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Dear Ann,

Here’s a stop, drop, and knit design for you:


I thought a lot about these mitts that Gale Zucker was wearing when I saw her earlier this week.  Gale is a living rebuke to my theory that fingerless mitts only exist because knitters like to make them. A location photographer, Gale would need fingerless mitts even if she weren’t a knitter.


Gale’s newly released Trip Mitts are rectangles, knitted flat, in a simple welted stitch pattern. They start with a provisional cast-on and end with a three-needle bind-off. (My favorite bind-off!) The bind-off is worked in a contrasting color, and placed off-center, so that the functional necessity of the bind-off becomes a graphic element. The thumb opening is a buttonhole. If you used a reflective yarn for the bind-off, these mitts would be fantastic for walking the dog or riding a bike at night. The Trip Mitts are calling to me, loudly, so today.

Get Ready for Holiday Knitting
Two yarns we love for Trip Mitts! Thanks for your purchases. They support everything we do here at MDK.
By Neighborhood Fiber Co.
By Spincycle Yarns

Teachable Moments

The highlight of my day was a visit from Ina Braun, a passionate and expert knitting teacher. A few posts back, when I was back-stitching the sleeves onto the body of my Monomania cardigan, Ina jumped into the comments with sound advice to set in the sleeves using mattress stitch. (Which I did.) Ina also imparted the intriguing news (news to me, anyway) that if mattress stitch is worked a half-stitch in from each edge instead of a whole stitch (as I was taught, and have always done), the seam is more flexible, less bulky on the wrong side, and nearly invisible on the right side.

While Ina was in the house, I switched on the KayCam, jumped onto the Periscope app, and broadcast 17 minutes of priceless Ina instruction on mattress stitch. She starts out demonstrating a typical mattress stitch seam–worked one whole stitch in–and then pulls it out and shows the better, sleeker way.

It’s fascinating television for mattress stitch-heads (you know who you are). (Hands up if you didn’t know how to do it this way! Hands up if you’ve always done it that way without ever thinking about it!) Ina also covers the life-changing magic of Clover Wonder Clips, and the importance of storing them properly in jam jars.

One fun thing about Periscope is that during the live broadcast, the audience can write in questions, and you can answer them on the spot. The recording then stays on the app for 24 hours before disappearing (or something). But you can save the video yourself and do whatever you like with it. Living in the future!

Ina has my everlasting thanks for taking the time to set me straight on mattress stitch. She also set Olive straight on how to greet visitors in a kinder, gentler, and overall less terrierizing way. Wish I’d gotten that on video.  Hauling Olive out of her crate was very Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  (Ina was Marlin Perkins, I was Jim Fowler, and Olive was the crocodile.)

I hope there are more how-to videos to come, and I promise to work on getting better at making them.





  • Thank you for this. I have a question. One LYS owner I know suggested everything be knitted with a selvedge edge. Would this make all of this a lot easier, or would the finished product look so different this isn’t a good idea for sweaters and the like?

    • Your LYS owner may or may not know this (or may not have communicated this properly), but a selvedge edge just means that you are working the selvedge with some intent other than keeping it “in pattern.” So, if you’re knitting something in which the edge will remain exposed (like for a scarf or blanket), the selvedge is often slipped every other row, to create an edge that looks like a chain, which is nicer than the weirdness you’d normally get at the edge if you just work it like you worked the rest of the row.

      If you’re planning to seam the edge using mattress stitch, you do not want a slipped stitch edge, whether you’re keeping a whole stitch inside the seam or a half stitch. First, you don’t *need* to, because keeping that edge attractive is unnecessary, but also because it messes with the tension of the 2nd stitch in. SEcond, because the row length of a slipped stitch is twice that of the rest of the row, you won’t get an invisible seam if you try to seam 1/2 a stitch. If you plan to use a whole stitch, and you’re working with a knit/purl stitch pattern, just keep that selvedge stitch in stockinette, and it’ll be a whole lot easier to seam for the same reason you place increases and decreases at least a stitch in from the edge. A stockinette fabric will certainly be able to be seamed with a 1/2 stitch. A non-stockinette fabric, or one done in colorwork may or may not look great with a 1/2 stitch seam.

      For reverse stockinette fabric, you can maintain the continuity of the purl bumps by using a whole stitch from one edge, and half a stitch from the other. (I know–who knew?)

      I use a 1/2 stitch seam for sock gussets, when I’m knitting socks that have to be knit flat to that point (intarsia patterns, like argyles are one example). I use a full stitch for the back of the leg, though, in part because the relative bulk of the seam isn’t as noticeable, but also to maintain the stitch pattern of the argyle at that point.

      • I actually slip every edge, regardless of whether it will be exposed or not, and seam with mattress stitch every edge that needs seaming. My seams look great with this method, and are very quick to seam.
        knit or purl does not make a difference
        I will try seaming on the half stitch, but I think that it may work less well with slipped edges.
        Besides, my seams are not that bulky, because of the slipping

        • Benedetta … the slipped stitch covers two rows … and if you split the stitch you could call it half a stitch taken in on account of it stretching over the two rows … still in the end one full stitch from each edge … it also makes that bar that you are picking up a little looser seam line on account of the slipped stitch … but perhaps splitting “hairs” here … report back if you try it … cheers! And beautiful seams in 2016!

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        • Benedetto … the slipped stitch does work out quite well … the split stockinette stitch and even split reverse stockinette stitch work even better … report back when you’ve tried it … willing to bet it will change the possibilities you consider!!! Seam faster!!! Seam better!!! May 2016 seam up fabulously!

  • OMGosh I’m so glad I watched every minute of this wonderful class. Mattress stitch is my least favorite aspect of knitting; it’s clunky and (IMHO) wasteful. I know there is a time and a place for it but now I have an option. Thank you and Ina.

  • While you are contemplating fingerless mitts, take yourself to the nearest H&M, and buy some of their thin stretchy gloves which cost next to nothing and are found in a bin near the register. Wear them as an under layer beneath the fingerless gloves, and suddenly the whole thing makes much more practical sense. The H&M ones are the best of their kind. Once they are inside the fingerless mitts, the whole ensemble will come on and off as a single unit and your fingers will be much warmer.

  • Thank you so much for this! Always something new to learn. Fun to hear your voice.

  • KayCam! More of this please, I don’t care what you film, just more of you please. I am not a knitter, as you know, but I am a sewer and I was riveted at the nerdy detail here…..marvellous stuff. Ax

  • I actually had always done all seaming, including mattress stitch, in this way – splitting the seam-stitch – until decades later I finally read some actual instructions which said to use a whole stitch. Even though I couldn’t for the life of me understand why, I figured they must know best (because they are published, right?) and switched to that method. Never as happy with the result. Thank you for the validation to return to my original instincts.

    Also, I was taught by my seamstress mother to pin seams together in “halves,” especially when sewing a sleeve into an armhole.

    Moral of the story? I need to trust that I am a flippin’ GENIUS.

    Also, mothers know the best way to do everything. (But we already knew that, right?)

    • You are a genius! Trust your instincts is a lesson in itself.

  • Wow, is Ina great!! So clear and easy to follow, I hope there are many more of these. What a great post, almost makes me want to make a monomania sweater myself. Wonderful job ladies!

  • As a born & raised Michigander, I found the idea of fingerless mitts cold & downright risky. However, when we moved to Oregon I could totally see how well they would work for chilly, not cold, weather. I made a pair & got a lot of use out of them. Be thoughtful about yarn choice! I made a pair with a lovely but tender yarn and they practically felted. Not a great look. Use a sturdy workhorse yarn.

  • Yes please, more techy cam classes! xx (Thank you for the link to the adorable mini sweater! Now I can hardly wait to see where it will show up next! I’ve always dreamed of filling up a little tree with wee little knitted mittens and sweaters or making a laundry line of wee little clothes.)

  • Wow, this is a mind blower and I can’t wait to try it out. I am a little confused that at first she seems to take one bar from each side, but later it looks like she is taking two bars from each side. Do I take one or two at a time? I also guess that means patterns that say to use a garter edge to help with seaming are NOT. And Kay will be up for an Oscar next year.

    • Only on the first one is it the top bar only … after that always the bar that sits behind and the slanting top bar … we will zoom in much more effectively next time … happy seaming in 2016!

  • Just a heads up for anyone with an iPad or iPhone and an Apple TV set top box: I did an AirPlay to my big TV and it was much easier to see what Ms. Braun was doing.

    • OMG … that’s even more amazing … life size live version … thanks for the tip Mary … #next!

      • You’re welcome; and now I’ve spent several hours looking at your journal ?

  • Thank you both! This couldn’t have come at a better time as I am mattress-stitching log-cabin squares like a maniac all weekend to get a blanket into priority mail by Monday. I’ve always done it this way but knew deep down that it wasn’t the normally recommended method and lived in fear that I was pulling a fast one and that all projects would unexpectedly dissolve at the seams one day, exposing my foolishness—and possibly my chubby person. Now, please put up a video demonstrating the fastest way to get a border on this thing.

    • Log cabin squares are garter stitched? Might not want to split the edge stitch … that’s another chapter … as for an edging … once around with the crochet hook and a HDC will give you a clean sturdy edge … seam faster!

      • Pam … let me know what kind of edges you have … I might have to periscope that for you sooner than my Film Director with the KayCam can get to it … or call me via my website and we can sort it out on FaceTime perhaps … seam faster!

        • Goodness! Thank you for being so immediately concerned. Yes, the log cabin square sides are varied—some vertical and some horizontal garter stitch. Honestly, I’ve just been digging the needle into the side of the outer stitch until I capture a couple of sturdy-feeling bits, and it seems to work. I think your suggestion about an HDC edge would likely be fastest. I’d love to knit a garter stitch border but I really don’t think I have the time. This was supposed to be a going-off-to-college-back-in-August blanket for my nephew, and if I let the second deadline (Christmas) pass I can see it languishing until he gets married in a decade or so.

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  • Thank you, Kay and Ina! I watched it all and was totally engrossed. Wish I had something to stitch up right away. I have one question, regarding the bottom of the seam. Whether I am working one stitch in on each side or one-half stitch in (I do whatever looks best for the stitch pattern, so it varies), I have trouble getting the bottom edge of the seam tight and neat. Lately, I’ve been taking the cast on tail and bringing it up through the back of the bottom stitch of the edge above it and then picking up bars from the side I’m attaching. My thought is that just pulling the cast on tail straight from the edge doesn’t line up the edges properly. Maybe if I combine this with just picking up one bar for the first join, it will look neater. Or should I just use the tail straight without putting it through the back, if picking up one bar on the first stitch will solve the problem?

    • Hello Susan, Have you tried the figure 8 join? I find it usually works for me.

    • Susan … what cast on did you use … does your slip knot tighten from the tail or from the skein (matters when using the knitted cast on) … but you should always have it tightening from the tail of the loop … are you taking the tail to the opposite edge … chalking up another one to the list for the KayCam … we will be busy at this rate … but keep the questions coming … fodder for the knitting files!!! If you’d like to send me a photo of what it looks like I might be able to better advise you … contact via the website … seaming fabulosity in 2016!!!

  • wonderful video! Thank you! I avoid sewing like the plague but this makes me want to give it a try. 😉

  • Forgive my ignorance, but what does H&M stand for? The glove idea sounds perfect.

  • Thank you! This is a great tutorial. Usually I just eyeball the seam as I go, mostly taking a whole stitch, but sometimes a half. I will be more systematic in the future.

    • You and me, both. I’m so seat-of-the-pants about everything. However, I’ve been helping a couple of people learn to knit and I realize I need to improve not just my skills but my knowledge, too. I feel sorry for anyone trying to learn from me–I’m always having to figure something out myself before I can show them how.

  • Kay, could you be persuaded to do a Periscope video on how you make your applied i-cord border with two straight needles?

    • Tammy … jumping right in until our next rendez-vous with the KayCam … google it and there are lots of youtube videos for any sort of edge you want to attach it to … will put it on the list to periscope … and that list is already growing by the looks of it!!! Knit faster!

  • What did she do to our Olive?

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      • Dear Brenda … I released the demons of her past and showed her that she can live without being in fear of strangers because her human is in charge and will handle it … she is prematurely grey in her face because she has stressed for 6 years over things she could and should not control!!! She kissed my face and let me hold her and rub her belly less than five minutes after “said” moment!!! She is all the better off for it going forward!

  • Just reading this Saturday night. I was so bummed out yesterday when I had to miss the Periscope (yes, I would have stayed extra at work to make up the time) due to phone troubles. Thankful for the video, though, that I just was able to see. It was wonderful! Maybe more of a close up in the future, if that is possible, would make how to sew more clear.

    So thrilled and excited that I just caught the brief Periscope of Ann at a southern Christmas party; and, Kay your voice is lovely!

    Thanks, ladies. Looking forward to more videos. (MDK — the movie…) 😉


    • PS — This was a nice pause from the linen stitch, no?

  • I laughed way too hard at the Mutual of Omaha reference….

  • Am I really the first one commenting about the Bonne Maman lid? I’m pretty sure it’s the JELLY that has blue lid, to distinguish from the JAM under red lids.

    H&M: Hennes & Mauritz? Largest clothing retailer on the planet. Second? Zara. Third, Uniqlo, but 75% of their business is in Japan. Let that sink in. H&M is huge. Uniqlo OWNS Japan.

    I am writing this at midnight instead of wrapping the presents other people have sent my children. Feeling grinchy.

    • Uniqlo totally owns Japan. . . I miss my Uniqlo :-((

  • Wonderful! I have some sleeves languishing right now. Perfect timing.
    Love the clover clips. I bought a hundred on amazon. I use them for everything.
    May I offer you a pro tip on iphone filming? Good. Hold the phone sideways. It will give you the wide angle.
    And some tripod options here:
    Isn’t periscope fun? Nomnompaleo was my first.

  • Thanks for the instruction, but I have to get on you for Vertical Video Syndrome!

    Please watch this important announcement 😉

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