When I was in high school and my dad was traveling for work, my mom would peek around my doorframe while I slogged my way through hours of homework and say, “Mill Wharf?” I’d drop everything, change out of my school uniform, and off we’d go to our favorite restaurant in the next town over.
Mill Wharf sits on the edge of the Atlantic in Scituate, Massachusetts on Scituate Harbor. We’d always eat upstairs - a casual dining area complete with a wood-paneled bar, taxidermied fish on the wall, model ships in glass cases, and captain’s wheel. If we were lucky, we’d get a window seat and watch the fishing boats come in and out of the harbor, loaded with the day’s catch. My mom always got fish and I’d always get a cheeseburger, and we’d talk about our days, my brother who had gone off to college, and my dad who was away for work. My mom and I had countless meals at Mill Wharf and some of my fondest high school memories are of us sitting by the windows and talking. I’ll always think of it as “our place.”
Having grown up next to the ocean, I’ve always preferred the off-season. To me, a gray, choppy, dark ocean is far more beautiful than its summer counterpart. I prefer the cold wind whipping through my hair, being wrapped in a warm coat, and smelling the salt in the air. The beaches are barren, there are no tourists or beach chairs to weave my way through, and the mournful cries of the seagulls searching for their next meal while they fight their way against the wind is oddly comforting.
Near Mill Wharf is a long rocky jetty that culminates in a grand old lighthouse. My high school friend Malley and I would carefully pick a route to the very end and sit next to the lighthouse - sometimes for hours - talking and trying to figure our how to navigate our way through high school and life. The waves would pound the jetty and sometimes we’d end up soaked or with a scraped knee, but I never minded. Malley and I are friends to this day, and when I go home to visit and see that jetty, it makes me think of her.
These two places will always remain important to me. They remind me of a certain time in my life where I knew I was on the brink of something, but wasn't sure how to navigate there yet, or even where “there” was. They bring back that feeling of hurtling 500 mph towards the future and being terrified of making wrong decisions and being scared to leave home and become an adult. Most importantly, they remind me of evenings spent with my mom next to a huge picture window watching the boats, and of having grown-up conversations with a side of silliness.
I’m happy to release the Mill Wharf Mittens, a DK-weight stranded color work project that’s an ode to my mom and our evenings together at Mill Wharf. Using Primrose Yarn Co’s Jasper DK, a springy 100% superwash merino hand dye in Lake House and The Terror, these colors remind me so much of a churning Atlantic in the winter. I really like the ply on this yarn and it gives the motifs excellent stitch definition. With a picot hem, Estonian Braid detailing at the cuff, and traditional thumb gusset shaping, the surprise is on the inside where fish bones swim across the palms. With a lighthouse, choppy waves, sand dollars, and fish motifs, this is truly an homage to my New England roots. They’re a little piece of home that I can carry around with me.
I often get asked about how to block mittens properly. It doesn’t take long and it can make a HUGE difference in your finished work. I start by getting out my mitten blockers - my favorites are from Knitting Left on Etsy (they also make sock blockers). Handmade out of varnished birch, they come in multiple sizes and are extra awesome because they have sheep carved right into them (they do have other styles - follow her in instagram to check them out). They come in a handy bag so it’s easy to keep everything together, included the separate thumb blockers. Throw your mittens in cold water with some wool wash for 15-20 minutes. When I take them out I knead out as much water as possible (do not wring out your knitting - that can twist your stitches and they’ll dry that way), roll them in a towel and stand on them. This squelches out as much water as possible. After that, I put my mitten blockers in the wet mittens on a blocking board (remember they’ve been varnished, so they’re water proof and won’t warp) followed by the thumb blockers. I lay them out under a ceiling fan to dry and voila! It can take a bit for them to completely dry… Remember that stranded color work is a double-thick fabric, so it’s usually a day on one side, a day on another (longer if you don’t use a fan) plus maybe even a day inside out to be certain they’ve dried all the way through. I could talk about blocking all day, and I cannot stress the importance of it.
And mom? Let’s go to dinner together at Mill Wharf next time I’m home.
Download the Mill Wharf Mittens here.