Hand sizes

I had a conversation with my tech editor yesterday that went something like this:

Becky: Here’s my pattern!
Chris: Gee, your thumb gusset numbers look weird. I wish I had a reference for this sort of thing.
Becky: Golly, you’d think with the number of mittens, mitts, and gloves I’ve published that I’d have some sort of reference by now…

But apparently I don’t. In the interest of SCIENCE! I went through every hand pattern I’ve written and recorded the palm circumference and thumb gusset length.

hand gusset raw data

I wish these were at least SLIGHTLY more consistent… Different lengths for the same palm size can sometimes be attributed to needing the pattern to fit the mitt – cables, colorwork charts, etc… sometimes skew things a quarter of an inch or so. But these numbers are all over the place.

For the purposes of this discussion by “thumb gusset length” I mean the distance from where your wrist ends and your hand begins up to the webbing that joins your thumb to your hand – measured vertically along the edge of your thumb. This is the distance you need to knit your mitten/glove/mitt increases* before creating an opening for the thumb.

I averaged those numbers, and smoothed them out as best I could, and created this little chart:

Hand chart estimated sizes BeckyinVT

But it’s still just numbers I’m guessing at, based on my sense of understanding how hands are shaped.

Wanna help this be more scientific? Get out a tape measure, and record the following numbers:


Now go to this Google form and enter your data. Got a spouse and/or some kids? Maybe a friend who already thinks you’re crazy? Measure their hands too! All the raw data is available for anyone interested to see. In a month or so I’ll come up with some averages and create a newer, better chart. A chart based off of actual facts.

I love data.

*I think if you’re working an afterthought thumb you’d actually put the opening a little lower, so it’s more centered on the base of the thumb… But nevermind that for now.


11 responses to “Hand sizes

  1. I love data, too! I will get on this and corral all my friends and family!

  2. I added my measurements. I’d love to see the chart you come up with.

    • Thanks! I’m planning on posting the final chart online (flickr, blog, etc..) I think I’ll wait a month or so (unless the data comes pouring in faster than I expect) I’m sure I’ll tweet when it’s available too!

  3. I don’t know if it will help or hinder, but a year or two ago I did a bunch of hand measurement searches, found some wildly different information, and put it on my website. Feel free to either incorporate my findings into your data, or ignore it completely. :-)

  4. This will be interesting! I answered.

  5. A little confused by ‘F’, hope it’s ok. Don’t want to mess up your stats.

    • It’ll be fine! I’m not even sure if everyone’s hands have this measurement… The divide between my pinky and ring fingers happens about half an inch lower than the divide between the rest of my fingers. I’m curious to see if that’s normal, or not.

  6. Answered! Mightn’t you want people to tell you if they are a man, woman, or child, though? :-)

    • You know, I thought about that. But if you look at basic hand charts the children’s, women’s and men’s all overlap.

      I’m betting that with the exception of finger length the ratios are similar across age and gender. I suppose I should add that field though, and check my assumptions…

  7. Crapola! I hit enter instead of tab before I was done entering data! I wrote inches after everything! Here’s all my stuff so you can finish my data entry if you want.
    A: 8″
    B: 6.25″
    C: 2.5″
    D: 1.5″ – 1 5/8″
    E: 3.25″
    F: 1/8″
    G: 3″ – 3 1/8″
    Should not do anything before morning coffee.

  8. I filled it out. Can’t wait to see the finished results. I’m currently working on a glove design and have been wondering what sizes to grade the design to. Thanks for data collecting!

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