Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What the heck is a wrist warmer, anyway?

A recurring suggestion popped up on Ravelry in the weeks prior to Christmas in response to recommendations for quick, last-minute gifts: wrist warmers. And fingerless mittens.

I kept thinking, "What the hell are wrist warmers and why would anyone want them?" and "What good are fingerless mittens? Why wouldn't you at least knit a flap for them?"

Then it got cold outside, which meant my workspace got a little chilly, which meant my mouse hand froze itself into a claw and I started thinking about how I could keep my right hand warm, but keep my fingers nimble for typing purposes. Then I connected the dots.

Turns out that a wrist warmer is not what I thought it was. I was imagining those terry cloth sweat bands tennis players wear around their wrists, only in wool. You can understand my confusion as to the utility of such an item, never mind the fashion statement behind it. Also, it turns out that wrist warmers are for wearing inside. They aren't meant to be an outdoor accessory. Again, ooooohhhhhhh.

So I whipped up this guy:

Using the leftover yarn from the Seaman's Scarf in the wonderful, but now-discontinued Knit Picks Panache, a chunky, delightfully soft concoction of Merino, Baby Alpaca, Silk, and Cashmere.

Sophia promptly requested a whole pair (I only had enough yarn to make one wrist warmer for myself out of the Panache) in navy (school uniform color requirement), as did my mother and her husband.

A few measurements later, and Bam!

Chunky Malabrigo wrist warmers for my mom.

A package from Knit Picks arrived with several balls of worsted weight Andean Silk (next best thing to Panache) and Bam! More wrist warmers:

In cranberry, for Al. Needles: US 5 and 7 (3.75 and 4.5mm); yarn: about 1.5 balls (approx 75 gr). Maybe less. I made one whole wrist warmer, plus the ribbing for the 2nd from one 50g ball of Andean Silk.

And Navy for Sophia. Needles: US 5 and 7 (3.75 and 4.5mm); Less than 50g.

If I ever make another pair of wrist warmers, I'll spice them up with a nice stitch pattern.

Basic Wrist Warmer Pattern:
Four measurements needed:
  1. Circumference around hand above thumb
  2. Length from wrist to webbing between thumb and hand
  3. Length from thumb webbing to base of index finger.
  4. Stitch gauge.
Cast on number is based on measurement 1 multiplied by the gauge, rounded to the nearest multiple of 4, because I like 2x2 ribbing. If you like 1x1 ribbing, you could round it to the nearest multiple of 2, if you prefer. Sophia's hand measures 6 1/2 inches around, and I get 5 sts/in with Andean Silk, so I cast on 32 sts. My hand measures 7 1/2 inches around, and I was using a chunky yarn, getting 3.5 sts/in, so I cast on 28 sts.

50-100g soft yarn. Some basic wools I tried seemed too scratchy. We like merino or blends of merino with something else super soft, like silk or alpaca or cashmere.

Needles: one set of dpns, a long circ or two short circs in size needed to get the recommended gauge for the yarn, and then another set two sizes smaller

Tapestry needle for darning in ends.

M1L: Increase, using Make 1 Left technique. Using left needle, lift running thread between stitch just worked on the right needle and the first stitch on the left needle from the front. Knit into the back (left) leg of the strand to twist the stitch.
M1R: Increase, using Make 1 Right technique. Using left needle, lift running thread between stitch just worked on right needle and the first stitch on the left needle from the back. Knit into the front (left) leg of the strand to twist the stitch.

Calculate CO number. Multiply measurement 1 by measurement 4. Round to nearest 2 for 1x1 rib. Round to nearest 4 for 2x2 rib.

CO, using smaller needles. Work ribbing for length desired. 3" is good for a kid. 4" works well for an adult.

Switch to larger needles. Knit one round, placing markers 1 stitch before the center of the round and 1 stitch after the center of the round.
Thumb gusset magic:
Rnd 2: Knit to marker. M1L, K2 (the next stitch will have a marker), M1R, knit to end of round.
Rnd 3&4: Knit
Rnd 5: Knit to marker. M1L, K4, M1R, knit to end of round.
Rnd 6&7: Knit
Rnd 8: Knit to marker. M1L, K6, M1R, knit to end of round
Rnd 9&10: Knit
Continue in this manner, increasing at markers every three rows until the work (not including ribbing) is as long as measurement 2. If you plan to work 2x2 ribbing for the thumb ribbing, make sure that you have a multiple of 4 stitches minus 2 between the markers.

Thumb ribbing:
Knit from beginning of round to second marker. Transfer thumb stitches to smaller needles. Join thumb in the round, picking up two stitches (one from front and one from back). Work several rounds in ribbing, then bind off in pattern. For bulky yarn, 2 rounds, plus the bind off round is enough. For worsted weight, 4 rounds, plus the bind off round does the trick.

Hand and hand ribbing:
Join yarn at thumb. This is now the beginning of the round. Pick up two stitches at junction between thumb and hand. Knit several rounds, then switch to smaller needles and work ribbing until length of hand from thumb matches measurement 3. Bind off in pattern.

Close the gap between the last chain stitch of the bind off round and the beginning using a duplicate stitch join.
Step 1: Note ugly jog and gap

Step 2: Thread yarn tail through tapestry needle. Push needle under both legs of the first chain stitch of the bind off round from front to back, as shown below.

Step 3: Push tapestry needle back through center of the last chain stitch of the bind off round, as shown below.


Weave in all yarn tails, using tails at thumb junction to close any gaps between thumb and hand.