In a tight spot


You know that moment in knitting when you realize something is wrong, and you get annoyed, and then you realize that to fix it will require drastic measures and you get really annoyed? That’s where I am. And, I’m sorry to say, it’s with the mittens.

I still love these mittens. I love their colourwork, and their dotted border, and the way the design combines both geometrics and floral elements. I love all those things. What I don’t love is that they are going to be an inch too short. Yes, you read that right. Last night, I started the decreases for the lovely pointy top these mittens are destined to have, and then I thought I should measure. As they stand now, before decreases, the length of the hand is 5 inches. I need it to be 7 inches. It seemed unlikely I’d be decreasing for 2 inches, but I thought, you know, maybe? So I counted by row gauge (something I obviously should have done sooner) and discovered that I’m getting about 10 rows to an inch. Fine. Then I counted the number of rows left in the charted pattern: 14 – so, approximately 1.5 inches. That leaves me a half inch short, and that’s just enough to be uncomfortable.

If these were normal mittens, I would just slow down the decreases, but I’m not sure that approach will work here, since it’s so neatly charted.

This means, if I go the slower-decreases route, that I will have to rechart the friggin’ thing.

Then it occurred to me, though, that this pattern offers gauges for both men and women. I’m doing the women’s version (tighter gauge), but even with a bigger gauge, men’s hands are much larger, so I thought maybe the pattern had directions to take that into account. Er, not really. This is the advice: “Continue in charted pattern to top of mitten. The length of the mitten can be adjusted for either a woman’s or man’s size. Have the person who will wear the mitten try it on to make sure it fits.” Less than helpful, right? I mean, it doesn’t say where I should go about adding length, although clearly I should have paid more attention to this issue to begin with.

So, this still leaves me with a problem. I need to, somehow, add an additional five or six rows to this mitten. If this had occurred to me at the beginning (why didn’t it occur to me!?) I would have added five rows to the bottom, right after the ribbing. This is half the hight of one repeat of the palm pattern, and would have blended easily enough into the front. But, I really, really don’t want to rip this all the way back, which is, I suppose, Option 1.

Option 2 is to try recharting the top so that I decrease on every-other round for five or six rounds (which ever works out better in the chart) and hope it doesn’t look stupid on the front. If possible, I’d like to maintain how tidy the pal looks, with the tip of the diamond in the tip of the hand, but maybe that’s not possible? (I will try very hard; these are a gift, after all).

Option 3, is a sort of compromise: Rip back to the top of the first flower, add two more “empty” rows between them, knit back up to the top, decrease slightly slower, hope that buys me enough space.

What do you think?

**Edited to add: Independent of this post, L just called to suggest Option 3. Apparently my dilemma has been weighing on his mind too!**

– – –

Now, a note on something about these mittens that is going well (if you still trust my judgement after this). After the last post, Anastasia asked if I had any tips on maintaining tension. I read up on this quite a bit before I started knitting these. One great resource was Knitting With Two Colours by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, especially the part about yarn dominance.

In my past forays with stranded colourwork, I didn’t think it mattered which colour was held below and which was held above, so I switched it up. Turns out that’s not such a good idea. Especially if you’re holding your yarn in two hands, it’s important to maintain the order. For me, that means grey is always in my left hand (making it the dominant, popping colour) and the purple is always in my right hand.

The other thing I noticed was that I had to be really careful about tugging my yarn. I’m used to knitting English, which is tighter than continental. That means, I’m always tempted to pull my purple sections tighter than I can knit my grey ones. For me to achieve a more or less even tension, I’ve had to let the purple loosen up a bit. I also make sure to pull out my floats a little bit, keeping them looser than I think they should be, just so they don’t pull the fabric in.

Anastasia, does that make sense? As far as rhythm goes, you’ll get it after a few rows. The nice thing about stranded colourwork is that even if your fabric is a little less tight than usual, it’s double-thick, so it’s still warm and opaque.

One thought on “In a tight spot

  1. Kristen

    Welllll…… you are clearly a very meticulous knitter, so I don’t know if this idea will be acceptable to you or not, but what if you went up in needle size by about 2 sizes at the point where the decrease rows begin, and then block the heck out of it? That along with the benefit of the fairly long, ribbed cuff would probably end up fitting just fine.

    I’m thinking that the cuff will give the hand of the mitten a bit more play since it is so long. If the cuff stretches to accomodate the very bottom of the hand where it converges with the wrist, it will give you a bit more wiggle room and probably make for a nice, cozy fit.

    Just a thought. I love them, by the way.

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