Underwing Mitts

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Few knitting designs have captivated me like Erica Heusser’s Underwing Mitts. All of her stunning accessory patterns feature intriguing colorwork designs, but the underwings spoke to me the loudest.

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As a little girl one of my favorite activities was to catch insects for my dad’s bug collection. Sometimes I caught them by hand–usually unsuspecting beetles traipsing around or hiding under logs–but typically I caught them with a special net. During the day I would stalk wasps, bees and butterflies, and at night we would drive to brightly lit gas stations or check the outdoor lights at home for moths, beetles and the occasional butterfly. Periodically I would catch day flying moths, and the underwing was no exception.

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Underwings belong to the Catocala genus, and according to Wikipedia there are over 250 different species. In my experience, the forewings are typically camouflaged to match the bark of the various trees on which they would settle, while the hindwings are more flashily colored in red, yellow, orange, pink or black. In my mind the quintessential underwing has orange hindwings, which could be because the orange ones were most common, but whatever the case–the Underwing Mitts pattern beckoned to be knit!

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Above is pictured one random drawer out of the dozens of underwing drawers that form a fragment of my dad’s extensive, museum-grade insect collection. This particular species is found locally, and some of these specimens are over twenty years old.

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Such a special pattern called for a very special yarn, so naturally I contacted Lauren of Old Rusted Chair. Lauren was kind enough to help me with my color selection, and we decided on “Ridin’ Out the Storm” (the dark gray with a slight blue sheen), “Mineral” (the silvery white color) and “Comfy Sofa” (medium/dark orange).

The hindwing contrast color is accomplished with duplicate stitch (shown above), which was quite refreshing following all the colorwork of the mitts. As with most of my colorwork projects, I ditched the stranding method and picked up every float following each and every stitch. Yes, it is exhausting, but do you anticipate my fingers or rings getting snagged on strands of yarn?

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Next up on the mitt agenda will likely be Erica’s Peaceable Mitts, which feature an amazing elephant design.

Many thanks to Jess (@havenfiberarts on Instagram) for initiating a KAL for this project!

To view my Underwing Mitts on my Ravelry project page, click here.

To purchase the pattern from Erica Heusser’s Ravelry store, click here.

The mitt blockers shown above were purchased from the Etsy shop Alex Workshop Design, which can be viewed here.