Let’s Knit a Mitten
There is nothing like a nice pair of warm mittens for fall. Leaves are falling off the trees, the rain is pouring and the winds are blowing, time for some new woolies! The Maize mittens can be knit as either fingerless mitts or full mittens. Let’s see how it’s done!
First, you will need a pattern so download Maize and away we go! You can knit your mittens using double pointed needles [tutorial here], or using a single long circular and the magic loop technique [tutorial here].
Following the directions for your size cast on 24 (28, 32, 36, 40) sts onto 4.0mm needles. Place marker (or if you are using double points, distribute your stitches so you know where the beginning of the round is) and join for working in the round.
::: Ribbing :::
Ribbing: p1, k3, (p1, k1) to end
Work 11 (11, 13, 15, 17) more rounds in ribbing as set.
What does it mean to work as set? There are a few different ways to put this: One way is that you are ‘knitting your knits and purling your purls’. If you see a knit stitch, knit it, if you see a purl stitch, purl it. For this particular ribbing, you are simply repeating the Setup ribbing round.
Setup pattern: p1, k3, PM, purl 7 (9, 11, 11, 13), [k1, p1] 3 (3, 3, 5, 5) times, k1, purl to end
So you have just set up your pattern! The body of your mitten will proceed as follows: You will be knitting the 3 stitches that will become the thumb gusset, keeping the ribbed section as set (the k1, p1 part) and purling all the rest of your stitches.
Tip: If you are working with double points you may want to distribute your stitches as follows, to keep things simple.
Work 2 (2, 3, 3, 5) more rounds in pattern.
::: but why do you use the instruction ‘work in pattern’? :::
It may seem like it would be simpler if we just wrote patterns out line by line, but I assure knitting becomes MUCH easier when you can ‘read’ your knitting. If you know what should come next it’s easier to find mistakes (they happen to the best of us!) and even see if *gasp* there is a mistake in a pattern. I always tell my beginner classes that if you understand what you are doing it is a lot easier than using 3 row counters, a pen, and 5 sticky notes!
::: thumb gusset :::
Take a quick look at your hand. Your thumb sort of sticks out a bit right? Even the part of your thumb that is still a part of your hand. Well we have to make an extra little triangle of fabric to accommodate that part of your thumb.
To create this triangle of fabric we are going to work some increases. Some patterns specify which type of increase to use and some don’t. For this pattern we are going to work some M1 (make 1) increases and to be a little extra fancy we are going to do paired increases, a M1L and M1R (make 1 left and make 1 right). [check out the full tutorial on M1 here]
The gusset is going to ‘grow’ from the 3 knit stitches.
Round 1: p1, k1, m1, k1, m1, k1, slip marker, work in pattern to end
So we have increased 2 stitches. We are going to p1, k1, M1L, k1, M1R, k1, work in pattern to end (this means we are purling, ribbing, purling.
Round 2: p1, knit to marker, work in pattern to end (no stitches increased)
Round 3: p1, k1, m1, knit to 1 stitch before marker, m1, k1, work in pattern to end
Round 4: p1, knit to marker, work in pattern to end (no stitches increased)
See a pattern forming? We are increasing 2 stitches every other row and you should start to see a little triangle forming.
Repeat rounds 3-4 two (2, 3, 3, 4) more times until there are a total of 12 (12, 14, 14, 16) sts between the BOR marker and the marker (there will be 1 purl stitch and 11, 11, 13, 13, 15 knit stitches). [32 (36, 42, 46, 52) total sts]
Next round: p1, place the next 11 (11, 13, 13, 15) sts on waste yarn (removing 2nd marker), CO 3 sts, then work around on remaining sts in pattern to end of round. [24 (28, 32, 36, 40) sts]
::: how to place stitches on hold on waste yarn :::
Next we are going to cast on 3 stitches in the middle of the row. Why, you ask? Because the thumb stitches ‘grew’ out of 3 knit stitches, but then we put all the thumb stitches on hold. So we are going to need 3 new stitches to take their place. The cast on method we use is the backward loop cast-on.
::: hand :::
For fingerless mitts:
Work as established in reverse stockinette and ribbing pattern (purl the 3 cast sts at the start of the round) until work measures 0.5 (0.5, 1, 1.25, 1.5) inches from end of gusset. – tip: measure from the cast on stitches
Setup ribbing: (p1, k1) around
Work 3 (4, 4, 5, 6) more rounds in ribbing as established, then bind off all sts in pattern.
What does ‘bind off sts in pattern’ mean? This means you are knitting and purling as you have been in the pattern (ribbing in this case). So you will p1, k1, pass the first stitch over the second, p1, pass the first stitch over the second, k1, pass the first stitch over the second etc.
For mittens :::
Work as established in reverse stockinette stitch and ribbing pattern (purl the 3 CO sts at the start of the round) until work measures 2.5 (3, 3.75, 4, 4.5) inches from end of gusset (or 1 (1, 1.25, 1.5, 1.5) inches short of total desired length).
Next: remove BOR marker, purl 2 sts, replace marker. This will be the new BOR.
Decrease Setup: P1, p2tog, p4 (6, 8, 8, 10), p2tog, PM, work 7 (7, 7, 11, 11) sts in ribbing as set, PM, p2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. (4 sts decreased) [20 (24, 28, 32, 36) sts]
So you will have placed 2 markers and decreased 4 stitches. Note that none of the ribbed stitches have been decreased, only the purl stitches.
Continue working decreases until you have 9 (9, 9, 11, 11) sts.
Break yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail. Thread tail through remaining live sts (removing markers) and pull tight to close top of mitten.
::: thumb :::
Place 11 (11, 13, 13, 15) held sts back on needles.
Pick up and knit 3 sts in the cast-on sts.
then knit around held sts to end of round. PM [14 (14, 16, 16, 18) sts]
You now have all your thumb stitches on your needles.
For fingerless mitts: knit all rounds until thumb measures 0.5 (0.5, 0.75, 1, 1) inches. Bind off.
For mittens: knit all rounds until thumb measures 1 (1.5, 1.5, 1.75, 2) inches, or 0.25 inches short of desired length. Decrease round: k2tog around [6 (6, 7, 7, 8) sts]
Break yarn, leaving 6 inch tail. Thread tail through remaining live sts and pull tight to close thumb.
You may have a small hole where your stitches are picked up. Just use your yarn tail and stitch up the hole before weaving in your ends.
This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series. Check out the 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family! Like our work? Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.
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