I got these mittens finished and blocked yesterday. I'm showing them off today at my knitting groups and then hope to mail them off to my friend tomorrow.
I did two main modifications. Instead of doing the cross pattern on the outside of the thumb, I decided to continue the palm pattern and did the cross pattern on the palm side of the thumb.
I learned three new techniques whilst knitting these mittens. First, was the yarnover braid. It is thinner than the Latvian braid I had been doing and it was VERY fiddly. A real pain in the a**. Each braid (and there were 5 on each mitten!) took half an hour. That's 5 hours on the braids alone. Harumph!
The second new technique was the double-start cast-on. It was very easy and decorative and not as fiddly as the two-colour long-tail cast-on that I used a lot on the Selbu mittens. Here's a video demonstrating the technique by the folk knitting queen herself, Nancy Bush. It is nice and stretchy and quite decorative. I would definitely use it again for mitten or sock cuffs.
The third new technique was the nupp (rhymes with 'hoop'). A nupp is a little bobble knit into the fabric. In flat knitting, several stitches are knit into one and on the return row (usually the 'resting' or purl row) they are all purled together. Here's another video of Nancy Bush demonstrating the technique. However, the mittens were knit in the round so a very different technique was used. Once I did a couple of them, the instructions were very easy to remember (a bonus at my age - LOL) and execute.