Fingertip-less gloves

As smartphones and other touchscreen gadgets need to be used during winter, too, there is a need for some way to use them without getting frostbite on our hands.

Option 1: buy special gloves with fingertips woven with conductive thread. Pros: easy and quick. Cons: they come in one-size-fits-nobody, have short cuffs and are usually quite thin.

Option 2: take your old gloves and stick a piece of alufoil in the appropriate places. Pros: quick, dirt cheap and you can use any gloves you want. Cons: doesn’t work that well and tends to fell apart.

Option 3: buy the special thread (see 1) and sew your gloves’ fingertips through with it. Pros: you use any gloves you want and it works ok. Cons: no idea how to google for that thread!

Option 4: knit yourself gloves with no fingertips! Pros: you can knit them whatever colour you like (if you play Ingress, you can make faction colours). Cons: still cold fingertips and it may take some time.

I will cover that last option (but if you find that thread, give me the link in a comment, I’d be grateful!). I’ve just knitted myself a pair of pretty gloves last week and I’m still in “yay!” mode over them.

My new gloves

Now, how I made them. If you follow the same steps, you will hopefully get a reasonably tolerable outcome.

1. Wool. I had two 50g balls of wool 100% yarn I bought in Finland a year ago. It has thickness of 100m/50g, so 200m/100g. This is a nice thickness to work on, as it allows you to get an effect quickly (unlike thinner yarns) and still the result isn’t too bulky.

2. DPNs. Really, gloves and socks just need them. You’ll need two sets, preferably. One thick (4,5mm) and one thinner (2,5mm). Knitting on them isn’t that hard, I actually learned it by myself when I just wanted to start a sock. You cast on on 2 of them and then just… work around :)

3. Check rows and stitches. Measure your hand around the place where you want to have your cuff. I got 15 cm there. Make a swatch of 2 knit 2 purl (20 stitches at least) and 10-15 rows. See how many cm you make out of it when it’s slightly stretched horizontally. Remember, if the cuff you make is too loose, it won’t stay on your hand, and if it’s too tight, it will leave marks on your skin.

If your hand is 15 cm around and your swatch gives you 7,5cm for 20 stitches, then you need 40 stitches. In general, the calculation is [needed stitches] = [swatch stitches] * [needed cm] / [swatch cm] (ie. [needed] = 20 * 15 / 7,5 = 20 * 2 = 40).

The rows will not be that needed, but noting down how many rows you actually made in the first glove will help with the second one.

4. Cast on your counted stitches (for me: 40). Pull out one DPN from the casting on pair. Now you can go on in two ways:

1. Just start knitting, and after 10 stitches leave that needle and add a second one, and so on. After finishing the fourth needle, the fifth you don’t start “back”, but go on with knitting from the “back” of the first one, closing the circle.

2. Move stitches in groups of 10 to the other needles, leaving one free, and start knitting from the back of needle 1, closing the circle at this point.

5. Knit one row, then change to 2 knit 2 purl to make the stretchy cuff. First 2-3 rows may look a bit loopy, but then the stitches will even out.

6. Knit as many rows as you need to get from your desired cuff edge to your wrist/thumb base. For me it was 8cm. Write down the number of rows.

7. Move the stitches around your needles in such a way that on one of them you will have 6 stitches. It is good if your yarn start is below them, to make it easier to remember.

8. Knit 1cm.

9. From this point, on every other row add 1 stitch at the end of the preceding needle and at the start of the next needle (use whatever way you like, just keep it consistent; I use my crochet hook to add stitches). this makes thumb space. After you add 6 or 7 rows like this (12 or 14 new stitches), knit until you get to the point where thumb separates from the rest of your palm. Write down all numbers, to make sure you can repeat it for the other glove. From now on write down all numbers of rows you knit for each finger and each needles’ change, all stitches cast on, reduced and picked up.

10. There are two ways to knit thumb and all fingers. One is flat (then gloves will be “any hand”) and the other is profiled, like our palms are. Whatever I try to do, my gloves always end up as the second type.

11. Put your glove on your left hand and count how many stitches you will need for front, back and “outer” side of your thumb. Leave these on needles, transfer all others to safety pins. Make sure you’re not pinning through yarn or losing any stitch.

12. Work first row around the thumb until you get to that point where thumb is attached to the rest of the palm. Cast on 6 stitches and knit on for 1-2cm. You can decrease 2-6 stitches to make the finger a bit tighter than at the base. When you’re 1cm from the base of your nail, switch to the thinner DPNs and knit the last rows with them. Finish the finger, making sure the tie off row isn’t too tight.

13. Transfer yarn from safety pins back to DPNs, again making sure you got all your stitches. One DPN put through the stitches at the thumb base, picking up 4 or 6 stitches there. Knit around, straight, up to your pinky’s base. Check how many stitches you need for pinky, transfer others to safety pins.

14. Knit first row, cast on 3-4 stitches for space between pinky and ring finger, knit until 1cm from nail base, switch to thin DPNs, knit, tie off.

15. Move stitches to DPNs from safety pins, knit 2-3 rows (depending on the difference between your pinky base and other fingers’ bases). In first row, pick up the pinky base stitches and knit on them, too.

16. Count stitches needed for ring finger, move others to safety pins, knit first row, cast on 3-4 stitches, repeat as for pinky.

17. Repeat 16 for middle and index fingers. For index, of course, there will be no casting on, just picking up the 3-4 stitches from middle finger.

18. Weave in all yarn ends. Turn right side out.

Now repeat the same for the other glove, making sure this time the thumb is turned the other way, or you will get 2 identical gloves. Best is to keep the first turned the right side out – both should look the same now.

Looks complicated? I know. It’s just to make sure you get a pair of gloves that REALLY fit you. Unlike abovementioned one size fits nobody.

(I have a pair of those. Their fingers are too short for me and the cuff is so short it doesn’t even touch my jacket sleeve.)

All numbers of additional stitches etc are made in relation to that 40-stitch measurement at the start. If your yarn is much bulkier, it will be less added and less reduced stitches in all cases. If your yarn is much thinner – more stitches.

Teal Glass Pendant

And the fourth glass coin pendant, this time it’s rich teal, with copper wire and Miyuki beads.

Teal Glass pendant

Advice to young magicians

I mean, to young crafters. Of any kind.

1. Don’t buy too much.

In what we call in Poland “straw zeal” (słomiany zapał) – which is when you like something keenly and suddenly lose the interest – you can spend way too much at the beginning and be left with way too large quantity of odds and ends. Sometimes you will have more leftovers than materials you had actually used for any project.
Buy no more than you can predict to use in the first project or practice sessions.
This will save you:
* money
* storage space
* grief, if the craft you’re trying isn’t as much fun as you expected and you don’t have any other use for the materials or tools

2. Don’t invest in high-level tools at first.

Of course, trying to use dad’s huge nail pliers for your delicate 0,3mm wire or large-scale drill for detailed woodwork isn’t the way. But you don’t have to buy your first set of pliers for 160 bucks. Go to your friendly local Lidl on “hobby day” (or any kind of home improvement store anytime at all) and ask for basic set of cutting, round and chain-nose pliers for hobby/jewlery purposes. Craft stores may also have something to offer to beginner crafters, but remember – the salesperson may try to convince you to spend much more than it’s worth for beginners set. My first set, a few years back, was 4 pliers (the three above + bent ones) and I spent equivalent of $6 on it. It worked pretty well and I even could give them to another – much more talented – jewelry maker, when I got a new set.
So, if you are keen on beginning something new, a new craft or hobby, think VERY carefully about supplies you want to buy. In case of polymer clay – don’t freeze your cash in special-for-fimo blades, or brandname surface covers. Buy snap-off blades (replacements for this type of knife) or use razor blades and get a large, smooth, ceramic tile (left after kitchen or bathroom do-over).

3. Start small.

You don’t have to have all kinds of tools at once. No, polymer clay working doesn’t really REQUIRE a bead roller, wavy blade and pasta machine. Beads may be rolled manually, wavy blade is needed for specific techniques and pasta machine can really wait until you make sure you want to put your money in this area. You don’t need the largest available standing loom. Get one which is 30x50cm and I assure you, it will be big enough for you just to try your hand at making rugs or other weaving.

4. Choose your first project wisely.

If you pick a project that uses lots of resources and time, you may easily become disappointed with the whole idea. Also, if you choose a project way above your level of experience,
Polymer clay? Simple figures, no mixing media, maybe a small millefiori cane (flower ones are the easiest comparing to effect).
Beading? Leave that tiara pattern, make a bracelet. Come on, this is just for start.
Weaving? No, not a whole *carpet*, start with a rag rug or coarse wool mat.
Crocheting or knitting? Scarf. A long one, a short one, but a scarf can be used and be useful even if it’s not as long as planned. A hat or a jumper has to be properly finished, and that takes time. Scarf you can give up on finishing any time you want.
The same goes for every craft – quilting, cross-stitching or mosaic. Pick wisely the first project to make sure you feel comfortable with your tools and materials and with the whole technique as itself.

Now, why am I writing this? Because I have vast experience in how “storage problems” may look. They look like 8 or 10 cubic metres of STUFF gathered in my living-room. Includes paints, crayons, pastels, beads (and really lots of them), wires, 3 boxfulls of knitting wool/cotton/acrylic, thread, needles, pins, jewelry findings, DREMEL drill and its bits, polymer clay (around 2 litres of various types), pasta machine, boxes of boxes of organizers and 2 boxfulls (see above) of craft books.

Now, if you don’t want to became swamped by your own collection of interesting and disturbing craft leftovers, you should either buy reasonably (which is usually a problem, as most of crafters are related to magpies and hamsters – “Ooooh! Shiny! And I’m going to take it and stuff it in my nest!”)) OR, having hardened against the pain of parting with your storage contents, try to sell some doubles on eBay.

Give me your own ideas and experiences on effects of craft shopping sprees – what was the most useless and outrageous thing you brought home just because it looked pretty and SOMEWHAT useful? Huge, shiny, pink bead? A tool you can’t use? Useless organizer box nothing fits in? A ball of wool you’re allergic to? :)