DAL Week 3: All Thumbs

Ok, so now we have measure our hands and knit our gauge swatch. We’ve turned those number into the rows and stitches we need for our mittens and charted out our hands. This week we are going to chart out the thumbs.

We are going to talk about two thumb options this week, the peasant (or after-thought) thumb and the side-gore thumb. (There is also a Norwegian Gore, basically a peasant thumb with a gore to add extra space for the thumb. We will not be designing for that thumb type.)

Peasant Thumb:
The peasant thumb is very basic shape with no gore. The thumb comes right out from the palm of the mitten thanks to stitches put on waste yarn while knitting.
peasantthumb
It can have it’s own little design or be practically invisible when you match the pattern to the hand.

Some people do not like a peasant thumb because there is no extra space for the base of the thumb. They also don’t like that it interrupts the pattern on the hand. Personally, it is my favorite fit for mittens.

Side-Gore Thumb:
A side-gore thumb is just what it sounds like, stitches are added to the side of mitten increasing until the divide between the hand and the thumb.
sidegorethumb
It gives you a whole extra place to add a color work design and does not interrupt the pattern on the hand.

A lot of people prefer the side gore for the extra room it gives the thumb. My only issue with this thumb is that, on me anyway, it pulls to one side so the design doesn’t sit right on my hand.

Thumb Width

We’ll now be using the measurements L, M and N from Worksheet 2, but I want to talk a little bit about thumb width, N on your worksheet. When I starting designing mittens the biggest mistake I made was making the thumb too skinny. My thumb measures 2.5″ around, but I found if I charted exactly that, the thumb hole was too tight for a comfortable fit. What I do is add an extra .5″ to the thumb width and the fit is much better.

So, let’s get a new number for N. Take the number you got for N on Worksheet 2 and add the number of stitches your gauge would give you for 1/2″. This is your adjusted number of stitches for N. Here is how that works for me, my thumb width is 2.5″ and my gauge is 10 stitches per inch, so my original number for N is 25. In order to adjust for the extra 1/2″, I add 5 stitches getting an adjusted N number of 30.

Charting your thumb:

I typically do my thumb chart right next to the mitten chart on my graph starting on the same row where the thumb will start on the hand. If you are using Fiddle Stitch you can add additional columns to the side in Edit.

Peasant Thumb Chart:

There are two different ways to place a Peasant Thumb, either right at the edge of the mitten or with a 1/2″ allowance. I do the version with the allowance so let’s talk about that first. The allowance keeps the mitten from twisting and pulling too much on your hand.

Here is my chart with this placement of the peasant thumb and where each of the measurements go. (Click to see it bigger.)
basic mittens peasant with allowance
I mark where I will be putting the stitches on waste yarn with a dotted or different color line for both the right and left hand on the palm of the hand chart. (My marks for the left and right thumb meet up so it looks like one long line.) You only need to mark half of the number of stitches you got in your adjusted N because you will be picking up the stitches from the top and bottom to get the whole number.

Then I draw the thumb chart. I start with the adjust N length. I also add two more stitches, because I pick up stitches on each side to prevent a hole. This is also optional, but it really helps. Now I mark the height of the thumb, measurement M. I draw the sides and middle lines 1/2″ shorter than the total length (my row gauge is 12 so that is 6 rows for me). Finally, I chart out the decreases for the top of the thumb. I try to mirror the top of the mitten, so if it is pointed, I’ll do a pointed thumb too.

Other people like to place the thumb right at the edge or one stitch in from the edge of the hand. With this placement you need to make the thumb wider than even your measurements might tell you. The rule of “thumb”, so to speak, is at least 1/4th the total number of stitches around the mitten. If you don’t, the mitten will twist instead of sitting nicely on the hand. You will be basically ignoring your N measurement for this version, unless your thumb is quite wide.

So for example on my mitten, the total number of stitches is 76, which means I need to put 19 stitches on waste yarn for my thumb. Once picked up to knit, I would have 38 stitches, giving me a 3.8″ thumb.

Here is the chart for my mittens done with this placement. (Click to see it bigger.)
basic mittens peasant no allowance

Side-Gore Thumb Chart
Here is my chart with a side-gore thumb and where each of the measurements go. (Click to see it bigger.)
basic mittens side gore
For a side-gore thumb, I start by marking a square for the center stitch at the bottom of the gore. This will be on the first row of the hand of the mitten (right after the cuff). Then I mark where the thumb will divide with the hand, measurement L. At that spot, I draw the line for adjusted measurement N with the middle of the line matching up the the center stitch at the bottom. Then I figure out the increases between the bottom center stitch and N line. I start with decreases more often and then add more straight knitting rows as I move up.

Next I design the top of the thumb. If the number of stitches across doesn’t divide in half evenly, I add a stitch to one side. I’ll pick up this stitch when I do the top of the thumb, preventing a hole in the mitten. From there it is just like designing a peasant thumb, I mark the height of the thumb, measurement M. I draw the sides and middle lines 1/2″ shorter than the total length (my row gauge is 12 so that is 6 rows for me). Finally, I chart out the decreases for the top of the thumb. I try to mirror the top of the mitten, so if it is pointed, I’ll do a pointed thumb too.

Once again, if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the Ravelry forum. Next week we get to the fun part, designing the color work!

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6 years ago by in Knitting , Needlecraft | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
One Comment to DAL Week 3: All Thumbs
    • FMB
    • This is such a late comment – but thank you so much for this article – It really helped break down the logic of knitting the thumb. I didn’t want to just follow a pattern’s steps blindly without…

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