Saturday, 2 November 2019

Afterthought thumb tutorial

In this photo tutorial, I show you how to knit an afterthought or 'peasant' thumb.* This type of thumb is used instead of a gusset, and is great for colour work designs where you don't want to disrupt the colour work with a gusset.

Before you begin:
  • I refer to 'mitt' throughout this tutorial, but the technique also applies if you're knitting mittens.
  • You can use DPNs or the magic-loop technique to create an afterthought thumb; if you are using a long circular needle for magic-loop, just use the two tips of the circular needle in place of the DPNs when picking-up the stitches above and below the waste yarn in Steps 6 and 7.
  • In addition to the materials needed to knit your mitts, you will also require a length (or two, if you're knitting both mitts before adding in the thumbs) of smooth waste yarn in roughly the same weight as the yarn used to knit the main body of the mitts.

What to do...


Step 1: Knit the mitt according to the pattern as far as the thumb placement point.



Step 2: Using a length of waste yarn, knit the thumb stitches from the left to the right needle. Use a smooth yarn of roughly the same weight as the main yarn (you'll be unpicking these stitches later, and you want the waste yarn to be easy to remove).



Step 3: Slip the stitches you knitted using the waste yarn from the right needle back to the left needle.



Step 4: Using the main yarn, knit the waste yarn stitches in pattern.



Step 5: Continue to knit the main body of the mitt as given in the pattern.



Step 6: Using a DPN, pick-up the thumb stitches in the row below the waste yarn (pick-up one stitch per stitch knitted in waste yarn). You should be picking-up the right leg of each stitch. If you are using a long circular needle for magic-loop, pick-up the stitches from the right end to the left, as shown.



Step 7: Using a second DPN, pick-up the thumb stitchess in the row above the waste yarn (again, pick-up one stitch per stitch knitted in waste yarn). You should be picking up the right leg of each stitch. If you are using a long circular needle for magic-loop, pick-up the stitches from the left end to the right.



Step 8: Carefully unravel the waste yarn from between the two rows of picked-up stitches.



Step 9: Using DPNs and the yarn that you will be using to knit the thumb, knit the stitches from the bottom DPN.



Step 10: Continuing to use the working yarn, pick-up and knit one or two stitches in the gap between the bottom and top DPN (the pattern should tell you how many stitches to pick-up at this point; if the pattern does not mention picking any stitches up at this point, I would recommend picking-up and knitting at least one, then decreasing it away on the next round - this closes up any gaps that could appear at the base of the thumb).



Step 11: Continuing to use the working yarn, knit the stitches from the top DPN.



Step 12: Continuing to use the working yarn, pick-up and knit the same number of stitches in the gap between the top and bottom DPNs as you did on the other side.



Step 13: Work the thumb in pattern, remembering to decrease away any extra stitches you picked up between the DPNs.



Step 14: Fasten off to reveal your completed thumb.


I hope you found this tutorial helpful. You can find this type of thumb in these patterns, which are all available in my Ravelry store:
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*Technically this is a 'forethought' thumb, as you use waste yarn to hold the thumb stitches while you knit the main body of the mitt/mitten, but it is still referred to as an afterthought thumb. For a true afterthought thumb, you'd skip the waste yarn placement and snip the live stitches to create the hole for the thumb.




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