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):


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:


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:


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:


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:


© Kate Davies Designs

Or the Calaveras Mittens by JennyPenny:

mittens calaveras front

© 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:


© Bohoknits

Or the Colorblock Handwarmers by Purl Soho:


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?