When I learned to knit (several times) in my childhood, it never really occurred to me that I could make things. I couldn't be bothered with patterns, and I didn't care much for useful finished objects. I think I made a garter-stitch doll blanket or two, but that's as functional as it got; the miscellaneous swatches of varigated acrylic yarn still occasionally turn up around the house. I still have several partial skeins of said yarn that I don't know what to do with.
My first real finished object with a specific use was a pair of off-white lightly-felted lopi mittens. The pattern came from a children's story and how-to-knit book my parents got me one Chanuka: Sunny's Mittens by Robin Hansen. I don't remember how old I was, maybe 10 or 11, but I do remember being old enough that the cutesy story didn't entirely charm me. Still, it looked like fun, so I acquired some yarn and some dpns and got to work.
And quickly put the project aside. It must have taken me two years or more to finish the mitts - not that I found it boring, but I didn't have much patience or dedication, I guess. I made my mother do the "hard" parts, like casting on and picking up stitches, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to keep track of the beginning of the round. (Stitch markers were a revelation that didn't hit me until much later). When I finally finished them I was exceedingly pleased with myself; this is one early project that I still consider a success. Afterwards I forgot about knitting for a while, and then tried crochet before eventually starting to knit again. (But that's fodder for another pretentiously nostalgic blog post.)
Once the mittens were finished, it seems like I barely wore them before I outgrew them, but that might be an exaggeration since they're ding, have lost their fuzz, and look well-worn. I kept wearing them, stretching them, when I got bigger for a little while, but eventually the cuffs no longer covered my wrists and they were no longer practical. Not to mention that white mitts get dingy very easily in the city snow.
Anyway, I still had a whole skein-and-a-bit of that lopi yarn, tucked away in some corner of my closet. I dyed it orange, knit and felted, and the rest is history.
FO: Sunny's Mittens, by Robin Hansen
Yarn: Istex Alafoss Lopi, hand-dyed with koolaid
This time around it was SUPER fast. It took maybe two or three news-watchings to get through these. Upon felting, I think they lost a little colour, but not enough to make me worry, so I'll probably keep them as they are. I felted them by hand in soapy water using a bamboo sushi mat for extra aggression (as per suggestions in Not Your Mama's Felting by Amy Swenson). The mittens did not lose stitch definition, but since they didn't last time either, I wasn't expecting them to. They shrunk down enough to become very dense, though they are still roomy and they cover my wrists. I suspect they could be felted further, but since they shrunk in width more than in length, I don't want to risk making them too small around.
So there it is! Yay, Mittens!