One Glove, Two Glove, Tight Glove, Loose Glove

Sometimes things work out just the way you planned them. Other things… not so much. Last summer I realized that I was down to only one pair of gloves (I’ve been moving my wardrobe in the direction of colours that actually suit me), and that pair were fingerless.

But it was summer! I had plenty of time to knit myself some full-fingered gloves, right? I cast on the first one the week before Christmas, and finished it before the summer ended, despite the inevitable fiddles of altering the pattern to fit. (I have small hands.) Autumn was interrupted by other knitting projects (with deadlines) and some knit-free weeks following eye surgery, and I was starting to feel the nip in the air.

side by side

The second glove knit up in practically no time at all (for me) – only a few days. There was just one problem with it. It was really, really tight.

Same pattern, same needles, same stitch count, what appeared to be the same yarn – but was it? Closer inspection proved that I had inadvertently used the ‘just-in-case-there-isn’t-enough’ yarn for the body of the glove, and the proper yarn for the fingers. Of course, this was only detectable under a certain light, and at the right angle.

I pulled the whole thing to bits (quite fiddly with the fingers, it turns out) and started again, this time using the proper yarn. And the result? You could have knocked me down with a feather – it was still much smaller. Not, perhaps, quite as tiny as it had been, but still visibly smaller. Observe:


I was (and am) baffled. Same yarn, same needle, same pattern. Different size. And it’s not as though my hands are different sizes, either – at least as far as I can tell. The only possible explanation (all right, the only possible rational explanation) is that I was much tenser when knitting the second glove. It’s funny – I didn’t think I was that stressed, at least until the Tiny Glove Happening.

However, since the winter draws on apace (it was one degree Celsius the other morning) I have decided that It Will Do. But next time I knit gloves, I’m going to try knitting them both in the same season. I’ll just have to learn to knit faster.


The original draft of this blog post – I usually write them ahead of time – ended here. Last night, however, as I was trimming away a little end that had come loose (you can just see it in the above photo, about halfway down the cuff below the thumb), I discovered that all was not well. Something more than a little end had come loose further along, and there was now a considerable hole in the almost-new glove.

I blamed it on the fact that the cuff of the Second Glove Mark II was knitted out of the fingers of the Second Glove Mark I – not a wise idea, in case anyone is ever thinking of doing it. You end up with a billion little ends to sew in, and the law of averages will soon result in your glove springing a leak. Take it from me…

The hole was beyond a mend: something more like surgery was required. I did my best to pick up stitches around the hand by where it met the cuff, and then carried on the unravelment from where the second hole had sprung up. Did I mention the second hole? It was right at the base of the thumb, practically.

At more than one stage in these proceedings, I considered wastefully chucking the whole thing and just knitting myself a new pair of gloves. Particularly at the point where I thought I’d only managed to pick up half the stitches, and the other half appeared to be laddering…

Mercifully, that proved not to be the case, and I managed to get all the stitches back onto needles, get a controlled unravel to even the round out, and then start knitting back out. Did I mention Second Glove Marks I & II had their cuff knit from the wrist out (hand started with provisional cast-on) because I was afraid of running out of yarn? I ended up using the reserve yarn for Second Glove Mark IIA (Cuff), since it was in bigger pieces than the twice-used ‘real’ yarn.

Alas, no photos were taken of the Franken-rescue process, as I was too busy panicking, picking up stitches, flinging off winter layers (I overheat when I panic), tap-dancing precariously along the outer edge of my abilities, knitting maniacally and then quivering gently as the adrenaline filtered away. Now all I have to do is sew the ends in, firmly this time. Because now, it’s winter.

Swings and Roundabouts

No, this is not a post about playgrounds, although while I was on holiday I did pay a brief visit to the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere. (Well worth a visit. I especially enjoyed the Archimedes’ Screws, reminding me as they did of piston-filling fountain pens.)

Rather, I thought I would start my fourth blogging year (can you believe it?) with some exciting news on the Simplicity Front. Remember the epic quilt of craziness I slogged away at in my Year of Finishing Things? I finished it.

Newport Hill Climb finish line

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am now an official card-carrying member of that mysterious cadre, People Who Finish Things. (All right, there isn’t a card. But there should be. Maybe I’ll make one. I’ll even finish it…)

Not only did I finish the Giant Quilt of Craziness, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I also delivered it to the intended recipient and it is no longer in my house. I do still have the scraps, but I am intending to make a hussif with them as a permanent reminder to myself never to begin such an enormous and ambitious project again.

So far so good. The house is less one large sewing project, which is a good step in the direction of simplicity. But… what you lose on the swings you make up on the roundabouts.

On the Merry-go-round at Deepwater Races - Deepwater, NSW, c. 1910 G Robertson-Cuninghame from The State Library of New South Wales

There’s the Box. The ancestral box which came down to me from my grandmother via my mother (the latter, I am happy to say, is not deceased, but rather, well ahead of the pack when it comes to pruning).

The box started out as three bags full (which should give you some idea of what was in it, if this didn’t). Actually, four bags full – there was a small one hiding behind one of the big ones. What it worked out to, once I had cunningly smuggled it home in my luggage (and the Caped Gooseberry’s luggage, obviously) was a 60L clear plastic storage container full to lid-not-fitting with yarn. “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” Instant stash (although not SABLE, unless I pop my clogs well before my odometer ticks over to three-score and ten).

Not all of it is actually wool: some of it is 100% acrylic (I am shocked, Gran, shocked) and some of it was made up of worn out slippers and odd sleeves, button bands etc. Some of it was a Gordian Knot of odds and ends partially wound into little balls and partially wound into each other. This was gradually unwound over the course of three days with the help of The Occasional Visitor. (Alexander may have had a swift solution to his knotty problem, but I’d like to see him try to knit with it afterward.)

Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot.

Deceased slippers and assorted body-parts aside, I am welcoming this boxful into my home. Why? Because the point of simplicity isn’t to have as little as possible of anything. The point of simplicity is to have just enough of the right things – that’s lagom – and for me the right things include knitting wool. It makes me happy, and I make it into useful things for keeping people warm and well-dressed.

But fear not! I have by no means given up on pruning, or on Finishing Things (details to follow). In the meantime, I have large quantities of mystery yarn to test for fibre content. By which I mean setting bits of it on fire. So much happiness, from just one box…



Yarn makes me happy

SABLE: a common knitting acronym that stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.

“At some point in a dedicated knitter’s career, he hits this point of yarn ownership. He discovers that he has so much yarn that even if he were never to buy even one more ball or skein, and even if he were to knit full-time from now until the hour of his death, he couldn’t knit it all in his lifetime. This amount of yarn is highly variable, of course, and depends on factors such as knitting speed and the age of the knitter in question.

Achieving the state of SABLE is not, as many people who live with these knitters believe, a reason to stop buying yarn, but for the knitter it is an indication to write a will, bequeathing the stash to an appropriate heir.

from At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women who Knit Too Much
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot