Gloves and more gloves

Io glovesThe Ios are finished, and blocked. This is how the green one looked before (left) and after (right) blocking.

Io glovesIo gloves

Quite a difference. The glove blockers I made worked a treat, but I’ve had to make a new, longer thumb than recommended in Åsa Tricosa’s instructions. Do I have unusually long thumbs? If so, I never knew until now.

Recorder mitts

Hands of Blue glove

I’m still in a gloves mood. I was going to knit myself a pair of Hands of Blue gloves, like the recorder mitts I made for my sister-in-law’s Christmas present – she loves them, by the way – but I’ve decided instead to make a pair of mitts for another musician, Jane. Like my SiL, at this time of year she finds herself playing her instruments outdoors and in chilly village halls. She happened to mention recently that she can’t wear gloves when playing the guitar, because the knuckles need to be free for strumming. (I may not be using the right technical term here, I’m no musician and what I know about playing stringed instruments could be written on a plectrum.)

I’ve done a bit of research and I reckon that gloves with no fingers at all are what’s required, not even the little stubby fingers of the red recorder mitts. But traditional fingerless mittens of the type that just has one big slot for the fingers would be no use either, they’d ride up with all that vigorous strumming (or whatever it’s called). There’s a Knitty pattern called Phalangees that includes an innovative cast-off around the finger opening to create four individual finger holes. I’m working on a pair of mitts in DK, for warmth, that incorporates this element.

I’d have liked to include some music-inspired cabling, perhaps a note or two or a treble clef, on the back of each glove, but it’s proved too difficult. I launched into a test square, trying to work out a design on a reverse stocking stitch background, and soon discovered that it wasn’t as easy as I expected. Designing for cables is nothing like designing a colourwork pattern, because the cables draw in the fabric, meaning that you have to find a way of cleverly increasing and decreasing stitches, invisibly, every time you start or end a cable. I found help from Knitty again, an article written in 2005 by a mathematician (of course!) which explains how to design cabled trees. Now a musical note isn’t a tree, but some of the principles set out in the article were nevertheless very useful. For example:

  • Unless the cable is vertical, the stitches in it make no appreciable contribution to the width of the fabric. In other words …
  • … for every row in which there is a sideways-moving cable, you need extra stitches equivalent to the number of stitches in the cable.
  • Generally speaking, cables should only slope gently.
Bottom corners of fronts

Nanook lower front corners

After some thought I set about swatching. I avoided any “horizontal” cables (ie cables worked using closed-loop cabling techniques) because, to my mind, they don’t look perfect. It just isn’t possible to make the top or bottom of a cabled ring look like it is all one cable travelling in a circle – which it isn’t, of course, because it’s worked by growing two cables from the same point at bottom centre and then meeting again at top centre. I’d like my closed-loop cable joins to look like the I-cord edging joins at the lower front corners of my Nanook cardigan. Those corners are near-as-dammit perfect. They were achieved by Kitchener-grafting, which might sound like cheating, but it was all part of the I-cord cast-off so I don’t think it counts as cheating. Kitchenering together cables to make perfect closed loops most definitely would be cheating though.

One of the downsides of being a perfectionist is that whole areas of life (or knitting, at least) have to be avoided because perfection cannot be achieved. Not that everything I do is perfect, not by a long way, but I dislike starting something that I know can never be perfect, no matter what I do.

Despite all the swatching, I haven’t been able to produce a design that is good enough. I’ve given up for now, or it’ll be summer before Jane gets her mitts, but cable design is definitely something I’ll be going back to.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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