Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pretty Pretty Princess Mitts

I am quite the adventuress these days, and so last week I got all wild and learned how to make mitts. Mitts, not mittens.

The biggest virtue to mitts, if you ask me, is that you get to stop knitting them before they become mittens. This was my first attempt to make two of something, and I wore out pretty early on once I learned the sacred nuances of the thumb gusset from my friend Channyn.

Wondering about the virtues of mitts? They make your fingernails look bright and shiny. I'm told they could be useful if you are a farmer... milking the cows? Holding onto the reigns when you ride a horse? Ah, whilst riding through town on a cold day in a convertible, you could perch up on the headrest and wave your most queenly wave to passersby. Yes, that's how I would use these mitts.

Now I've wrapped up two lovely cowls out of this yarn, and two more hats, and a total of two sets of mitts. My husband has a friend who has an identical twin sister who is in nursing home rehab, so I think I'll send them a hat, cowl and mitts set for each, so they can be ultimate twinners. 

I also made a hat and scarf that I sent to my friend Cindy. The scarf has a ruffle that my friend Joyce taught me to make. And the hat is perfect for chemo in the wintertime, warm enough to wear out and about if it isn't toooo cold, and soft and comfortable enough for indoor wear when you need a little something to contain the heat.

Cindy's scarf and hat
Two hats, two sets of mitts, two cowls for Jeanie and her sister

That's the last of this yarn, called malabrigo rastita 863 Zarzamora. It is lovely yarn, but I am thoroughly tired of looking at it. Kind of pricey at $15.20 per skein, but it was lovely to knit with and I certainly got a lot of projects out of the six skeins that I purchased.

Just so I won't forget how to knit these projects:

The hat:

Size 7 circular needles, cast on 76 stitches, knit one perl one for the brim for a couple of inches, knit for 8 inches and then decrease until you have to switch to double pointed needles and keep decreasing until done. That's not a true pattern, for sure. Every hat made came out differently because one hat I cast on 78 stitches, which changed how the brim worked out, and I didn't even bother doing a brim for a couple of the hats, and there's a whole thing about how many stitches to decrease by and at what point, which I lost track of and the hats looked fine to me anyway.

The cowls:

The cowl pattern is a free pattern I found on pinterest by SourCherries. It is my current favorite cowl pattern, so I keep making the same one. 

Cast onto size 7 circular needles until you are sick of casting on (as far as I can tell, cowls can be thick or thin, long or short... if you make them really long you can wrap them around your neck more than once, and if you don't, then you can't). Knit the first row, then perl a row, yarnover and knit 2 together for a row, perl a row, then knit 8 rows, then start over with perling a row followed by the yarnover and then the knitted rows. Do this until you are sick of knitting or run out of yarn, finish with the perl/yarnover/perl thing plus one knitted row and then cast off.

The mitts:

I liked the size 3 teensy circular knitting needles that my friend Channyn gave me the best. They are clover 9" No. 3s. If you have arthritis, they give you a bit of a workout. As an alternative, you could knit with double pointed needles. I am still finding dpns to be floppy torture devices, but expect that at some point I'll get better at handling them. I knit one pair with size 7 teensy circular needles, but the 3s produced a nicer, tighter result. I'll try the 7s with a thicker yarn.

oh dear, my dog is snoring really loudly right now and I see she has her face stuffed into one of the cowls. I can't take it away, she looks way too happy.

With the 7s, I cast on 36 stitches, and with the 3s, I cast on 40 stitches. I knit one then perled one for the cuff, 20 rows. Next time I'd like to try making a longer cuff, say twice as long, and then fold it up. If the purpose of mitts is to keep your wrists warm, then doubling the cuff could really work for that.

After the cuff is done, I knit 10 rows, then I started working on my thumb. To do that, I put two stitch markers on either side of 2 stitches. Then I knit around and did a backwards knit (somebody will tell me the correct name of that stitch, I'm sure) to increase the stitch to the left of the rightmost marker, and then knit until the last stitch before the leftmost marker and increased with another backwards knit stitch. Then I finished knitting that row and knit one additional row, and when I came around and hit the stitch markers again, I increased 2 more stitches. I did this until I had 16 stitches between the stitch markers, but more importantly, I put on the mitt and squeezed the thumb gusset shut periodically to make sure my thumb would fit. I only forgot to knit the extra row for one mitt... there was much cursing and then I practiced my skill at undoing 10 rows of stitches, because it took me that long to notice that I had a very stout thumb gusset.

Next, I took one of those great big diaper pin things and moved the 16 stitches onto that. Then I increased one stitch. I can't remember why Channyn told me to do that, but it looked fine so that's what I do. Then I knit on through as if I didn't have a big diaper pin full of stitches hanging around.

Stop to thank your lucky stars for the invention of the darning or tapestry needle, because after everything is done, you go back and clean up your thumb gusset by sewing up any dangly holes that are hanging out. I did much less darning on the mitts that I used the size 3 needles on, because everything was held together more tightly with the small stitches.

Go on and knit 20 more rows to finish off the rest of the mitt. My yarn is curled at the top, so while I got decorative at the end of one set of mitts and did a perl/yarnover-knit 2 together/perl at the top, on the second pair, I just cast off and the top curled over nicely and looked just as good to me.

Now, go back to the 16 stitches hanging off the big diaper pin and split them across 3 doublepointed needles. After knitting around to where I started, I poked around and increased 3 stitches around the circumference of the thumb hole, trying to pick the spots to increase the stitches that wouldn't create big dangly holes in the knitting. But this is finicky work, so if you're a loose knitter, you might just end up with holes.I knit 5 rows and then cast off, and then dug out the darning needle to tie up loose ends and dangly thumb gusset holes.


  1. We love LOVE love the hats, scarves and mitts. Recently we found another benefit. My sister is temporarily using a walker for support as she recovers from a broken hip that had to be replaced. She was getting blisters on her hands from the walker. She put the gloves on and it solved the problem - and made quite the fashion stir in the Rehab Center. --- Jeanie M.

  2. I am so glad that worked out, girls. I'll have to keep slogging away at making mitts, now that I know a purpose other than waving from the backseat of one's convertible.