Learn Something New: The Palm Gusset

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.

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.

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

I recently saw an article in Interweave Knits all about thumb gussets, and I really like the palm gusset, shown in the photo below. 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.

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

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

To knit a palm gusset:
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 Interweave Knits Winter 2003 (For the entire article, click here.)

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 Interweave 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.


Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

21 thoughts on “Learn Something New: The Palm Gusset

  1. I’ll have to wait awhile before I tackle knitting gloves BUT the idea of a gusset seems perfect. I have a large hand and I couldn’t wear anything constricting. I will need to know how to make a standard pattern for an 8 inch hand fit my 9 inch measurement. I must say that I admire all of you who can just whip up whatever your minds can imagine. I LOVE this website!
    Wanda G.

  2. The directions given are not clear. My impression is that all the increases fall in the palm, but it states that there are increases on both the back of hand and palm sides. So — how does this differ from the regular thumb gusset? Don’t you still end up with diagonal lines on both sides?

  3. . I always struggled with thumb gusset and they never looked just right, this info certainly makes it much easier. Now my mittens will look and fit better. Thank you.

  4. It is not clear how to derive the necessary stitches for the palm gusset in the first place. You give 16 stitches as an example, but ow did you come up with that number? Is it to be a percentge, or a guess, or is there a standard?

  5. I also have a hard hand to fit, large palm, small wrist and short fingers. i hope to use this information to perfect the fit.. Is it possible to expand further on fitting? Thank you for the article.

  6. Thumb gussets are mandatory for a good fit, IMHO. I also prefer the side gusset to the palm gusset. For plain mitts this makes L and R hand mitts the same. Sure, the mitt quickly stretches to become either left or right handed but kids don’t notice this and for their mitts, this tends to distribute the wear

  7. I learned to do a thumb gusset last fall when knitting some bath mitts. I had tried to stay away from them before, opting not to knit gloves or mitts at all. LOL. It was so easy, and I can’t imagine taking the time to knit gloves or mitts without a gusset. I’ve knit several pair of mittens in wool for my MIL, who has rheumatoid arthritis. She uses them for driving. I’m now off to knit a pair of gloves. It’s really not hard. Just take it slow and make sure you have a good pattern to start with. Happy knitting!

  8. I imagine there are very few hands out there that fit a commercial pattern perfectly. Most patterns for gloves will suggest stitch counts for the gusset based on ?? Not sure what they are based on. Which is why I wrote instructions for measuring your hand so you can write a pattern to fit (your hand, your gauge). It is published at http://www.tkga.com and is available as a “members only” free download. Membership costs $30 a year, and includes a subscription to Cast On magazine. (please forgive me, interweave, for mentioning another publication on your site!) Just to be sure there is no misunderstanding, I did receive a flat fee for my pattern, and receive absolutely no compensation for downloads.

  9. Great article! My palm is 81/2′ wide, only 3 3/4″ long, with thumb sticking straight out almost 90 degrees. Any ideas on how many increases and how quickly to increase?


  10. I have yet to master a completely knitted glove. I have been crocheting the hand portion and knitting the wrist portion. I’m self taught as are many of my friends. This looks easy enough to follow. Thanks for sharing.