About Last Week’s Mittens…

Donna's mittens with matching hat

Last week, I posted a pair of rough-hewn mittens – my first ever, in fact, created using the traditional “4-needle” method. The wrist was built with a simple rib-stitch on 6mm needles. For the body I switched to a 4mm needle and used a stocking stitch. The entire body of the mitt was cast on at 32 stitches, but I increased it to 48 stitches at just below the thumb to give more wiggle room.

The effect of starting with a large needle then reducing the size was awesome — it gave the mitten a rough, warm-and-cozy home-made look that I love.

The 4mm needle created a tight stitch for the body of the mitten. I wanted a mitt that would keep out the cold and stand up to hard wear, like, for example, my less than stellar skating skills!

I ran a rough cable up the back of the mitten body, just because I like cables. They’re complicated and twisted, as my friend says, just like life.

For sizing, I had the advantage of having my own hands ‘handy’, so I just “knitted till it fitted”, if you’ll pardon my saying so! I find that’s the best way to shape most things. Remember, though, to leave a little extra room for the dreaded “shrinkage” that may or may not happen with your chosen fabric. Knitted things should always be comfy.

The thumb-hole was created using a stitch holder. When I got to the area of the thumb, I simply slipped 6 stitches onto the holder, then cast on a new 6 stitches before continuing on my merry path.

I’ve knitted in the round before, mostly collars and hats, but I’ve always used the circular needles. Must admit – I rather enjoyed the looks of intimidation on the faces of my beloved when they saw the “4 – double-pointies” I was flashing around! Ha! The operation looked somewhat like a medieval torture device, especially when I was building the thumb.

WHAT I LEARNED: I try to learn at least one thing from every new project I attempt. Because I’m largely a self-taught knitter (not to detract any credit from the many knitting and crafting friends from whom I’ve begged info over the years) some of these tips come in the form of “Ah-Hah” moments, so I’ll pass them on whenever I can.

The best tip I can give you for mittens is: Try to start the project with a ball that is big enough to finish one mitten. You won’t want to have to tie off any loose ends within the body of the mitt – that will detract from the comfort. If you do encounter a flaw in the yarn that forces you to cut, or if you run out of yarn, join the new strand onto the old end and knit them together into the fabric, rather than tying off the ends and then having to weave them. The effect will be much smoother on the inside of the mitten, where it really counts!

Have fun with your mitts, folks!
Donna Carrick, Friday, January 15, 2010


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