Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Knitting Pattern: Flat-Knit Fingerless Gloves

I don't do a lot of wearables, but when I do, I prefer accessories because of their small size and instant gratification.
This pattern arose out of the desire to help my uncle.  He severed his ulnar nerve in a tiling accident and since then has endured what he describes as "pins and needles" in his left hand.  The pain worsens when anything touches the area affected - right beneath his palm.  For a long time, he wore garden gloves and bandage wraps to shield the area, until I became a knitter.  This design has evolved through several yarns, gauges, and thumb-hole incarnations.  First it was worsted yarn on size 6's, then on size 5's, without thumbs; then I started to crochet thumb holes; then I worked in mercerized sport-weight on size 4's; then finally I figured out how to add a knitted thumb gusset.  Always knit (by me, at least) in 100% cotton, they are washable, inexpensive, easy, and quick - so he never has less than several pairs at hand.

These gloves are reversible, so you could easily work an identical pair and not have to worry about right and left.  They are customizable, so you could knit them with a decorative stitch or cable if you wanted.  And finally, even though I knit them in the flat, you could very easily adapt them to knitting in the round (just subtract two stitches from the cast-on total).  Best of all, these only take a couple of hours per pair and would make super easy last-minute gifts!!!

Kenny's Fingerless Gloves

You will need:

  • Size 4 US needles, double-pointed with point protectors (in addition to set below), one circular, or straight
  • Size 4 US needles, double-pointed, set of 2, or spare circular
  • One Size 6 US needle, any type, for cast-on and bind-off (you want a stretchy edge)
  • DK-weight yarn, approximately 45-55 yards per glove - medium size
    • I use Omega Sinfonia, available in 100g/3.52 oz. balls at Hobby Lobby.  This yarn has a nice put-up at 200m/218 yds., has a nice range of colors, a crisp hand, and is machine washable.  I get four medium sized gloves out of one ball, if I'm lucky.  My gloves in this yarn weigh up at about 21g apiece; the best way you can check is to weigh your completed glove (metric is more accurate) and compare that against the ball total.  I use a food scale.
    • If you plan on using wool, I recommend Knitpicks Swish DK.  This yarn is soft, washable, and will knit to gauge.
    • Note: you will need a traditional ball with two ends you can work simultaneously, or otherwise you will need 2 balls. If this is not possible, try winding a small bobbin with about 3 yards of yarn.  You will knit the thumb without breaking the main yarn.
  • Scissors & ruler (or double-pointed needle to measure length; or your own hand)
  • Darning needle large enough to accommodate sport-weight yarn

You will need to know:

  • Cast-on
  • Regular, stretchy (see link), or sewn bind-off (scroll to bottom of page - "Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Bind-off")
  • Garter stitch
  • Stockinette Stitch
  • Make 1, abbreviate m1
  • Slip 1 pwise 
  • Mattress stitch

    Gauge:  Between 6.5 and 7 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch 
    Sizing is as follows: S(M, L, XL)
    S: Child's large/women's small
    M: Women's Medium/Men's Small
    L: Women's Large/Men's Medium

    XL: Men's Large

    Fingerless Gloves:
    Using larger needle, CO 36(40, 44, 48) sts.

    Slip every first stitch of every row pwise.
    K 4 rows.
    P 1 row.
    Begin stockinette stitch: k next row, p next row.  Work in this way for about 2.5(3, 3.5, 4) inches.  End with a p row.

    Begin thumb gusset:
    K across half the stitches - 18(20, 22, 24) sts - and m1; k to end.
    P the next row and all subsequent WS rows.

    Next row: k 18(20, 22, 24), m1, k1, m1, k to end.
    Next RS row: k 18(20, 22, 24), m1, k3, m1, k to end.
    Next RS row: k 18(20, 22, 24), m1, k5, m1, k to end.
    Next RS row: k 18(20, 22, 24), m1, k7, m1, k to end.
    If you would like to use markers, put them on either side of the first stitch increase, and subsequently increase inside the stitch markers.
    FYI if you are embellishing with cables or otherwise need to know: the first 18(20, 22, 24) stitches are the back of the right hand, the second 18(20, 22, 24) stitches are the back of the left hand. 
    Continue in this way, increasing the number of stitches knit between the increases by 2 every time.  You will never change the outside sts.  Stop when you have 53(59, 65, 71) sts total on the needle; p the next row.
    Note: if you are making a larger or smaller glove, increase more stitches or stop sooner in this same pattern.

    Knit thumb:
    Slip 18(20, 22, 24) sts onto spare DPN (or spare circular); slip 17(19, 21, 23) sts onto the needle you wish to work from; slip rem sts onto another spare DPN (or circular).  You will now work the sts for the thumb.
    Join yarn from other end of ball or second ball.  Work 5(6, 7, 7) rows in stockinette stitch; this comes to about mid-thumb; work more or less rows if desired.  BO with stretchy or sewn BO, or with needle 2 sizes larger than the one you used to achieve gauge.

    Continue knitting for hand:
    Using the unbroken yarn, continue knitting the hand.  Pull the yarn tightly when you join across the thumb gap.
    Continue knitting for 1" or so, or until you are satisfied with the length of the glove, minus about a half inch.  K 3 rows and BO using stretchy or sewn BO.  If you don't know how to do one or the other, BO with a needle 2 sizes larger.

    Seam the thumb using mattress stitch.  Try to make it as neat as possible.  You may need to use a few small stitches to close the hole left at the bottom of the thumb (I always do).  Seam the side using mattress stitch.  Do not use a whip-stitch as this will be too bulky.  Make another glove the same way; keep in mind that if you embellish, you may need to reverse the pattern so you have a right and left glove.  Weave in ends and toss in the washing machine; lay flat to dry.

    Notes for knitting in the round:  CO sts as above minus 2; k 1 round, p 1 round for 4 rounds, k all rounds for same length as above, work thumb increases as set, work thumb as set or place on waste yarn and work later, k all rounds for 1", k 1 round, p 1 round for 4 rows and BO.  You can work the thumb flat or in the round as well.

    Ideas for embellishment: embroidery; slip-stitches; color-work; brocade stitches; 4-st cables or 6-cable across back of hand (p 2 sts on either side of the cable, or work the glove in reverse stockinette st).  If you decide to add cables, consider adding at least 2 extra stitches to the cabled panel (first or last half of stitches, the same as where the cables are to be worked) or more, if you work several cables, to account for "pulling in" and decreased stretchiness from cables.  Work ribbing instead of garter stitch.  Or try an edging in moss/seed stitch (but work on a needle 1 size smaller).


    1. Thank you so much for this pattern. I am always intimidated by gloves, but I made Alec a hat for Christmas (he doesn't have one, and we like to walk Ginger even when it's cold) so now I think I'll make matching gloves, too!

    2. I do not like working in the round for small items, so this pattern was perfect. Your instructions were great for adding personal touches. My daughter (9yrs old) has been asking for gloves forever... this knitted up in no time and were great. I'd love to share my photos and post on ravelry with your approval...

    3. You are more than welcome to post those pictures! You can do whatever you want with pictures and these gloves, as long as you don't sell them or the pattern (you can, however, gift and donate as you wish)! I appreciate you asking and I wish I would have made clear that this was always totally OK with me.

    4. Help - when u slip first stitch of every row pwise do u knit first. I am thinking not but want to make sure. Thanks. Love the pattern.

      Cathy Cray

    5. No ma'am. You just slip the first stitch without it being worked at all. This is optional, so if it gives you trouble, just knit like you're used to and seam it up when you're finished. I am very sorry for the late response.

    6. Beautfiul pattern. Thanks for posting. This will be my first attempt at fingerless mitts.

    7. There are meds to ease your uncles problem --
      Gabapentin and hydrocone work on tactile neuropathy.

    8. Thank you for the pattern; got one from a friend, but the thumb gusset instructions were confusing. Yours are very clear.