What's the purpose of fingerless mitts?

Top: Fresco Fair Isle Fingerless Mitts by Pam Allen; bottom: Kathleen's fingerless mitts, based on the mitten Pattern in Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of  Patterns     

A reader asked this on our Facebook page the other day, and I though, "Good question!"

I love fingerless mitts, myself, but I must admit that when I first noticed them on the scene, I wondered where the fingers were.

My home office is in a room with two outside walls, so it can get chilly in the winter, I have two pairs of fingerless gloves, and I wear them all winter long. I need my fingers free to type and knit, so the fingerless mitts are perfect.

And I know it's counter-intuitive, but fingerless mitts really do keep my fingers warm. I don't know why; maybe there's a doctor out there who can explain that for me!

Basically, fingerless mitts are great for wearing anytime you need your fingers free for texting, typing, playing the piano, going to the ATM, dialing the phone, you get the idea.

Four years ago, the Knitting Daily community did a knit-along of the Fresco Fair Isle Mitts. I actually finished the pattern for this knit-along (!), and these mitts are my favorite. The yarn is so soft and warm; it's a 60% Wool, 30% Alpaca, 10% Angora mix. It's luscious.

My mistake in the Fresco Fair Isle Mitts

I made a mistake in my Fresco mitts, though, and I really wish I would fix it! Check out the photo at right. I got off on my checkerboard pattern on the right thumb, and I ended up with corrugated ribbing (one color for knits, and one for purls).

This stitch is inherently snug, and since I didn't realize what I was doing, I didn't loosen up. So I ended up with a fairly tight right thumb. It doesn't cut off my circulation or anything, but it's noticeably tighter than the left thumb.

I must have been watching a really good episode of CSI or Battlestar Galactica while I was knitting these. Seriously, BSG was so good that it caused me many a knitting error.

Anyway, if the ribbed thumb weren't smaller than the other one, I'd be fine with it being different, but I need to fix it. I can probably ravel it and use the same yarn, but I think I have leftover Fresco in my stash somewhere.

If you're still not convinced of the benefits of fingerless mitts, there's a compromise: the mitten-fingerless mitt combo.

The Juris Mitts: Your compromise between fingerless mitts and mittens

The Juris Mitts, shown at left, are fingerless mitts with a flip-top that cover your fingers. The thumbs are knitted completely, but I've seen these type of mittens with buttonholes put in the thumbs so the wearer can push their thumbs out for texting. Pretty clever.

Designer Alexis Winslow uses a small, toggle-type button to hold the mitt caps back, but I like to use a snap to cut down on the bulk.


Whichever type of mitt you choose, 'tis the season, so get knitting!

We have a few Ashbury Mitts kits left, too, so order them now before they're all gone.


P.S. What's your vote on fingerless mitts? Like or dislike? Cast your vote in the comments!

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