Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Foxhall Gloves Continued...

Let's talk about hand-knit gloves. I've finished the first of the Foxhall gloves for Scott and I now have some strong feelings about this particular handmade objet:

Look, gloves are really no more difficult than socks. In fact, I think they might be easier (which is to say quicker), but they are way more freakin' fussy. For starters, you can't just make them. You practically have to take a 3D cast of your gift-recipient's hand. Or sit next to him on the couch. Even my 2D (with measurements) map - recommended by the excellent pattern writers of the Foxhall gloves - was kind of useless in the end. Happily I have Scott's actual hand to measure from every 3 minutes (note: not a popular tack. Whatevs, when he has bespoke gloves, who'll be laughing last?)

The one thing that the pattern might have clarified a bit, especially since, IMO, there are scarce online resources on this topic, is how (technically) fourchettes work. I'm no expert, but I can say that the first 2 finished fingers were, um, not exactly profesh. 

My problem wasn't following the directions - and they were quite clear. It wasn't in understanding the why of fourchettes, (they give a bit of extra width at the base of each finger which has implications for depth). My problem was in deciphering the how. As in, how do you construct these things so it doesn't look like a toddler did the knitting. If you've never seen a fourchette being constructed - and everything's a mystery - being instructed to cast on fourchette stitches (and maybe pick up a few extra stitches which you'll then, one row later, decrease - to mitigate mini-holes at the front notch) isn't so meaningful. 

Where you add those extra picked up stitches (and which of the new stitches you decrease) is key. If you decrease at the front-side edge of the finger "crotch" (what I did the first couple of times) you get some nasty looking finger-bases. Hey, I made it through, and I improved fairly quickly, but it's only because I brought other skills to the activity.

Let's just say, I'm only showing these off once they're blocked. And I reserve the right to hide the pinkie side of the left-glove (first knit) under the right.

On an interesting side note, I did not knit one stitch with DPNs. I know, I've failed at skill-gaining. My brain just could not make it happen. What really cinched this path, however, was watching a video of a woman (a serious knitter) making fingers using DPNs. Lord, it was such a mess I could scarcely believe it. Even this knitter said: I know, this kind of looks like a mess. But it's not that bad! 

Yeah, right. It actually offended my sense of order. 

On the plus side, I figured out that it's really quite easy to knit the entirety of a glove using magic loop. With nary a ladder, without needles poking into already finished fingers and getting stuck on the stitches on the holder. If anything, I'm more hooked on magic loop than ever I've been?! Which is good, I guess, since I don't seem to have an alternative (yet). I will say it helps to have excellent joins at the (circular) needle where it meets the cable, and a cable that's quite malleable. And natch, one improves with experience. But it's in no way difficult. Simply fussy and a bit slower than other knitting in the round (or slightly larger small-diameter knitting).

Now, if that's the worst of it, I guess I shouldn't complain. I mean, half my glove is pretty nice! And maybe the whole of the next glove will be too.

What do you say?

PS: OMG, I LOVE this pattern:

Starry Starry Night by Suzanne Bryan
I have no interest in doing all kinds of challenging colourwork (never mind on socks) but these amazing things are so compelling, I have to put them on the list. Never mind when they get made. I clicked on the button to buy the minute a saw it.

16 comments:

  1. I'm the opposite - always avoiding learning circular loop. I've only made fingerless gloves (with short finger bits rather than entirely finger free) and that was intensely annoying and I'm now happy to buy my gloves from the shops.

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    1. Ha! You know, doing the fingers bits at the start is harder than closing them up. So you've already done the worst part. But I hear you, I like the store versions too!

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  2. The first hat I knit I used DPNs when the circumference got small. That was enough to convince me I didn't like or need them. ;) I bought a short circular needle and by stretching out the stitches I'm able to knit hats just fine. I am anxious to see how to do Magic Loop - that has to be better than those DPNs.

    Lois K

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    1. Well, I'm biased and I can't even do both methods :-) Magic loop allows you to make hats using many cable sizes, rather than just the 16" you'd need to do a hat without going to magic loop. I bought a needle with cables of 16 inches, but I find it easier to use 32 or 40 inches and just magic loop. There's much less tugging involved and it's easier on the hands.

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  3. I've grown to loathe my dpns -- but I still love my circulars -- I do think DPNs have a certain utility. I LOVE those socks. A LOT of color work -- but love them!! Can't wait to see the gloves once blocked . . .

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    1. Aren't those socks gorgeous. You know, I've done all the things the pattern calls for. Just never all in the same project at the same time. Hmmmm...

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  4. I'm in love with those socks as well -- although I hate corrugated rib!

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    1. I hate it too! What a misery! But look how pretty those cuffs are!

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  5. Oooh! I LOVE the toes and cuffs. I might have to just work that into a simple sock pattern.

    Whatever works for you with the needles is the right way to go. I love magic loop and try to use it on everything.

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  6. I knit my boyfriend stupidly fancy, finicky fair isle gloves for his birthday last year, using a pattern that assumed all I needed was the chart, and yeah, fingers are very fussy. I am a confirmed dpn-er when it comes to socks (most socks, anyway), but for mittens and gloves I am all about the magic loop. I thought I'd switch to dpns for the fingers, but no way.

    He wears those gloves every day, which makes it more than worth the hassle. I'm actually considering knitting him a second pair and had been eyeing the Foxhall pattern as a possibility. I'm looking forward to seeing your (blocked!) pair.

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    1. I'm glad to hear that you like magic loop for gloves - even though it's not nec. your fave method for all small diameter knitting in the round. Def make him another pair!

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  7. I am just the opposite, perhaps because I started out with double pointed needles, and the long circular needles I have are entirely unsuited to magic loop on such a small scale, since they are cranky and don't have nice joins... I found that doing magic loop somehow keeps me from getting into the rhythm of knitting, with having to stop repeatedly and pull the loops around. I guess it is just a case of different strokes for different folks, but I thought I'd chime in just because DPN's weren't getting much love...

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    1. I totally understand what you mean and, I've put together a new video tutorial (not a good one, mind you) wherein I address this comment. I think the first 3 rows of magic loop are slow and awkward but it gets much more fluid after that. Maybe if you keep on for a few rows you might find a groove? Or maybe you just stick with what you love. Thanks for speaking for the DPNers :-)

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