Knitting on Four Needles, the Fourth

Last time we ended with knitting up to the top of the thumb.Now we are going to start decreasing our stitches in order to taper over the fingers.  First, count the number of stitches you have.In this case I had 34 stitches.  You will of course have more if you are making larger mittens, or less if you are making smaller mittens.  You will want to decrease your stitches at 5 different points in your row, as evenly spaced out as possible.  Thirty-four is not evenly divisible by five, so I fudged it a bit.  Here I knit two together at every 7th stitch, with the last going at the 6th.Now knit one row plain.In the next row, decrease again, knitting two together in the same places you did it last time.  Remember that you now have four less stitches, so adjust your count accordingly.  Keep going until you reach the top of your hand.So you have stitches here on 3 needles.We want all the stitches on 2 needles only now, divided evenly, so start sliding stitches from your middle needle onto the other two until it’s empty and stitches on both sides are equal.Like this:Now we start the grafting process. For this you will need a darning needle or blunt tapestry needle.I’m not sure I can explain this properly, so I’m not going to bother.  But here is a pretty clear explanation.  Essentially you use the needle as a knitting needle and alternately purl and knit your stitches off the needle, pulling off every second one.For my first try I didn’t do a very good job.  I think I forgot to stick the needle in knitways and purlways, only doing it purlways, and so my edge is not as good as it could be.Now turn the mitten inside out and stick your needle through.Finish it off with a few hidden stitches and tie a knot.In our final lesson we will learn how to finish off the thumb.  Stay tuned!

Knitting with Four Needles, for the Third Time

If you’ve been following along, you know that my grandmother is teaching my mother and I how to knit mittens on four needles.  Check back for part one and part two of the lesson.

Last time we knit up until we reached the thumb, or the spot where the thumb connects to the hand.For this next part you will need a large safety pin.  You can also use a stitch holder, which is basically a giant safety pin, but the safety pin is smaller and won’t get in your way here.Knit around to your first purl stitch (or if, like me, you apparently knit backwards, your first knit stitch).  Knit that one, then slide the next 8 stitches onto the safety pin (those are the ones between the two purled lines).  Knit the last stitch in the row.Now your thumb stitches are secured and will happily wait until you get back to them.So now you want to knit around the row again until you reach the point where your stitches are hanging out on the safety pin.  Cast on another 6 stitches right here.This is the part that fills in the hole left by the thumb.Now just keep knitting and knitting.  You see how there is now a gap for the thumb to go.Keep knitting away until your rows are even with the top of your thumb.  More on that next time.

Knitting with Four Needles

My grandmother makes the best mittens of all time.  There is no question.  And it was her maid when she was a girl who taught her.  Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it?  Well these mittens are anything but fancy.  They are comfortable and last for ages.  I still have a pair that belonged to my uncle when he was a child and they’ve held up remarkably well.  My grandmother is also the only person who can make mittens that will fit my tiny carnie hands.  Unfortunately, due to growing pain in her hands due to arthritis my grandmother is no longer knitting, and so my mother and I have taken it upon ourselves to learn all her secrets.

This post is part of the process of learning the magic mitten “recipe.”  First we had to learn how to knit with four double-ended needles.   Easier said than done.  Though she makes it look pretty easy.

You have to keep track of not two but FOUR slippery slide-y needles that will get in your way and cause a ruckus. If you think you can handle that, then we can move on.So you start first with two needles, and you want to cast on ten stitches.Then you want to start to cast on an eleventh stitch, but stop just before you get to the point where you put the stitch on the first needle.Just like that you’re on to the next needle.  Stick another needle through that one and start casting on again.Cast on another ten, and then an eleventh and start again on the next needle.On the third needle we’re just going to cast on eight stitches.This next step is very important.  You take the dangly bit of wool from the first knot you tied when you started casting on and you tie that firmly to the strand of wool you are working with.  What you will see in the below image is incorrect.  As you can see, the cast-on rows are all twisted and higgledy-piggledy, and the knot should be flush with the stitched rows so you have a tight triangle.Make sure the rows on all your needles are facing the same way before you tie a nice tight knot.
Now you can start your knitting, and, because your needles are all connected now you can start where you left off and end up in a circle.  Start knitting, knit two, purl two, switching from needle to needle as you go through, and you will see the cuff of your mitten emerging.It’s hard at first to adjust to the other two needles just sitting there and getting in your way while you work on the first one but you get used to it.  Keep going until the cuff is as long as you’d like it to be.And that, so far, is all I have learned.  Stay tuned!