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My Favorite Things: warm woolen mittens

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Mittens are a staple of winter; they are great for gifts, good to have an extra pair in each coat pocket, and are functional enough to wear for commuting and driving the kids to and from school. During December, a "My Favorite Things"-themed column will highlight a different part of lyrics from the song featured in The Sound of Music. Today's theme is all about covering the hands in winter, and knitting to de-stress during the holidays.

Warm woolen mittens

Mittens for all: Coats and Clark, the company who brings us Red Heart Yarns, has a pattern for easy mittens on their website which accounts for sizes for men, women, and children. The pattern is listed as "Intermediate," however the instructions are explicit and the website has several tutorials to help the newer knitter. There is a link to the free download on the pattern page.

Yellow Harvest Mittens: If colorwork is frightening but cables and bobbles excite you, then try the Yellow Harvest mittens on for size. The pattern, found on Vogue Knitting's website, is currently part of the pattern sale and can be purchased for $2.99 instead of the regular $5.00 price. The pattern also calls for size US 8 needles, so they will be a quick enough knit to complete while the kids are in line to see Santa.

Arm warmers and mittens: Patons yarn brings us a free pattern for arm warmers with cables, and matching cabled mittens, via their Yarnspirations website. While they are two separate pieces and therefore the arm warmers can be left behind, they are both good practice for cables, double-pointed needles, and making buttonholes. They are also knitted in worsted-weight yarn, making them a relatively quick knit.

Vera Marguerite fair isle tam and mittens: For a $5.99 digital download, Juniper Moon Farm offers this fantastic tam and mitten set for those who would like a bit of two-color stranding in their December knitting. Designed by pamela wynne, the pattern is for an intermediate to advanced knitter, but the chart is not too complicated if this is your first foray into two-color knitting.

Thrummed mittens, stuffed mittens - or Fluffies: This free Ravelry download by Joan Janes incorporates a worsted-weight knit, cuff up mitten with a bit of roving stitched in, or thrummed, every few rows and stitches. The inside of the mitten holds the extra roving, meaning hands stay extra-warm even on the coldest days. The pattern itself is easy, and thrumming only takes about a row or two of practice before the newest of thrummers can get it.

Children's safety mittens: From Free Vintage Knitting, the Classic Four-Needle Mittens (no. 615) pattern comes with a twist, with one red and one green mitten and the words "STOP" and "GO" embroidered on the palm of the respective mitten. Both the pattern and chart are free, and the sizes range from Small to Large, designed to fit children's hands from two to ten years old.

Mittens are almost a guaranteed need for anyone on your holiday list, including yourself. Even if the weather is only marginally cold, mittens protect against chilly shopping carts, steering wheels, and stair rails to the train. Tomorrow's My Favorite Things theme is brown paper packages tied up with strings.

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