Thanks for your hints and tips. I decided to trust the pattern and it WORKED! Strangely, as you slip those middle stiches onto the holder and just continue knitting across the row the beginnings of the thumb appear. Apparently you go back and join the yarn at the thumb area at the end to complete.
If I would only get the guts to try 4 needles maybe I wouldn't be so challenged.
anyhow, I am really psyched because it looks like a mitten. I will post a picture when I am done.