New mittens

Hello, crafters. How are your projects going? Christmas has come early for me – my Sydänmaa mittens are done and have been getting lots of wear.

Sydanmaa FOs

In my previous post, I was expressing some anxiety at having to work what I often feel is the least fun part of mittens: picking up stitches around thumbs. For a while, the unfinished mitts languished on my WIP pile, the gaping unworked thumbs staring back at me like conduits to an endless void. I’m learning that things like this constitute the veritable black-holes of crafting: procrastinating provides momentary relief, but unfinished business has a tendency to hijack new projects. In the end, necessity won (it’s cold here!). I unpacked my DPNs and made a very modest beginning.

sydanmaa thumb.jpg
Looking fear in the eye.

I must, at this point, also acknowledge that the input and advice from several bloggers helped to move this thumbless WIP to FO status. A big thanks goes to AgnèsBelinda, and Helen for generously sharing their knitting expertise in the comments, and suggesting various strategies for avoiding holes while picking up thumb-stitches: in sum, this entails picking up extra stitches in the ‘ditch’ that lies between the live stitches (on the DPNs in the photo above) and the non-live stitches to be picked up on either side of the thumb gusset (in the photo, these are several ‘loops’ between the DPNs. These were added by a backwards loop cast-on). In addition, knitting into the backs of stitches twists them and also helps to cinch things up for a neater finish. Except for a single rogue stitch (my fault, see below), your suggestions worked super and will be repeated. Thank you!

Some Mending Minutiae

Despite my best efforts, I wound up with one pretty sizable hole at the front of the right mitt. I tried every which way and number to pick up — whether it was my skills or the slant of the stitches, a gap was determined to be made (and my repeated angling with the needle was not helping).

As in life, however, so it is in finishing-up: when I finally accepted the truth and inevitability of this flaw, I was able to shift my energies towards working with it (or, quite literally, around it). Recalling that the duplicate stitch is not only an embroidery stitch, but also a darn fine darning and mending-method, I decided to see if following the contour of the stitch with an extra strand of yarn would work well. I think it did the trick!

sydanmaa composite
Weave around the loose stitch, then cinch it up.

Bonus video

After finishing these mitts, I’m looking forward to my next cable-knitting project. On that note, Tony posted a great ‘no cable-needle’ cabling video in the comments (thank you!).

I am still relatively new to cable-knitting, and had never seen this method before; it looks less fiddly and very time-saving. I will have to try this next time! Do you cable-knit with or without a needle?

And what exciting makes does your holiday season have in store this week?

Wishing you many merry makes.

19 thoughts on “New mittens

  1. I love your mittens!!! You’re welcome for the cable video. If you get really into knitting cable patterns you will discover that not all cables can be done without a cable needle, so to answer your question, I use a cable needle if I have to. A case in point is a sweater I’m working on. Most of the time, I don’t need a cable needle, but then there’s a tricky thing you have to do every 15 rows or so in which you have to not only cross the stitches but also change their order. I’m also knitting a pair of socks that has this interesting feature. Crossing more than three stitches over three is also the breaking point in which you need a cable needle. I really like the advice you got about closing the gap on the thumbs. It’s also a trick that works for socks with a heel flap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tony! Thanks for the helpful pointers. I will be trying without the needle on my next smaller cables – good to know that this tactic has its limits. I’m so happy to hear that you’re currently working on a sweater, too! Changing the order of crossed-stitches sounds very complex, but am sure produces a very interesting texture. I’ll look forward to reading more about it. 🙂 Happy Holidays!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done–these look great! I would have just left the thumb holes and been like, ‘They are supposed to be like this… it’s a new thing… Nope, my thumbs aren’t cold… It’s cool… I mean… warm…’

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    1. Thank you for reading. Haha! I was very tempted to leave them as you describe (and maybe knit some separate thumb-warmers just to avoid picking up those dreaded stitches!). Oh, and a super congratulations on your new Beastie + new album! I recently read about both on Helen’s blog and I can’t wait to add some new tunes to my playlist! Looking forward to listening! 🙂

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      1. ‘What do you mean? It is totally practical for me to carry around 4 different pieces of knitwear for my hands.’

        Awww thank you so much! Isn’t Helen the best!? Looking forward to sharing more Beastie adventures… and thanks again for listening! 🙂

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  3. Great post, Shirley! So nice to see these mitts all completed! I love your fix-ative perseverance with the double stitches–they look perfect and I see no hole whatsoever! Plus, I love the thumbs on these: they look like more of a natural fit as opposed to many mitten thumbs that seem to pull out into the middle of the hand ❤ I hope you enjoy them in this new wintery cold!

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  4. Thanks, Melissa. 🙂 Ever since picking up duplicate stitch, I’m finding it has some very handy applications. Oh, and I do like the thumbs on these as well – the thumb gusset does feel very natural and not tacked on. It fits… well… like a glove! Cheers and happy holidays. 😀


  5. Beautiful mittens, well done! I’m glad if our tips helped you. That’s a neat trick you pulled with this duplicate stitch to cover the gap, I’ll keep that in mind.
    Cable knitting: I love my cable needles, I must say. I have used the trick to cable without a needle but only on small cables, i.e. one stitch is twisted. For two or more, I prefer to rely on my needles. It is a bit longer but at least I don’t have to fear loosing a stitch in the process. I think it is really a matter of practice and preference.
    I have to finish a toy for a friend I am seeing tomorrow, and a shawl I am knitting for a dear friend of mine. Those are my knitting plans for the coming days.
    Happy knitting!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your comments and input. 🙂 And very interesting to hear your thoughts on cabling – I also tend to want to keep my live stitches on the needles themselves. I suppose that is my cautious streak. 🙂 Those sound like lovely projects for this time of year – your friends are very lucky, and I’m sure they will love their gifts! Wishing you lots of happy crafting on the toy and shawl this week!


    1. Thanks, Tierney – haha. I do keep coming back to mittens, for some reason and have been very eager to wear these on most days, now that the weather has really cooled down here in the Midwest. Hope your holiday planning and crafting are going well! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Melinda! A cabled sweater sounds like a great project, and the Caradon Jumper is heavenly (look at all that beautiful texture everywhere!) Great choice. Happy to hear that you’ve already got the yarn. Go for it! Happy holidays to you, too – hoping the marking is good and done and that your holidays are off to a great start! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh wow, these turned out beautifully! The shaping on the thumbs is great – they have a nice natural sweep up, rather than being a perpendicular tube sticking out awkwardly from one side. And closing the hole with duplicate stitch? Genius! I can’t even see where it was. I’m sure these mittens have been admired wherever you’ve worn them this winter! Oh, and thanks for the shout-out too – glad I could help 😊

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    1. Thanks, again, Helen, for the pointers! Yes, I like the thumbs on these as well – having knit the perpendicular tube, it was nice to try something a little different. The temperatures are falling to down to -29 over here (!), so they’ve gotten some good use – hoping that Dublin is a little warmer than Toronto. Cheers and Happy New Year to you!


      1. Yeeeeek! -29? It’s lucky you bit the bullet and finished those thumbs! Dublin is certainy balmy in comparison, but that means we’ll be getting rain later on, instead of snow… So I’m not sure which of us is better off! 😂 Enjoy the new year’s festivities tonight!

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