Learn Something New: Palm and Thumb Gussets Ultimate, How-To Guide

I always took the thumb gusset for granted. (If you're new to gussets, they're triangular-shaped areas of "extra" fabric that provide space in certain areas of a garment to allow freedom of movement.) Every pair of gloves, mittens, or fingerless mitts that I've knitted has had thumb gussets written into the pattern.

Here is an example of the palm gusset. Increases are worked every other round, only on the palm side of the glove, unlike other gussets.

The palm gusset. Increases are worked every other round, only on the palm side of the glove.

Then I started knitting a pair of mitts that didn't incorporate the gusset, and I discovered how crucial they are. I finished one mitt, tried it on, and immediately realized that I would never wear the finished pair. So I didn't finish them. I still have the project in a bag; my intention is to rip out the mitt to the wrist and put in a thumb gusset, and then finish the other mitt the same way.

I recently saw an article in Interweave Knits all about thumb gussets, and I really like the palm gusset, shown in the photo above. Here's an excerpt from that article:

Thumb Gussets

A thumb gusset is shaped like an inverted triangle positioned along the thumb side of the hand with the apex slightly above the wrist and the base hitting the thumb where it separates from the hand (illustrated below). The widest part of the gusset—or base of the triangle—should approximate the thumb circumference, which for adult mittens and gloves is almost always 3" (7.5 cm). If in doubt, wrap some of the cuff comfortably around the base of your thumb and count the stitches needed to encircle it.

The depth of the gusset is usually between 2" and 2½" (5 and 6.5 cm). All of the following gussets rely on increases to create the triangular shape, but they differ in their final appearance. The method you use to work the increases will further affect their appearance. To give the gusset a refined look, work directional increases, left-slanting on the right edge of the gusset and right-slanting on the left edge. Work the increases every two or three rounds until the gusset measures the desired width.

Palm Gusset

A palm gusset is unusual in that all of the stitches for the gusset are taken from the hand stitches. Symmetrical increases are used to replace the palm and back-of-hand stitches that form the gusset. Working the increases every other round creates a strong, graceful line arched across the hand.

To make this gusset, you'll need to do some easy calculations. First, determine the number of stitches needed for the gusset. If the number isn't even, round up (for a standard fit) or down (for a snug fit) to the nearest even number. Subtract this number from the total number of hand stitches and divide the remainder in half.

For our example, we used 16 gusset stitches, which left us with 22 hand stitches; half the designated hand stitches calculated to 11 stitches.

How to knit a palm gusset:

The thumb gusset (shaded) is a triangular-shaped area of extra stitches at the base of the thumb.

The thumb gusset (shaded) is a triangular-shaped area of extra stitches at the base of the thumb.

Set-up round:
Work half the designated hand stitches, inc 1, place marker (pm), work the designated number of gusset stitches (half these stitches will come from the end of the second needle, half will come from the beg of the third needle), pm, inc 1, work to end (for the remaining half of the designated hand stitches). *Knit 1 round even.

Inc round:
Work to first marker, inc 1, slip marker, work to next marker, slip marker, inc 1, work to end of round. Rep from * until there are 2 fewer than the original number. Work a few rounds even, if necessary, to bring the height of the gusset even with the place on your hand where the thumb separates from the palm.

Next round:
Work to marker, transfer gusset stitches onto a holder or waste yarn, use the backward loop method to CO 2 stitches over gap, work to end of round. Continue to the tips of the fingers as specified by your pattern, then work the thumb.

Distribute the gusset stitches evenly on 3 double-pointed needles. Join yarn at right edge of stitches, and work around to CO stitches at other edge of gusset stitches; use a fourth needle to pick up and knit 2 stitches at the base of the CO stitches to complete the round-there will be the original gusset stitches plus 2. Join into a round.

Dec Round 1: Work to 1 stitch before picked-up stitches, k2tog, ssk—2 stitches decreased. Finish as for basic gusset thumb.

—Pam Allen, from her Interweave Knits Winter 2003 thumb gussets article.

This article puts me in the mood to knit gloves; maybe I'll finish my mitts and use the palm gusset. Check out some of the glove patterns in the store and get motivated to knit gloves with me!


P.S. What do you think about thumb gussets? Yay or nay? Let us know in the comments.

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