Sunday, December 18, 2011

Easy to Knit 28X28 Fingerless Mittens

Haha!  You didn't know I could knit, did you?  Actually, I'm not an expert, but I do find it enjoyable to knit simple items.  Last Christmas I made fingerless mittens for my sister and my niece.  I was pleased with how they came out, although they were surprisingly time-consuming to knit because of the intricate design. 
Saturday night we had our coldest night of the season so far here in Vermont--it was only10 degrees around 10:00 PM and my husband said it was 2 degrees at 4:00 Sunday morning.  I have two little Yorkies who like to dawdle when they go out to potty.  I can't hook up the two leashes if I put my gloves on first, but then they get so excited to go out that they dance around making it almost impossible to get my gloves on afterward.  So I decided that I need a pair of fingerless mittens for myself.  I can put those on BEFORE I hook up the leashes.
Daffney is 9 years old and weighs 10 pounds.  She's big for a Yorkie.  That's a freckle on her ear!  She's the Queen--can you tell?

Oakley will be 2 years old next month.  He weighs 6 pounds, which is normal Yorkie size.  He's full of the devil!  That's the camera flash making it look like he has green eyes.  They're really dark brown, almost black.       
This is the logic of a lazy knitter:  I want to use big needles with chunky/bulky yarn and a really simple pattern so that my project works up quickly.  Chunky yarn can be warmer than finer yarn, but...if the needles are too big then there's open space between the stitches and the cold air gets in.  I already had some Bernat Softee Chunky yarn which is rated 5-Bulky and some large needles in various sizes.  I don't use wool because of allergies, but if you can wear it, wool is warmer.
I decided that, for a really simple design consisting of ribbing and stockinette stitch, I'd make my own pattern.  My first effort was with #15 U.S. needles, but the stitch was too airy and my small hands find it hard to get consistent stitches with such thick needles.  My second effort was with #13 U.S. needles and that was an improvement, but the mitts were too big for me and the stitches still a little too loose.  Rather than reduce the number of stitches, I decided to try my #10-1/2 (6.5mm) bamboo needles and those were the best.  I love the way those bamboo needles feel in my hands!
I prefer to use circular needles whenever possible, even when I'm knitting a flat item.  I find them easier to hang onto and they don't get in the way when one of the dogs decides to cuddle up in the chair with me.
If you can knit, purl, cast on, cast off, and sew a simple seam by hand, this project is really easy.  It only took me about an hour per mitten.  I call them "28X28 Fingerless Mittens" because you cast on 28 stitches and knit/purl 28 rows. 
This is what the fingerless mitten looks like when it's finished.  The thumb and fingers are free, while the rest of the hand, the wrist, and a couple of inches of the arm are kept warm.

If you need a little help with the basics I love this website:
The long-tail cast-on is my favorite because you don't end up with a loose strand of yarn between your needles that keeps growing:

There are several ways to sew seams.  Here's an easy one:
SUPPLIES--If you want to try this out, these are the supplies that I used:
  • 1 ball (100 grams) Bernat Softee Chunky yarn (100% acrylic)
  • #10-1/2 (6.5mm) Bamboo needles (I use 29" circular needles, but they can be much shorter for this project--or you can use straight needles)
  • A yarn needle for sewing the seam (I like the steel ones with big eyes for chunky yarn)
  • Scissors
  • A knitting counter (optional)  This is a necessity for me because of frequent doggy interruptions.

There are three sections:
  1. A long ribbed section (Knit 2, Purl 2) for the wrist. 
  2. A stockinette section (Knit a row, Purl a row) for your hand and your fingers up to about the first knuckle.
  3. A short ribbed section at the top
My Gauge for the stockinette area (the ribbed area will be a bit different):
    -  10 stitches to 3 inches
    -  10 rows to 2 inches
INSTRUCTIONS (For ease of following, there are no abbreviations in my instructions!)
  • Cast on 28 stitches, leaving a 10-inch tail to be used later for stitching your seam.
  • Rows 1 through 14:  Knit 2, Purl 2.   Repeat until you reach the end of each row.  This makes a long ribbed section that will keep your wrists warm.  If you want to cover more of your arm, simply add more ribbed rows.
  • Row 15:  Knit
  • Row 16:  Purl
  • Row 17:  Knit
  • Row 18:  Purl
  • Row 19:  Knit
  • Row 20:  Purl
  • Row 21:  Knit
  • Row 22:  Purl
  • Row 23:  Knit
  • Row 24:  Purl
  • Rows 25 through 28:  Knit 2, Purl 2.  Repeat until you reach the end of each row.  This makes a short ribbed section at the top.
  • Cast off (also known as bind off) in a pattern of Knit 2, Purl 2 until the end of the row.  Leave a 10-inch tail for stitching the seam.
  • This is what you have after you've done the cast-off/bind-off.
  • Fold the piece in half with the wrong side showing. 
The piece has been folded in half with the wrong-side-out.  I'll use the bottom tail to stitch up the entire lower ribbed section.  Then I'll used the top tail to stitch down as far as the opening for the thumb.  Don't forget to weave in your tails.
  • Using the bottom tail (the tail left over after the cast-on) stitch a seam from the bottom of the wrist ribbing to the top of the wrist ribbing.  Then leave an opening in your seam long enough to allow your thumb to fit through.  My opening is about 1-1/2 inches.   The opening starts where the long ribbed area meets the stockinette area.
  • Using the top tail (the tail left over after the cast-off/bind-off), finish stitching the seam from the top of the mitt, down to the top of the thumb opening.
  • Weave in both tails so that they don't show.
  • Now turn your mitt right-side-out and it's ready to wear!    

I have fairly small hands.  Before stitching up the seam, my mitts are about 8  inches wide in the non-ribbed (stockinette) area.  The mitts measure 6-1/2 inches from top to bottom.  They're still a little roomy on me, so next time I might make them 24 stitches wide.   I've also decided I'd like them to go further up my arm, so next time I'll add an extra 6 or 8 rows to the long ribbed section.
If you need bigger mitts, you can use bigger needles.  If you don't want to change the needles you can cast on more stitches.  If you decide to cast on more stitches, be sure to add the stitches in multiples of 4 for this pattern.  In other words, cast on 28, 32, or 36, etc.
If you have long fingers, you may also need to add some rows in the stockinette section--not the ribbing section.  For each Knit row you add, you'll need follow it with an added Purl row.
If you want the mitts to go further up your arm, simply add more ribbed rows to the long ribbed section.
Also, don't forget about gauge.  Remember that if you knit more tightly than I do, your mitts will be smaller than mine.  If you knit more loosely than I do, your mitts will be bigger.

© Copyright 2011 Linda's Art Barn. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Daily Etsy Holiday Special

From December 11 through December 15 I'll be giving free shipping on a different, selected jewelry item each day.  I've also decided to include a hand-painted jewelry gift box with each of these special items.  Please check my Etsy store each day so that you don't miss out. 

December 15 Special

December 14 Special

December 13 Special

December 12 Special--includes necklace, bracelet, & earrings
December 11 Special

If you don't love any of these items for yourself, I'll bet you know someone who would love receiving them as a gift!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

First Few Rows of Flat Peyote Stitch

Just as I was wondering what I should write about next, Amber came up with a question in a Comment on one of my other blogs about the Peyote stitch: 
"I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to keep track of the beads in the first couple of rows. My beads always slip around and I end up threading through the wrong beads. I use a toilet paper roll to keep them straight with tubular peyote but can't figure out what to do with flat. Any help would be greatly appreciated."  
I do have suggestions!  I have two different methods that could help.  So this is for you, Amber.
Before I talk about the two methods I recommend for starting the Flat Peyote stitch, I'd like to point out that anyone who is not familiar with the flat, even-count Peyote stitch really should practice making the swatches I talk about in my earlier tutorials.  Start with Tutorial:  Beadweaving the Peyote Stitch.  It will be easiest to learn if you make those practice swatches with 6/0 beads.

What I'm talking about here is how to work the first few rows in a real project, where you're probably using smaller beads.

I've gathered 3 different colors of beads for Method 1 and a piece of wire for Method 2.  I'm using 6/0 round beads because they're large and easy to photograph.  I 'll also need a #10 or #12 beading needle and some thread.  I recommend Fireline because it won't slip around like nylon thread will.
I think that the easiest way to start a Flat Peyote project is to use 3 different colors--a separate color for each of the first 3 rows.  Well, I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes and saying, "But what if I don't want to use different colors?"  Trust me!  Use 3 different colors for the first 3 rows.  Make your third row the color (or pattern of colors) that you want  all of your work to be, then continue stitching rows in that same color (or pattern of colors).  The first two rows are only temporary--the third row will become the real first row of your piece. 

The pink Stop Bead is on the left.  Green beads are the Temporary Row 1 and red beads are the Temporary Row 2.  As you'll remember from my Peyote tutorials, I'm right-handed, so I stitch from right to left.  This piece has been turned in preparation for starting Temporary Row 3 (which will eventually become Row 1).
Blue beads make up Temporary Row 3 as well as the remainder of this piece.  This is the start of Temporary Row 3, which is stitched into Temporary Row 2, the red row.  That means that I pick up a blue bead and run the needle through a red bead.  Repeat as many times as it takes to complete this row.
Temporary Row 3 is complete.  Try to keep the beads snug and don't forget to turn the piece to begin Temporary Row 4.
Temporary Row 4 is complete.  At this point, your beads may look messy.  Just try to keep them snug.  Smaller beads, especially cylinder beads, will fit together better and look much neater.

Temporary Row 5 is complete.

Temporary Row 6 is complete.

Temporary Row 7 is complete.  I now have enough rows so that I can remove the Temporary Rows 1 & 2.  Carefully remove the  Stop Bead at the beginning of your first row and pull out red and green beads from the first two rows--the colors that you don't want in your work. Replace the Stop Bead if it feels like you still need it, but you probably won't.

You can see that the pink Stop Bead, the green beads from Temporary Row 1, and the red beads from Temporary Row 2 have all been removed.  This leaves 5 complete rows of blue beads.

There are now 9 rows of blue beads.  Oops, there's a defective bead in this piece.  Make sure you check your beads so you don't end up something like this in your work.

In this case you may use the same color beads in all your rows.  In addition to your stitching needle, you'll either need a piece of wire that will fit through your beads or an extra long unthreaded needle.  I've used a piece of copper wire. 
Beware--that same wire that will help you keep the rows separated can also get your thread wrapped around it as you stitch.

Here I've picked up a red Stop Bead and then the first two rows of beads for my piece.  Then I turned my piece in preparation for the next step, because I work from right to left.
I've run my wire through the Row 1 Beads.  This isolates them from the Row 2 beads, making it easier to see which beads are in Row 2, which are called the "up" beads.

Now pick up a bead and run the needle through the first "up" bead in Row 2.  Repeat this until you complete the row.  Turn your work in preparation for stitching the next row. 

Continue stitching rows  until you have enough work to hold onto comfortably.  Then slide the needle or wire out of Row 1.

Try both methods and see which one you prefer.
If anyone else knows another way to make it easy to begin the Flat Peyote stitch, we'd love to hear about it.
One more thing.  I mentioned above that Fireline won't slip around like nylon thread will.  Fireline is great for bead weaving because it "grips" and doesn't slip.  Personally, I don't like to use nylon thread for bead weaving because it slips and makes it hard to snug up the beads.
On the other hand, if I'm making fringe, nylon is my thread of choice.  It is much more supple and won't stiffen up like Fireline will.