My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.



ย Thumb 020608

Thumb 020608

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.

Inside Thumb 0206078

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.

Thumb 2 020608

Thumb 2 020608

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.

Inside Thumb 2 0206078

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lucy 020608

Lucy 020608


  1. So, people are entering the giveaway contest, and saying the book isn’t any good at the same time? So, the point of entering the contest would be what then? Wow, that just amazes me. When you were giving away books, several months ago, the novels you were reading at lunch, I believe. I know there were times I didn’t enter, because the book didn’t appeal. I know there have been contests on other blogs, where they have given away roving, recently, you gave away some beautiful lace weight, not a weight I knit with, it just made sense to me to NOT enter those giveaways. Why would someone enter a contest for something that is not what they would use, want, or buy?

    That totally blows my mind. But, then again, I do my own knitty math too…

    Lucy, give Mama some lovins’, I think she may be astounded by people right now. I know I am.

  2. Martha Hayes says:

    Dear Wendy,

    If those folks didn’t think the book was worth it, then why did they bother to cast a ballot for it?
    I for one think you are incredibly generous to offer it.

    Your work is beautiful and I have learned a lot from reading your blog. God Bless, Martha

  3. Another fan of the give-aways! Like Adrienne, if I’m not interested, I don’t enter.

    Thanks for the mitten thumb tips. I pick up extra stitches too, but I still end up with holes. Next time I’ll try the knitted cast on for the new stitches. I’m using the backwards loop, or twirly finger method now.

  4. I hope none of the people saying that were ones that were also entering for a chance to win the book. Seems awfully silly to say something must not be good and yet express an interest in owning it. Heck, in the few years I’ve been reading your blog, I’ve never known you to give away anything substandard. Half the stuff you give away are things I wouldn’t be able to afford under normal circumstances, too, so it’s not like you’re giving away worthless garbage all the time, either! I’d say you’re very generous to give away as much as you do here. I know I’m grateful for the chance, even if I haven’t won anything yet. (And don’t know if I ever will, but that’s part of the fun of entering a draw! :D)

  5. 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. I agree with the others in that if the “prize” isn’t suitable for me, I just won’t enter.

  6. Firstly, let me say those are the most beautfully knitted thumbs I have EVER seen !

    Secondly, “Kitty caught in interpretative dance pose” is quite a lovely pic

    Thirdly, how tacky (some people are) to infer a neat Wendy Knits give-away contest should be anything BUT….

    Go figure! ๐Ÿ™‚ luv.m.

  7. I agree. I’ve only been reading your blog for about 6 months and so far all the givaways seem to be of the highest quality. I didnt enter because I already have enough patterns and pattern books to last awhile. PooPoo to those who implied that the book must be substandard, or not anygood for you to be giving it away, esp if they entered the contest.
    Nice interpretive Kitty Dance Pose Ms Lucy, now…go Love on Mama she needs it ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 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).

    I suppose some people never learned the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” rule of social interaction. Or maybe they think that it somehow doesn’t apply over the internet… But I appreciate the give-aways, even the ones I don’t enter ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I agree, if you think the book “must be no good,” leave it for the rest of us!

    For the record, I think anyone who says the book must not be any good because you are giving it away should not be eligible to win.

  10. I believe ya!! A gentle nudge that I hope you are still planning to make a pattern for the mint and chocolate mittens you made. I’ve been looking at lots of patterns and I think you have a real winner with that one!

  11. I love your blog and have been amazed at your generous – book & yarn give-aways… covering the postage too. I’ve only entered a few for the books or yarn I think I’ll love, I’m not so greedy as to enter a drawing for something I don’t want. I hope some weird comments don’t ruin this for all of your fans.

  12. What? No secret hidden agenda? Like you’d really need one.
    And, you had me up until the Lucy believes, and the photo, and then I broke out laughing.

  13. Yeah, you better not be lying to us, Wendy! I trust your opinion!

  14. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. It’s a pity ome people are always so negative and think their cup is 1/2 empty, and cannot see the good in things.

  15. As I mentioned last night, I really think you are a very kind and generous person. It never ceases to amaze me how rude some people are. I just do not understand it. You are in good company as some people are really rude to Sheri too. I too, would not enter a drawing if I could not use the gift, and it is a gift. God bless, please don’t ever change.Yes LB she is kind and generous.

  16. Isn’t that a sad sign of the time we live in, that people have their hand out and grumble about what you’re giving them?

    It’s a testament to your basic nature that you don’t let things like this sway you from continuing your contests, give-aways, and other forms of generosity. Keep on keeping on, Wendy!

  17. Thank you for the great advice on getting rid of pesky holes! I had that problem with fingerless mitts, but now I know! I love the flames on the thumb! Frankly, I have a plan that should Iever win a book from you, I’d ask you to autograph it (I’m 12) That’s only because I have your book. Would you considered writing another?

  18. Some people are freaks! Love you, love Lucy, love your knitting and your blog!

  19. There will always be people out there that you will never be able to make happy…. Yeesh.

    Your daily Lucy pictures, though, make me quite happy. I particularly like her expression on this entry! It looks like she could be thinking, “Ungrateful people confuse me!”

  20. Whomever wrote those e-mails must not read the blog very often. You seem to always have giveaways for the review copies–a really great gesture. I expect that you’re from the “if you can’t say something nice” school and might decline to provide a review at all if it would be negative. In contrast with some of the LYS critiques we read on blogs. Thanks for caring enough about your audience to offer these giveaways.

  21. No good deed goes unpunished.

    A sad consequence of this amazing web world is that some people, feeling the freedom of their relative anonymity, forget decency and good manners. If they were ever taught any.

  22. Unbelievable that anyone would even make a comment like that.

  23. 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.

    nice quickie trick.

    i think people confuse not “needing” something with not “wanting” something. you don’t need the book, and you want others to enjoy what you have. simple concept to me, but then again i like to give away the nice “stuff” in my life that isn’t serving a purpose beyond being more “stuff” i have to store, dust, or maintain. =)

  24. anne marie in philly says:

    steven and meredith think their cousin lucy is looking exceptionally pretty today.

    humans are just plain crazy!

  25. On thumbs: 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. The only thumb I’ve ever done is an after-thought thumb, like in the Dashing pattern on

  27. 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.

  28. Huh. Color me confused. Why would you want a book that you thought someone else thought wasn’t worth getting? Is this one of those, “I don’t want to join any club that would have me” things?

    Thanks for the thought on the thumb cast on. I like it. I’m going to try that on my next pair of mitts.

  29. 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.

  30. Okay, first off – I want to thank you for your blog. It always brightens my day to see Lucy’s antics, and you have gotten me into so much yarn trouble ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m always amazed by your ideas, and encouraged to try new things. (Before seeing your “hot stuff” mittens, I would never have even thought to try those! Do hope you make a pattern to sell, but I won’t be pushy) I hope the negative Nellie’s are suitably shamed by all of the responses.

  31. May I digress? Let us return to those thrilling days of Temptation Socks…I love them. I am old, set in my ways, and a compulsive toe-upper, so when I read thru your conversation with L-B—–well, it had to be tried. I have just about every technique book written and while I agree with EZ that nothing is ever really new but merely ‘unvented’, I have never come across this little trick before. I want to thank you for being your wonderful, lazy self and working so hard at these. This little trick, (and quite speedy it is), means it will be pattern that determines whether I go up or down, and no more rewrites. I don’t recommend Cookie’s Monkey Socks toe up. It scares people if an old lady is sitting in the corner of her doctor’s office cussing a blue streak. It excites comment..

  32. i guess if they were regular readers, they would know that you actually do this quite a bit. i think it’s generous of you!

  33. And why would they enter if the book was not good??? I am confused. I did not enter because I have enough to do to last til the next century right now! Thanks for the opportunity.

  34. Uh, what … they sent an email saying “That book must be total crap! Please send it to me!”?


    And may I say that I’m entertaining unnatural thoughts about those Hot Stuff mittens? I believe I’m in lurve.

  35. Brent Annable says:

    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.


  36. Maybe it was because you said ‘note the use of heavy sarcasm’? (Or something.)

    I know that I thought you didn’t like the book personally, so you were giving it away to someone who would, which is a good thing…

    So, yeah, they were wrong, but I can understand how they got the wrong idea. If they were already cranky and in need of coffee and what-not…

  37. Liz in IN says:

    Isn’t that what’s called “looking a gift horse in the mouth”? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    FWIW, I did not enter this particular give-away. I have enough projects in the queue to last…oh, dear, let’s not even think about the queue. Just keep knitting, just keep knitting….

    THUMBS! Those gussetted thumbs (correct name?) are gorgeous! Like some others have said, I also use the backward loop cast on, and pick up 2 extra at each side.

    And after all, the knitting is the important thing, right? Thank you, Wendy, for taking the time to share so much with us.

  38. Leslie B. says:

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

  39. Wendy I must say those Flame mittens are still BEAUTEOUS! I hope you do make the pattern available – I would buy it in a heartbeat!

    I think the ‘pre giveaway sour grapes’ expressed by some of your emailers is nuts, but then again, as someone who works in the medical field for a surgeon, I think ( and have it confirmed on almost a daily basis) a lot of people are nuts.
    Be Strong, hug a cat!

  40. Awww, some people are just cretinous. Present company excepted, of course.

    Thanks for being your generous self. Clearly, you’ve spoiled us.

  41. so why enter the contest if you think the book will suck? Like you would lead us astray!! smile ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Judy Aycock says:

    Thanks to all for the comments on thumb gussets. Lots of interesting ideas to try, even if it is almost never cold enough in Houston, TX to wear mittens!

    Judy A.

  43. Wendy, beautiful work as always! I’m have to admit I’m envious of your new Mac. While I”m not a Mac person, at leat not yet, your positive comments have me thinking about it. Hubby is a KOARC blog reader and since we both IT people by profession, we’ve been thinking….. :>

    I have to chime in with the other readers about the negative comments on your giveaways – pooh on them! Don’t enter a contest if you don’t want the prize. And they need to learn that Wendyknits only gives away the GOOD stuff.

  44. Oh, fer the love o’wool! Some people don’t got no damn class a-tall!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Don’t let them spoil it for the rest of us, though! And I second the suggestion that anyone who slams the book should not be eligible to win it.

  45. re: the thumb gusset. The only way I have ever seen is the method used it the knitty fetching pattern.

    This is not a direct quote just a fast interpretation off the top of my head. Drop working yarn, knit X number of stitches in contrasting scrap yarn. Knit the contrasting stitches with the working yarn and move on. When you want to work the thumb unpick the contrasting yarn and put the resulting live stitches onto your needles. Pick up a few stitches on either side to prevent holes.

  46. I’m a believer in the scrap method. I won’t go into detail since I can see that others already have, but it’s easy and didn’t scare me to death the first time I had to do it.

  47. how rude!! the book looks awesome!!!! look, new smiley- B-)

  48. wait. it didnt work… oh yeah! :-b

  49. that still didnt work. i cant remember how to do it… oh well!!

  50. That little flaming thumb is just the cutest! Rock on.

  51. There’s a great Southern word for people like the people who thought you’d give away a book because it was crappy. It’s “tacky”. And being tacky is about the worst thing to be.