Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Momma's Got a New Thumb Gusset!

Not quite the same ring as "Momma's Got a Squeezebox" but I tried.

It's terribly head-growing to see your project spotlighted on someone else's blog before you even get to post it yourself. Especially when that person is a well-published knitting designer! I had planned to blog about these mittens yesterday (or last week...) but someone on the machine knitting group wanted an easy MK mitten pattern, so I did that first. But now, back to handknitting, because, yes, I DO still handknit!!
As I mentioned yesterday, I have an old Patons free handout for mitten patterns. I don't see it on their website, which is too bad because it is one of those 'staple' patterns that everyone should have. Prior to using this pattern, I had tried mittens a couple of times, but was unhappy with the results, for a few reasons. The Patons pattern is written for knitting flat, but is easily adjustable to knit it in the round. It is written for a left and a right hand, but unless I'm doing something with a design on the back of the hand, I don't bother anymore. If you don't have a good mitten pattern, I suggest using "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" by Ann Budd, I think it's called.
The Patons pattern has thumb gussets, starting slightly off from the inside edge to differentiate between left and right. When I look at my hands, I see thumbs that angle off from my wrists...I don't see thumbs that suddenly jut out from my palms. I tried on a pair of Norwegian mitts, and they were definitely wearable, but I just didn't feel that they were secure, or would be comfy when trying to make a snowman. Most of the time, I need mittens suitable for activity. A close fitting, gusset thumbed mitt is my preference, but of course, it's not the only option.
In the past, I've tried to "improve" my mitts in a few ways. The first was to stop knitting the thumb before the rest of the hand. It was too easy to maneuver the mitt to make the thumb fit, but then once the hand was done, the thumb would be too short (for awhile I did knit the thumb, but didn't finish it off till the body was done--that's another good option). I tried making a more defined 'crotch' gusset where the thumb joins the body, but if you're doing a pattern, or just not thinking, it's easy to forget to decrease those stitches or not have them work in the pattern. I sometimes found that I had done all my gusset increases, but hadn't reached the 'crotch' yet. I know I could have solved that issue by doing a swatch, LOL, and spacing the increases out further....but a worsted weight lady's mitt is only 40sts.
I also found that the closer I stuck to the pattern.....the better the results :) But, I always had an issue with the thumb side cuff pulling up. The thumb would start to slide off my thumb, the mittens themselves would slide up. I was constantly pushing my mitts back down. I thought the thumbs might be too short (and that was part of the problem). I thought the mitts were too loose (also part of the problem). I thought I needed more rows before the thumb gusset....but if I stretch out my thumbs....they start to angle out almost right at my wrist. But if I started the thumb gusset closer to the rib, I would always run out of increases before running out of rows in the gusset.
When I was making the green mittens recently, I was afraid of this happening again...so I thought...what if I add a short row or two to the gusset? Give it a few more rows, for movement and length compared to the rest of the hand. It needs more length as well as width. Those mitts were for a gift, but when I tried them on, they felt good. Really good.
I needed a new pair of mitts, so I felt like trying this idea out some more. Originally I was going to make some wine mitts to go with my wine jacket, but that just seemed REALLY boring when I held the yarn next to the coat. I have a book of Shetland mitts and gloves and have always wanted to make some, but dealing with charts, and multiple colours is just not practical at this time in my life. I decided on some flip top mitts, with a band of fair isle, picking up the wine colour in my coat. When you see the pattern in the book, it looks like hearts. I chose colours that were very similar, but for some reason, the effect was lost :( I had originally used the wine colour where the burgundy is, but it didn't show up very different from the dark brown.
When I was weaving in ends and trimming them with my new, very pointy, fancy scissors I got for Christmas, I accidentally snipped almost all the way through a float!!! I was trying to be careful!

I rubbed a bit of fabric glue on it to secure it. Thankfully, it was a yarn with several plies, and not just a singly or 2 ply! At least, it's in the body of the flap so it's not against my hand.

After wearing these mitts almost constantly for the past few weeks, I have to say, they are my favourite!! The yarn is Superwash Wool by Moda Dea---discontinued, but I stocked up as much as I could when I found it, $2.99 a ball, less than 2 balls for a hat and mitts. I let Huey wear them to the park, and he did make the fair isle on the palms a little fuzzy, but they are 'activity' mitts, and the back of the hands look good still. They are warm and very secure. The short rows in the thumb really seemed to work!

It didn't take much, maybe 3 sets of short rows, two might even be enough in a worsted wool. My only complaint is that the ribbing bulges, as you can see. The pattern keeps the ribbing in the same size needles, and with the same number of sts as for the hand. I think I might start going down a size of needles, or using fewer stitches. Which do you think? Although, looking at it...if it were a sewn item, I would say it's too long on the inside of the wrist, while the back of the wrist seems fine....short rows are a wonderful tool, and so much easier than doing darts when sewing. Why not use them whenever we need just a bit more length somewhere specific? If we're going to the trouble to make something fit, lets make it fit perfectly (or, as close as we can get because no one's perfect, or at least, shouldn't think that they are!).


Cindy G said...

Still love the concept! Thanks for writing it up in more detail. Short rows on the back of the hand sound good, too.

The Fair Isle band is a great touch.

CrazyCarla said...

As always... very nice work. Funny song... I would sing it to my daughter and she thought I made it up. She finally heard the song a few years ago and I have been redeemed! Keep the good stuff coming. Appreciate you.

Jennifer Lori said...

What a cool idea!

Anonymous said...

I joined a really nice group of knitters called the knotty knitters of Roseburg Oregon and it was a full year before I found out I wasn't spelling it right ! I sure wish you would take on circular socks with 2 circs.