Making Mittens For A Smartphone

For those of us in the slightly inhospitable parts of the northern hemisphere, it’s freaking cold outside. Spring can’t come sooner, and smartphones won’t work if you’re wearing normal gloves. Smartphones will work if you sew a few bits of conductive thread into your gloves, but if you prefer mittens, you’re out of luck. That’s alright, because [Becky] at Adafruit has great guide for knitting your own smart phone mittens.

Intellectually, the concept of weaving fabric is fairly simple – it’s just interlaced threads that form a flexible sheet. Sewing, too, is fairly straightforward. Knitting, on the other hand, is weird. It’s a single string tied to itself that forms a 3D shell. If you’ve ever picked up a pair of knitting needles, you’ll soon realize whoever invented knitting is perhaps the greatest forgotten genius in all of human history. Lucky, then, that [Becky] has a lot of links that go through how to knit, and how to turn yarn into a pair of mittens with this pattern.

To make these mittens work with a smartphone, [Becky] is using a stainless conductive yarn stitched into the thumb and fingertips of the mitten. It works, and now you can use your touchscreen device no matter how cold it is.

32 thoughts on “Making Mittens For A Smartphone

  1. Those, living in “inhospitable parts of the northern hemisphere”,
    a) use headset (forget about missed calls, also keeps phone warm).
    b) do not text outside (phones tend to freeze, yes, true story)
    or just use something with actual buttons. (it is cold and I am fed up with modern phones).

    PS. Damn invented first world problems.
    PPS. What I see in the picture would not help much in -15C with wind.

    1. As a child, I came up with the idea that all of creation was made up of a weave of n-dimensional string woven into n+2 – dimensional constructs that could be abstracted as n+1-d surfaces and folded into n+2 dimensionial folds, all woven by som n^nth dimensional cosmic granny.

      matter and antimatter were represented by the “knits” and “perls” of said string, with all knits and pearls being made of the same stuff but topologically disting and interacting with the other higher-ordered constructs in was both observable and not from the structure of any particular part.

      bizzare structures such as black holes could be described as “cabling” where parts of the weave stay in continuity, but fold around each other.

      This, of course, led to the conclusion that the end of the universe would occur from either “the great unravelling” as the very fabric of nature came undone as one section was pulled slightly too hard – or alternatively the mothy cubpard, as parts of the universe quietly dssapear and become seperated from one another in a patchy, moth-eaten entropic dust

      1. You were probably a disturbed child. Still, you blew my mind and see your point of view.

        It’s getting more and more colder but I get rid of my gloves. I have big warm pockets to stuff my hands into. It’s easier to get my hands out when I need to type on my phone.

        By the way, typing on pushbuttons with frozen hands hurts much more than on a touchscreen.

  2. Any new Samsung phone has a super sensitive mode that works through gloves. If you’re gloves are too thick get a stylus. Or stop using the phone outside all together, you’re likely to break it that way anyways.

  3. Here’s a weird thought that apparently doesn’t apply in today’s world, if it’s that darn cold leave your phone in your pocket. Is it really THAT important that you comment on your friends most recent breakfast photo on facebook?.
    IMHO this post is not HAD appropriate. I’d be happier reading another “12 year old blinks led with arduino, parents think he is genius” type post.

    1. Try this experiment then. Take your unlined leather work gloves. You do have some…. right? No..? Go buy some then, they’re not expensive.

      Stick them in the freezer for a few hours what happens to them? What does it feel like if you put your hands in them?

  4. “If you’ve ever picked up a pair of knitting needles, you’ll soon realize whoever invented knitting is perhaps the greatest forgotten genius in all of human history. ”
    Solid f***in gold Benchoff

    1. What many folk don’t realize is that the knitting board (~=knitting spool) preceded knitting needles as a means of knitting. Modern knitting machines are a throw-back to the knitting board and work basically the same way. If you want to understand what is going on in knitting, start with a knitting board.

      Now whoever figured out that one could get the same result with a mere set of needles truly WAS a genius.

      String itself (including yarn and thread) is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. Who’d expect that you could merely twist fibers together to make something with considerable tensile strength and of any practicable length? Or that counter-twisting two or more such strings would yield rope that would not tend to untwist?

      String and rope enabled man to catch prey without endangering himself — i.e., trapping — thus providing himself high-quality protein food where otherwise he’d have to content with bugs and other slow critters for same.

      Mankind then learned to make 2-dimensional arrays of string (or yarn or thread). Knitting, netting, weaving, braiding, sprang, and all their myriad variants are among the many, many useful things mankind did with string. Now he could catch fish (and animals) in nets, clothe himself with knit, woven, or plaited fibers. None of this has changed much; we’ve merely come up with synthetic fibers and mechanical weaving and knitting machines.

  5. I love all this conductive thread stuff.

    When Adafruit started out the Lilypad stuff I thought it was pretty silly since know how to solder.
    But having seen just how many people are now building microcontroller-based objects then before, I’m all for it.
    And some of their things are just insane-crazy. Things you shouldn’t be able to make. (Or just shouldn’t!)

    ANYTHING that gets people to build things is great in my opinion. If it takes conductive yarn and sewing LEDs to micros, GREAT!

    Thanks for posting this.

        1. I’m used to a typewriter where you needed to change the ball to get italics.
          And it’s been enough years since I’ve last typed bare HTML that I’ve forgotten how to do it.

          So, lessthan-I-greaterthan means start italics. you relearn something new every day. Thanks.

  6. So, all you clever scoffing folks:

    How does one modify an existing set of gloves/mittens to work with a touch screen (without gouging it up by, say, putting a staple through the fingertip)?

    Is there a thin/unobtrusive/conductive (carbon fiber?) thread that we could just put a few stitches in a glove’s fingertip and be done? I know they sell conductive gloves, but they’re usually crap for really cold weather. Magnet wire maybe but…

  7. Yeah, that only works with mild winter conditions where I live, you want a weather proof shell with good insulation when mittens are required. Personally I store my phone in my coat sleeve/muff, the battery will freeze in outside pockets. Shame there isn’t a good way to build a transparent panel in a muff without sacrificing the insulation value.

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