Silkenshine linked to these fine knitted projects from Women for Women:  It’s a worthy cause, and they have nice knitted things at reasonable prices.

She also suggests that it could be Mittuary rather than Sockuary. Either way, I will now finish the saga of the sock and mitten. On Thursday I gave you a link for the tricky bit of the heel. If you are making a mitten rather than a sock, though, there is no tricky bit. You do your ribbed cuff, knit a little stockinette, and then begin the thumb gusset. (The British TV show Coupling uses the word “gusset” in a way that suggests that there is something indecent about this word. All I can say is that I have no idea what that might be. In clothing construction, it is a perfectly innocent word. However, if this word has rude overtones where you live, you could also use the term “gore” for this part of your mitten. And please explain to me what “gusset” means, because I think I am missing that whole set of jokes in Coupling.)

Start the thumb gusset with an m1. That stands for “make one” and means you pick up a stitch between two stitches. Unless you have a pattern going on in your mitten, it doesn’t matter where you start it in the round, because you are going in rounds and this is the first shaping you have done. Wherever you do it, that is where your thumb will be. Now knit clear around again and m1 before the first m1. K1 directly above the original m1. M1. You now have 3 more stitches than you did before. Knit one round plain, then do another increase round: m1 right before the last m1, k3, m1. Keep doing this — a plain round and an increase round — till you have a gusset of the size you want. I normally do 4 increase rounds. With the original m1, that means I have increased 9 stitches.

Now here’s the thing about the numbers. You can increase more or less than this. Mittens for little children might be fine with no gusset. More plain rows between the increases give you a more elegant look. And obviously, it makes a difference if you are using laceweight merino or rug yarn. However, if you are planning to make two identical mittens (always a good idea — Elizabeth Zimmerman recommends going ahead and making three since one will probably get lost), you must remember just exactly what you did with the gusset.

I solve this problem with the number 4. When I make a plain basic mitten in ordinary wool, I knit 4 rows before beginning the gusset, and do four increase rows. Since I always use 4, I have no trouble remembering. If 4 works for you, great. Otherwise, write down what you end up with on the first mitten, so you can do the same on the second one.

You may have noticed that these instructions rely on your being able to see your m1 stitches. If you have trouble with this, as you may with very fluffy yarn, you can use stitch markers, count, or do the thumb gusset in a different color or pattern (a traditional touch that probably helped with the whole gusset question).

Having finished the gusset to your satisfaction, knit across those 9 or however-many new stitches with a scrap of yarn and keep going with your mitten. When you finish the top (just like a sock toe, unless you normally do something exotic for your sock toes), go back and pull out the scrap yarn and put those stiches on a couple of dpns. Knit up your thumb and finish it off just the same way you did the top of the mitten.You are now through with your mitten.

If you don’t like the scrap yarn, you can put the thumb stitches on a holder and cast on an equal number to replace them before continuing with the hand. In that case, you put the stitches from the holder onto your dpn and pick up the stitches across the cast-on bit in order to get the stitches for the thumb. Some people even put the hand stitches on a holder and do the thumb before continuing with the hand. It doesn’t matter. This is Liberty Hall.

Now you can do both socks and mittens reliably without having to follow a written pattern. The great benefit of this, in my mind, is that you can use up scraps of yarn, try out new stitches, or fit in intarsia pictures of wolves if you feel like it.

My husband had to be at work at 5:00 this morning, so I was up at 4:15 cooking his breakfast and grating palm sugar for his coffee. Am I not a good wife? He has spent every evening of the past week working on my car, so I could have it for my Saturday morning errands, so he is also a good husband.

But this does mean that I have a couple of extra hours today. It is the perfect opportunity to clean out my crafts cupboard. Then I will be able to spend the rest of the day knitting without feeling slothful.