Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mitts for Michael; part two

I finished the new mitts late last night. Michael got them this morning (I left them on the table for him,) and he loves them.

The second one is exactly the same size as the first, except that the opening for the thumb is slightly larger, since that's what he wanted.

He took them to work, and said that the first thing that everyone said was, "Are you cold?" He explained that yes, he was. That's why he'd been saying that he was, all winter long.

They are longer than the pattern would have called for; but that, too, is what he wanted since he can turn them back when he's typing, and have them cover his hands when he's not. He also asked to have no length on the thumbs, since he was pretty sure it would annoy him to have to work with his thumbs muffled like that. So that's what he got.

I learned quite a bit more about knitting with the Magic Loop while making these. You'd think, since I've done two and a half pairs of mitts, that I'd be really familiar with it (and I guess I am, now.) But I didn't learn as much from the first pair as you might think, since I couldn't see the stitches.

Turns out that the trick is to be careful with the stitches at the end, when you switch needles. You need to remember that the stitch isn't the start of a new row; it's just the next stitch along, and do exactly what you'd do for the next stitch, when you're manipulating the yarn. So, if you're changing from Purl to Knit, you need to move the yarn to the back of the work before you change the needles. And then you just take that small loop for the next stitch.

I was making an extra loop, about half the time, trying to work the yarn around all the cable and so on, and that was making the stitches head the wrong way, for some reason. The leading edge of the stitch was on the left, not the right, and that made them very hard to knit. Fortunately, I could see what I was doing, so I was manually turning the yarn (it was too tight to just knit into the back of the stitch) but it was much easier once I realized what the problem was, and corrected it.

It made the side of the mitt look lots better too, as you can see from the second picture, above.

Since Michael didn't want his thumbs covered, when I got to that part, I just bound off the stitches instead of putting them on waste yarn. At least, that's what I did for the second mitt.

For the first one, I was several rows past that, with those stitches on waste yarn already, when he told me this. (I did give him the option, because I know him. I should have done so before I was quite so far along, though.) So I very carefully unknitted down to that row; but that meant that the extra cast on stitch that the pattern called for after putting the gusset on waste yarn was gone, as well.

In addition, I wasn't sure that the area above the thumb would close properly. So I added a couple of stitches, and knit a couple together, and came out with the right number; but the thumb is a little ... ummm ... imperfect right there.

Michael tried it on, and told me that it fit his left hand beautifully, but the thumb bound just a little on his right; could I make it a bit bigger?

So I added another stitch in the middle of the gusset, on the last row (where it's not very visible) and two more on either side in the row where I bound off the gusset. That gave me the right number for the rest of the glove.

So I found a pattern for these mitts, which also just had bound thumbs, from a much more experienced knitter. She simply kept knitting for the next row without doing anything special, so that's what I did, too. And lo and behold, it closed up perfectly, without any trouble, and is as smooth and neat as you could want.

So; I think I'm going to use this pattern as a base for any other mitts I do. I can add cables, colorwork, or whatever from any other mitt patterns; but if I base them on this I know that they will fit. And when Michael asks for a red pair of these, I'll know just what to do with the thumbs!

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