The March Mittens features two Latvian braids flanking the colorwork band on the cuff of the mitten. The Latvian Braid is a spectacular knitting technique that creates the look of a twist or rope embedded into your knitting. Unlike the Estonian (or Vikkel/Lateral) braid, the Latvian Braid is worked in a three round process and is typically worked in 2 colors. In order to function properly using two colors, it must be worked over a multiple of 2. Working the technique is quite simple – you are basically purling in colorwork on the right side of the fabric, intentionally twisting the yarns as you do so.
One of the key points we stress over (and over) again when teaching stranded colorwork is to keep one yarn on top, and one yarn on the bottom. The technique for working these braids throws this convention out the window, and the intentional twisting (and then untwisting) of the yarns is what creates the patterning on the right side of the work. It also means that the common method of two-handed stranded knitting isn't necessary here, as in order to twist the yarns, it is necessary to drop them after each stitch.
RIGHT LEANING BRAID
SET UP / Rnd 1: *K1 MC, K1 CC; rep from * around.
This round forms the "base" of your braid. It isn't visible from the bottom of the braid, but it is the horizontal line of stitches you see in between each round of twists you're about to create. Traditionally you work the same color on Round 1 as is worked on Round 2, (MC over MC, CC over CC, etc).
STEP 1a / Bring both yarns to front.
STEP 1b / *Purl 1 MC. Bring CC under MC (twisting yarns), purl 1 CC. Bring MC under CC (twisting yarns); repeat from * around.
Reminder: Do not take the time here to untwist the yarns. They will become untwisted on Rnd 3 when you switch the direction of twist.
In the above image, Round 2 is complete, and the first stitch of Round 3 has been worked.
STEP 2 / Rnd 3: *P1 MC, bring CC over MC (twisting yarns), P1 MC, bring CC over MC (twisting yarns); rep from * around.
If done correctly, once you have worked every stitch in the round, your two yarns will become totally untwisted, ready to work in whatever patterning is called for on subsequent rounds.
LEFT LEANING BRAID
In order to work a left leaning braid (where the point of the braid faces the left), you will reverse the way you are carrying the yarns – in the first round, you will carry the yarns over one another, and then on the next round, you will carry the yarns under one another.
Rnd 1: *K1 MC, K1 CC; rep from * around.
Rnd 2: Bring both yarns to front. *P1 MC, bring CC over MC, P1 CC, bring MC over CC; rep from * around.
Rnd 3: *P1 MC, bring CC under MC, P1 CC, bring MC under CC; rep from * around.