Pattern Review: Convertible Mittens, aka fingerless gloves with mitten shells
Both Broadstreet and Urban Necessity are gloves with partial fingers and a mitten shell that can flip up to cover fingers, or down to allow for more manual dexterity. Broadstreet is knitted with sock weight yarn, while Urban Necessity uses worsted. The mitten shells are designed differently. Broadstreet begins with a ribbed flap, then goes to stockinette all the way around, and ends with an i-cord loop to button the shell down. Urban Necessity begins with 1X1 ribbing for about an inch, and has no fastener for the shell.
I've knit Broadstreet twice. It calls for a sock weight yarn, and I've made it using Cherry Tree Hill supersock and Alchemy alpaca (for me this knits as a DK weight yarn). This pattern has lots of fans, including one of my roommates, but I am not in love with it. After you knit the ribbed cuff, you are instructed to increase all the way around for the hand. I found this made the glooe base look puffy and unattractive. The thumb shaping is really great on this glove and I like the purl ridge that defines the gusset. The mitten shell on Broadstreet is not the best. The ribbed flap doesn't seem to have any fuction, and neither consistently stays up or down. For me, at least, I never bother using the loop to keep the mitten flap buttoned down. The shell stays down fine when it's not in use.
I have two main problems with this pattern: sizing and directions. This is a one size fits some pattern. If it helps, it fits broader hands better than narrow ones. I would estimate the glove fits a women's large through a men's medium.The other problem is the blithe "make a second mitten for the right hand, reversing the directions." While it's not actaully that difficult to reverse the pattern shaping; hitting that line made me grind to halt each time. It would be helpful if the pattern indicated where are the points that you are going to reverse. Also, I don't feel that the written directions are always the clearest. However, the schematic at the bottom of the pattern is fabulous, and helps clear up the written directions. It can also serve as a great guide for reworking the pattern for different weight yarn or different sized hands. I found when I made the first glove, I ended up tweaking the pattern to make the body of the glove fit properly. This is great if you're making the glove for yourself, or the recipient is near by and doesn't mind you making them try on partially knitted gloves. I used one hank of Cascade sock yarn, and 2 hanks of Alchemy alpaca yarn.
I just finished knitting Urban Necessity out of Cascade Superwash. This pattern is done with worsted weight yarn rather than sock weight, so it knits up much faster. The pattern has some clever shaping bits, including cabling a few stitches to close up the gap between fingers and above the thumb gusset. I prefer how the mitten shell works on this pattern. There is no flap on the hell, and the bottom 3/4 inch of it is ribbed, which keeps it more snugly on when it's in use. The shell stays in place when folded back. I did not knit the cable pattern in the shell because I didn't feel like it. This used less than one skein of Cascade superwash (knitted in a size medium).
Because this is knitted in worsted weight, the additional bulk made the fingers a bit clunkier. However, the fingers are not so bulky as to be uncomfortable or unusable. It will be a matter of taste which one prefers. The pattern directions are clear, and this pattern comes in sizes from a women's small through extra large. One thing that is great about the sizing, is that it makes gift knitting easier.
Tips for both patterns For both patterns, you have to pick up stitches across the back of the glove to make the mitten shell. I suggest either putting the glove on yourself (or a friend) and gently picking up stitches onto a double point, or threading a piece of smooth contrast color waste yarn across the back of one glove, and then picking up stitches in the row above or below the waste yarn. Both methods help make sure the row of picked up stitches is straight. I used scrap yarn instead of stitch holders for the thumb stitches. I also ran a lifeline through my knitting when I reached the portion of the glove where you begin fingers. Doing the fingers can be fiddly the first time and having a life line makes ripping them out less aggravating.
In all these pictures, Urban Necessity is the solid fuschia/purple on the left and Broadstreet are the lighter variagated purple on the right.
Here they both are with the mitten shells activated. Note that Broadstreet's mitten shell is a little pointier, and the flap on its shell is up.
Shells are flopped down. They shells both lie fairly flat but you can see Broadstreet's flap sticking up randomly.
Here are the fronts with the shells down (forgive my death glare, I don't know why I was so angry looking)
The gloves flat with shells up. You can see the difference in the bottom part of the mitten shells again. Urban Necessity has 1X1 ribbing at the base of thell, Broadstreet has a ribbed flap before the base of the shell.
To sum up, both patterns have pros and cons. In my opinion, if someone is new to glove knitting, making a gift, or doesn't feel comfortable tweaking a pattern on the fly, they should try Urban Necessity. For someone who wants their glove to be thinner, and doesn't mind potential pattern tinkering, Broadstreet is a good choice.