Watch as the intrepid knitter negotiates the tubes and bends of finger-down gloves without a pattern!
Or even a gauge swatch.
Gloves are one of the trickiest knits to fit well. They need to fit snugly, but not too tightly. The fingers need to be long enough but not so long that they're awkward at the fingertips. Those little tubes have a small tolerance for error.
Yarn for gloves should be smooth and strong and soft. Sock yarn works pretty well, but I usually prefer sport or DK weight. I like wool/silk blends for their combination of warm, lightness, and strength.
Gloves should be knit more tightly than hats or sweaters, but perhaps not quite as tightly as socks. If you're knitting with sock yarn, choose the recommended needle size or the same size needle you would use to knit socks. If you're knitting with DK or sport yarn, choose a needle a few sizes smaller than the one recommended on the label.
Cast on one stitch for the first finger. I like to knit my fingers in pairs using magic loop or two circs, but you can also knit them singly if you prefer.
Row 1: Knit in the front and back of your single stitch twice for a total of 4 stitches. Divide the four stitches for circular knitting.
Round 2: Knit in the front and back of each stitch for a total of 8 stitches.
Round 3: Knit
The next step is to guess how many stitches around you'll need for your index or ring finger. The aim here is to get glove fingers to fit each of your fingers. The index and ring fingers tend to be about the same size, smaller than the thumb or middle finger but bigger than the pinkie. By knitting those fingers first, you have a good chance of hitting the right diameter for at least some of your fingers.
First, guess your gauge (5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 stitches per inch). If you have small hands, your target (depending on your gauge) will be (10, 12, 14, 16, 18) stitches. If you have medium hands, your target will be (12, 14, 16, 18, 20) stitches. If you have large hands, your target will be (14, 16, 18, 20, 22) stitches.
Round 4: Increase evenly across the round to get your target number of stitches.
Knit a couple of inches and then try the tubelet on the fingers of the intended wearer.
If the tubelet fits any of the fingers snugly but comfortably, eureka! you have a finger.
If the tubelet is too big or too small for any of your fingers (this has never yet happened to me, but it could), guess how much bigger or smaller it would need to be to fit your index or ring finger. Rip out the tubelet and repeat the process until you have a finger.
Now keep knitting the finger until it is long enough. It should be a little (maybe a quarter of an inch) too short because the finger will stretch part of the hand to accommodate itself. For the thumb, measure to the top part of the hand where the thumb joins.
When you have your first pair of fingers, select a different target finger. The middle finger is about 20% bigger than the index and ring fingers, the thumb about 25% bigger, and the little finger about 20% smaller. Give or take, depending on the hand of the person you're knitting for.
Put your finished fingers on holders and keep making tubelets until you have snug homes for all your fingers:
When you've finished all your fingers, string an index finger, a middle finger, and a ring finger together onto your needles like this:
The fingers need to be joined together where they meet. Some people suggest that you knit the edge stitches of adjacent fingers together. I find that this leaves a hole, which I don't like. I take the four edge stitches of each finger (two on the front needle, two on the back) and graft them to the four edge stitches of the adjacent finger, leaving all stitches on the working needles.
The grafting is fiddly and time-consuming, satisfying to the knitting perfectionist, but probably onerous to everyone else. If you don't want to graft, just tuck the loose ends of yarn inside the fingers. When you've finished the gloves, you can go in and sew up any apparent holes.
When you have the three fingers together, knit a couple of rounds, a quarter inch or so, and then join the pinkies to the other fingers.
Knit one round with all four fingers.
Next round: *K3, k2 tog*
This will eliminate about 20% of the stitches. Knit a couple more rounds, then try the gloves on. If they look like they're going to be at all loose around the palms, do some more decreases. Keep decreasing, trying on, and knitting plain until you have a nice fit for the palm.
Note that I put the pinkies on the inside in this photo. This is the wrong way to do it. Put the pinkies on the outside and the thumbs on the inside. It makes the gloves easier to try on.
Knit straight until the palm of the glove comes down to the spot where the thumb joins.
Join the thumb in the exact way that you joined the other fingers. Place markers one stitch on the hand side of the former thumb stitches. You will use these stitches to make matched decreases every 3 rounds or so until you have eliminated all the former thumb stitches.
Keep knitting until all of the thumb stitches are gone. Try on the glove. With luck, it should be about wrist length by now. If not, continue even until it is.
Next round: *K3, k2tog* cheating enough so that your total number of stitches on each glove is an even multiple of 4.
Change to needles 2 or 3 sizes smaller than your working needles. Finish with a couple of inches of k2, p2 ribbing.