My Adventures in Knitting, truly my Yarn-escape!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wednesday's Yarns - Boiled Fisherman's Mittens

Details can be found on Ravelry - Boiled Maine Mittens.

     For Christmas, I knitted my son Boiled Fisherman's Mittens.  I got them finished as we drove to the airport and sent him off with instructions how to shrink them (Boiled Wool A Felting Alternative).  Apparently, from his recounting his adventures of boiling the mitts, that hardly dented them.  So he recounts his efforts to shrink the mitts in Maine from boiling to freezing them outside, to finally resorting to a dryer...


To End...

"Well, first I boiled them and left them outside to cool (one source swore by boiling and cooling in the freezer), but they just froze, didn't shrink at all. Then I boiled them again and let them cool. Again, not much. I put off using the dryer for a while cause someone said it would remove the lanolin. (Whether or not that is true, I have since found out that you can buy lanolin to periodically treat and weatherize wool) so next I got them wet and worked in them, left them on a radiator, and trampled on them outside a bit. This actually started doing something, but it was slow, and I only had access to a radiator at work, not home. So I ran them under hot water (figured boiling didn't mean as much as hot water drying) and put them in the dryer for 45 minutes. Finally, big change. But the mitts weren't retaining much heat in the dryer, so I wet them again and put them back in the dryer for 60 min with a bunch of sheets. Now, HUGE change, so I did that once or twice more until they fit just right. They are pretty easy to shrink in the dryer, about 3 hours worth of drying and wetting though. It took them from big and floppy and knitted to being thick, felted, and super toasty warm! They are also water resistant. I use them every day! Seriously, the best mittens I've ever had, (and I have a fancy pair of axmen that are awesome)." Jonathan Harmor

My son did suggest some ways to make them fit better, suggesting the mitten be less broad and a longer in the cuff so he can shrink it a bit tighter.  So I cast on another pair and I'm going to try and incorporate these suggestions.  Also, I'm trying to create a smaller woman's size for his girlfriend.

      On the reading front, I'm starting to read "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff.  I wasn't certain if I wanted to read it at first, it's a tad pricey even for Kindle.  I asked others in my Facebook Group "Resistance Knitters" and all agreed it was worth reading.  Some suggesting at small doses (like we don't get enough of Trump news as it is).  I eventually caved because it seems everyone is reading it (the New York Times Bestsellers Hardcover Non-fiction has it #1) and honestly it's hard to resist the allure of an insider's recounting of the White House right now.  I have just started and so far I am not disappointed.  I think I like getting a feel for things behind the scenes, so while nothing is horribly new, it brings it alive the news accounts and adds more dimension.  Besides, it's just a bit of fun.  I'm taking it slow though, easy to get overloaded with Trump news!

Come Join Us at Unraveled Wednesday


  1. I always dryer felt. NEver knew there was another way!!! Thanks for the tutorial and info.
    Fireman is reading FIRE AND FURY Too. He's actually sticking with a book!

  2. Thanks for sharing your son's mitten journey! Because I have a front-load dryer, I have avoided felting projects.
    I'm afraid to read Fire and Fury -- I'm not sure how much more outrage I want to feel!

    1. You'll laugh at some of the outrage, though.

  3. I have a hat I need to felt. I made it last year and it's never been used because I really had no idea how to felt it and I never think to Google it! I hope to remember this when I am home and ready to do the felting. :)

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  5. Ladies (and gentlemen)! This is what I know about shrinking fisherman’s mittens.
    1. It is agitation and the shock of going from hot to cold that shrinks them.
    2. Drier shrinking works but is pretty uncontrollable. You wouldn’t want your mittens to wind up fitting your puppy.
    3. They are never boiled. “New England Boiled Mittens” was a cute title Yankee Magazine put on my article about fishermen’s mittens, à la “New England boiled dinner.”
    4. Fishermen do indeed wear them wet down and wrung out, but you don’t have to. 5. Lacking a fishing boat with an engine manifold, you can shrink them at home as follows:
    You will need:
    2 good-sized dishpans
    a largish pot of boiling water
    cold water from the tap
    a washboard, or similar rough surface
    soap: real soap. I use Murphy’s Oil Soap, available in the cleaning section of the supermarket or the hardware store.
    a tough bristled scrub brush
    Newspaper or paper bag and a sharpie
    a. Lay one mitten on the newsprint and trace around it with the sharpie, being really careful not to get sharpie on your mitten. Show the thumb outline as well. Lay your hand on the tracing, matching the base of your hand to the base of the mitten hand and trace around your hand. It should be a lot shorter than the mitten by about 20%.
    b. Work on a table outdoors or in your kitchen sink.
    c. Fill one dishpan with water as hot as you can comfortably tolerate. Fill the other with cold water as cold as you can stand. Put ice cubes in it. Add salt if you want, to give the impression of seawater. (Neither are necessary but will make everything seem more authentic.)
    d. Wet the mittens thoroughly in the hot water. Pour or rub soap onto them lavishly, squeeze the soap through them, and rub them energetically on the washboard, all sides of both hand and thumb. They will feel all mushy in the hot water.
    e. When you’re tired of scrubbing, plunge them into the cold water, rinse and squeeze cold water through them. Let them get really cold. They will feel stiff and unhappy. Then
    f. Repeat d. and e. over and over, adding soap each time and water from the boiling water as needed to keep the water hot. Ditto, from the tap, the cold water. Keep it up until the mittens no longer go mushy in the hot water. This should take a max of 30 to 45 minutes.
    Lay them out on the newspaper tracing. They should be just a tad longer than your hand. Try them on to be sure they just fit. They should lose altogether about 20 percent of their length.
    g. Rinse them thoroughly in the cold water, adding a tad bit of ammonia to whiten and soften them if you wish. Squeeze water out without twisting the mittens.
    h. Put the mittens, optionally with other things, in the spin cycle of the washing machine, or roll them into towels to get rid of excess water.
    i. Lay them on a counter and brush up the nap toward the tip, starting at the tip and working toward the cuff. Lay them to dry somewhere warmish and dry.
    That’s it. It should be do-able within an hour. For more about fishermen’s and other traditional New England mittens or to find any of my books on same, check out my website,