Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thoughts on the afterthought

Knitting a mitten, much like knitting a sock, basically just involves knitting a tube, which is closed at one end and has something different in the middle - mittens have a thumb, socks a heel.

Most of the variation (beyond yarn/guage) from one mitten pattern to the next is in one of two places:
the pattern of decrease to close of the top - which will dictate the shape of the mitten
(for example pointy or round;) and
the technique used for the placement of the thumb.

Since the smockies pattern uses the afterthought thumb, I thought this might be a good excuse to have closer look at how this particular thumby construction is worked =)

The afterthought thumb might be the most simple thumb placement I've tried - there is no increasing, no extra casting on, and no picking up of stitches.

To work the thumb, the stitches where the thumb is to go are worked using waste yarn.
The waste yarn stitches are then slipped back to the left needle, and the row/round worked as normal.

Hopefully you can see what I mean from the pic of one of my smockies below.
9 stitches have been worked in the white waste yarn (2 of them are purl stitches so are hidden).

Once the body of the mitt(en) is done you go back and remove the waste yarn, transferring the live stitches above and below onto your needles.
Because of the anatomy of stitches you'll end up with one more stitch on the top than the bottom (this wasn't actually allowed for in the smockies pattern, so I've just knit 2 together).
So, you have your top and bottom stitches, plus one from each side, to knit the thumb.
Taadaa )

I was quite happy to work the afterthought thumbs, as the pattern prescribes, since I'm not a big fan of having to pick up stitches.
That said, I'd probably work them differently next time - because you don't have a thumb-hole you can't really try them on until you're done - that drives me nuts!

Incidentally, the first smockie is DONE and I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT =)
Pics soon - or maybe when they're both done?

besos =)


  1. The afterthought thumb and I, we don't really fit each other. I've realized I need to convert patterns without a thumb gusset so that they include one. But it's good to try everything, because otherwise, how do we know what we like best?! I do think it's a clever construction, except my hands are not a straight tube that the thumb pops out of! I need that extra room.

    I love knitting mittens, though. :)

  2. Did my first thumb last month and loved the system. Genius!


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