Ravelry Design Spotlight – Fiddlehead Mittens

Ravelry Design Spotlight

If you’re a knitter you can’t have failed to notice how popular stranded colourwork has become again and it seems it’s here to stay (yay!)  We’d like to take you back to 2008, when although this form of knitting wasn’t as popular, Adrian Bizilia released her Fiddlehead Mittens design and it took the Ravelry world by storm.

The Fiddlehead Mittens design is still as popular now as it was back in 2008 when it was first released

You knit and spin when did you learn and who if anyone, taught you?

My grandmother tried to teach me to knit probably a hundred times when I was little, but it never took. I’d just sit with her and make pom-pom animals with her yarn scraps, which I enjoyed much more. In about 2001, a friend sent me a learn-to-knit book that had photos of hands holding the needles and manipulating the yarn, and that was just what I needed. I took off knitting and never stopped. The same friend (thanks so much, Michelle!) gave me The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook the next year and that sent me immediately into spinning and dyeing wool.

Dyeing fibre and yarn are obviously a passion too, what led you to turn this into a business?

When I started dyeing and spinning for myself, my husband Mark and I already had another business that left me with a lot of free time. I got a bit carried away and made a whole lot of yarn, more than I could ever use myself, and wanted to keep making more. I started selling it in that same friend’s general store (I should be sending her royalties) and online and the business eventually grew enough for us to sell the other business and dedicate our time solely to Hello Yarn.

Can you tell us a little about your designing process and how it’s evolved over the years and are you still designing?

My process used to be that I’d design something to knit for myself and people would ask for the pattern, so I’d write it! I had no great aspirations to be a designer, which isn’t really even something I thought you could really be, and I certainly didn’t expect much income from it. That part of knitting design is so different now, with Ravelry providing a venue to designers, though the income side is certainly still a major struggle.

I still design with my own taste being the priority, rather than trying to figure out what people will like, but my process is more technical now, with the pattern figured out first, before knitting begins, unless I’m just making something up for myself.

Where did the idea for the Fiddlehead Mittens design come from?

I was interested in making mittens from pretty much the beginning, but it was Magnificent Mittens by Anna Zilboorg that really got me obsessed. I loved her designs but I’ve never been able to leave anything well enough alone. I wanted to knit mine bottom-up, and I found I loved drawing the charts for colorwork, so I started doing that. I dyed the yarn and made the first pair of Fiddleheads for my mother for Christmas. The demand for both the yarn and the pattern was there so I got to work.

The design is hugely popular, how many have you made yourself?

My Ravelry project page is telling me that I’ve made four pairs but I suspect there have been more.

You have many designs on Ravelry, is there an unsung hero you’d like to draw our attention to and which is your favourite?

Probably the Pointy Pointy and Scandes Mittens are the unsung heroes. There’s so much room for color play in those! I think the pattern that is most truly me and comes straight from my heart is Night Creatures. I don’t think I could have translated the idea any better and the pattern brings such joy because of that.

Your Instagram feed is full of knitting, sewing, spinning, gardening and cooking, how do you find the time to fit it all in and do you favour one pastime over another?

I can’t sit still without doing something! I fill all of my free time up with making things. Knitting is my one true love, and spinning provides a lot of the yarn I want to use to knit, so I do that but without quite the same level of enjoyment. Sewing is unfortunately pushed to the end of the line most of the time and I wish I had more time for that because now that I’m a bit better at it, I enjoy it a lot. It’s been very freeing and wonderfully satisfying to make my own clothes. All I have left to conquer is bras and then I won’t need to buy clothes at all. I’ve always preferred to buy a quality item and make it last, rather than to replace items regularly, and knitting, sewing, and spinning have made this so much more possible and affordable.

We can’t talk about your Instagram feed without mentioning your dog Pippa, can you tell us a little about her?

This makes me smile! My husband was using his laptop one day, looking at Freecycle, which is a neighborhood website where people can list items they’re giving away or need free of charge. He turned the computer around to show me an offering of an 8 month old wire-haired terrier and I was straight on the phone. I didn’t even wait for the car to fully stop before jumping out when I saw her tied up outside her former house. She’s the sweetest, funniest, bossiest and most malnourished (if you ask her) dog I’ve ever known. She loves food and blankets and babies, and despises rodents. She’s very glad we work from home.

Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you’d like to share with us?

My friend Cheryl Burke and I have a new side business called Hello Yarn Bee, making wooden buttons and knitting tools, which is so fun. I’ve also got a new mitten pattern coming out soon. Every two years I teach Mitten School at The Harveyville Project in Harveyville, Kansas. I design a new pattern and really enjoy combining a lot of techniques and new shapes and ideas into a pair of mittens for the workshop. I just did Mitten School in November and will release the pattern next month.

A little Fiddlehead Mitten trivia for you

  • There have been over 2,500 completed pairs of Fiddlehead Mittens on Ravelry. 
  • The mittens have a lining for extra warmth.
  • The pattern requires DK or light worsted weight yarn.
  • Cascade 220 is the most popular yarn for the mittens.
  • The original design was knitted using one main colour and 5 contrast shades, but lots of knitters have chosen to use only two shades, or one solid and one variegated yarn.
  • Grey is the most popular colour used when knitting a pair of Fiddlehead Mitts.

We had great fun looking through all of the Fiddlehead Mitten project pages on Ravelry and got in touch with some of the makers to see if we could feature their projects here.

Space in our gallery is limited, so we would urge you to pop over to the project pages to check out lots more fantastic photos.

♥ Have you been tempted to give the Fiddlehead Mittens a go yourself?  If so Adrian has very kindly offered Readers of Olann and a Christmas Discount ♥

To avail of a 25% discount off of the Fiddlehead Mittens be sure to enter the coupon code OLANNAND before you checkout. (mistakes cannot be refunded)

  • Discount is valid between December 25th 2018 and January 31st 2019.
  • One coupon per person to be used against the purchase of the Fiddlehead Mittens design only.