When I first started discovering yarn beyond the basics, I fell in love with laceweight merino.
You know the story: girl goes to LYS, meets a svelte skein of 2 ply and simply MUST have it (without any idea of what she will make with it)…. She visits her conquest regularly, removing it from her stash to pet it - all the while regretting not buying more because she really doesn’t have enough to make a garment and/or it’s no longer available…. Sigh.
The girl in the story is (no surprise) me …I am pretty sure I am not the only human who fell in love with a wayward skein that now haunts their stash! So…allow me to offer some stash-buster crochet inspiration to release a ghost from your purchase past:
Puff Lace Mittens!
All you need is a 3.5mm hook and approximately 200m of laceweight merino/wool-based yarn (for the elasticity of the ribbing). 200m is enough for any of the 3 sizes: Small, Medium & Large. You can make them in a weekend for (almost) instant gratification and then forever have your special yarn hug your precious creative hands!
This Small set has been made with Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace yarn, a 2ply 100% Superwash merino, with 390m per 50g ball, meaning 7.8 metres per gram. Rialto Lace has been around a long time, and I am sure many makers would have a ball floating around. Sadly, it is discontinued but there are plenty of laceweight 2ply merino yarns out there. If you are not stash-diving and wondering what you might source, some suitable yarns to provide something close to this soft finish include:
Anzula “Wash My Lace”
Shepherd “Baby Wool Merino 2 ply”
Naturally Yarns “Magic Garden Classic 2 ply”
Austerman “Merino Lace EXP
Lana Grossa Cool Wool Lace is another option which is the yarn tester Ruth lambert used for her Large set of Puff Lace Mittens - she chose the colour Fuchsia (29). Beautifully executed by Ruth, as always!!
As you can see in the pics below, I tested my Puff Lace Mittens again in a different laceweight Superwash merino that has a single ply structure. Madelinetosh Prairie, a 100% Superwash merino. Sob, sob! I am VERY sad that this yarn has also been discontinued, it is D.I.V.I.N.E. If you have never come across it, some people might sell it from their stash via Ravelry, so maybe check that out. At 768 metres per 115g skein, it works out around 6.7m per gram so I made these with a smaller hook but as it turns out I didn’t need to.
Because it’s an accessory and needs good elasticity, they are not blocked, AND since they are small, I haven’t advocated swatching for gauge as I normally wound for a garment. If it’s not working out to a comfortable fit, it’s only a little bit of frogging or adjusting as you go!
I started out with a 3mm hook and a Prair-ie (sorry, pun alert) …but when I reached the hole for the thumb, I realised the gauge was a bit tight (maybe I should have used the 3.5mm hook instead) and I needed a bit more room – so I snuck in an extra 4 sts of palm fabric and and extra 2 rounds of length to compensate eh voilá!
Here’s a tip for making the mittens – if between sizes, make the smaller of the two – that way you can add a few palm fabric stitches if you need a bit extra room like I did, but if they are turning out too big you will need to frog and go again.
Of course, then I had to make sure that if I used a 3.5mm hook with this yarn it was going to work out to the proper size…. I also got to thinking about colour combinations, so I pulled out some glorious variegated yellow Praire to combine with the grey. Size Small tested again for finished size – perfect! No need for the flower on this pair as the geometric colour effects pack serious punch on their own!!
Not for the light-hearted when it comes to sewing in tails though….
It took me 40mins per mitten JUST for sewing tails – eek! WORTH IT! (But rather more challenging…)
Naomi Boxall tested the Medium size Puff Lace Mittens with some gorgeous Blackwattle Sweetpea merino blend yarn in her stash in the colour “Burnt Ochre”. This is a 4ply fingering weight yarn at 400mg per 100g skein, again with a single ply construction so it has a similar stitch definition to the Prairie that I used, but chunkier.
At 4m per gram this is virtually double the thickness of the yarn I wrote the pattern for, and I really wasn’t sure it was going to be successful. Naomi (scientist by day, yarnaholic by night) set to it with a 3mm hook. Experiment outcome: they ended up spot on!
Naomi had originally bought this yarn for a pattern that called for a 4ply yarn, but the Sweetpea handled thinner than expected, which is why she figured she would see what happened with a 3mm hook - and why I think it worked out!
Of course, then I got to thinking what about more conventional sock yarn that has a bit more body to it? The mittens can’t possibly come out to the right (same) size, but how much bigger will they be?
I had some 400m/100g merino blend sock yarn (Elf Liberty Base dyed to colour “Barcelona”) left over from one of my Susannah Sweater projects, paired it with a 3mm hook and was conscious of avoiding loose tension as I worked the stitches. Happy days!
It turns out this Small Puff Lace Mitten (3mm hook, 4m/g fingering weight merino blend sock yarn) is only 5% wider and 9% longer than the Small mitten with 3.5mm hook & laceweight merino blend yarn. If you have a spare 220m of appropriate yarn lying about it will be enough to make any of the 3 sizes - they just come out a little bit bigger.
Stash-busting just got bust-ier!
The laceweight versions feel delicate, “barely there” gentle warmth on your hands, and the sock yarn version feels like a firm slightly stiff chunky hug.
I ended up adding the sock yarn sizing and yardage details to the pattern document so you can make it the way that suits you: If the concept of laceweight yarn induces anxiety, go with the sock yarn option!
The Puff Lace Mittens pattern will be published in Ravelry and Etsy
If you like my design please pop it in your Ravelry favourites to help it get seen by other yarnaholics! Thank you if you share this post or Puff Lace Mitten projects on your socials and tag me as designer, I really appreciate it as it helps new people find my work!
I hope you enjoyed perusing these little mittens with lots of options. They would make a wonderful gift for your own hands or someone elses!
As always, you’ll be able to find help in my support group Pepper-Gaggle.
Happy stash-diving & hookery!
(Please note – there are no affiliate benefits associated with this post)
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