This new mitten design is called the Alice Mittens, and I’m going to tell you about them in a minute, but first I have to tell you a little bit about their namesake.
A year ago this week, my family lost my beloved grandmother Alice, who was one of the kindest, sweetest human beings on the planet. It was neither sudden nor surprising – she had been living with cancer in addition to other health problems for a long time – and it was some small relief to know that she was no longer suffering, but none of that knowledge makes it any easier to deal with when the day you know is coming finally arrives. I was in Norway, and it was a sunny Friday afternoon when I got the tearful call from my folks. My husband had left just that morning for a work trip, and while I had mentally prepared myself for the possibility of getting that call during the few weeks he’d be away traveling, I hadn’t expected it to happen the day he left. The apartment felt very, very quiet, and I felt very alone. I remember going down the hill to the florist that day to buy some yellow tulips, which I brought back home and put in a vase, and then I sat down and tried to figure out what on earth to do with myself. (The answer was: knit and listen to Harry Potter audiobooks, my two ultimate comforts. I did a lot of that in the weeks that followed.)
This is all background information for the new pattern that I’m sharing with you today. Grandma always adored any of the stranded colorwork mitts and mittens I knit for myself or others – they might have been her favorite thing of all the things I knit. She expressed more than once her desire to have a pair of her own, but I didn’t get around to actually knitting her a pair of mittens until her last few months of life, and perhaps when I look back that’s how I know that I could tell her time was coming – I knew if I was ever going to knit mittens for her, it needed to happen right then. She did receive them before she died, but I don’t know if she ever even got to wear them. But on some level, that doesn’t actually matter – she loved them so much regardless, and they hung on the wall of her hospice room where she could admire them all the time.
When I started working on a new mitten design a few months ago, using one of my favorite yarns (Buachaille by Kate Davies) and a favorite motif, too (you might recognize the flower on these mittens as being the same one used in Ebba‘s colorwork), it didn’t take me long to realize that these should be called the Alice Mittens. Grandma would have absolutely adored these mittens, and I only wish I could show them to her now.
Losing my grandmother to cancer is not a unique story. I’m sure many (if not most) of you reading this have had your lives touched by cancer in some way or another. I feel incredibly fortunate that my grandmother had access to the incredible care and medication that she did for as long as she needed it, something which I have never taken for granted since I am incredibly fortunate that my mother, who was diagnosed with lung cancer twenty years ago (when I was but ten years old), is still living and healthy today. Cancer research is a cause near and dear to the hearts of my family. My mother has walked in the local Relay for Life, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, nearly ever year for the past two decades, as a way to give back to an organization that helped our family get through both the emotional and the financial challenges of dealing with cancer. When I was a teenager, I used to walk with my mother, but that becomes harder when we live hundreds or thousands of miles apart. So this year, in memory of my grandmother Alice, I’m going to help her raise money for the ACS by donating 50% of the proceeds from the first week of sales of the Alice Mittens to my mother’s fundraiser. That means 50% of the money made through the end of Sunday, April 8 will go directly to her Relay for Life fundraiser page, which goes to the American Cancer Society. You can purchase the Alice Mittens (as well as find all of the practical info) here on Ravelry.
If you have no need of mittens, I’d encourage you to donate directly to the cancer organizations in your area. If you don’t have the funds to spare, there are always other ways to help. My mother volunteers at the hospital where her cancer surgery was performed, and as she knits too she cranks out chemo caps like nobody’s business.
I also want to give a special shout-out to Eli of Skeindeer Knits, who was part of the inspiration for these mittens in more ways than one. Eli is hosting a year-long stranded mitten/mitt knitalong this year, called the Year Long Mitt-Along, and that definitely jumpstarted my mitten chart exploration. Eli also recently lost her grandmother (which she shared on her podcast), and has designed a beautiful pair of stranded mitts in her honor – I believe that pattern will be ready very soon, so keep an eye out on her Instagram page for the Farmor mitts, because she’ll definitely announce the release there once it’s ready.
Thanks for letting me get a little bit personal here today, and I hope you like the mittens as much as I do.