To gusset or not to gusset

I have knit 11 pairs of fingerless mitts over the last few years.  Each of these has had a gusset.  A gusset is the triangular-shaped expansion that is knit into the mitt to provide room for the thumb.  The gusset can be merely practical, allowing for a better fit, or it can be a canvas for creative design, in which the oddly-shaped wedge sparks some artistic ingenuity.  The former kind can be seen, for example, in my Wedgewood Mitts (designed by me and blogged here):

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Often, the gusset is knit in plain stockinette regardless of the pattern on the body of the mitt, as in the Antiquity Mitts, designed by Alicia Plummer.  Here is my pair:

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Sometimes, an overall pattern is incorporated into the gusset increases, as in the Flecktone Mitts, designed by Susan Moskwa.  Here is my pair, knit for Leah:

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And sometimes, the gusset is a creative adventure, as in the Green Thumb Mitts, designed by Diana Foss.  I love the way she has incorporated the curves of a leaf into the triangular-shaped gusset.  It is a strikingly simple and organic design.  Here is my pair:

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Without the gusset, the mitt is merely a tube with a hole for the thumb.  There are two huge advantages to the gusset-less mitt: it is easier to knit, and the gusset doesn’t interrupt the pattern, allowing for the adoption of more intricate patterns with ease.  I don’t think that I have consciously been discriminating against gusset-less mitts.  On the other hand, 11 for 11 gusseted mitts clearly indicates a strong bias.  Whenever I see the un-gusseted variety, I always wonder: will they be comfortable?

This brings me to the point of this post: knitters, I ask of you, what do you think of gusset-less mitts/mittens/gloves?  Are they comfortable?  Do you recommend them?  Do you wear them?  Do you think that the little afterthought thumb looks funny?  Do they pull or stretch over the base of the thumb?  Can your hand move like it’s supposed to?  Is the thumb-hole in the right spot?

On a side note: Have you ever noticed that men’s shoes look mostly foot-shaped while women’s shoes don’t? (I ponder on this fact frequently, especially when my feet hurt.)  Is this the way of mitts – that gusseted mitts look hand-shaped but gusset-less mitts don’t? Given that shoes are designed to be inflexible and knits are designed to have ease and stretch, I realize the ridiculousness of this comparison.  Socks, on the other hand, should be roughly comparable: feet have heels and thus socks are normally knit with heels in them.  I can testify that tube socks are inherently uncomfortable.

Let me take this opportunity to point out that I could easily address this question in the tried and tested scientific method – I could make a pair of gusset-less mitts, wear them, and determine through direct experience how comfortable they are.  However, my innate sense of laziness leads me to take the easy, and extremely unscientific and subjective route of throwing the question into the blogosphere.

Before you answer, I should say that the impetus for this post is an awful lot of terribly cute patterns sans gusset.  Take, for example, the Goats of Inversnaid (gauntlets) by Kate Davies:

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© Kate Davies Designs

Or the Calaveras Mittens by JennyPenny:

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© JennyPenny

And while I am on the topic of thumbs, I have noticed more and more mitt patterns which not only have no gusset, but which have no thumb at all.  Like the terribly cute Gully Gloves by Kelly McClure:

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© Bohoknits

Or the Colorblock Handwarmers by Purl Soho:

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by purlsoho

In fact, the thumb-less mitt is a fast-growing category.  I look at these mitts and think “But doesn’t your thumb get cold?”  Knitters, I beg you, rescue me from the reliability of scientific experiment and throw me into the lazy vat of subjective speculation: Does your thumb get cold?

Wedgewood Mitts

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Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone is off to a good start for a great year!  I hate making New Year’s Resolutions because they rarely stick.  So, this time, I’ve made mine exceedingly simple:  Move more!  Procrastinate less!

For knitting resolutions, I want to experiment and explore and knit more things that Emma and I have designed.  So, on that note, and serendipitously checking the procrastinate less box, I bring you a free pattern here; my first design of the year.

Wedgewood Mitts by Kelly Sloan

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Yarn: Buachaille, 100% wool yarn by Kate Davies Designs, 35 grams of MC and 15 grams of CC; two skeins should (just) make two pairs of mittens if you reverse the main and contrast colours for the second pair.

In the photos, I have used Between Weathers (mid-blue) for the MC, and Ptarmigan (natural white) for the CC. This combination reminded me of Wedgewood china, thus the name of the pattern.

Gauge: 24×32 in stockinette, 28×32 (unblocked and unstretched) in corrugated ribbing

Needle: US 3 or size to obtain gauge

Notes on size and gauge: This pattern gives one size only (7.25” width) but can easily be adjusted to fit your hand. You can change the mitt size by changing the needle size, or you can adjust the number of stitches. The stitches must be a multiple of 4. (If you adjust the stitch number, then in Row 1 of the thumb gusset, knit half the stitches before placing the first marker.)   Knitters will also vary quite a bit on how tight their corrugated ribbing is compared to their stockinette, so my advice is to treat your first mitt as a gauge swatch: knit the cuff, and then try it on. If it is too tight, you can rip it out and start again with a larger needle size or simply cast on more stitches (in multiples of 4). Depending on the contrast between your stockinette gauge and your corrugated ribbing, you may need to decrease or increase some stitches for the body of the mitt: again, trying it on is always the best policy.

There is no left and right; both mitts are the same.

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Cuff: 

Using CC cast on 44 stitches, using the cast on method of your choice.  Join in the round and purl 2 rows.

Knit 14 rows in corrugated ribbing:  *K2 with MC, P2 with CC*, repeat to end

Next  row: With CC, knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches

With CC, purl 2 rows.  Break yarn.

Body:

With MC, knit  4 rows.

Begin thumb gusset:

Row 1: K22, pm, m1, pm, knit to end

Rows 2 and 3:  Knit

Row 4 (increase row):  K to marker, sm, m1, k to marker, m1, sm, knit to end

Repeat rows 2-4 until there are 13 stitches between the markers, then knit 2 rows.

Next row: Knit, transferring the 13 stitches between markers onto waste yarn.

Knit 15 rows.  Break yarn.

With CC, knit one row, purl two rows, and cast-off purl-wise.

Thumb: 

Transfer the 13 stitches from waste yarn back to needles. Rejoin MC and join in the round, picking up 2 stitches in the thumb gap. Be sure to place a marker beginning the start of the round.

Knit 4 rows. Break yarn.

With CC, knit 1 row, purl 2 rows, and bind off purl-wise.

Finishing: With a darning needle, weave in ends.  Wet block.

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Abbreviations:

CC – contrasting colour

K – knit

m1 – make 1 (Insert the left needle from front to back into the horizontal strand between the two stitches: Knit the stitch through the back loop.)

MC – main colour

P – purl

pm – place marker

sm – slip marker

 

 

Crazy for Candlewick

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I can’t stop knitting things for Leah in the rich golden colour called Candlewick from Madelinetosh.

In the summer of 2014 I knit Leah a cardigan (Peloponnese by Sandi Rosner for Twist Collective) that used Candlewick as an accent colour against Composition Book Grey.  I blogged about it here, where you will find all of the details and many great photos.  The cardigan was a huge hit and I am told that Leah practically lives in it:

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She was very enamoured of the lovely rich tones of the Candlewick, so I ordered more yarn and made the cowl as a surprise last Christmas, using the Cabernet Infinity Scarf – DK pattern by Monika Sirna.

 

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I had a skein of the yarn leftover, so this Christmas I whipped out a pair of fingerless mitts to match.

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Monika Sirna recently released a mitt pattern to match the cowl, but I decided not to use it.  First, it was designed for worsted weight while my yarn was DK, but I also found the pattern to be a bit busy.  I decided that I wanted a pair of simple stockinette mitts with a single pattern of the cable running up the back ; I think they turned out elegant.  I didn’t take any notes – I used double pointed needles in a US size 5, put in a single pattern repeat with one purl stitch on either side, and added a thumb gusset.  The only slightly tricky part was incorporating the pattern repeat into the ribbing on the bottom and top of the mitts (which involved decreasing one stitch as the count was off by one, if I recall).

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Leah loves them and I think they will get a lot of wear.  This colour really suits her.

We are having an astonishlingly warm Christmas here in southern England.  The photo above of Leah in her Peloponesse cardigan was taken in August year before last, the other photos are taken today in late December.  I think the temperatures are probably the same today as they were on that summer day.  Everything is green, and you can see the rosehips on the rose bush and the flowers blooming behind Leah.  I have no doubt that the cold will arrive eventually and then hopefully the Candlewick mitts and cowl will be both cheerful and warm.

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A dozen great patterns for fingerless mitts

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post showcasing great mitten patterns.  A reader recently left a comment on the blog asking for some suggestions for fingerless mitts.  Thanks, Arlene, for the post idea!  I have searched through the hundred or so fingerless mitt patterns in my favorites file and picked out an even dozen.   Some of these are new designs and some have been around for awhile and some I’ve likely pointed out before.

This close to the holidays, with many other things that I should be doing, I will endeavor to keep this post simple – I’ll keep the word count low and put up only the Ravelry link for each pattern.  So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are twelve great designs:

1. Ballydesmond mitts, by Irish Girlie Knits.  Think cashmere!

© irish Girlie Knits Designs

© irish Girlie Knits Designs

 

2.  The goats of Inversnaid gauntlets by Kate Davies, using her new yarn.  Can you see the goats?  (Hint: they are white).

© Kate Davies Designs

© Kate Davies Designs

 

3. Palouse mitts by Marjorie Walter of Knitting in the Rain.  So elegant.  And I love this photo so much!

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by RaintownKnitter

 

4. Desafinado mitts by Veronik Avery.  This is a new pattern, just released a few days ago.  It’s hard to get a clear photo of just the mitts, as it was released as a mitt and hat set, but I love the colourwork on these.

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© Pam Allen

 

5. Copperline mitts by Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio.  I already have the yarn lined up!

© Blue Bee Studio

© Blue Bee Studio

 

6. Cabletilt mitts by Sarah Wilson of The Sexy Knitter.  They are positively drool-worthy!

© Sara McDonald

© Sara McDonald

 

7. Xmas Star Mitts by Sybil R.  This designer has spent the last few years deconstructing the fingerless  mitt, and has come up with the most ingenious patterns.

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© sybilra

 

8. The Byzantine by Martha Keep.  It’s hard to see but these are knit with very tiny needles and are beaded with hundreds of very tiny beads!  A work of art.

© James Yochum

© James Yochum

 

9. Tatara by Olga Buraya-Kefelian for Brooklyn Tweed Capsule Collection.

© Brooklyn Tweed

© Brooklyn Tweed

To see why I love these so much, you need to see a pair unmodelled and marvel at its cool construction:

© Brooklyn Tweed

© Brooklyn Tweed

 

10. En rêvant de Provence by Tori Seierstad.  I am mad about these.  There are four flower charts – sunflower, poppies, lavender and almond flower – which can be mixed and matched as you choose.

by torirot

by torirot

 

11. Helleborus Mitts by Kirsten Kapur.  A pretty tulip pattern combined with a gorgeous gusset; so dainty!

© Kirsten Kapur

© Kirsten Kapur

12. Brooklyn Bridge Mitts by Emma Welford.  Aren’t they fab?  To date myself here,  I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge every day to get to work in 1982.  I love that Bridge and love this great pattern based on its design.

© Lindsey Topham

© Lindsey Topham

I hope this post gives you some great ideas!

Warm Hands, Cold Feet

I have been working on a really great knitting project which I had hoped to blog about today.  But if truth be told, I have had a stressful week, and I have just had a lovely dinner (cooked by Doug) and have a glass of good wine by my side, so I will instead write a quick post about two recently finished projects, and save the new sweater for another day.

Those of you familiar with this blog will know that I am not big on knitting socks, gloves, hats, mittens, shawls and all of those other non-sweater items in the knitter’s repetoire.  I have an affinity for knitting sweaters.  But those other things are really good at keeping one’s hands, feet, head and neck warm.  In October, I finally got tired enough of cold hands to knit up some fingerless gloves.  My feet are still cold, and likely to remain that way.

First up, I knit a pair of very cute mitts for my daughter Leah, who is working a bit of a red vibe lately.

They look great with Leah’s coat (from Desigual).  This pattern is for the Nalu mitts, designed by Leila Raabe (the pattern is available for free on Ravelry).  I knit them with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which is a blend of wool, microfibre and cashmere.  I used one ball of yarn to make the pair, and had just a few metres left over.   I would like them even better if they were an inch longer, but of course then you would need a second ball of yarn.

I knit these with a smaller needle than called for in the pattern.  I used a 3mm instead of a 3.25mm, and the slightly tighter gauge works well.  These mitts are fun to knit and fun to wear.  I think that Leah has worn them non-stop for the last three weeks.

Leila Raabe is one of the designers working with Jared Flood at Brooklyn Tweed  (if you don’t know Brooklyn Tweed it is well worth checking out – Jared is a great designer and photographer and has put together a really skilled and creative in-house design team).  Leila has had some lovely designs published in the last few years and has been on my radar for a while (mostly for her sweater patterns, of course).  So I was very happy to test drive one of her smaller patterns.  The design is very whimsical and eye-catching, and I highly recommend it.

For myself, I also chose to knit with Baby Cashmerino, but in a completely luscious grey.  This grey has to be seen to be appreciated; it is rich, gorgeous, luminous (and I just happened to have two balls of it sitting in my stash).  I chose to knit the pattern called Green Thumb, by Diana Foss.  You can find it on her blog, Mooseknits.  These mitts are knit in 2×2 rib, and are ambidextrous (both mitts are identical – there is no distinction between the left and right one).

The ribbing makes them very stretchy and warm, and the Baby Cashmerino is lovely and soft.  I also knit these with a 3mm needle, which is a size smaller than the pattern calls for.  Like the Nalu mitts, this pattern also calls for one ball of yarn, and so the mitts are short.  I made these longer, adding 8 extra rows of rib before the thumb gussets and including the optional five extra rows at the fingers.  This means I had to break into the second ball of yarn, but to me the extra length was worth it.  Given the tiny needles and the rib, there are a lot of stitches in these; each mitt has over 5000 stitches.  (Yes, I counted; I am a nerd that way.)  The thing that makes this pattern is the thumb gussets:

Aren’t they great?  I love this; such a simple, but innovative design.  Once you see them, it seems so obvious that a thumb gusset is shaped just like a leaf pattern.  I really think these are incredibly elegant.  I have worn them every day at work, thus keeping my hands warm while sitting at my desk typing.

Hopefully, next week I will bring you my totally cool new project; in the meantime, I am here with warm hands (and cold feet).