Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Casting On: Daycare and The Mitten Tree

Today's Featured Mittens
Aurora Borealis
       I had already started my "named" mitten craze last winter when one of my sisters told me about a daycare in the south end of Saint John,  an economically-challenged neighborhood, that needed wool mittens for their children.  They used to buy wool mittens at craft fairs and church sales but it had become too expensive.  Many of the children were coming wearing dollar store gloves and they were not warm enough.  I had lots of left-over Briggs and Little wool that could easily become mittens for little hands. 
      Unlike some other members of my family, my sister Gail thought the naming of mittens was a neat idea and that it might prevent loss of mittens.  Her idea was that if your mittens had a name, you would try harder to hang on to them.  She thought that might work well in the daycare.  So I made 20 pairs of little mittens for the daycare out of Briggs and Little wool, the best yarn in the land. 
The Children's Line
(Photo Jennie Breen)
     And despite my daughter Emma's initial "reserved and worried" reaction to my naming the mittens, I left the 20 pairs of mittens with her and her friends to name one evening---over a couple of beer, no doubt.  They sort of enjoyed it!  I told them I wanted them to reflect New Brunswick nature.  And here are some of the names they came up with: 
  • Bonfire on Poley Mountain
  • Saint John Bluejay
  • Farmers’ Market Berry Smoothie
  • Fundy Footpath PineNeedles
  • Crabbe Mountain Sunset
  • PineCone Birdfeeder
  • Belleisle Bay Lupins
  • St. Martin’s Shore at Sunrise
  • Fundy Fog at Sunrise
  • Dark Forest in October
  • Autumn Acorn
  • Birchbark Twigs
  • Tabisintac Dreamcather

      I asked Emma's friend, Jennie, to take the mittens out for a photo shoot.  I sent along the Mitten Tree I had made myself from items on hand.
The Mitten Tree
(Photo: Jennie Breen)
       I made The Mitten Tree from a piece of railing left over from the construction of the deck at our cottage, branches I gathered from the woods, and a piece of 2x6 also left over from deck construction.  I trimmed the branches and, using fence staples, attached them to the railing.  Voila!  I love making something from scraps.  Again, recycling and cheap, like the scraps of wool I use to make mittens. 
The Empty Mitten Tree 
Bare bones.  Looks a little crooked but that is the photographer (me), not the construction. 
The Mitten Tree Today
 And this is what it looks like today, with my available stock. 

         And, back to those cold little hands at the daycare in dollar store gloves....  I am of the belief that mittens should be made of wool, not acrylics, as wool is warm and even repels water to an extent.  One should not waste one's time using synthetic yarn for mittens.  (I have broken that rule on occasion to get a certain color or texture.)  

Briggs & Little and Nugget
      My dog, Nugget, believes in Briggs and Little wool also.  A lot of this yarn will be used in a sweater and the left-overs will become mittens. 

The Children's Line
(Photo Jennie Breen)
Until next time....


  1. Hadn't thought of using the name of mittens to help little ones and big ones keep track of them. Mittens are often like socks, always missing the mate. Love the idea.

    1. Or I guess you could use the mitten string that goes through the arms of your coat. Hard to do that with socks.

  2. Using left overs for mittens is a great idea!! Love those whole idea. I've knit hats for the homeless but not mittens. It's just not cold enough to need otters in CA.

    1. I just never seem to get to the end of my left-overs!!!