New England Boiled Wool Mittens | Classic Yankee Article
If you have a fisherman in the family, or if you spend much of the winter by the sea, try knitting a pair of these remarkably warm, thick, almost water-repellent mittens for someone in your family.
Here are Elizabeth Bergh’s instructions, based on Minnie Doughty’s mittens. They are probably the only instructions in print anywhere for this kind of mitten. But beware! They make a huge mitten that must be shrunk in salt water, and really can be used only in the traditional way.
The yarn traditionally used for these mittens on Chebeague Island is cream-colored, 3-ply natural Fisherman Yarn from Bartlett yarns in Harmony, Maine. This is half again as heavy as worsted weight yarn and makes an astoundingly dense mitten. Some women use Bartlett yarns 2-ply Fisherman Yarn, a worsted-weight, oiled, wool yarn, which is easier to knit and makes a lighter, more flexible mitten. The pattern is the same for the two weights of yarn. Any oiled fisherman yarn in these weights can be substituted for the Bartlett yarns Fisherman Yarn.
Instructions are for a man’s medium-sized mitten. To knit a child’s size, find a mitten pattern for worsted-weight yarn and knit a full size larger – for example, a size 8 for a six-year-old then shrink the mittens. Wool mittens shrink anyway, but few patterns take this into account.
Fisherman’s Wet Mitten Directions Yarn: Two skeins Bartlett yarns 2- or 3- ply fisherman yarn, or other worsted-weight wool with lanolin, used singly. Equipment: Four number 4 double-pointed needles, or size needed to knit correct gauge.
Gauge: 5 stitches equal 1 inch.
On size 4 double-pointed needles, cast on 12, 15, and 15 stitches, a total of 42 stitches on 3 needles. Knit 2, purl 1 until wristband measures 4 inches.
Then, first round: place last purl stitch on first needle. Purl 1, knit 2, purl 1. Knit rest of round, increasing 2 stitches on each needle for a total of 48 stitches.
Second round: start thumb gore. Purl 1, increasing 1 stitch in each of the next 2 stitches, purl 1. Knit around, and knit rounds 3, 4, and 5, maintaining the 2 purl stitches as a marker.
Sixth round: purl 1, increase in the next stitch, knit 2, increase in the next stitch, purl 1 (8 stitches, including 2 purls) . Knit around. Knit 3 more rounds.