Leftovers Mittens Part II

Please consider making a pair of these in any size and donating to someone who needs them. Contact me if you want places to donate. The receptionist in the courthouse where I work told me this morning that every week she gives away 6 or 7 pairs of mittens as well as hats. Kids often come in for family court wearing socks on their hands, or nothing at all. Today is has not gotten above zero.

The recipe continues in a wordy manner. For the Sgt. Friday approach, here’s the Executive Summary.

Ingredients: Yarn. My first two pairs were in worsted weight, but I also did a pair in machine washable DK weight especially for donating.

dk-mittens.jpgJust remember if you use DK to go down a needle size and take into account that they’ll be a bit smaller unless you add more stitches.

Amounts are a guesstimate, but these are leftovers, right? The Adult mittens in the Kureyon and Naturespun weighed 100 grams, 3.5 ounces. I’m figuring that since I switched main color and contrast color, that I used equal amounts of each. A 50 g ball of Kureyon is 109 yards/100 meters. I used the same almost full ball of Naturespun for all of these mittens and still have about 20 g/.70 oz left. If you have lots of little bits of colors, you could make stripes one or two repeats wide. This would look great in lots of bright colors. Note to self: dig out some of those bright scraps…

I started on the Kureyon mittens with US3 DPN’s, then switched to the deadly life threatening two circulars. You’ll put your eye out has new meaning for me. I was never allowed to use my brother’s BB gun anyway.

My gauge for the worsted weight is 6.25 per inch, for the DK wt, 7 per inch.

Choosing a color pattern

I’m including a chart for a traditional Scandinavian color pattern in the Executive Summary, but search out your own if you are so inclined. I wanted a simple, easy to memorize repeat. I did not want to be slave to a chart. Most traditional knitting patterns had to be easy to memorize, because no one could photocopy them to pass around to the neighbors, so I don’t think looking for an easy pattern reflects poorly on my motivation. There are many sources for small two-color patterns. Two favorites of mine are The Mitten Book, by Gottfridsson (OOP) and Scandinavian Knitting Designs by Pauline Chatterton, also OOP, but available at a reasonable price. What I like about both of these books is that the patterns are listed by repeat stitch count. So you can look for a six-stitch or twelve-stitch, or thirty-six stitch repeat, based on your gauge and chosen mitten diameter. I have included a chart of mitten measurements in the Executive Summary. I tried to figure out a percentage system for these mittens, but with no luck. Vibeke Lind, in Knitting in the Nordic Tradition, has an illustration with some percentages, but they didn’t really translate for me. (No pun intended.) Truly, I’m not trying to show off how many OOP books I have in my library, I’ve just been buying books and knitting for a long time. The current prices on some of these are quite loony in my opinion, and there are really good newer books. The lesson is to buy the books when they come out if you can. I was lamenting not buying Everyday Knitting , Treasures from a Ragpile, by Annemor Sundbø, when I saw you could still get it at Schoolhouse Press. Excuse me while I go place an order.

To make these mittens straightforward, I used a simple shape with no thumb gusset, and chose a 6 stitch/6 row repeat. This repeat adjusts easily for different sizes. For the cuff, there are many options. The adult mittens and the Kid-size mittens used an i-cord cast on, for the DK toddler size, a 2×2 rib.

To start the Kureyon mitts, I chose a bright color from the Noro stash bag, and worked a length of I-cord the same number of rounds as stitches needed for the first round of the mitten.


I took this idea from Elizabeth Zimmerman, of course. I have made large numbers of two-color Norwegian style mittens using her basic formula over the years. I have only one sad one left, its mate dropped in the snow outside of a yarn shop, never to be found again.


What kind of a fiend would find a single hand-knitted mitten near a yarn shop and not pop in with it, figuring the knitter would be back to claim it? Maybe there is a Flickr gallery of sad single mittens, or a meet your mate site of some kind. SWLHSM* seeks SWRHM color, yarn content irrelevant, for snowball making, snow shoveling and long walks in the cold.

Using two DPNs, work a length of i-cord the same number of rounds as stitches you will need to start your mitten. Err on the side of making it longer, you can always rip back when it’s time to weave or sew the two ends together. That’s much less frustrating that coming up a few rounds short when picking up your stitches.

For the first mitten main color (MC) , I used black. I always seem to have black worsted weight around. For these, dye lot and brand wouldn’t really matter, so dig into the stash. Using the MC, pick up one stitch for each round of i-cord. My Noro mitten was worked over 54 stitches. (Divisible by 6, even to me, the mathematically impaired.) Pick up 54 sts, join into a round, then purl one row, so you have a round of garter ridge. I did not do this on the first mitten, and regretted it. I used the same size needle for the i-cord that I used for the mitten itself. Since the two-color gauge is tighter, this caused the mitten to flare out a tiny bit at the cuff. You may or may not like this. I used a smaller needle for the green and black mittens, and it looks tidier to me. Knitter’s choice.

pick-up-cuff.jpgI worked six repeats of the stitch pattern. After the last all black round of the sixth repeat, I knit the first twelve stitches of the new round with a length of brightly contrasting yarn, then put these same stitches back on the left needle, continuing on with the pattern. This is called a peasant thumb or an afterthought thumb (EZ), described in great detail in many places, but here’s a couple of links: http://akittenknits.blogspot.com/2006/12/thumb-trick.html

Another method, which I like because you can try the mitten on, is to put these thumb sts
on a safety pin or length of yarn/ribbon, and then when you get back there, cast on 12 sts and keep knitting. Kind of like a button hole.

pin-thumb.jpgAgain, knitters choice.

I worked six more repeats, then began to decrease for the tip. The only percentage I found to be true was that the decrease took 20% of the total length. So if you want a mitten that is 11 inches long, start your decreasing at about 9 inches. I round up. If you don’t like that, start your decreasing when the mittens are 8.8 inches.

Place a marker after the first half. (50% of total stitches) Be sure to use a different color or type of marker from your beginning of round marker. It reduces the thinking required to figure out where you are as you decrease. Although I like to consider myself a thinking knitter, I don’t want to have to think too much while I’m knitting.

At the beginning of the round, SSK, knit to 3 sts before the 50% marker, K2tog, K1, slip marker, SSK. Work to 3 sts before the beginning of round marker, K2tog, K1. Repeat these decreases every round until you have about 8 sts left total. Towards the end, it can get a little awkward, so work the decrease rounds in the two-color pattern for as long as you can stand it, then break off the contrast color and finish up in the MC.

With the first mitten, I worked all the decrease sts in black. For the second, I worked the middle stitch of the decrease in the contrast color. See which you prefer.

For the second mitten, I used the Kureyon as the MC, and the black as the contrast color.

In order for you, dear reader, to see the color pattern more clearly, I used the same pattern and 6 fewer sts, for a mitten in two solid colors, Eucalyptus and Black. This is intended for a biggish child, whatever that means. A second grader? I’ll be donating these, so it doesn’t really matter, it will fit some kid somewhere. (Naturespun worsted, felted clog left-overs.) I used a berry color for the contrasting i-cord, worked on US 1 needles.

Unravel the thumb sts from their contrast yarn and pick up the bottom and top sts, or if you used the buttonhole technique, put the sts from the safety pin on the needle and pick up the same number of sts from your cast on sts. In both cases, pick up one stitch for each side of the thumbhole.


I worked a thumb two repeats wide in the Kuryeon mitt and one repeat wide in the Naturespun mitt, and worked the back of the thumb in stripes. I justified this by telling myself it made this part of the thumb sturdier, but the truth is it was just easier that way. If it is sturdier, which I believe it will be, that’s a bonus.

The decreasing for the tip of the thumb can match the pointy top of the mitten, or be rounded. I prefer the rounded. If you want pointy, use the directions for the top of the mitten, starting about 1⁄2 inch shy of desired length.

For the rounded tip, after working the thumb to a few rounds short of the desired length, I broke off the contrast color and using the main color, worked a decrease round of K1, K2tog, one round plain, then a round of K2tog. (If these decreases don’t work out evenly it doesn’t matter. Truly.)


*Slightly worn left handed black and white Scandinavian mitten


4 responses to “Leftovers Mittens Part II

  1. Nice pattern, even nicer thought. I did promise you a pair, and have not yet started.

  2. This is one of my favorite posts! Thanks for the pattern directions. Any chance you could direct me to some place that explains how in the world one knits with two circulars at the same time?!

  3. Hi, thank you for the pattern. I just starting knitting and am working on my first pair of socks on two circ. I totally understand about poking out your eye!

  4. Thanks so much for the pattern. I’ve been working through stash for give-away mittens and this gives me new incentive to make more. More interesting ones than before! I hope you ordered the “Treasures…Ragpile” book. Everyone seems to know the author in Norway (well, in Sogne, at any rate). I finally ordered a new copy of The Mitten Book. Mine’s been missing for over a year. Maybe it is cavorting with your mitten somewhere…

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