when the weather couldn't decide if it wanted to be warm or cool, and the office as usual was even more indecisive, i made a pair of handwarmers in a weekend. a lazy weekend at the end of may, which fit perfectly with the pattern name - aprilmay. they have a simple eyelet lace pattern that looks kind of wavy.the first mitt i made according to the directions (and used some stash yarn - whoo-hoo!), but the thumb was too tight. through a ravelry search i discovered there are all kinds of thumbs, and this one was a peasant one (or afterthought or any number of other names that i forget now).
you can see how it pulls the rest of the hand material, distorting it. basically a peasant thumb is where you leave a line of stitches somewhere on waste yarn and pick them up later to make the thumb. apparently i have noble thumbs though, because the mitt was pretty uncomfortable. it felt like someone was pinching my thumb.
that ravelry search led me to an awesome group with a thread all about thumbs, in which i learned all thumbs are not created equal. i followed some links to one very helpful blog, knitting in color, with a series of posts on different thumbs (they're listed down on the sidebar). a thumb gusset sounded like the way to go, actually increasing along the side to make room for the thumb. i compared a bunch of free patterns to learn how they made thumb gussets, and then made up the math for my stitch count and gauge. they came out pretty good.
no more distortion! and they were way more comfortable. i must just have fat (meaty?) thumbs, because i had chuck compare the two thumbs, thinking guys have bigger hands and all so he'd prefer the gusset. oddly enough, chuck liked the fit of the peasant thumb better. huh. at least i know for whenever i get around to making him gloves, right?
in making the gussets, i tried to have the increases grow with the pattern - 2 different ways. the second try came out a little better (the lines are cleaner), but after frogging the peasant thumb mitt already, i didn't care enough to take out the first one and redo it.an interesting side effect of the gussets was actually using less yarn. i expected the opposite, but it must be because the afterthought thumb stretches out the hand, so you need more material to have enough length. i knit fewer rows for the main body of the hand with the gussets to get the same length. so not only are gussets more comfortable (for me), they use less yarn! yay! now i just need to make a more utilitarian pair that i can layer over gloves for work.....