Monday, October 20, 2008

Fingerless Gloves - Easy Knitting Project

It's getting cold again. We had a hard frost overnight. The hens' water was limned with ice when I went out this morning to feed them. Our heater is finally kicking on, even with the thermostat set at just 64. I rummaged through the coat closet to find my beloved fingerless gloves. Then I realized that I hadn't ever posted about these marvelous homemade treasures.

For those who want to be frugal and have to sit still to work or study, winter can be a hard time of year. It's no problem keeping warm when it's time for housework or cooking. But sit down for an hour or more, and the circulation slows and the chill creeps in. It goes without saying that layering up will help, and I even wear a comfy hat inside. But I found that my hands get cold as I write, type, or hold a book. And when my hands get cold and stay cold, I'm unhappy. Enter a simple knitting project!

A few winters back, I decided to turn my very rudimentary knitting skills to the task of keeping my hands warm. I found a cute knitting pattern for fingerless gloves in Interweave Knits magazine, but it required knitting in the round with double-pointed needles, which I'd never tried before. (I'd previously only knitted flat things, like scarves, baby blankets and afghans.) I wasn't sure that I could do it, but I knew that the local yarn shop would help me out in a pinch. So I invested in the double pointed needles, bought some yarn, and set to it. As with many knitting techniques, it took only a little bit of trial and error to figure out. I soon found that knitting with double-pointed needles wasn't as daunting as it had seemed. I was able to produce one fingerless glove in a long evening. And the pattern was simple enough that even I could manage to make two roughly symmetrical gloves.

After making a pair for myself, I felt confident enough to make a larger pair for my husband, who works from home most of the time and who had also complained of cold hands. I decided that his would be more snug than the pair I made for myself, which were quite loose and baggy when made according to the pattern as given. Some "fingerless" gloves actually have short, truncated fingers on them. These are completely fingerless gloves, which don't interfere with typing at all, but still keep the hands warm. For those of you who knit, here's what I did:

The pattern is worked in p1, k1 rib stitch, 24 stitches per row, evenly divided on three dp needles. For my husband's gloves I started with smaller gauge needles (US size 5, I believe) and gradually increased the size every few rows until I was working with size 11 needles. That made a tapered tube so that the part of the glove that covers the wrist is narrow, and the part that covers the hand relatively wide, especially around the thumb. The length of the gloves is up to personal preference. It's easy to just eyeball the length as you're working them. When the glove is the right size to fit on the wrist/lower arm above the base of the thumb, bind off three stitches in the middle of whatever row you're at. This will form the hole for the thumb. On the next row, cast on three extra stitches at that point and continue working for a few more rows, until there's enough material to cover the knuckles and at least part of the first bone of the fingers. If in doubt, add an extra row or two after the thumb hole. Better a little long than too short. Bind off when you have the length you want, then make a matching glove following the exact same pattern. Either glove can be worn on either hand.

Here's a picture of my handmade fingerless gloves on my husband's hands. You can see how snug they are around his lower arm and wrist.

He really likes them, even though he resisted the idea at first. Knitters with good eyesight may be able to tell that I worked both pairs of gloves with two yarns knitted together. I let him pick out the colors from among my yarns. He chose one navy blue woolen yarn and a green acrylic yarn to go with it. It took less than 1 skein of each yarn to make the pairs of gloves.

If you're trying to keep warm on a tight budget, these gloves can be cheaply made with acrylic yarn. They're also nice gifts for friends or family for the upcoming winter holiday. If you're an experienced knitter, you'll be able to knock out one glove in an evening. Less experienced knitters may take a few days to complete this project.


Phelan said...

I have a pair. We call them hand socks. A friend in Ireland made them for me. I love them! I wear them when we are out ridig on the motorcycle, they keep the wind from going up my sleeves

Kate said...

Hand socks is a good description. Mine wouldn't cut much wind on a motorcycle though. Too big and chunky. The wind would slice right through them.

April said...

Hi. I was wondering if you have a link to the pattern for the blue/green ones?

Kate said...

April, I'm sorry, but I don't have a formal pattern. I was winging it somewhat when I made the green & blue ones. I described what I did as best I could in the post. If you've any significant experience knitting, I'm sure you could improvise around the basic theme as I've described it. Be brave, and good luck!

Soulknitting said...

Free patterns for fingerless gloves (and many other things) are available at I'm a big fan of 'cowls' too. And shawls. Have fun!