Thursday, March 01, 2018

Such a Simple Way To Start

Let's get started with some simple mittens!  Pour yourself a cup and pull up a seat at the table...(and if you haven't already, please read the previous post).  This is a very long post.  I wrote it as if you were sitting here with me and I was talking you through the steps of making the mitten.  I'm going to put the sockweight version in a separate post, just so your eyes don't blur.

It takes a little thought at the beginning, but honestly if you just want to give the mittens a "one time through" as written, just to see if you like them, they're bound to fit someone you know in the end and you can take the first pair and go on from there (whew, that's a long sentence!).  The easiest thing is, if you have a mitten pattern you like to make that fits you well simply plug the ten-stitch repeat of the motif into it on the cuff (or anywhere you want to cups to be!)

The two samples I knit up are in vastly different weights of yarn.  The black and tan pair are knit in Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Worsted, a wool mohair blend (the black) and my sport weight farm yarn held double (the tan).  I used size US 5 and US 6 needles on 40 stitches.  The variegated fingerless mitts are done with sock yarn, fingering weight, from The Woolen Homestead and our farm yarn sock blend (the white and the rustic gold) which is a little bit thicker but worked fine together.  Size US 2 and US 3 needles over 56 stitches. I like the fit of them both for me personally, but here is where you should give a little thought.

If you're knitting for yourself, how do you like your mitten to fit?  Do you like a snug, dense fabric or do you prefer a little room in your mittens? You can quite easily change the stitch count up a bit and still fit the cup motif, adding "plain" stitches between the cups, or try going up or down a needle size with the yarn you're working with.  You've probably heard it a thousand times, but every knitter is different and your tension and knitting preference will make a difference.

How shall we start?  I thought it might be easiest to just go through the steps exactly as I made the mittens, and then discuss changes/options after.  If you have a question, drop a note in the comments below or in the Ravelry group.  Shall we try that?  Keeping in mind, as I said in the previous post, this is more a mitten plan than a pattern - be brave and follow your knitters heart!  Here we go!


Worsted weight variety:

A main color (MC) yarn and small amount of contrast color (CC).  I used a readily available commercial yarn, Brown Sheep Lambs Pride (one of my favorites) that is 190 yards  (173 M) per skein with plenty left over.  I used less than 100 yards of the contrast color.  If you want to add a third color for a contrasting background of the cups (different than the MC) you can certainly do that, as I did on the sock yarn version.  You'll need less than 100 yards of that as well and we'll call it (CC2).  A short piece of smooth yarn for the afterthought thought thumb in a shockingly different, easy to see color ;)

The worsted weight version with one contrast color & shockingly bright thumb placement yarn

The sock yarn version, showing two contrast colors

Size 5 (3.75 mm) and size 6 (4.25 mm) needles for working in the round, your preference (dpns, magic loop, etc)  For denser fabric or snugger fit, try size 4 (3.5 mm) and size 5 (3.75 mm)

If you need a marker to remind you where the beginning of the round is, grab one of those.  I tend to just look for the tail of my yarn.  A marker for your top decreases.  You'll also need a sewing up needle for weaving in ends


Using size 5 needles and MC yarn, cast on 40 stitches, join for working in the round (marking the beginning of the round if you need to), and simply begin knitting.  That's it!  Working this way, your stockinette fabric gets a nice little roll in it that is very pleasing and nothing could be simpler.  I worked 10 rounds, changed to the size 6 needle and knit 1 more round plain.

Cuff Options:  If you prefer ribbing on your mitten cuff, absolutely do ribbing, about 10 rounds, change to size 6 needle and knit 1 round.  You could also make a garter cuff, if you don't like the roll of stockinette.  In my second mitten, I cast on and did 4 rows of garter followed by 6 rows of stockinette, change to size 6 needle and knit 1 round.  One more choice is an I-cord cast on.  This is what I did for the sock yarn version.  I quite like it, and we can talk about that more in the sock yarn version discussion!  Now, get ready to add your cups ~

Left hand mitten cuff (do you like my fancy motif writing?)

Right hand mitten cuff
Please let me know if my chart is difficult to see, I'll make it darker if needed. In my scribbles, the darker blocks represents the contrast color (CC), the lighter blocks represent your main color (MC)  This is where, if you were doing a three-color version, those lighter blocks would be your second contrast color (CC2)

Option:  I've given you a motif for each hand, I liked the idea of my cups facing different directions ;)  But you can absolutely chose one and work the same motif on each hand, don't worry about changing directions.  Knitters choice, whatever is easiest for you!

Work these 15 rows using the size 6 needle.  Over 40 stitches, this gives you two cups on each side of your cuff, front and back, with 2 stitches between cups.  On longer color repeats, catch your floats (I usually do this every three stitches). Work 1 more round plain with size 6 needle, then switch back to size 5.

With the size 5's, continue knitting plain until you reach the web of your thumb, the base.  For me that was 12 rounds, but adjust for your hand.  Tip:  One of the complaints of afterthought thumbs is that there isn't enough ease through that widest part of your hand.  My tip is, increase a few stitches as you prepare for the thumb insertion.  For example on my 12th round, I increased 2 stitches (one on the front of the hand and one on the back) and that was enough for me.  You may need to add 3 or 4, evenly spaced, or you may not need to add any.  Now grab your piece of smooth, brightly colored yarn for thumb placement.

I've opened up the thumb stitches, just to give you an idea of placement
For the left hand, knit around until you are 10 stitches from the end of the round.  With your placement yarn, knit the next 8 stitches.  Now, slip those 8 stitches back to the left needle and knit them again with your working yarn as well as the last 2 stitches of the round.  If you look at the first photo in this post, you'll see I just leave the tails of my placement yarn (the red yarn) hanging out as I continue knitting.  It's just going to hang out there as you finish knitting the hand of your mitten.  When working the right hand, you will knit 2, work your 8 thumb placement stitches, then knit on to the end of the round.  I find that giving myself 2 stitches before the side of the mitten keeps it from distorting, rather than placing it right on the edge.

There is a rule of thumb (lol, no pun intended) that says your thumb stitches should be approximately 1/4th of the total number of stitches.  Hmm, that never quite works out for me.  Using the 8 stitches we did here, for example, we'll have 16 thumb stitches when we open it up.  Now if that's to many for you, go down to 6 on the afterthought placement (giving you 12 stitches when you open them up for the base of your thumb).  It's totally up to you and the size hand you are making these for.

Now simply continue knitting on size 5's in your MC until you reach the top of your little finger and are ready to start decreasing.  (If you made any increases to allow for the thumb, for example I did those extra 2 sts, decrease them at some point, back to your 40 sts) For me, that was 20 rounds, but whatever gets you to the decrease point.  Tip:  Take a look at the photo above, the one where I've opened up the thumb stitches.  That isn't just for show...I do this on nearly every mitten I make with afterthought thumbs!  I don't wait until I'm finished the hand before opening it up and trying it on.  For me, that's the best way to insure I've made the hand of my mitten long enough!  Does that make sense?  When I open up the thumb and slip it on my hand to test for length, I insure that I won't make the mitten to short.  It's easy enough to do, I don't find the extra needles for the thumbs get in my way, but if you do, put those stitches onto a holder of some kind (thread them back onto the length of yarn possibly).

On to the top of the mitten decreasing.  I can't remember what it's called, but it's similar to toe decreases on a sock.

Knit 20 sts, place marker, knit to the end of the round.  Then ~

Decrease Rnd 1: ssk, knit to 2 sts before marker, k2tog, slip marker, ssk, knit to 2 sts before end of the round, k2tog (36 sts)

Decrease Rnd 2: Knit

Decrease Rnd 3: ssk, knit to 2 sts before marker, k2tog, slip marker, ssk, knit to 2 sts before end of the round, k2tog (34 sts)

Decrease Rnd 4: Knit

Decrease Rnd 5: ssk twice, knit to 4 sts before marker, k2tog twice, slip marker, ssk twice, knit to 4 sts before end of the round, k2tog twice (24 sts)

Decrease Rnd 6: Knit

Decrease Rnd 7: ssk twice, knit to 4 sts before marker, k2tog twice, slip marker, ssk twice, knit to 4 sts before end of the round, k2tog twice (16 sts)

Decrease Rnd 8: k2tog around, removing marker (8 sts)

Break the yarn, leaving a few inches of tail. Using the sewing up needle, thread the yarn through the last 8 sts and pull tight.

Now, this post is so amazingly long that I'm going to pause.  My eyes need a break and so do yours!  Do you have any questions?  Do you have any suggestions?  Have you found a mistake?  What do you think so far?  Let's pour ourselves another cup, stretch, and come back for the next installment, where we do the numbers for knitting with fingering yarn, and finally, we put in our thumbs!  Be sure to follow The Woolen Homestead on Ravelry, where we have a group KAL, if you want a chance for a lovely prize at the end of this (and be sure to watch The Woolen Homestead podcast!)

Tag your mittens on Instagram as #shareacupmittens and #basketofmittenskal2018 if you're joining us for that!


Goatldi said...

Wowzers! How much fun. I tripped over some skeins of yours that you sent in my last order and I managed to bury under a stash of Navajo Churro.

I am happy to report that they are going to be some mitts to enter into our county fair in the summer. So with that said I will use this pattern and I will report back in June with the judging results.

Joanne said...

Cary, your mittens are adorable!! I can see your charts just fine, just so you know. :)

Cary ~ My Wool Mitten at Serenity Farms said...

Thank you Goatldi and Joanne, I appreciate your kind words ;)