My current work in progress:

1. Ashburn, designed by Melanie Berg, knit from Woolfolk Tynd in colorways 6, 7, and 8 on a 4 mm (U.S. size 6) needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

All Thumbs

Yesterday’s entry about thumbs provoked some interesting comments, enough for another blog entry on thumbs, I think. Here are some of the comments from you all about how you work your thumbs

Kit commented:

I always use the backwards loop cast on for my thumb and after I’ve put the thumb stitches on a holder for the body of the mitten. It works just fine for me.

Meredith said:

On thumbs, I use a backwards loop cast on after I put the thumb stitches on waste yarn. And then when I go to work the thumb, I pick up the same number I cast on, plus 2 (one on each side).

kittything offered:

One of the thumb techniques I like is the one included in the Fetching pattern. Begin your round on waste yarn, transfer back to the working needle and reknit the stitches with project yarn. later unpick the stitches on waste yarn to get two sets of live stitches and then pick up stitches in between the two live rows to close the gap.

Colleen said:

I generally use a provisional cast one (the one where you just use a random piece of waste yarn and flip the working yarn over and under the needle and the waste yarn) to cast on for the thumb stitches. I find I need to do it kind of loosely to work well. I prefer this because it makes for less bulk inside the thumb, and I am VERY physically sensitive (threads or lint in toe seams on commercial socks make me NUTS), so I want the mittens smooth on the inside, although most cast ons look fine outside, that won’t work for me.

Sarah commented:

For thumbs placed on the palm like this, I usually use waste yarn to knit the thumb stitches, slip those stitches just worked back onto the left needle, and knit in pattern with the regular yarn. When it is time to work the thumb, I pull out the waste yarn while I place the stitches on my needles. I also pick up the extras to keep the holes away.

Brent Annable said:

When putting the thumb stitches on hold after the gusset, I DON’T cast on any extra stitches – I just put the total number of increased stitches on a piece of waste yarn, and just keep knitting in the round as if they weren’t there. This seems logical to me, because then you continue with the same number of stitches as you started with. Then, when it comes time to continue the thumb, I pick up 2-4 stitches across the gap to avoid a hole.

And there were some questions:

Kerin asked:

I’ve always put my thumbs on the side. The ones on the palm just don’t seem like they would fit the shape of my hands – what do they look like on? How do they feel? I suppose one benefit of a side gusset is that all of the stitches are waiting for you when it’s time to knit the thumb. It’s not really occurred to me to knit them palm-side, but now I’m curious!

We-e-ell, I guess everyone’s hands are shaped differently. For me, mittens that have the thumbs just inside the edge on the palm fit best, because that’s the way my hand is built. icon smile All Thumbs

Leslie B. asked:

What are the reasons for choosing a knitted cast-on versus a cable cast-on? They seem very similar to me.

They are similar. I do a knitted cast-on because that’s how I’ve always done my mitten thumbs. See? You can always count on me for a rational answer.

Speaking of mittens, here’s my poor little mitten-in-progress, which has been sadly neglected this week.

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Hot Stuff Mitten 020708
Book Give-Away

I had 669 emails from people who entered the drawing for Twelve Months of Knitting by Joanne Yordanou. The Random Number Generator chose number 320, who is:

Laurie F.! Laurie, has been emailed and has responded

Thank you to everyone who sent me an email for this book. icon smile All Thumbs

Special Notice – Alert! Alert!

My wonderful web guru tells me she will doing some upgrading and maintenance on my blog this weekend. She will turn off commenting for a period of time on Saturday while working on the database, to ensure that no comments are lost during the time she is in there with her little wrench and screwdriver. It’s possible that my blog will be offline for a bit during that time as well.

So if you try to leave a comment over the weekend and can’t, that’s why. I’ll be back on Sunday, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.

Lucy Sez

“Sometimes my Momma uses the corniest expressions! I hide my head in shame.”

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Lucy 020708

Thumbing

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The other day Judy A. asked in the comments:

What is the best cast on method for the bit after you put the thumb gusset on hold? And what is the best way to pick up those cast on stitches when it is time to finish the thumb?

What I do:

When you get to the round where you need to move the thumb gusset stitches off the needle onto a holder and cast on new stitches over them to bridge the gap, I move the gusset stitches onto a length of yarn. Then I do a knitted cast-on to create the required number of stitched onto the needle in the gap created by moving the gusset stitches to a holder.

You can find instructions for the knitted cast-on on the Lion Brand site here, among other places.

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Inside Thumb 0206078

Then, when I need to pick up stitches to knit the thumb, I just do so over the cast-on edge the same way I would pick up stitches along a cast-off edge to create a neckband, for example.

It occurs to me that a neat way of doing this whole thumb maneuver would be to do a provisional cast-on for those stitches you add on after reserving the thumb gusset stitches. Then when you are ready to knit the thumb, you’ve got live stitches all ready to go.

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Either way, I always pick up a couple of extra stitches on each side of the thumb and then decrease down to the proper number of stitches on the next round to avoid unsightly holes on the sides of my thumbs.

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Inside Thumb 2 0206078

Anyone else have any other tried-and-true or favorite ways of doing their thumbs? Any method you’d like to give a “thumbs up?”

Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk!

Book Giveaway

Thanks for all the entries I’ve received thus far for the book giveaway (see yesterday’s blog entry for details — you still have plenty of time to enter). Something that disturbs me though is that in the entry emails, several people have commented or implied that the book must be no good, otherwise I’d not be giving it away. Excuse me? Cynical much?

Now, I realize that the majority of you don’t know me from Adam, so you have no way of knowing if I’m compulsively honest or a pathological liar. Let me tell you here and now: I would never, ever, give give a book a review I did not feel it deserved. I am not giving this book away to “get rid of it.” I considered keeping it, but I’ve pretty much got my knitting for the next several months already mapped out, so I wouldn’t be using any of the patterns in the book for quite a while. Therefore I decided to pass it along. I think it’s a good book and well worth the cover price. Your opinion, of course, may vary.

Lucy always believes everything I tell her. icon wink Thumbing

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A Book Review

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Book 020508

I recently received a review copy of Twelve Months of Knitting by Joanne Yordanou, so I thought I’d . . . uh . . . review it. icon smile A Book Review

This paperback book, which is published by Potter Craft, has 160 pages, and is subtitled “36 Projects to Knit Your Way Through the Year” which tells you a lot about the book. There are, as you might expect, 36 projects, arranged by months of the year — three per month. The retail price of this book is $22.50 and the Amazon.com price is $15.30, so this is a seriously good deal if you break it down to a per pattern cost — even if you only want to knit 5 or 6 of them.

The projects are quite varied: sweaters, hats, gloves, socks, lace, and even a couple of bikinis (which in my opinion should only be worn by individuals age 15 or younger). There’s also a cute dog sweater, a couple of lace pillows, a lace bookmark, purse, lap blanket and some adorable baby knits. The complexity of the patterns is quite varied as well — some extremely simple, like a pair of bulky wristwarmers, and some relatively complex: his and hers fair isle vests. Each pattern states what skill level is needed.

I was very impressed by the designs in this book — there were several that I would enjoy knitting and I’m an extremely picky knitter.

But because I’m such a sweetheart (note use of heavy sarcasm), I’m going to give my copy away. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing to win it, follow these instructions:

Send me an email to the Official WendyKnits Contest email address: blogcontestATcomcastDOTnet before 4:00pm Eastern time on Thursday February 7, 2008.

Rules:

1. One email per person, please.

2. Only entries emailed to the Official WendyKnits Blog Contest email address, above, will be counted. Entries in the comments will be ignored.

3. As usual, anyone on Planet Earth with a mailing address where I can send a package is eligible to enter.

4. I will use the official WendyKnits Random Number Generator to choose a winner on Thursday afternoon and announce that winner in Thursday’s blog post.

5. I will not accept bribes unless they are really, really good ones.

6. Lucy will not accept bribes because I will not let her.

In the “What I am Knitting” Department . . .

I’m working on the second Hot Stuff! mitten. Not a whole lot of progress, though, because playing with the new computer has cut into my knitting time.

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Hot Stuff Mitten 020508

Lucy sez:

“Don’t let the cat out of the bag!”

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Quite the little comedian, isn’t she?

Millefiore

Here are the Millefiore mittens.

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Millefiore Mittens 020408

As you can see, I did not repeat the error on the second mitten. And here they are, palm side up.

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Millefiore Mitten Palms 020408

Blurry! Sorry!

Charlotte asked:

Why does this style of mitten have a different pattern on the palm from the back of the hand? Is this traditional? Is there a functional reason for it?

I know it is traditional for Scandinavian mittens to have an all-over pattern on the palm. Functional? Well, I dunno about that. But if you have a complex pattern on the back of the hand and were to repeat it on the palm, you’d have to break up the pattern when you worked the thumb gusset, and I think that would detract from the overall look of the mitten.

And NewJerseyLaura commented:

Noticed back to dp needles on the thumb. Any reason why you choose not to make 1 thumb on 2 circs?

Yep. A few mittens ago, I started doing a thumb on 2 circs but very quickly switched to dpns. The rigid needle part of the circular is too long to comfortable knit a small number of stitches — they really need to be divided over three or four needles. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

Thank you for welcoming MacDougal — he seems to be enjoying his new home. icon wink Millefiore I got him to recognize and print to a printer over my wireless network tonight so I’m pretty chuffed. While I’m not planning on getting rid of my Windows PCs anytime soon, I am happy to be playing with a different OS. I’ve been a die-hard PC user forever, but can certainly see the up-side to the Mac environment. Just call me flexible.

Lucy sez:

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“I’m flexible too!”

And here, for the sake of posterity, my odometer reading this afternoon:

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Odometer 020408

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a new computer to play with . . .

The New Arrival

So, the KOARC and I went out to the Apple store on Friday and we came home with this:

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iMac 020308

We unpacked him and set him up. And I realized the surge protector I had available had too short a power cord to reach. So one quick trip to Radio Shack later, we had this:

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We plugged everything in and started him up. No fuss, no muss. Within 90 seconds of pressing the power button for the first time, I was connected to my wireless network.

And here’s MacDougal, in his new home, next to my Windows XP laptop.

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iMac at Home 020308

So far they are co-existing peacefully. icon wink The New Arrival

Even with all the excitement, I managed to get some knitting done. Here’s the Hot Stuff! Mitten completed.

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Hot Stuff Mitten 020308

And the palm:

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Hot Stuff Palm 020308

Okay, to tell the truth, I finished that Thursday night. But I have the second Millefiore Mitten almost done.

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I managed to complete the pattern without making an error. I think.

And Lucy is taking all this excitement in stride.

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She is, no doubt, resting up for the Superbowl.