A Guided Tour – Gherkin Mittens

Hold the pickle!


When I finished my Elsica Hat in Adriafil New Zealand Print I had only used .75 of one ball – I had another 1.25 balls left. So I set about making some matching mittens. What follows is not sufficiently worked out to be a pattern i.e. I haven’t got measurements of the finished mittens as they’ve been gifted by now and I can’t give you a gauge. So I’m calling it a guided tour of what I did to make them. I knit these mittens from cuff- to-tips, in the round and two-at-a-time on two circular needles. I’ve included some tips for how to do that too.  

..."And now it's time for the Architect's Sketch!"

Adjust gauge so that it fits

Finished Size: To fit a woman’s small to medium hand.  

Yarn: Adriafil New Zealand Print (75% wool, 25% acrylic; 220 yd [201 m]/100g)  – 0.65 of 1 skein needed for these mittens; Colour 021 – blues and greens  

Needles: US Size 7 (4.5mm) two sets of circluar needles  

Notions: Two lockable stitch-markers; tapestry needle  

Gauge: Ahem! Mumblemumblemumble… Didn’t quite hear you there. Did you say gauge? Oh… eh… Adjust gauge as necessary, so that they fit! 

You will need…


  • Needle Set-up: You will need two matching pairs of circular needles, of whatever size you need to get gauge. If you have interchangeable needles, you can set up two cables with the needle-size to get gauge on one end and a smaller needle-size on the other. I set up two medium-length cables from my set of Denise Interchangeables with Size 7 (4.5mm) needles on one end of each cable and Size 5 (3.5mm) needles on the other end of each. 
  • Yarn Set-up: The key to knitting two at a time is that you’re knitting from two separate balls of yarn. It seems obvious but I had to have a light-bulb moment before I figured it out! So, before you begin, wind your yarn into two separate balls. Use a weighing scales (preferably digital) to determine when you’ve reached halfway. Don’t try to knit from both ends of the one ball – ask me how I know!
Half of two cuffs cast-on to first needle
  • To Cast-on for two-at-a-time:
    1. Using your preferred cast-on (I used a long-tail cast on; but use anything you like, as long as it’s elastic) and ball A, cast-on half of the overall number of stitches you require for one mitten onto the correct needle size for gauge (see needle set-up above). If you opt for a cast-on that requires a long-tail make sure each tail is long enough to cast-on all of the stitches required for one mitten.
    2. Now forget ball A and take up ball B.
    3. Using the same cast-on and ball B, cast-on half of the overall number of stitches you require for one mitten onto the same needle.
    4. Stick with ball B but pick up the other circular needle.
    5. Let the first circular needle dangle as you cast-on the second half of the stitches onto the 2nd circular needle – as close as you can to where you left off on the first needle. Make sure you’re casting-on to the correct end of your 2nd circular needle!
    6. Now forget ball B and take up ball A again.
    7. Cast-on the 2nd half of stitches for the other mitten – again, as close as possible to where you left off before.
    8. When you start your next round you will join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist.
    9. And there you’ll be with two mittens on two circular needles – two half-rounds on each needle.
  • Starting cast-on to second needle

Stitch Guide:

S1 to LH ndl:

  1. As you knit to the end of each half-round for each mitten, lock the stitch-marker around the loop of the last stitch and let it slip off your Left-Hand (LH) needle.
  2. As you start each half-round for each mitten, pick up the stitch-marker and use it to replace the loop onto your LH needle. Remove the stitch-marker and lock it around the loop (not the leg) of the last stitch in the half-round.

Right-leaning Travelling Stitch: (T2R) 

  1. With yarn to back, knit into both sts as though to K2tog. Don’t drop sts off left-hand needle;
  2. Bring yarn to front, purl first stitch and drop both sts off left-hand needle.

Right-leaning Travelling Stitch with Decrease: (T2Rdec) 

  1. With yarn to back, knit into both sts as though to K2tog. Don’t drop sts off left-hand needle;
  2. Bring yarn to front, and slip first stitchonto RH ndl as if to purl;
  3. Drop both sts off left-hand needle;
  4. Insert RH ndl into next st on LH ndl and p2tog with first st on RH ndl
  5. 1 st decreased with right travelling stich


Cast-on: 36 sts for each mitten i.e. 18 sts onto each needle with each ball – see Notes above. 
Cuffs: Work in [Ktbl,P2] rib around for 2.5″ (or however long you would like) 
Increase round: Ktbl, M1, p1 around to last st, lock a stitch marker around the next st so that it can be slipped onto LH ndl.
Set-up round: T2R, p3 around to last two sts; then M1 and slip last st onto LH ndl (49sts)
Hands: [T2R, p3] around to last st; s1 to LH ndl
Repeat this round for 3” or until you get to “crook” of your palm then work “EZ’s thumb trick” as follow: Work 4 sts in pattern, switch to spare yarn and knit 7 sts; replace sts just worked in spare yarn back on LH ndl and continue in pattern as though nothing had happened!
Continue with hands until 1.5” before desired length.    

Spiraling towards tips

Decrease for Mitten tips: 

  • Rnd 1: *T2Rdec, P1, [T2R, P2] twice; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 2: *T2R, P1, T2Rdec, P1, T2R, P2; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 3: *[T2R, P1] twice, T2Rdec, P1; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 4: *T2Rdec, [T2R, P1] twice; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 5: *T2R, T2rdec, T2R, P1; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 6: *T2R, T2R, T2Rdec; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 7: *T2R; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 8: *K2tog, T2R, T2R; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 9: *K2tog, K1, T2R; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 10: *K2tog, K2; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • Rnd 11: *K2tog, K1; rpt from * to last st; S1 to LH ndl
  • 9sts are left. Break yarn, thread ndl and fasten off last 9 sts by bringing yarn through each loop as if to purl-through back of loop.
  • Fasten off and weave in ends.
Twirly thumb

Thumb: I did one thumb at a time, using two circular needles, as before. I picked up sts for thumb on wrong side – a minimum of 15 sts initially. Remove spare yarn and bring the ndls through the hole and pull the mitten right-side-out. I picked up one or two more sts at the ends, to minimise holes.  
Set-up rnd: This was a bit of a fudge but generally each ndl had one “set” of sts with [T2R, P2] and one sets with [T2R, P3]. I made sure to have a knit stitch at the start of each ndl and I made sure that the travelling stitch of the main mitten body was not interupted. I used the stitch-marker locked around the loop, as before – see notes – to move the last st onto the next LH ndl .  

  • I knit thumb for 2″, or until it was 0.5″ short of the tip of my thumb.
  • For my first decrease round I decreased such that all “sets” are T2R, P2;
  • Two rounds with no decreases
  • Then decrease each round until 9 sts remain.
  • Finish off as for main mitten top

Finished Mittens

The WIPs get whupp’d

Knitting up a Whirlwind

So “knitting like the clappers” = “very limited blogging time”. This is just a sneak preview to show that I’m happy with my decision from yesterday’s choice.

I’ve put in the spare yarn for the thumb-trick at this stage, but I’m sceptical about whether it’s going to work with the stitch pattern. I’ve learned – the hard way – that you can’t just pick-up and knit in the opposite direction when you’re in ribbing. I’ve a feeling, since I’m working with a single travelling stitch, that the wrong-side might not seem so much like ribbing and I might just get away with it. At the very least, I’m going to learn something – the hard way – again!

I’m hoping to be sufficiently advanced, by tomorrow, to be able to give you a guided tour of what I did to make these mittens by adapting Wooly Wormhead’s pattern for the Elsica Hat. Perhaps even a “how-to” for knitting two-at-a-time. For now though, it’s all talk; and if I don’t get back to the knitting that’s all it’ll ever be.

Tuesday’s Choosing – Tough one today

I decided when I had a ball-and-a-bit of Adriafil New Zealand Print left over after the Elsica hat that I could make a pair of mittens to match. Not only “I could” but “I should”. Since I’d missed the deadline of giving my sister her hat for Christmas, I thought it would be cute if I added to the hat with a pair of matching mittens before the next deadline – meeting her again on Saturday, 2nd January 2010. Being me, a week seemed feasible to make a pair up from scratch – without reference to a generic mittens pattern, or a swatch for that matter. I can see you’re already smacking your head saying “when will she learn?”. I’d love to know when I’ll start doing the same thing before I launch straight in, head-long.


It was the visiting MIL, mentioning casually “Are they not a bit wide? Or are you including for the thumb already?” that helped stop me in my tracks. I lied and said I was including the thumb, whereas in reality I had planned to put in spare yarn for an EZ thumb-trick – an afore-thought/ after-thought thumb.

What do you do when you’re up-against-it, time-wise? Ignore the inevitable and keep on going, or stop to change tack and hope to still save the day?

All credit to… swallowing your pride in front of the MIL but I’m opting for “Frog it and knit like the clappers for the next three days”!

Monday’s Musing – And the Winner is?


Congratulations to Bionic Laura ! Your parcel will be sent in the post to you later this week (as soon as I get your address!). I hope you enjoy this little windfall.

On second or third glance through the book I noticed a pattern or two that I thought I might like to try; so I have to admit that I took photocopies of two sock patterns before I posting it off. I don’t think that’s breaking copyright laws – considering I bought the book in the first place; the designer still gets royalties.

The Muse

It was great fun to have people participating in my little Bonanza. The contributions from Mairin, Sarah, Laura and Katalysis really put a smile on my face. It made me wonder what might have been, however, if other people – regular readers and sock-knitters to boot – had put in their entries (these are all written by me and I hope the subject each enjoys having her leg pulled a little!). 

Bridget’s haiku: 

Three kitties has she
To chase and chastise her yarn
As she knit 10 pairs

Sinead’s haiku:  

O Prodigal Sock
Left alone in a glovebox
Will you forgive me?

Helen (OfTroy)’s haiku: 

Oh Sensei*! I am
But a grasshopper to your
Vast Knitting knowledge

*Japanese word for teacher or mentor 

My head is in a Spin


And where would we be on a Monday without me being a little bemused, eh? 

This time, it’s the Elsica pattern again – in particular how it was printed in Yarn Forward. I finished mine on Christmas Day – a day late to give it to my sister for Christmas, however. I warned you I might have more comments to make about the pattern as I worked through the crown. Sure enough, it appears the chart for the crown has been printed with the legend over-laying it – such that you only get half of the information you need to complete the crown. Again, I’d blame those behind printing the magazine, rather than the designer. 

My recommendation is that you refer to the written instructions. They are pretty straight-forward. To help me keep count I broke the pattern into three sequences that repeated all the way around – I called them A, B and C. In the first round of decreases the decrease happens in all the A parts of the sequence; next round all the B parts, next round – C. The next round – no decreases at all, just to keep me on my toes. So, kind-of like a waltz, I was counting “A,2,3,4 and B,2,3,4,5 and C,2,3,4,5”.  Once I got my rythm going I didnt’ need the chart at all.

From reading Wooly Wormhead’s blog about her pattern, it seems the rights to the pattern revert from Yarn Forward to her in six months time. I reckon you’ll be safe going straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were, for the best version of the pattern when that happens. This is a really lovely pattern and a very enjoyable knit. It’s just a pity that the magazine couldn’t have been more careful about how they printed it.


So, I said yesterday that I’d tell you about the hat I started as a gift for my sister. I decided she needed a slouchy hat. More by chance than by design, I remembered that the latest copy of Yarn Forward had just such a pattern: Elsica Hat by Wooly Wormhead. As luck would have it, the recommended yarn for the project – Wollmeise “Molly” – has exactly the same “wpi” (i.e. wpi 9) as my planned yarn – Adriafil “New Zealand Print” . So far, so good.   

 I cast on for the largest size – we tend to be big-headed in our family. You’ve noticed it, haven’t you? This is as far as I had got last night – the brim. I really like how the colours in the yarn are coming out – there’s a subtlety to the colour-changes that I had not anticipated. It’s like the knitted equivalent of comfort food or swinging in a hammock in a warm summer’s breeze (I’ve heard rumours that some countries have warm summer breezes – they may be just rumours).   

I'll Seek A Hat


 However, I’ve a few comments to make about the pattern:     

  • If you knit in the round to avoid purling then this isn’t the hat for you – three out of every four stitches in the brim are purled. Luckily, I haven’t got Purlophobia so I’m happy to keep going.
  • If you want a super-quick gift that will knit up in an evening then this isn’t the hat for you – the stitch pattern involves cabling two stitches in every six, which slows progress a bit. Lucky for me, I’ve a super-fast way of making the cables – more about that later – so I’m happy to keep going.
  • The stitch-pattern in the brim is a slipped-stitch rib but doesn’t seem to specify whether to slip the stitches knit-wise or purl-wise. I always go on the basis that you slip purl-wise unless otherwise stated. However, I noticed one inch into the brim that the slipped-stitches in the photograph were tight and possibly twisted. If you wish to make this pattern, you might consider slipping your stitches knit-wise. As it turns out, I like my sloppy-big slipped-stitches so I’m continuing on. Plus, I haven’t time to rip back and start again.
  • The pattern calls for “M1P” but the notes and chart legend only describe “M1”. I took the “P” to mean “purl-wise” and so I purled into the back of the lifted horizontal loop, rather than knit as the notes and legend says. This was PITA to do so perhaps it makes no difference, either way.
  • It seems to me that there’s a jolt in the transition from the brim to the body. In the photograph, the slipped-stitch rib of the brim flow into right-leaning knit stitches in the body, forming swirls. In the pattern, the first round of the body starts with the instruction “T2B” i.e. the first stitch (the slipped-rib stitch) would be sent to the back and purled while the second stitch would be knit over it – breaking the flow. In order to get the slipped-stitch to begin travelling right-ward, without interrupting the flow, I would suggest the following change (and this won’t make sense unless you already have the pattern):
    1. Last round of the brim – the increase round – reads: “*K1, P1, M1P, P2, M1P; rpt from * to 2sts from marker then P2. 125 (143, 161)”
    2. First round of the body – a set-up round – reads: “S1, M1P, P4; *T2B, P4; rpt from * to 6 sts from marker then T2B, P3, RSM. 126 (144, 162)”
    3. Round 1 of the body as written can then be repeated as required.
  • The notes and chart legend describe making the “T2B” using a cable needle. My heart goes out to any novice knitter who may attempt to complete this pattern while using a cable needle to form a single “cable” stitch every six stitches. I think I’d sooner eat it! In recognition of this – credit where it’s due – the designer gives a detailed tutorial on how to form cables without using a cabling needle. Glancing at the photographs I was expecting this to be akin to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s description of a right-leaning travelling stitch in her Almanac – because that’s essentially what a single “cabled” stitch is. In fact, it involved grabbing the second stitch, dropping the first off the left needle and doing a quick switcheroo, before continuing on. This method is quicker than using a cable needle (and it’s how I’m making my “C4F” in Glenvar) but for two stitches it’s still very fiddle-y. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
    1. With yarn to back, knit into both sts as though to K2tog. Don’t drop sts off left-hand needle;
    2. Bring yarn to front, purl first stitch and drop both sts off left-hand needle.
    3. Et violá – a right-leaning “cable” a.k.a travelling stitch – E.Z. as always!

I hope this doesn’t come across as me finding fault with the pattern itself; I suspect a lack of editorial control rather than errors by the designer. I’m loving Wooly Wormhead’s design. It’s working so well with my yarn choice, but that’s just down to sheer luck.  However, I know if I’d tried this pattern a two years ago I’d be stumped. I’d be frantically scouring d’Interneh’ for answers as to “whyeeee is it not like the effing picture!!!” and DH would be herding the children into a different part of the house because of the thick blue fog that enveloped me.    

But I’m a different knitter now. I’ve learned a lot over the past two & 1/2 years – mainly because of trawling the Web. I’ve been exposed to so many new methods and techniques that I know how to knit my way out of, or around, a problem. I know how to “read” my knitting now, so I can anticipate issues like differences between the photographed sample and the pattern as written. Most of all, I’ve gained the confidence that doing things my own way may be better – for me at least – or if nothing else I’ll learn something in the process.

I’ve learned through reading other people’s blogs and learning from other people’s experiences. I’m hoping you find this post because of a late-night, last-minute, frantic trawl and that the light that goes on in your head is: “It’s not you, it’s the pattern. Go to bed and sleep on it. It will all be fine in the morning”. If this is you, you might like to come back again later because  I’m still working my way along the body and I haven’t got as far as the crown yet. Perhaps, I’ll have more comments for you then.