Knitty: little purls of wisdom

For almost as long as I've been a knitter, I've been fascinated by the history of knitting. I've especially enjoyed the mind-twisting process of working with the often obtuse and obfuscatory language of antique patterns. There's a thrill, I find, in watching a project emerge row by row and knowing that other knitters, long gone, followed the same path.

The process of decoding, testing and correcting isn't for everyone, though; and so in this column I hope to share the excitement of the journey by removing as many of the roadblocks as possible. You don't need to be a historian to come along -- just a knitter with a curious mind.

beauty shot

(Love Token Mittens)
by Franklin Habit,
inspired by embroidery patterns from Sajou











spacer photos: Franklin Habit

men's small/women's medium



Length: 9.25 inches from cuff to fingertip, laid flat
Circumference: 8 inch palm


Zitron Lifestyle from Skacel [100% superwash merino, 170yd per 50g ball]
spacer [MC] 70 Steel Gray, 1 ball
spacer [CC] 62 Turquoise, 1 ball
Note: yardage for both colors cuts it very close. I strongly recommend you buy an extra ball of each as insurance!

Recommended needle size
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]
spacer US #2/2.75mm needles

spacer scissors
spacer yarn needle
spacer contrasting scrap yarn

24 sts/32 rnds = 4" in plain, circular stockinette

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

Avoiding Long Floats: There are numerous points in the charted patterns during which the unused color is liable to make uncomfortably long floats across the WS. To avoid this, whenever a stretch of 7 sts or more of one color is encountered, take care to twist the working yarns about halfway across.

Charts: The right and left mitten are not identical; take care to work each mitten from the proper chart.

The charts for this pattern are very large. Each fits on a letter-sized page.
Click below and print each resulting page. For Hand charts, print both left and right sides, and assemble.

LEFT Thumb Gusset/Thumb | RIGHT Thumb Gusset/Thumb | Alphabet
LEFT Hand, left side | LEFT Hand, right side | RIGHT Hand, left side | RIGHT Hand, right side


With MC, co 56 sts.

Distribute sts across needles as you prefer (28 per needle for magic loop/2 circulars, and a multiple of four sts on each needle for DPNs). Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.

Note: In rounds 8-18, the unused color is not cut, but carried gently inside the work until needed again.

Rnds 1-7: [K2, p2] around.
Rnd 8: Join CC. Knit.
Rnds 9-14: With CC, [k2, p2] around.
Rnd 15: With MC, knit.
Rnds 16-21: With MC, [k2, p2] around.
Rnd 17: With MC, [k4, m1] 14 times. 70 sts.

Rnd 18, Left mitten only: With MC, k31, pm for start of thumb gusset, k4, pm for end of thumb gusset, k to end of round.

Rnd 18, Right mitten only: With MC, k35, pm for start of thumb gusset, k4, pm for end of thumb gusset, k to end of round.

Note: It's helpful to have the thumb gusset stitches grouped together on one needle.

For Left Mitten, work Left Mitten chart sts 1-31 to first marker, work Left Thumb Gusset Chart to second marker, work sts 35-69 of Left Mitten chart to end of round.

For Right Mitten, work Right Mitten chart sts 1-35 to first marker, work Right Thumb Gusset Chart to second marker, work sts 39-69 of Right Mitten chart of end of round.

Work as set until 24 rounds of pattern are complete. 26 sts for thumb gusset.

Next round: Work in pattern to first marker; slip Thumb Gusset sts to scrap yarn for holder. CO 3 sts to bridge thumb gusset as indicated on chart, using the long-tail method, treating the working strand of MC as the ball end and the working strand of CC as the tail end. 69 sts on needles.

Work as set until hand chart is complete. 24 sts rem. Close top of mitten with Kitchener stitch.

Plot initial of choice (see Alphabet Chart) onto blank thumb chart within space indicated by box.

Rejoin yarns, and return held thumbs sts to needle.

Work from Thumb Chart for appropriate mitten, working the first two picked up stitches from the cast-on stitches over the thumb hole, and the next 2 in the fabric of the adjacent selvage, and picking up the first two of the final four in the fabric of the adjacent selvage, and the final 2 over the cast-on stitches over the thumb hole. 34 sts.

Work as set until chart is complete. 16 sts rem. Close top of thumb with Kitchener stitch.

Weave in ends on WS. Soak and gently block, taking care not to stretch ribbing.
Allow to dry completely before wearing.

Franklin Habit is the proprietor of the popular knitting blog, The Panopticon, and author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press).

Those are his initials on the sample mittens; because flowers or no flowers, after all the agita of knitting the damned float-ridden things, you bet he's going to wear them.