Behind the Design: Holly & Ivy Mittens

It’s the night before Christmas, and all through the night,

the knitter is frantically casting off tight.

She’s wrapped all her gifts like a good little elf,

And she’s so flippin’ ready to knit for herself.

My hope in designing a pattern to be released in conjunction with Christmas was to have something fun, pretty, and entertaining for you to knit for yourself as a reward for surviving the Christmas season.Their symbolism is Christmassy, but generally wintery enough that you can enjoy them through the rest of the winter.

Evergreens are a favorite Christmas decoration, for reasons I hardly have to explain. In the northernmost quadrant of our globe, this time of year is when everything is dead or asleep, the nights are long and the days are cloudy, and the dominant colors are gray and brown. For countless generations, two of the most powerful symbols during this season are candles – for light, as as we saw in the Advent hat, subtly reflected in in the mittens’ yellow stripes  – and evergreens for growth and life. I grew up with holly from the tree in the front yard twined around wreaths mom made by hand, and my grandmother still lets her ivy plants climb around her windowsills.

This was my first time designing a fair isle pattern completely from scratch. It took a lot of charting and swatching, but I am very proud of the result. And you can imagine my pleasure when the gauge worked out to put seven ivy leaves on the front. Seven is another significant number in scripture, standing for perfection. I’ve nothing so clever to say about the number of holly leaves.

I hope you have a blessed Christmas, spending time with family and celebrating with some of your favorite traditions. Maybe your family, like ours, is in a season of change. We’re having to be flexible, and it’s not quite as magical as the simpler was when we were kids and all we cared about was the glut of gifts. We’ve had to lower our expectations, let go of a few things, and just be content that we get to be together. There’s even a rumor of some new traditions – Christmas carol charades at Grammy’s house? This should be interesting. It’s also making me focus a little more on celebrating with our spiritual family, with a Christmas vigil service at a friend’s church.

We are blessed to have so much, and to have each other. Whether you’ve worked your bum off to make this a great Christmas, or whether you’re focused on chilling out in front of the football game, I hope you get the gift of time, and a little bit of quiet. Christmas celebrates new life, which sounds to me like a wonderful excuse to cast on something new.

This pattern will go out to subscribers today, and is available at Ravelry now. These samples were knit with Osborn Fiber Studio Merino/Nylon sock yarn, and kits are available in both colorways on the Liturgical Year series page.


3 thoughts on “Behind the Design: Holly & Ivy Mittens

  1. A blessed Christmas to you and yours, Rebecca. Thank you for all you do. I pray for God’s richest blessings on you in the coming year. In Him, Ruth Ann


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