How I Stopped Being Afraid of Gloves…and Why You Should Too

Okay, I’ve been knitting for thirty-plus years, and have long prided myself on being able to make anything I choose (though whether I choose to make anything is always a given). This philosophy, by the way, has carried me through my rejection of a number of other, often more lucrative, career choices. You do what it takes to get by.

Anyhow. Gloves. I’ve come to a time in my life, with the younglings and all, when gloves are more practical than mittens. Fingerless gloves are even more practical, but regular gloves are still useful, and warmer than having my fingers out in this teeth-cracking cold. But I always looked at all those fingers and thought, yeah, I’ll never pull that off. Though I get how to knit in the round on doublepoints, and have even done it many times, I just couldn’t picture how that would happen. And even if I could stand it, wouldn’t it be tedious, especially in sock yarn? Most things are tedious using sock yarn. I see fingering yarn and size-0 needles, and I admit it, my eyes glaze over. The chances of my finishing the things were somewhere between nil and nada.

I was wrong. It’s easy if you can already knit in the round on DPNs. Here’s how you can do it too.

1. You’ll need a set of six double-points, and having a full range of sizes on hand may save time. Knit Picks DPN sets are great for this. With gloves, you need to make row and stitch gauge. Otherwise, they’ll be too long. This tip courtesy of Becky Herrick. You wouldn’t think a quarter-millimeter matters. It does. Do a swatch. My pattern called for 2 mm needles and I finally landed on 3 mm needles. I knit tightly.

2. You’ll need large and small stitch holders, and/or needle point protectors because while you knit the fingers, you need to have the hand stitches on hold at the front and back. It’s easier to keep those stitches on 2 of the 6 DPNs and knit off of them as needed, and then use the other four DPNs to knit whichever finger. If you cover your points, you won’t be cursing the dropped stitches after you tried the gloves on. Short circs in the right size work also.

You can see the held stitches at the knuckle and the needles on the ring finger in progress.

3. Follow the pattern one step at a time. True of all knitting, but especially true when there are a lot of steps. These are just like mittens until you get to the knuckle, and then you knit the fingers from the pinky inward, doing the thumb last.

4. Take a lot of measurements to make sure they’ll fit. There’s less margin of error with gloves because the fingers have to fit individually. Measure each finger for length, measure the hand around at the knuckles, and measure the side of the hand between the wrist and pinky. Measure the fingers as you knit.

5. Don’t worry if at times, the project resembles a grumpy porcupine while you’re knitting the fingers. That’s normal. Try to keep the stitches reasonably snugged up at the joins, especially where you cast on for the between-fingers stitches, and just carry on until the finger stitches lift up and away from the hand. It will only take a few rows.

Held stitches at the palm and thumb with waste yarn.

6. Use as pointy needles as you can stand. I’m finding this helps a lot when knitting into the cast-on stitches on the insides of the fingers. The ring and middle fingers, particularly, are comprised of back-hand stitches, palm stitches, and cast-on stitches to connect them. Cast-on loop stitches can be hard to knit into on the first row. I tried with Brittany Birch, Inox, and KnitPicks Harmony Wood, and the last are the pointiest in the group.

That’s all there is to it. This is only knitting, after all. Now, go forth and knit gloves!

Eureka!

Had a moment of horror when I went looking for my cable pattern book and couldn’t find it. I wanted to make something I saw somewhere–it would be my first stab at designing, and though I have about zero faith that I can make it come out how I want it to, I’m putting the idea on file anyhow–and when noodling around Amazon, discovered that it is out of print and apparently scarce. Now it’s become rather imperative that I find my own, because if I buy a second copy, two things are sure to happen: a) I will find mine; and b) they will come out with an identical second edition that costs a quarter as much. Such an annoying occupational hazard with craft books, isn’t it? You never know what will turn out to be an enduring classic, and they’re all printed in such small quantities that you have to either snap it up when new and see what happens, or pass it up and kick yourself forever for missing a book that you can only get if your best knitting friend happened to buy it and dies suddenly without making provisions for that book in her will.

There is a new one, but people differ as to how good it is.

I bought mine three, possibly four, moves ago, and haven’t seen it in years. In my head, it was being kept in a box with a lot of other patterns. Yeah, that’s a help. I finally located it in the attic, in a box marked “Knitting.” Who knew I could be that logical.

The cable pattern I wanted? Not in it.

Friday

I’ve been wanting to knit, but I spend a lot of my time with the world’s cutest baby on my lap, and a lot of my energy is directed toward not accepting his help with my current projects. He thinks his brother’s socks would look better with more runs and less structural cohesion. Though he is very adorable and charming, I cannot agree. He has decided to eat his thumb in protest.

I’ll have to ask my mother how she knitted around four babies. No wonder she didn’t tackle sweaters. Or things with DPNs. So far, we haven’t had to make any trips to the emergency room, but that’s more related to luck than to my ability to think things through.

I have two things happening right now: a pair of plain ribbed socks for the four-year-old, in some of my most obnoxious self-striping yarn, and a pair of Becky Herrick’s Kingdom gloves in green Cascade Heritage that probably won’t do as much for the cable patterning as a light color would have, but will still show them off nicely (btw, that project is my current icon and header photo). She was right, by the way–these are not really hard. I think this is the first time I’ve worked cables in the round, but it definitely seems faster when you don’t have to work wrong sides, and gloves are a good place for intricate cables because even on tiny needles, you only have to work about 40 rows. I really love cables. You get a lot of impact without changing colors.

I was looking at some more fussy sock patterns on Knitty and thinking about how the photography always makes me want to go to there–when it’s very unlikely that “there” actually exists. Aren’t knitting bloggers aren’t going on about their messy homes and chaotic lives? I’m no different. The four-year old is strewing crumbs and toys everywhere, and the baby is a flailer and has kicked me in the chest a half-dozen times and given me a fat lip already today. I’m surrounded by laundry because it’s Friday, and can only look longingly at the pretty new snow outside and think of posing serenely in the landscape wearing a gorgeous sweater of my own design. If I ever manage to churn out anything, I’m going to have it shot with a backdrop of my messy life.

A matter of skeins or tangles.

If you’re here, you’re as surprised as I am. I didn’t think I was going to start a knitting blog. I didn’t think I had that much to say about knitting. I’ve knitted on and off for over thirty years, consider myself good at it, but am not what one might call a creative knitter. It’s the knitting, the act of it, that makes it worthwhile for me. Just as I bake because the recipe frees me for the baking, I knit because the pattern frees me for the knitting.

Writing, on the other hand, is an area where I do feel creative, where I can stretch and invent. And while I’ve been knitting over the last couple of months, between trying not to lose my place in a complicated pattern and trying to keep my kids from knocking the needles from my hands, I’ve been thinking about the kinds of knitters I know. My grandmother, who taught me to knit, is a volume knitter. She gets her hands on one or two patterns she likes, and she churns out hundreds, if not thousands, of versions of the same thing. She’s kept my sons in sweaters and hats from birth onward, and though she’s nearly ninety, I have no doubt she’ll knit to and including the day she dies. My mother likes things she can finish relatively quickly. She kept us all in hats and mittens over the years, and did a pair of socks but didn’t take to them. Lately, it’s been scarves and prayer shawls. My sister is an I’m-not-a-knitter-I’m-a-crocheter. I know sometime-knitters and all-the-time knitters, beginners, lifers, and everyone in between.

Me? I knit to stay sane. When my knitting is at its zenith, you can bet it’s because I really need it.

Years ago, before I had kids, I knew a young mother who would pick out days and days of progress on a stitch project–I’m also a stitcher and active with that when I’m not knitting–if she found a mistake. In counted cross stitch, frogging can be as much work as stitching, and most of us are inclined to let a small mistake go. It’ll never be noticed on a trotting horse, right? She explained that stitching was the only place in her life where she had any control, and she just had to make it perfect. And I always thought that was pretty crazy. Then, four hours ago, I raveled half a glove cuff because I couldn’t find my mistake and tinking wasn’t solving the issue. That was all the progress I made on this project today. The gloves are for me–who’d notice? I’d notice. And I doubt it was a coincidence that the baby has been fussing nonstop since he woke up this morning. I want those gloves to go right. Dammit.