Dr. Strange(g)love(s) or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Knit the Glittens

Sorry about the title, but I couldn’t resist. Last summer I got the idea into my head that it’d be really cool to knit something other than a hat. Then I discovered Knitty. Then I asked my brother if he’d want some glittens. But these weren’t just any glittens. They were non-bulky glittens, made with sock yarn. Ben, my brother, feels like most glittens look dopey with their worsted weight yarn that inhibits dexterity, even if it does keep ya fingas warm.

I really can’t say that I disagree. I’ve got a pair like the aforementioned, and not only are they so loosely knit that my hands still get cold, and they’re way too stinking huge and more cumbersome than they’re worth. So along came the pattern for Broad Street Mittens from Knitty. At this point I’d only been knitting for 6 months and totally disregarded the “spicy” difficulty level because, damnit, these mittens were perfect for Ben. Perfect.So I made my dandy way to the craft store and got some sock yarn that was a wool/bamboo blend that felt so smooth and squishy in my hands. I realize that I keep describing yarn as squishy. I’m sorry – my knitting vocab isn’t huge and if it’s squishy, I’m sold.

The first hurdle of the project was gauge. This was the first project I’d ever even bothered to mess with gauge.  I think I tried the size needles the pattern called for and thought that the fabric was too loose to keep your hands super warm. I wanted these glittens to be dense. Make way for smaller needles and gauge conversion [ugh].

Two months later and I still hadn’t finished a glitten. Granted, there was still a long way to go before winter. Honestly…I was freaked out about converting gauge and devoting a lot of time to a project that could go horribly wrong. I mean, fingers?!? Me? Knit fingers? On teeny little pointy needles?! Again, the pattern won over my doubts because of it’s fit for exactly what my brother wanted.

So I converted the gauge, with the help of a well seasoned knitter, and started the ribbing for the cuff. Great. Boring 2×2 ribbing. I can totally handle this. Bring on the glittens.

Next were the increases to start the body of the palm. Can do. Or so I thought. After I knit about half the palm of the glitten, thumb gusset included, the stupid thing was really loose. So much for that gauge conversion making everything magical and easy and, oh, you know, CORRECT. With knitting mentors nowhere in sight, I decided to just figure it out for myself, which brings us to October. I went to NYC for a few days to hang out with my brother, and thought it’d be a great opportunity to try them on him as I knit. It was the only way I was going to figure out sizing. Unfortunately for me, I had to try a few times to get the number just right. Or close to it.

”]There’s an increase in the palm for the thumb, which forgave any guesstimating of the palm increase from the ribbing on the wrist. The increase, or gusset, seemed to me like it would go on and on forever. Annnnd now I have to wait until Thanksgiving to see my brother again to check how the palm fits before I start knitting the fingers.  Lucky, lucky me. The palm fit really well and the fabric was turning out to be dense, yet elastic. Onward, ho.

I was really excited to see how the fingers would turn out. Fingers are so cool. They weren’t as hard as I’d anticipated, and they knit up very quickly. At Thanksgiving, I tried the partially complete glove on my brother’s hand, squealing with glee. FINALLY, something came out right. I think a little of the glee was contagious – my brother was pretty excited, too.

The thumb was a little different – a closed thumb would defeat the entire dexterity purpose of the glittens, right? So I grew some cajones and decided to go rogue from the pattern, making a half thumb with a flap on top. My brother quickly decided that this was going to be transformative of the way he gives thumbs ups – definitive only when the thumb flap has been pulled back. I mean, I guess it’d also be pretty functional for using his iPhone.

Ok, so all the fingers are finished, and all I have left to knit is the mitten shell. I had to try for a while on this, too. It’s amazing how delicate the shape is for what would seem like a simple cap for a glitten. I had to knit and re-knit until I had enough rows knit evenly in the round before I started the decrease. It was so long ago and so frustrating that I can’t even remember exactly how many rows I ended up knitting.

One glitten down. I started the other, happily presuming that it’s be a breeze since I had 1 down. Boy was I wrong – I knit the entire palm before realizing I followed the wrong adjustments, making the palm HUGE. Frogged the whole stinkin’ thing and started over. Needless to say, I was relieved when this whole project was over. That’s not to say I’m unhappy with the way the glittens turned out, I’m proud about knitting an intricate project that’s custom fit for my brother – who’s even happier with them than I am. It was just an exhausting project.

Overall, I learned:

  • Converting gauge isn’t always accurate.
  • Seemingly intricate processes, like knitting fingers or a thumb gusset, aren’t as hard as they look. I’m continually surprised at how the combination of patience and simple techniques can create something that I’d never dreamed I’d be able to produce.
  • Patience, patience, patience. If it doesn’t come out right the first time, rip it out and do it again until it looks and fits the way I want it to. There’s no point finishing a project that is ill-fitting, and why waste all the time you already invested to begin it?
  • Hand knit gifts carry a lot of oomph. My brother says he smiles every time he puts the glittens on. That’s what makes a project’s trial and error worth it.

Verdict? Misadventure, but a big learning experience.


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