Friday, October 12, 2007
Last week sometime I mentioned my current House Pattern for wristers. It's an easy pattern, and as a result, is an excellent template for playing with yarns. It's also a good pattern for cranking out quick gifts or for quickly outfitting a cold-handed friend or family member.
On the right, you can see a photo of a few of the wristers. They are simple tubes with a big buttonhole slit for the thumb. So what if they're simple? They're functional, warm, and fun to make. The ribbing makes them elastic enough to fit a variety of hand sizes.
Last weekend, I was out hiking in cool weather. Not really cold, but in the 40's and rather windy. By the end of the day, clouds had rolled in, and the occasional raindrop or snow-blob was added to the mix.
I wore my wristers. They kept my hands quite toasty, which helped keep the rest of me toasty. I brought along several pairs, and doled them out to other members of the hiking party.
We also wore other hand-knitted wool items such as hats. For the cool but not cold weather we were in, the items worked very well. I'll probably share the current House Pattern(s) for hats one of these days. It turns out that hats are a good way to use up a 2-ounce blob of variegated dyed roving that turns into a 2-ounce batch of variegated yarn. Variegated dyeing and variegated yarns are so much fun, but dang, they're hard to use effectively.
My current no-brainer pattern for wristers. Wristers are also known as fingerless mitts, wristwarmers, pulsewarmers, and probably by a few other names.
Gauge: about 3.5-3.75 stitches per inch. Don't worry about getting too exact. Anything between, say, 3-4 stitches per inch ought to work.
Don't worry about a gauge swatch. The actual item is your gauge swatch. Knit a few inches and put it on to see if you like the fit and fabric. If yes, continue. If not, adjust the yarn, needle size, and/or pattern and try again.
Yarn: This is the fun part. You need a yarn or combination of yarns to get the above gauge. It will end up being about bulky weight. You'll need about 80-90 yards, give or take a bit. I must confess that I don't really pay attention when I use combinations of leftovers. However, I can make a pair of wristers from one generous skein of bulky yarn. A skimpy skein will necessitate short wristers.
I usually choose at least two different yarns. Go ahead and play! Choose thick and thin yarns, either one or both of the strands. Choose variegated yarns. Choose a mixture of yarns. Experiment with color and texture and composition. Play with your leftovers.
Some examples of yarn combos I've chosen:
(a) two variegated thick and thin yarns. One was a 2-ply in shades of blue. The other was a singles yarn in bright colors.
(b) one strand of brown alpaca, one strand of a variegated thick-and-thin wool/mohair/silk yarn in shades of green (for the camo-loving family member)
(c) one strand of brown alpaca, one strand of variegated wool in shades of orange and purple (this was an oddball of beige yarn that I unevenly overdyed orange, then overdyed purple. It is actually quite pretty.)
(d) one strand of gray wool/mohair, one strand of blue wool (simple yet effective)
My next pair is probably going to be one strand of bulky black 2-ply wool, one strand of a thin boucle mostly-mohair pink/purple variegated yarn.
I could do stripes, but I usually let the variegated yarn do the work for me.
Needles: A set of dpn's that will give you the gauge you need. If you'd rather use the 2-circulars or the magic-loop circular method, go for it!
Cast on 24 stitches. Join. Do a k1, p1 rib for 5.5". (Rib pattern: *knit 1, purl 1* ad infinitum)
On the next round, cast off 3 stitches. It can be any 3 stitches in a row. Sometimes I choose a p-k-p sequence, and sometimes I choose a k-p-k sequence. I usually choose 3 stitches somewhere in the middle of the round, but it really doesn't matter.
On the following round, cast on 3 stitches over the gap.
Continue to knit (in the k1p1 rib pattern) for 2 more inches. Then, cast off in pattern.
Make the second wrister if you want one for your other hand.
The circumference is about 6-7" (since it's elastic ribbing, I don't usually measure this). The part below the thumb is 5.5", the part above the thumb is 2", and the total length ends up being around 8".
Variations and Comments
If your yarn is finer or thicker, or you want a wrister that is bigger or smaller, you can easily add or subtract stitches from the pattern. Instead of 24 stitches, use 22 or 28 or 30 or whatever. Make sure it's an even number, though, to maintain the k1p1 rib. Make the thumb opening about an inch, but use an odd number of stitches. So, for example, if your gauge is 4-5 stitches per inch, and you're using 32-ish stitches for the wristers, make the thumb opening 5 stitches wide.
I've tried making these top-down instead of bottom-up. However, I like the way the cast-on fits at the wrist, and I like the way the cast-off snugs up the top.
You can easily make these a bit shorter or longer to fit the preferences of the wrister-wearer.
If you hide the ends well, the wristers are reversible.
This pattern is a good basis for mittens, too. Put the thumb stitches on a yarn holder instead of casting them off. Continue the k1p1 rib on the hand until it's almost long enough (5-6" after the thumb), then decrease (2 rounds of SSK will get you down to 6 stitches). Pick up the thumb stitches plus one on each side (8 total), knit (k1p1 rib, of course) until the thumb is long enough, then decrease (one round of SSK is enough). I'll give a more formal pattern for this some other time.
I do make finer and more complicated wristers. Those are fun, too, and often better for cold weather or more formal occasions. However, I like the quickness and simplicity of this pattern. I like its versatility and its potential for playing with yarn combos. It's a good use for oddballs and yarn remnants, especially the weirder yarns.
Give them a try!