The 2014 issue of Jane Austen Knits was recently released, and I was happy to see that my Barathea Mitts made the cover! (The copy to the left of the model's face is a nice touch!)
Barathea is a type of woven fabric with a twill weave and pebbled texture, and resembles the textured stitch pattern I used for these mitts. Barathea was originally created for use in mourning cloth; in the Regency era, mourning etiquette was well established and included guidelines for suitable attire. Women who couldn’t afford to buy new clothes for mourning often took items they already owned and dyed them black. The grayish-green color of these mitts would have been acceptable for "half-mourning," which followed the full mourning period, and allowed for clothing in shades of purple, gray and white.
The mitts are worked in the round from the cuff, but with a twist: they are worked inside out to the beginning of the lace pattern. Why? For two reasons: (1) the purl-based textured stitch pattern is much easier to follow with the knit side facing out, and for most knitters the work will go faster, and (2) it is virtually impossible to avoid creating looser stitches at the transition between double-pointed needles when purling, because the yarn is held on the outside of the triangle created by the needles, and thus has to travel farther when crossing between needles. I discovered this when I was working on the design for the cabled mittens for Cozy Knits, and sure enough, the transitions between dpns for this mitt were looking sloppy enough that I decided I had to try something else. I suppose using the magic loop method or two circular needles might have been options if not for Reason #1.
IMPORTANT: After the mitts have been turned right side out, look at the pattern of slipped stitches to make sure that the textured sections of the lace pattern are continuous with the textured section just completed. IF the slipped stitch patterns are off by one stitch, not to worry! Just remove the beginning-of-round marker, knit 1, and place a new marker for the beginning of the round, then proceed as directed.
After I figured that out, the only other tricky part of the design process was placing and working the thumb hole. As you can see in the photo below, the lace pattern is centered on the base of the thumb.
And as you can see in the last photo, these mitts don't have to be worn with Victorian garb! I think they look just fine with modern clothing.