Friday, August 31, 2007

Mermaid Fingerless Gloves, Part 2 - Fingers

I’m just finishing up the fingers of the left glove, so this is a good time for me to report my methods. Notes really don't cut it when you've truly forgotten what you've done!

What I've set down in "Part 2" below is probably not the best way to do glove fingers, but it came out fine for me. My reference was "Selbuvotter" by Terri Shea. This is a book of stunning Fair Isle mittens and gloves that originated with Norwegian settlers to the Pacific Northwest. The book documents a small part of the collection of textiles at Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum. (Note to Su at WormSoup: You guessed it… I definitely want to go there!!) The basic approach calls for casting on stitches between the fingers to get the appropriate stitch quantity for each finger. Middle finger gets more stitches and pinky gets less, etc.

To figure out what stitch counts I needed for each finger I actually wrapped the glove cuff around that finger and counted. Since all of this was to be done in 1 x 1 rib, each finger had to have an even stitch count. I added my own rule that increased stitches had to be equal where one finger faced its neighbor. The result is spelled out in my instructions below.


Part 2 - Mermaid Gloves, Fingers and Thumb
(See August 24, 2007 for Part 1)

This picks up after all of the fish scale patterning is complete, plus one row of rib per Part 1.

All of the fingers are knit in 1 K tbl x 1 purl rib.

First the planning. My map for transitioning the ring of stitches around the hand into fingers looks like this:

.....................Pinky...... Ring .....Middle..... Pointy
Sts from Top
of hand: ..........8........... 9........... 10.......... 9

Cast On
Stitches: ..............1..1........ 2..2.........1..1

Sts from Bottom
of hand: ..........9........... 8............ 9.......... 10

The map is read like this: Start with the Pinky. From the top side stitches keep 8 on your working needles and place the rest on a holder. From the bottom side stitches keep 9 on your working needles and put the rest on a holder. (I use extra circular needles as holders, but I suspect any holder will be annoying and get in the way. The circs certainly did!)

Knit around the finger to the point where you need to cross from top to bottom. Use a simple twisted loop cast on, (Vogue Knitting calls it a "single cast on"), to create 1 stitch between top and bottom. Keep the yarn tight as you continue knitting the bottom stitches and keep an eye on that rib. If you've got adjacent K tbls or purls, something's wrong.

Cast off when you're happy with the finger length. (You might want to write down how many rows you've got. I didn't, then later regretted it.)

For the Ring finger move 9 top side and 8 bottom side stitches to your working needles. As you cross bottom to top next to the Pinky, pick up 1 stitch. Make sure you pick it up through the cast on loop to keep the seam tight. On the side by the Middle finger cast on 2 stitches.

I'm pretty sure you can see where I'm going with this, so you can take it from here for the remaining fingers.

Now for the thumb. The thumb is also mostly knit in the 1 x 1 rib.

I had a mild design quandary at this point. I already had the stitch count I wanted, but when I pulled the active stitches together to close the thumb the fabric was too tight. The answer was to pick up 3 stitches above the thumb hole to relax the opening, bringing the count up to 26. When knitting the next row these three are stitched Ktbl P P so that you have P Ktbl P P Ktbl P P Ktbl. The bold stitches are the ones you picked up. On the next row P tog the two sets of double P stitches, bringing your stitch count to 24 and cleaning up your 1 x 1 rib. Cast off at the length that satisfies you, (and jot down that row count!).

Tuck all your ends and get ready to start again on the left glove. You may think all's smooth from this point, but I warn you that the true adventure begins here! More in Part 3.

This freaky picture is my left hand with the thumb pointing left and fingers pointing right. It's supposed to show the area of P P Ktlb P P in the thumb rib. You can sort of see it, right?

I know that Su at WormSoup has a much better approach to glove fingers and I'm looking forward to reading those details! I really am happy with this thumb anyways, and very happy overall with the finished gloves.

Next up for my travel project could end up being either a sleeve for the Comings and Goings cardigan, or maybe the new RSC socks. Don't know. Don't know. Here are some of the projects and wools that are vying for attention:

The dark blue skein is Wollmeise, color: Gewitterhimmel, (love that name!!). It has potential to be my sister's Mermaid Gloves, if it meets her approval for color. The big ball of wool is Fiesta Boomerang, color: Surf. I feel deep seated passion for this yarn and have purchased enough for a cardigan. A king size bedspread was tempting but seemed a bit excessive. (Note that the color looks a little weird in this picture.) The ball of multi surrounded by balls of solids is the newest RSC yarn, and those solids belong to the Comings and Goings Cardigan. There are two small balls of left-over wool that seem to want to be something together, maybe short fingerless gloves.

The shamelessly bright thing is my "brainless buddy", officially called Playing with Fire, but it earned its nickname by being so friendly to brainless loops-through-loops knitting. The background of this picture shows all of the recent purchases that threaten to push me off the sofa onto the floor. Have to clear the Knit Nest this weekend I think!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mermaid Fingerless Gloves, Part 1 - Easy Gusset

Mermaid Gloves; Slip Knot through Gusset

Sometimes knitting is more fun when it's not a mystery to be solved. This post is for all the knitters seduced by the Mermaid Gloves who are wishing for a simple loops-through-loops fiber experience.

I've jotted down the details of how I made the Mermaid Gloves, and will be presenting the info in several parts. My mission is not to create a stand-alone pattern, but to eliminate the mysteries that I had to work through along the way. If you're going to print your reference material and wander away from the computer, make sure you print the Pomatomus Socks pattern. I will try to incorporate enough of Steph's clues from the Craftoholic site so that you don't need to carry those pages as well, (although those pictures really do offer a high "drool" factor).

My biggest mystery was the gusset. These instructions will walk you through the gusset design that I came up with, (shown in the pictures here and previous). It doesn't match the one that Steph used, but I'm thrilled with it and hope you will be too!

Part 1 - The Right Glove from Cast On to the Base of the Fingers

My supplies:
Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Socks That Rock Medium weight yarn in Tanzanite
One set of KnitPicks #0 circular needles, 32", (I used the Magic Loop technique)
Print out of the Pomatomus Sock pattern

Gage: The charted stitch pattern measures 1 inch wide by 2 1/8 inch tall for my gloves. They're knitted to be a little tight for me in order to get a cozy fit around my hand.

Start out following the Pomatomus sock pattern; Ribbed cuff, then six horizontal pattern repeats around, stacked three high. Keep an eye out for the stitch that migrates between needles after each row 22, otherwise you'll be wondering why things don't line up on the next row 1.

As in Steph's notes, the gusset is made in the fourth vertical pattern group. I built my gusset in the fourth horizontal pattern repeat, first on the second needle. (That positions the slight unevenness associated with the cast-on knot on the underside of the arm.) Here's the complicated part… In that pattern block omit all of the "tog" stitches, instead knitting the two stitches that would have been tog'd to match the previous row's stitches. K tbl the Ktbl'd stitches and purl the purled stitches.

Work this way throughout that whole pattern block, (through row 22), with one other minor change. On row 13 add a stitch, (M1), located such that it precedes 11 K tbl ribs waiting on the left needle. I suggest adding this stitch after the normal purl between the ribs just because it seems easier than adding it before. Purl this extra stitch in every following row so that there are two purl stitches next to each other and then 11 K tbl ribs. This gives definition to the fish scale on the top of the hand.

After finishing row 22, put the extra 23 stitches on a holder starting with the double purl. Join the remaining stitches back into a round on the next row 1. Knit one more pattern repeat with all six pattern blocks normal per the chart.

Knit one row of 1 x 1 K tlb purl rib all the way around.

Now you're ready for fingers and thumb. But that's enough for me for now!

This picture's actually the left glove but I mirrored it to make it a clear reference:

Pretty easy, huh? Wish coming up with that gusset was as easy as knitting it! The design inspiration came after figuring out from the Craftoholic pictures and other gusset approaches that I wanted to increase 22 stitches over 22 rows. Normally these would be increased one each before and after the gusset on every other row. I figured I'd ditch the togs and see what happened knowing that I'd end up with the same count of extra stitches. I was thrilled, although I did rip back to add that M1 on row 13.

I'll report the details of how I did the fingers and thumb soon. The thumb still took an additional trick to give it the look I wanted. As for the fingers, I'm sure what I did was not the best approach, but it worked out fine in the end.

Currently I'm slogging through the left glove. It's been a significant and surprising bundle of challenges. There will be more on that too once I've blurted out all my secrets from the right glove.

Happy Knitting!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Dangerous Project

Every knitter who sees even a picture of the Mermaid Fingerless Gloves feels they must knit them. It turns out that the Mermaid Gloves can also trigger a loss of control when it comes to stash building. My sister requested a pair following brief exposure to those bewitching pictures, and the excuse to shop has inundated my Knit Nest in sock wool. Worst of all, I still don't have a yarn that is just right for my sister's pair.

Of course the logic along the way seemed perfectly solid… Buying three skeins to make up for the one, out-of-stock favorite. Buying additional skeins rather than making any really hard decisions. Placing another multi-skein order when the favorite is suddenly re-stocked. And of course we all know what happens once you get close to free shipping! The Loopy Ewe website is truly a scary and wonderful place.

Anyways, here's my take on the yarns that have recently added themselves to my Knit Nest environment:

Fiesta Boomerang. Wendy Knits wasn't kidding about this stuff being soft. It's amazing. Plus the artist who selects the colors has a happy talent for creating striking combinations that really do invoke memories of stunning landscapes. The strands have a really interesting twist too, something like a thin and thick ply twisted together, giving it a really unusual look, almost un-fiber-like. It's slightly heavy for a sock but I can't wait to try it. (Colors: Australia, Madrid, and Poppies. Australia's at the back right of the photo. Poppies and Madrid are in the middle on the left.)

Lorna's Laces also have champion color combinations and a wide variety to choose from at the Loopy Ewe. The yarn itself is the least soft of this recent batch and the twist is not as tight and springy as the others. Anyways, I know it has knit up nicely for other people, so I'm hoping it will play nice with me. (Color: Purple Club, Lakeview. Middle four skeins on the right.)

Cherry Tree Hill looks like it will give me a nice stitch definition with its tight, hard twist and its no-nonsense lack of fluff, plus it has the softness you'd expect of Merino. Unfortunately the color we selected was very different from the picture on the website. I like it anyways, but my sister didn't so there's serious danger that my stash expansion is not over. (Color: Moody Blues. Front right.)

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns wins the prize for eye-popping intensity. The photo above doesn't do it justice. The rich, deep, cool magenta is absolutely paralyzing. Stranding is also springy and fluff free. I'll have to pick a truly lovely stitch for this wool because once your eye hits it, it's really hard to look away. On top of all that, only the Fiesta beats it for softness. (Color: Crushed Velvet. Front left.)

The Knittery skein was unusual in that it carries a confident fluff, exuding inviting softness. I might not pick a fancy stitch with it but my feet are already wishing to take refuge in this yarn. The soothing garden colors match well with the wool's foot-friendly appearance. (Color Holiday. Back left.)

Overall, the award for the yarn calling to me most loudly goes to the Fiesta trio. Can't keep my hands off them!

So my stash is pushing me off the sofa. It's not my fault. All the blame goes to the Mermaid Gloves. Definitely a dangerous project in ways that I'm only beginning to understand!

Speaking of the gloves, I really will post instructions for how I did my pair. Here's a sneak preview of the right glove while I work on making sense of my notes. Check out my "organic" thumb gusset!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Meet My Projects

Announcing a breakthrough in my blog skills! I've added a "hit counter" so that I'll know whether I'm basking in the insanity of talking to myself or whether others have graced my site with their attention. After screening several potential suppliers I settled on Statcounter. They're the only ones who did not insist on posting ads for other businesses on my site. Easy instructions got me set up without a hitch. Two thumbs up and I haven't even tried to view the stats yet! (Let's see, 6 hits and I'm thinking 5 of those are me!)

Knitting News -
Well maybe this is more of a baseline than news. Here's a picture of my "Knit Nest" carried over from WormSoup. The current projects are:
Pyramids, a Shetland kit by Ron Schweitzer
Comings and Goings, a Cardigan kit from Mostly Merino
Playing with Fire, an original design in Blue Moon Fiber Arts' "Fire on the Mountain" color
Mermaid Fingerless Gloves, by Craftoholic based on Knitty's Pomatomus socks

This is an unusual situation for me since I've always been a "serial knitter", holding fast to the discipline of finishing a project before allowing myself the joy of starting the next one. That all went out the window this summer. No idea why.

The Mermaid Gloves are getting the most attention and giving me the most grief. Like so many other knitters, I knew the minute I saw them that I had to make them. For me that moment came fairly recently when I visited Ravelry for the first time. From there various Google searches got me back to their original creator, Craftoholic, and to the Pomatomus socks that inspired them. I selected my wool and was ready to go.

Then I hit the big bump in the road. The thumb gusset. Didn't look like rocket science, but I surely would love to have had instructions. This stitch pattern waves around resulting in borders that squiggle drunkenly and don't look real friendly to a boring old gusset of paired increases. Yikes! I searched all over and found many super-competent knitters happily bragging about their finished Mermaid gloves, pretending the project was a no-brainer. Could this be a conspiracy to make some of us doubt our knitting design skills? A secret club of gusset makers?

Forced into a corner I got creative. I've figured out a thumb gusset that really does make me extremely happy. It's different from the original in that it grows very organically from the stitch pattern. Best of all, it was easy! I will put together directions and post them for all gusset-challenged people like myself. Hopefully other stymied knitters will find it a blessing. Maybe someone will even share the secret of how the originals could have been done! (Yes, I'm still wondering.) More on this next post.

By the way, don't take the mirrored left hand glove for granted. Just when you think you're out of the woods…

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Hi! I'm Furr, also known as Jen G.

I created this site for two reasons;
1) To explore the technology of blogging and
2) To participate more actively in the on-line community of knitters.
Ok… And because I can earn shopping credit at The Loopy Ewe!

Thank You to Su at WormSoup, for getting me addicted to knitting and introducing me to blogging. If you want to see some real knitting, head over to WormSoup for a look at her work!