Thursday, January 22, 2009

Customizable Fingerless Mitts

My first pair are Free Spirit … I used the same yarn, but different stripe patterns. I actually like the 2nd mitt better … I think the finer stripes of single rounds looks better. I’ll be knitting at least one more pair, probably a Wild Rebel pair (look below for the explanation of a Wild Rebel ::smiles::).


Size … average woman’s hand, but can be adjusted

The instructions look really long … but they aren’t, honest! They look that way because I explain several things before the actual instructions begin. It’s easier to explain it all first, so you don’t have to read through all the explanations when you start knitting.

Materials & supplies
Finger weight yarn in 2 colors
Note 1: For 2 mitts, I used less than a skein of my MC. I used leftover yarns for CC.
Note 2: You can use various scrap yarns for your CC, or even do the pair in all different left over yarns.
Needles - I used size 1. You may need size 0 for smaller hands, or size 2 or 3 for larger hands.
Stitch marker
Tapestry needle
Scrap of yarn to hold thumb stitches

You’ll need to know how to make a stitch. You can do this 2 ways. Either way will work. Making a stitch is marked in the pattern as M1.
1. You can pick up the yarn between the stitch you just knit and the next stitch. Pick up with the tip of your left needle. Knit into the back of the new stitch. This will make it twist so you won’t have a hole there.
2. I prefer to pick up the top of the stitch in the row below the working row. Use the tip of your right needle to pick up, slip the new stitch to your left needle, and knit as usual.

Random Ribbing
My youngest son wants socks … plain, ribbed socks. I got so tired of regimental K2 P2 or even K3 P2 ribbing that I rebelled and played around with making my own ribbing patterns. I rarely use standard ribbing now. I much prefer the softer look of random ribbing and that is what I’ve used here. If you prefer a standard ribbing pattern, any ribbing pattern that will divide evenly into 52 will work with this pattern.

If you want to use random ribbing, just make up your own pattern as you work the first row after cast on. The only rule for random ribbing is never to use more than 3 knit or 3 purl stitches in a row. If you do, you begin to lose the elasticity of the ribbing and you start to create stockinette stitch instead. You don’t want stockinette stitch yet! So do any combination of knits and purls you happen to feel like, just remember to stop at 3 stitches in a row. NOTE: You’ll need to pay attention on the 2nd row, and possibly the 3rd row, to be sure you are knitting and purling the correct stitches. After that, your pattern should be established well enough that you can see which to do at a glance. You will have to pay more attention to this ribbing pattern than you do to a standard ribbing pattern, since there is no pattern to it.

Slip Stitch
I used a slip stitch pattern to soften the edges of the stripes. The slip stitch row is done on the 1st row of any color change. Again, I used a random pattern here. When doing a slip stitch pattern on ribbing, slip only knit stitches. Slipping purl stitches will put a pattern inside the mitt …. where no one will see it.
Slip stitch pattern: Knit a random number of stitches (I prefer not to go more than 5 stitches) and instead of knitting the next stitch, just slip it from the left needle to the right needle. Repeat to end of round. Knit all stitches on the next round. The slipped stitches will stretch up into the new color, softening the edges of the stripe. Depending on your color choices, the pattern can be soft or very dramatic.

There is no reference in the pattern instructions about color changes. This is because you make up your own pattern as you knit. I’ve done a few samples of the mitts to show various possible patterns. You can do stripes at regular intervals or as the mood strikes. You can use a variegated yarn and do no stripes at all. You can add stripes to just the cuff. You can do all the ribbing in one color and use another color for the stockinette stitch. In other words, create your own mitts.

Be a Free Spirit and use the same yarn but 2 different stripe patterns for a pair. Or be a Wild Rebel and make stripes of all different colors on your mitts. This way, any 2 mitts you pick up are a pair! And it’s a great way to use up all those little balls of yarn you just couldn’t quite bring yourself to throw away.

Gauge: 11 rows / 7 1/2 sts over 1 inch
Using a stretchy cast on, cast on 52 stitches. Begin random ribbing. Be sure to watch your stitches for the first few rows to make sure you are knitting and purling appropriately. At the end of row one you may wish to place a marker to mark beginning of row. I just leave the CO tail hanging and use that for my marker.

I do 32 rows of ribbing to be sure the ribbing covers my wrists completely. You can do a few more (or less) to accomodate whatever stripe pattern you are using … or if your wrists are longer or shorter. The idea is just to make sure the ribbing is long enough to keep your wrists warm.

Once your ribbing is long enough, change to stockinette stitch and begin the hand.
Rnds 1-7 - Knit all stitches in the round.
Begin thumb gusset:
Rnd 8 - M1, place marker, knit to end of row.
Note: Only the M1 stitch should be in front of marker.
Rnd 9 - Knit all stitches to end of round, slipping marker
Rnd 10 - M1, knit to marker, M1. Note: 3 stitches in thumb gusset. Knit to end of round.
Repeat Rnds 9 & 10 until you have 21 stitches in the thumb gusset.
Knit 1 round even in established pattern.

Slip the thumb stitches to a piece of waste yarn. You will have 52 stitches left on the needles. Snug the stitches on each side of the thumb gusset up to each other. Try not to leave too large a space here. You’ll need some space to pick up the rest of the thumb stitches later, but you don’t want a big gaping hole.

Finishing the hand portion

Knit even on the 52 stitches until the mitt just covers your knuckles. You might want to try the mitt on after 10 or so rounds to check how it fits and how many more rounds you think you’ll need. I used 13 rounds to cover my knuckles.
Change to random ribbing and knit in pattern until mitt covers the bottom joint of your little finger - 5 rows should do it for most people. BO in ribbing.

Finishing the thumb

Pick up the thumb stitches on 2 needles. Pick up 7 stitches across top of thumb. Round begins at this point.
Knit in established pattern until the thumb is desired length. I knit until the thumb is about half way between the two joints. I needed 3 rounds. Switch to ribbing and knit until piece covers thumb joint, or desired length. Again, 5 rounds should do it for most people. BO in ribbing.

Weave in any hanging tails.