My Material Life

Of Mitts and Masks

Hello dear reader –

I hope this finds you well and that you’re finding your sea legs in this extraordinary period of time we find ourselves in. I feel like I’m finding mine and am trying to figure out how I might be more useful even though I know that staying home is the most useful thing one can do unless you’re on the front lines in one way or another. None of my older neighbors have taken me up on my offer to help shop for them. I suspect they have other people to do it or are ordering in or in some cases don’t see themselves as “older” and are still doing it themselves (which I get because I’m not that far behind them!) So I was delighted when my neighbor Josephine requested baby mitts instead of the socks I’d planned to knit for her little baby granddaughter who has been scratching her face with her little baby nails. Josephine’s daughter and son-in-law moved in before the baby’s birth and planned to go back to their own apartment in the East Bay by now, but things changed and they are all still together and I’m so happy for Josephine that they are because that baby is keeping them well-occupied and entertained.

I found two colors of Patons Beehive Baby Sport yarn at Michaels earlier this year. They look so good together. I knew you could buy baby mitts, but I didn’t know hand knit ones were a thing until I started searching for patterns (whether they work or not is another matter). My favorite was this free one from the Blue Sky Fibers site that I changed up a bit. (You can see those changes at the end of this post if you’re interested.) I sure hope they help that little gal, but let’s face it, people are always charmed to receive something you knit for their baby, even if it never receives much use. These are a super quick and easy project if you’re looking for a small baby gift to knit. I’m still planning to move onto baby socks next; I know about four babies right now.

About those masks I mentioned in this post’s title. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been going on with all these people sewing masks and I’m finally realizing they’re about to really have their moment – not for health care workers, but for the general public. So far we’ve been told we don’t need to wear a mask if we’re not coughing or sneezing, but don’t you think that’s about to change? I do. And then, oh my goodness, what demand there will be for sewn masks! One of my sisters-in-law (or is it sister-in-laws?) just told me she’s already received two emails from designers for $10 masks. But what if you don’t sew or for whatever reason can’t source them from someone else? A couple of days ago I found a different kind of protective set-up you can make that kind of thrilled me in a very MacGyverish (see Personality, paragraph four) way. It comes via Hong Kong and The Washington Post and it makes a lot of sense to me – no sewing required and many of us probably already have the materials on hand. It includes the first DIY sneeze guard I’ve seen and that piece is so simple to make you won’t believe it. Of course it helps if you wear glasses 🙂

You can find the background and instructions for the set here. Watch the video for the how-to. I found the video and its music very uplifting. Do note that this is not purported to be the best protection (it’s not meant to replace a surgical mask or something better), but it may be better than nothing.

In addition, the disposable mask made with paper towels and facial tissue is not waterproof; it must be disposed of after each use and it must be used with the guard. The guard can be cleaned and used again. It is simply a sheet protector that is clipped to a pair of glasses with a binder clip on each arm of the glasses. My thought is to use one of these guards with a sewn mask, but I’m waiting to see if the CDC comes out with a recommended sewing pattern for masks before I get my machine going.

Here are those changes I made to the baby mitt pattern:

Use four size 3 double-pointed needles and cast on 28 stitches. Split those between three of the needles. Knit the first 9 rounds in a knit1, purl1 rib. Switch colors and knit for 16 rounds. Continue with that same color to the end of the pattern, just as written, beginning with what is listed as Rnd 18 on the pattern.

Stay well


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