Generic Mitten Pattern
Printer-friendly version Mittens taken from www.hjssudiot.com/mittens.html
It is recommend starting off by knitting a pair or two with nothing fancier than plain stockinette, maybe with stripes. Doing a pattern stitch, even as simple as the two-end stranded knitting, is tricky around the thumb increases and fingertip decreases
Mittens are so simple you really don’t need a pattern. They’re basically just a tube to fit your hand, with a thumb formed by increases. The instructions assume that you are knitting in rounds. To convert to flat knitting with a seam to sew up, work the mitten flat, thumb in the center, with an extra two stitches on both hand and thumb. Keep the first and last stitch of each row in garter stitch for easier seaming.
Start with a gauge swatch in whatever pattern you want to use. I like my mittens dense and nearly wind-proof. I used size 3 US needles, using worsted weight yarn in one pair, sport weight in the other. The size was not taken down for the ribbing like normal, because it is too difficult to knit worsted weight yarn on size 2 US needles.
If your pattern is thick, like garter stitch, allow for an extra multiple of four stitches each time it’s called for in the pattern. Bulky mittens need to be larger to fit around the hand comfortably.
Cuff: Measure your hand around the wrist, around the base of the thumb, and around the hand just above the thumb. Other measurements may be ‘taken’ by trying on the mitten while knitting. For best results, knit halfway through one needle and pull on the mitten while 4 needles hold the stitches.
Cast on: Multiply your stitches per inch by your wrist measurement, round *down* to the nearest multiple of 4 stitches, cast on three double pointed needles and knit your choice of ribbing–I like k2, p2 for mitten cuffs. Knit as long as you like. Three inches gives a nice length to allow you to put your coat on, then your mittens, and easily tuck the cuffs inside your coat sleeves. Note the number of stitches and how many rows you knit on a piece of paper, in case it’s several years before you make the second mitten.
Beginning of hand: Multiply your stitches per inch by your hand measurement. Knit one row plain (don’t start your pattern stitch yet), increasing (if needed) to the multiple of four stitches (or multiple of your pattern repeat) closest to that number.
Next row: In your pattern stitch, knit one stitch on first needle, place a marker, increase one stitch, place a marker, and knit to end of round. The stitch between the markers is the beginning of the thumb increases. This area is called ‘the thumb’ in this pattern.
Next two rows: knit plain (in pattern stitch).
Next row: knit one stitch, slip marker, increase one stitch, knit one, increase one stitch, slip marker, knit to end.
Next two rows: knit plain.
Continue increasing on every third row, placing your increases just inside the markers on either side of the previous thumb stitches, until you’ve increased to about 1/2 or 1 stitch LESS than what your gauge multiplied by your thumb circumference measures. There should be an odd number between the markers. Don’t pull out your work if there’s not, though, it’s not worth the bother 🙂 Note how many stitches you increased, and write it down.
Knit plain on all stitches until, when you try on the mitten, the top of the knitting reaches just to the bottom of the spot between your thumb and hand. Count your rows from the ribbing, and write down the number.
Next: Knit around until you come back to the thumb. Don’t knit the thumb stitches–place them on a piece of yarn or a stitch holder. Cast on some stitches to bridge the gap over the thumb–I used 3 at 5 stitches per inch and at 6 stitches per inch. More might be needed for a smaller gauge or a different pattern. Write down the number!
Continue knitting evenly in rounds using your pattern stitch until the mitten, when you try it on, reaches about the tip of your little finger, or is about an inch from the tip of your longest finger. Count the rows including the cast-on stitches, and (you guessed it 🙂 write down the number 🙂 Arrange the stitches on 3 or 4 needles so that the thumb is centered between the front and back of the hand, and to one side as you knit.
Decrease to tip, round: The most wind- and wear-resistant decrease is to decrease four stitches each round, evenly spaced in each round, but not stacked above each other so there’s no obvious line of decreases. It’s easiest if there’s no pattern to mess with, unless you can arrange your decreases to complement the pattern. Continue decreasing four stitches each round until there’s about 3 inches by your stitch gauge of stitches left on your needles, and proceed to weaving below. Make sure you have an even number of stitches left at the end, which may mean NOT doing the last decrease.
Decrease to tip, flat: The more common method of decreasing, which is easier to keep track of, matches the decreases at the sides for a flat tip. Be aware that this type of decrease definitely wears out faster than other areas on the mitten, but it’s easier to keep patterns straight in. Decrease round: Knit one stitch at beginning of needle, slip next stitch, knit next stitch, pass the slipped stitch over the knit one, continue knitting plain to 3 stitches from the end of that side of mitten, knit 2 together, knit one (which should be at the end of a needle); repeat for the second half of that round. Repeat decrease round each round until you have about 3 inches by your gauge of stitches left on the needles. Make sure you have an even number of stitches left at the end, which may mean NOT doing the last decrease.
Weaving: Arrange the palm half of the stitches on one needle, the back of your hand stitches on one other needle. Your yarn should come from the right back stitch (left handed knitters, consult a book, I do not know how to explain this procedure for you). Break off with about a half yard left–that’s more than enough. Thread the tail onto a blunt tapestry needle.
Pass the needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl it. Leave the stitch on your needle, but pull the yarn through it snugly.
Pass the needle into the first stich on the back needle as if to knit it. Leave it on the needle, pull yarn through snugly.
Pass the needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit, slide that stitch off the needle, pull yarn through snugly.
Repeat step 1.
Pass needle through 1st stitch on back needle as if to purl, slip stitch off needle, pull yarn snug.
Repeat step 2.
Continue weaving by repeating steps 3-6 until the last stitches are off the needle.
Thumb: You’re not quite done–it’s time to get back to the thumb. Multiply your stitch gauge by the circumference of your thumb near where it joins the hand. Round up a bit for a comfortable fit.
Pick up on two needles the stitches you left on the holder. With a third needle, pick up (using the yarn from your ball and leaving a 4-5 inch tail) enough stitches so the total is enough for your thumb, plus or minus a couple for your pattern stitch if needed.
At 6 stitches to the inch, I have 13 stitches on the holder, and pick up another 6, giving me about three inches, which fits very well though my thumb measures 2 5/8 inches. Since my pattern is the stranded 2-end knitting, it’s a bit thicker than plain stockinette, so the thumb needs to be wider.
Knit around on however many stitches you like until, when you try it on, the tip of the knit thumb is just past the tip of your real one, with the join between mitten hand and thumb being nestled right down again the same join on your real hand. Count and write down the number of rows.
Next row: Knit two together around. Break yarn with an 8 inch tail. Thread it on the tapestry needle and pull the yarn through all the stitches on your needles. Pull tight, stick the yarn through the tip of the knit thumb, darn a few stitches across the tip inside your thumb, and weave in the end.
Darn in your remaining ends to finish your mitten and you have your own pattern to repeat for the second mitten.
To adapt this pattern to two-end knitting you need to choose two yarns that will knit to about the same gauge on your needles. After knitting the cuff and the first stockinette stitch row, in which you increased to your hand stitches, continue knitting. Knit one stitch with one yarn, then knit the next stitch with the second yarn. Continue in this pattern throughout the mitten.
It can’t be any simpler than that! Some tips to manage your knitting:
An odd number of stitches will allow you to knit without a noticeable ‘jog’ in the pattern each round.
Your gauge will probably be much snugger than with regular Fair Isle or normal stockinette knitting. Do your gauge swatch in pattern, or assume your gauge will be .5 to 1 full stitch per inch tighter than a swatch done with one yarn. You could manage your tension so that the gauge is loose. But that would defeat the purpose of dense, wind- and cold-resistant knitting, as well as be more tiring on the hands to do.
Keep your yarns in the same position, relative to each other, throughout your knitting, to avoid tangles. I held both yarns over my right forefinger, with the main color near the tip of the finger, the second color between the first and second joints.
The thumb increases really can’t be kept 100% in pattern. I found I liked using the main yarn to make the increased stitches, then I kept the rest of the thumb stitches in pattern with themselves, not worrying if they matched the rest of the mittens. Every other increase it’s ‘off’ from the hand’s pattern, but it doesn’t show much.
And the decreases for the tip of the hand can look a little off as well. I liked keeping the two stitches between the decrease stitches in pattern, and didn’t worry too much about the actual decrease stitches. If you’re using yarn that contrasts very highly, or is very light/bright, you will need to decide how to handle the decrease stitches (that is, if you care about those kinds of details)
I didn’t bother to try weaving in pattern. I simply used the main color yarn for that purpose.
Be aware that your second mitten might turn out a bit snugger than your first! At least, mine did when I knit the angora ones. I think it was because I kept trying on the first one to see if it fit, while the second I just followed my pattern. Try on both mittens as you work for best results.