you requested yarn from a lady behind the counter as if it were deli meat,by color and quantity.  They were very kind to a English speaking American, me. They make their own yarns and carry great wools I hadn't seen anywhere, they carry a wide range of fibers, linen, hemp, cotton silk and manmade fibers as well.

            Here is the link to their website and the history of this local treasure use google translate for english 

    The yarn is superchunky 100% wool as I wanted dense warm mittens I used a #9 US needle. In order to have a nice narrow shape at the bottom without switching needles I cast on fewer stitches for the cuff and then added some after the cuff was done...

Directions for large handed woman....size 8 gloves
My Gauge Using 9 needles 6.5 stitches for 2 inches

Cast on 34 on#9 put onto 3 needles 
Knit 4 rows 
Add 3 stitches one beginning of each needle 
Knit one more row 
Switch to cc 
Knit 2rows with cc
Pick up main color up 
K1slip 1 around
Knit3rows around
Knit 2 rows each Color alternately 
Start gusset after 3rd round of cc. Work until 17 stitches on thumb gusset
continue to knit 2 rows main 2 rows CC
after 9th hand set  of cc 
Decrease for top of mitten

Knit 4 k2 tog 
Knit row 
K3 k2tog 
Knit row 
K2tog around 
Knit around 
sew up
pick up two stitches at top of thumb from mitten 
Do seven sets of stripes 
Start decreases 
Knit one knit2tog 
Knit Round
Knit one k2tog 
Knit round 
K2tog Round 
Knit round 
Sew in tightly and tie a can cut out the knot later...otherwise you might get a hole at the end of the thumb or top of the mitten!

Final mitten length
14 inches long before felting 
10 inches after
Take plain piece of NON felting yarn in plain (non running dye)color and string around wrist and pull tightly to avoid the spread of the opening you get while felting, cut off after felting...

Throw into hot hot water washing machine( I toss a kettle of boiling water into my machine to make sure the water is hot enough).  keep checking mitten size, I can manually extend my wash cycles and do so as needed.  These took 2 wash cycles.  I also add a nicely scented baby soap(Dreft) to the wash to get a sweeter smell than wet wool gives you alone!  Once the right size  spin the water out of the machine (and mittens) et VOILA! lovely felted warm mittens.

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