Sunday, October 24, 2010

how to knit a mitten, part 1: the cuff

This tutorial is based on the largest size in this pattern, the one that works the hand over 40 stitches. You can apply all the same techniques to the smaller sizes; just use the stitch count for the thumb, the row counts, and the numbers for the decreases from the pattern.

We know you know how to start!! Find your worsted weight yarn and the needles that get gauge for you. Why didn't we say which needle size to use? Because gauge varies widely, depending on the hands of the knitter. Pat and I are both pretty good knitters. But if we're using the same exact yarn, from the same exact ball, she'll use a size 7 (4.5 m) and I'll use a size 5 (3.75 mm) to get the same gauge. If you use this pattern but are getting a looser gauge, (1) mittens will be too airy, and that's not good for keeping warm, and (2) they will fit Sasquatch. Knitting tighter will make a slightly smaller mitten, but that's not so bad.

Digression over.

Cast on 36 stitches using your favorite stretchy cast-on: long-tail, German twisted, long-tail in rib. . .check your favorite knitting book for these, or search YouTube. Join the stitches into a ring, being careful not to twist, and work in k1 p1 or k2 p2 ribbing for 20 rounds. (If you are afraid of twisting, or if you always get a twist -- work the first 2 or 3 rows back and forth and then join to work in the round. You can sew that tiny seam with the end left over from casting on.)

Why do I put that contrasting stripe at the beginning of the cuff? That's something I started doing one time when I had a lot of navy blue yarn to use up, and I decided to use it up by knitting mittens until it was gone. I realized that one navy blue mitten looks very like all the other navy blue mittens. In case two or more pairs from that batch ended up in the same family or classroom, I wanted to make it easy for kids to match up and make sure they took their own pair home (and that no one else who had lost a mitten snitched one of theirs). And I think it jazzes up a plain pair of mittens. I love the look of doing just the cast-on row in the contrast color, but that makes weaving in the ends kind of a challenge, so I knit another row or two. I start counting my 20 rows of ribbing after that stripe. That way I know I'm always going to count to 20, no matter how many rows I used for the racing stripe, and it's easy to make the cuff of the second mitten the same as the first.

Go to Part 2: Beginning of Hand and Thumb Gusset


  1. How many needles do I use to start the mittens.... certainly not four? Or is 4 the number

    1. you will hold stitches on 3 needles evenly divided as stated in the pattern and knit with the 4th needle.

    2. You cast on all the stitches onto a single double-pointed needle. Then you arrange them on three needles, join (do not twist!) and begin knitting with the fourth needle.

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