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"Fledge is the stage in a young bird's life when the feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for flight. It also describes the act of a chick's parents raising it to a fully grown state." - Wikipedia

Two weeks behind schedule, I had stayed up late finishing it. Thanksgiving vacation was over. My middle daughter Flory was leaving the next morning; going back to the university and to her own apartment. I wanted her to have her birthday sweater before she left our nest. Flory tried it on right away. A perfect fit. Two skeins of yarn remained.

"Would you like a matching hat?" I asked. "Or mittens?"

"Gloves." she said. Then, gauging my reaction, she slowly added, "Or mittens."

Mittens are my specialty. Over the years, I have knit Flory many pairs. Gloves were out of my knitting comfort zone. But I knew gloves were what she really wanted.

Knitting for Flory is knitting for the grateful. Her birthday sweater is a fine example. It replaces the one I knit her almost a decade ago. Stretched out and threadbare, she still wears it. And when she was a teenager, a baby mitten I knit, hung over her bed. Would gloves capture a place of honor, too?

Much of winter knitting is about tubes. Hats, the simplest of the bunch, are short cylinders, the top formed by evenly placed decreases. Socks are long skinny hats. Short rows pooch out a heel. Increases create a gusset. Deceases shape toes the way they do hat tops. Mittens are socks, minus the heel, and each with a branch, the thumb. Both mitten and thumb end with hat top/toe decreases. Gloves are the most complex member of this gang, every one a five branched mitten. And that's why until Flory's request, I collected glove patterns and never knit them.

When graduating to the next knitterly step, say from hats to socks, or in this case, mittens to gloves, a stripped down pattern is recommended. It will guide you through unfamiliar techniques without losing you on the cables.

Knit Fledgling GlovesNoodling through my files for a Plain Jane glove, I found The Fledgling. Its buttoned garter cuff matched the garter detailing in Flory’s birthday sweater. What’s more, in my stash were two perfect buttons—-hand painted, die-cut wooden birds. The Fledgling Gloves, as the name suggests, proved to be an excellent starter pattern to follow. And jaunty enough, to be worn by my very own fledgling.

When knitting anything in pairs, after finishing the first one, it is best to proceed directly to the second one. Without delay, lest you forget an important detail of your recently acquired knowledge. And that's just what I did. After several evenings knitting, gaps were closed, loose ends woven in, and the sweet little bird buttons were sewn on.

Occasionally, I set up a small shrine to admire my knitterly triumphs. A lacy shawl is draped artfully over a chair. A cabled sweater is displayed, cables side out, on the dining room table. But the Fledgling Gloves were different. I wanted Flory to see what I made her right away. I wanted their warmth to guard her hands against the cold predicated that night. So I wrapped the pair in red tissue paper tied closed with a length of her birthday yarn. Then my husband and I headed down to the museum where she works.

Flory was sitting behind the front desk, ready to give a tour, if needed. Confident, grown-up. A short while later, on a break, she untied the red bundle. And just as I had hoped, she admired the garter cuff, the sweet little bird buttons, and the ten wooly fingers that made it a glove, not a mitten.

As you work on gifts for friends and relatives, may your warmth be loved. Happy holidays!

Glove Knitting Notes:

  • Pay attention to gauge. Gloves are a snugger fit than mittens.
  • Knitting on 4 needles rather than three will allow you to try them on as you work.
  • Before you load your thumb stitches on a stitch holder, bend it into circular shape to accommodate your thumb and allow for continued fitting needs.
  • To ease the knitting of fingers, place your inactive stitches on a long circular or divided evenly on 2 dpns and secure each end with point protectors

Other glove patterns you might like:

Almost gloves--a good place to start:

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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