Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Make Fitted Fingerless Gloves/Armwarmers, Part 3

You can reach parts one and two here and here, respectively.

We have now arrived at Part 3: Converting the Numbers into a Pattern. 

I know that it sounds intimidating, but translating numbers into a pattern is surprisingly easy. All you have to do is plug the numbers on your hand turkey into a series of simple formulas. First, though, you have to make a couple of decisions: whether to have individual fingers or a ribbed cuff at the top, and whether to start from the top (at the fingers) or the bottom (at the wrists). Each option has its pluses and minuses. Individual fingers are fiddly, but warmer than a cuffed top. They can also be made longer without sacrificing dexterity. Most knitters find it easier to work mittens from the wrist to the fingers, as it's easier to visualize and try on the mittens as one goes, but knitting fingers to wrist ensures that less yarn will go to waste (some of us really dislike having thousands of tiny balls of sock yarn floating about the house). At the end of the day, it's a matter of personal preference.

For the purposes of this exercise, I elected to do a ribbed cuff at the top, working from fingers to wrist. Numbers in (parentheses) are ones that I pulled from my hand turkey. You should make sure to use your own!:

  1. Cast on the number of palm stitches (52) with a needle one or two sizes down from the one you intend on using for the main part of the glove, and work 5 rows of 2 x 2 (knit 2, purl 2) ribbing. 
  2. Switch to larger needles and work (15) rounds of palm stitches to obtain the desired length of mitten between fingers and thumb opening.  
  3. Using waste yarn, cast on the (13) stitches needed to bring the stitch count up to (65), in order to accommodate the wider part of the palm/thumb.
  4. Take a break to calculate the gusset. I'm starting with (65) stitches, I need to get down to (48) stitches for my wrist, and I have (2.5) inches, or (25) rows, in which to do it. (65-48 = 19) stitches to decrease. Since I'll be working one decrease on each side of the gusset, and losing 2 stitches each decrease row, I'll need a total of (9) decrease rows (plus an extra at the end). Rounding up to (27) rows to make the math easier, I'll need to decrease every (third) row. 
  5. Once my calculations were finished, it was time to place the gusset. The (13) cast-on stitches would form the center of it, but a few of the palm stitches would need to be incorporated in order to get to (48) at the end. Starting at the midpoint of the palm stitches (in between 26 and 27), count (23) stitches on each side, placing a marker at each spot. 
  6. Work the gusset by knitting (2) rows, then a decrease row, until you have reached the number of wrist stitches you need (48). I prefer to use mirrored decreases (ssk on one side, k2tog on the other) for reasons of symmetry, but that's a personal preference. Either way, the decreases are placed on the first two stitches inside the stitch markers. You won't need to move the markers at all. 
  7. Once the gusset has been completed, it's time to calculate wrist increases using the same method as the gusset decreases. Since I'm going from (48) to (56) stitches over (3) inches and my increase rows increase two stitches at a time, I'll need (4) increase rows over (30) rows, so every (seventh) row (and I'll work a few extras at the end to make up the difference to (3) inches. As far as placement goes, I divide the number of stitches in eighths, and place the increases in the 7/8ths spot. For a (48) stitch wrist, I place the increases around stitch (40). I use mirrored M1 increases, but it's not necessary as the decreases will be on the underside of the wrist.
  8. Once the wrist increases are complete, switch back to the smaller needles, work 10 rounds of k2, p2 ribbing, and cast-of using a stretchy bind-off. Personally, I like Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn cast-off.
  9. Now it's time to go back and finish the thumb. Unravel the provisional cast-on, placing the (13) stitches on two DPNs. Using a third DPN, cast on (7) stitches to get to the number of stitches (20) you'll need for the thumb, amking sure to leave a fairly long (4-5") tail. Work (5) rows in stockinette, then switch to smaller needles and work 5 rows in k2, p2 ribbing. Cast off loosely.
  10. After that, it's all finishing! Weave in ends and sew up the gap between the cast-on edge of the thumb and the palm stitches using the tail of the cast-on edge. 
  11. Make another, making sure to place thumb gussets and wrist increases on the opposite sides of the glove to achieve symmetry. 

To do the same pattern from the other direction (wrist to cuff), do the same thing in reverse, doing increases instead of decreases, and placing thumb stitches on a stitch holder instead of using a provisional cast-on.

When knitting gloves with individual fingers, it's a lot easier to knit them wrist-to-cuff, simply because the only way I've been able to do fingers-to-wrist gloves with individual fingers is as follows:

  1. Before casting on, set aside ~20-30 yards of yarn, depending on gauge and finger and palm length.
  2. Provisionally cast on upper palm stitches.
  3. Work half of the number of rows needed. 
  4. Place live stitches on waste yarn or stitch holders (or else use a second set of double-pointed needles for the next step).
  5. Unravel provisional cast on, placing stitches on DPNs. 
  6. Using second ball of yarn, knit the second half of the number of rows needed for the palm.
  7. Work the fingers, still using second ball of yarn.
  8. Pick the stitches on waste yarn/holders/first set of DPN's up and complete pattern as normal.
In short, it's kind of a pain in the ass, and I'd rather have yarn scraps. 

So, cast on from the bottom and work as you would for a normal wrist-to-fingers glove. Once the palm stitches are finished (they should be flush with where your fingers separate), you're ready to start.

First, though, a bit of math. You already know how many stitches each finger requires from Part 2. Now, you need to incorporate those numbers into the live stitches. You can't simply divide them evenly, as fingers are different sizes and the ones on the ends of your hands (pinky and index) will require more of the palm stitches.  Figuring this out sounds complicated, but it's quite simple once you think about it. 

While fingers are circular, for the purposes of this exercise, it's useful to think of them as a series of rounded squares (individual stitches) within a larger rectangle (the palm stitches). I start with the index finger and the pinky finger and work my way to the middle as follows:
  1. The index finger is a square that has a perimeter of 19 stitches. As three-quarters of the sides of this square are part of the larger rectangle (palm stitches), I will need to use 14 palm stitches (7 on one side of the beginning of the row, and 7 on the other) and cast on 5 stitches of my own. 
  2. The pinky is a square that has a perimeter of 16 stitches. Three-quarters. of sides of this square are part of the larger rectangle. I will need to use 12 palm stitches (6 on one side of the halfway point of the row, and 6 on the other) and cast on 4 stitches of my own. 
  3. At this point, I have used 26 of the 52 palm stitches. 26 remain. 
  4. Both the middle and ring fingers are squares that have two sides that are part of the larger rectangle. Since my middle finger is slightly larger than my left finger, I will use 14 of the edge stitches, 7 on one side, 7 on the other, and will cast on two stitches in between each side to connect them. 
  5. This means there are twelve stitches left for the ring finger, so I'll need to cast on two stitches in between them as well. 
If that sounds a bit confusing, here's a simple MS paint diagram I threw together:

I knit the fingers one at the time, keeping the unused edge stitches on waste yarn or a stitch holder. When finishing, it helps to use a less stretchy bind-off, as these help to reduce curling. Just don't cast off too tightly; I don't want to be responsible for any blue fingertips! As for the seams created by the cast-on edges, simply sew them together like you did with the thumb. Weave in the multitude of ends, and you're done!

Here endeth the lesson.

Coming soon: Part 4: Knitting!

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