Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mitten Tutorial

You've been asking for months for tutorial on knitting thumbs. Well, I'm finally getting around to it. I'm not sure how helpful this will be, but for those of you who actually understand instructions, I'm sure it will be great. For me, I had to sit there with my mom telling me what to do at every phase before I got it on my own.
These instructions (for the most part) come from the Knitter's Companion.
  1. Cast on loosely 27 or so stitches. This will seem ridiculously small. It's not. I use an 8 needle or so. Mittens need to withstand a lot of stretch, so better to make them seem small. The only key is that the cast on needs to be able to fit over the wearer's hand.
  2. Knit a tube until you're ready to get to where you want the thumb to go. You can knit straight (no purls!) and get stockinette stitch since you're in the round. You can try things like cuffs and the like (The pictures I'm going to give you have a cuff. If you want a cuff, just do knit a row purl a row and you'll get a garter stitch cuff.)
  3. When you are ready to put in the thumb knit until you are at the beginning of a row. (The way I tell is where the tail is from my cast on. You want the thumb to be on top of the tail.
  4. To make the space for the thumb, you need some contrasting yarn that is relatively similar in thickness. Cut your self a piece that's plenty long. To make the space where the thumb will go, do the following:
    • Knit the first four stitches on the row with the scrap yarn instead of your real yarn.
    • Make sure both of the tails of the scrap yarn are on the inside of the mitten.
    • Once you've knit those four stitches, put them back on the original needle where they came from.
    • Return to your regular yarn and knit until you get to the top of the mitten (this means that you knit those four scrap yarn stitches again with regular yarn on this row). This is the easy part. We'll come back to the part where you have to pick up those stitches momentarily.
  5. Continue knitting until you're at the top. When you are about an inch from where you want the top to be, begin decreasing. This is my decrease pattern. It assumes starting with 27 stitches.
    • Position your stitches so that you have 9 stitches on each needle. Knit 2 together then knit one for the entire row. After you're done you should have 6 stitches on each needle instead of 9.
    • Knit a row of of 18 total stitches (six on each needle).
    • Knit two together and knit one so that your six stitches on each needle become 4 each.
    • Knit a row of 12 total stitches.
    • At this point, I like to rearrange the stitches, but that's a matter of preference. Take your total of 12 stitches on 3 needles and put them on two so that you have six on two needles. Then knit two together and knit one so that your six on each needle becomes four.
    • Knit one row of 8 stitches.
  6. Bind off using the Kitchner Stitch. The idea is to bind off in a way that looks like a continuation of stockinette. I'm not very good at this part, but here are the instructions anyway. What follows is verbatim (almost) from Knitter's Companion.
    • Place the stitches onto two needles (four on each) and break the working yarn, leaving a tail that is about 10 inches long. Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle. Hold the two knitting needles together in the left hand, with working yarn/tail on the right side and the inside portions of the mitten facing togther.
    • Use the tapestry needle to draw the working yarn through the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl, and leave it on the needle. Draw the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit and leave it on the needle. Then continue as follows:
      1. Draw the working yarn through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, and slip it off the needle.
      2. Draw the yarn through the second stitch on the front needle as if to purl, but leave the stitch on the needle.
      3. Draw the yarn through the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl, and slip it off.
      4. Draw the yarn through the second stitch on the back needle as if to knit, and leave the stitch on the needle.
      5. Repeat steps 1-4 until all the stitches are joined. When you're done bring your tail inside the mitten and tuck it away (meaning, sew in the end).
  7. Now it's time to talk about the thumb. This part is kind of tricky. Basically you should have the body of a mitten with 4 stitches made from the scrap yarn.
    • You want to pick up the 4 stitches on the bottom of those stitches, the 4 stitches on the top and two on each side. (I used to do only 1 one on each side, but this way makes for fewer holes). I think the pictures are more descriptive, but the basic idea is to put your needle through the left side of the stitches immediately above and below the scrap row.
    • Use your remaining two needles to pick up two stitches on each side. You want to pick up the side closest to where the thumb will be (the inside of the stitch).
    • Now that you have your 12 stitches on needles, take a tapestry needle and pull out the scrap yarn.
  8. Once you have gotten rid of the scrap, you need to rearrange those 12 stitches onto three needles and continue to knit until you've got a thumb (depending on how big your hand is, about 2 inches). The decrease pattern on the thumb should be to get down to six. Go from 12 to 9 (Knit two together, knit, knit for each needle). Knit row of 9. Go from 9 to 6 (Knit two together, knit). Knit the row of six then do the kitchner stitch as described above.
These instructions make it sound much more complicated than it is, but honestly it's not. The nice thing about mittens is even if you don't do it exactly right, they will still fit. Almost like a scarf, but a whole heck of a lot more fun. And they're not as bulky to carry around with you if you want a project for the bus. That's the end of my mitten infomercial. I'll add in pictures soon.


HEB said...

Yes! Finally I will be able to knit somewhat uniform mittens! Thanks, kzwick!

CH said...

Hooray! The mitten tutorial materializes! Zwick really knows how to knit a mean pair of mittens, as my minituare hands can attest.

Emily said...

Small mittens are the meanest.