Sunday, October 24, 2010

We're knitting mittens

Pat and I both knit a lot for various causes that speak to us. One of our longest-running interests has been afghans for Afghans; in fact, there's been a link in the sidebar since the day we started this blog. Right now, A4A is in a position to accept mittens. We know some people find the idea of knitting mittens intimidating, so we're offering this tutorial to walk you through. Because it's very detailed, it's quite long, so we have broken it down into several blog posts to make it easy to find the part you need. Words and knitting by Elizabeth; magnificent photos by Pat.

Tools and materials: You will need 100 g worsted weight yarn (that is more than enough); double-pointed needles to give you gauge; two stitch markers; waste yarn in a contrasting color; and a sewing-up needle.

Gauge: ~5 sts/inch

The mitten pattern we'll be following is my own, and it lives over at the A4A blog, right here. I never set out to write a pattern. But I had downloaded one from the Internet -- probably 10 years ago now -- that was so riddled with errors that any new knitter who tried it would have given up. In the end I wrote my own mitten pattern. This pattern is written using row counts, not measurements, so no matter what weight yarn you use, you end up with a mitten that is in proportion to a normal human hand. (I often use the smallest or middle size with Lopi or Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride Bulky to make an adult-sized mitten.) Please note that the largest size in that pattern has a slightly different increase at the tip than the other sizes, so read through and follow the directions for the size you've chosen.

I usually make the largest size (which is actually more for a woman's large hand than small, despite what the pattern says -- I've changed my mind since I first wrote it) because I've found that most people tend to knit more for the little kids. Little kids are cuter, and the mittens are so much faster to make -- but big kids are cold too, and if a pair of mittens makes it possible to stay in school longer, or keeps them just a little bit more comfortable, I am glad to contribute.  In a quick random sampling of kids I know, this size was a little too big for the tall 13-year-old girl but a bit tight for the (also tall) 14- and 15-year-old boys.

For afghans for Afghans, wool (or other animal fiber) is required. We strongly urge you to use wool anyway -- it's just plain warmer. Sometimes, if knitting for U.S. groups, or if your sister-in-law apparently boils her laundry, acrylics or blends may be a better bet. Use the best quality you can afford, of course, for two reasons: it's more pleasant to knit with, and it makes a nicer gift.

go to Part 1: The Cuff


  1. Kathy Fields10/24/10, 1:44 PM

    I love this pattern and have made more than 100 pairs for one charity or another. This will be fun.

  2. The "twist" method of increasing thumb gusset stitches is just the trick I need to make my mittens better. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the pattern. I wanted it to make hat, scarf, and mitten sets for some unfortunate children that live above the snowline in the Northern California Mountains. Their parents are often habitual drug users, and the poor kids are sent to school with no coats, hats, gloves, shoes, etc. Efforts are being coordinated through the school system to get them some of the basic things they need to be able to attend school. I will try to let you know how the mittens turn out.


  4. Is the largest size considered a woman's large when using worsted weight or when using a bulky weight? I love this pattern and thank you very much for the tutorial was having a little bit of difficulty with the thumb but after watching the tutorial it explained it very well. I am making kids sizes but have been trying to find a simple adult mitten pattern and couldn't so now that you mentioned you can make these in adult sizes by using a bulky weight yarn I am very excited to try it.

  5. any suggestions to make these for 2-3 year olds?