Hickory Mittens: Choosing Colors

It’s easy to grab a bunch of yarn with colors that sing to you, but when you’re doing colorwork, particularly colorwork with fine lines, small stitches, or many colors, knowing the value (relative lightness or darkness of a color) is important, too.

Taking a black and white photo is a great way of finding out the values of the yarns you’re thinking of using.  The person who chose the yarns below is good to go.  She’ll be able to create a wide variety of color combinations in her mittens that will contrast both in color, which she can tell by eye, and value, which is seen in this photo.  I think this photo trick is great because you might be surprised by what colors have really similar values.

Checking Yarn Color Values

The reason you can see a gnome in this mitten, with its million sts. per inch, is because Cheryl used colors with different values.  See?

Gnome Mittens

For the Hickory Mittens, I definitely like a lot of contrast between the values of the main color and the second main color (the motif outliner). As for the contrast colors, there are some different, wonderful, options.

You can see that in this pair, that there is a darker value outlining each motif, and separating medium value colors from each other:

Hickory Mittens in Black and White

Would you ever guess that the blue, gold, and orange were so similar in value?Hickory Mittens

In this pair, there are two with dark values (charcoal and maroon) chumming it up in the diamonds, but note that the outlining color stands out against the background, and check out that cream:

Hickory Mittens in Black and White

Hickory Mittens

In David’s pair, there are similar values right at the center.  It creates almost an optical illusion of depth at the center of the mittens:

Hickory Mittens in Black and White

Hickory Mittens

I think they’re all great combinations. Take note that there are differences in values in each pair, just that you don’t need to have a certain number of each to make awesome mittens.

I know that people at Mitten School had iPhone apps that took b&w photos, but I can’t remember the names. The new Flickr app has a filter that works well. Very handy for in-store comparisons.  For these photos, I turned my DSLR to B&W and just looked at the screen. Works a treat!


New Pattern: Hickory Mittens

I designed a new mitten!

Blue Hickory Mittens

The Facts:
Yarn: Cascade 220 solids and heathers
Pattern: Hickory Mittens (straight to Ravelry with you!)
Needles: size 3, 4, or 5 US or size needed to get gauge
Gauge: 28 (26, 24) stitches and 28 (26, 24) rows = 4” [10cm] in colorwork pattern. Finished mitten size is determined by gauge/needle.
Size: Unisex adult S (M, L)


The Yarn:
I used Cascade 220 for these because it’s a fantastic sturdy yarn for mittens and because chances are, you have some of it laying around.  The motif outlining only requires 50 yards and all the contrast colors less than 40 yards, so chances are, you can find the yarn in your stash or you’d only need to buy the main color skein.

The Chart:
The chart for these mittens is in black and white, using symbols for the colors, which means that if you have a set of markers or colored pencils, you can have a grand old time coloring in the chart and testing color combinations.

The Knitting:
It’s a little bit of a challenge, and a whole lot of fun.  There are up to four colors per round, which means they’re not a good first colorwork pattern.  That said, if you can strand two colors, you can do four.  It just requires a little organization of balls or butterflies (check out this video) of yarn. Take special care to make nice loose floats and you’re good to go.

all hickory mittens

No Lining:
For once, there’s no lining!  These mittens don’t need it.  They’re plenty puffy and warm with all the stranding that’s going on inside.

Thanks, everyone! Let me know if you have any questions that aren’t addressed on the info page.

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Meyer Lemon Curd and Thyme Cupcakes

Meyer Lemon Curd and Thyme Cupcakes

These are really fresh-tasting, tart, and delicious.

I used 4 Meyer lemons for this recipe, but you may need more or fewer.  This would be fine with regular lemons, as there’s plenty of sugar to go around in this recipe.

This recipe is cobbled together from many others.  Special thanks to Local Kitchen for teaching me to make curd in the first place.

Meyer Lemon Curd and Thyme Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

To start:

Zest and squeeze 4 Meyer lemons.  You might need more, but this is a good starting point.

For the cakes:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups self-rising flour (Don’t have any?  Google and there are tons of recipes.)
  • 1/4 of the zest

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with 24 cupcake papers.

2. Place cream, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Gradually add flour and zest and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.

3. Divide mixture between prepared liners and bake for 20 minutes or until cakes are lightly browned and spring back when gently poked. Cool thoroughly.

For the curd:

  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice, plus half the zest
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, cut up
  • pinch salt
  1. Place the zest in a heatproof bowl with a fine strainer over it.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan whisk together the juice, eggs, sugar and salt. Add butter and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the foam subsides and the curd is thick enough to heavily coat the back of the spoon, about 10 – 15 minutes.  Don’t let it boil.
  3. Pour the curd through the strainer into the bowl with the zest, pressing curd through the strainer. Scrape any curd from the underside of the strainer into bowl and stir gently to incorporate zest. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to set.


  1. “Core” your cooled cupcakes.  I used an apple corer and went about 3/4 of the way down.  I took the crusty top off the core and reserved it to plug the hole.  Those cores are your snacky reward for all of this hard work.
  2. Put the cold curd in a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and fill the cupcakes, leaving a bit of space at the top so that when you plug the hole, it’s level with the top of the cupcake. Core, fill, and plug them all.


  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice, plus 1/4 of the zest
  • 2 tsp. packed fresh thyme leaves, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  1.  Whisk the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, 1 tsp. thyme, and salt together until smooth.  Whisk in sugar until smooth.
  2. Let sit 10 minutes until it firms up a bit.
Final assembly:
  1. Place cupcakes on a rack and spoon icing on top.  Garnish with more fresh thyme leaves.
  2. Let icing set for 30 minutes and serve.