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If you are planning to make a pair of mittens but are unsure which yarn to choose keep on reading! I give you a few tips on what kind of material to use and how thick should the yarn be. And if you don’t want to spend all your time browsing webshop catalogs at the end of this article you find also a few good options and links where to buy them.
I prefer making mittens with wool or wool and nylon blend because wool absorbs moisture away from the skin and is insulating which makes it a perfect material to keep your hands warm during the winter. If you have sensitive skin you can use soft wool such as merino but for adult’s mittens, I recommend something a bit more rustic because merino pills and is not as durable as the “woolly” wools. Babies are an exception because they usually have more sensitive skin and their mitts get less wear so soft wool works well for baby mittens. In the end, this is a matter of taste: if you prefer softness over durability then by all means use merino wool.
The yarn used for mittens does not have to be as durable as the yarn you use for socks which means that you can use something that is not as tightly spun or does not have nylon as a reinforcement. In addition, mittens don’t need washing quite as often as socks which makes non-superwash wools a good option. The non-superwash wools felt so you can use that property to your advantage and with the help of warm water and soap, you can make the fabric denser and warmer.
Synthetic fibers such as acrylic and plant-based fibers such as cotton and bamboo are not a good choice for mittens because unlike wool they hold the moisture next to your skin and in cold weather, your pair of mittens quickly turns into a pair of icicles.
Yarn weight (the thickness of yarn)
In general, yarns can be divided based on their thickness roughly in the following categories:
How many yards there are approximately / 3.5 oz / 100g:
|Yarn weight (from thinnest to thickest)||Yards / 3.5oz||Meters / 100g|
|Fingering (super fine)||360 – 460||330 – 420|
|Sport (fine)||300 – 360||275 – 330|
|DK (light)||240 – 290||220 – 265|
|Worsted (medium)||200 – 220||180 – 200|
|Bulky||110 – 142||100 – 130|
Basic mittens made of fingering and sport-weight yarn are quite thin and I use them mostly in spring or autumn (sometimes in Finland you need them also during summers). My kids wear them underneath their commercially produced winter gloves to absorb moisture and bring some extra warmth. If you have sensitive skin you can make a pair of thin merino wool mittens to be used under a thicker pair of mittens. Worsted and bulky mittens are quite thick and warm and I use them during winter.
You might also be interested in: How much yarn do you need for a pair of mittens
My three favorite yarns for making mittens
Below I have listed a few good yarn options that you can use to make a warm and durable pair of basic mittens.
1. KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted
With Wool of the Andes worsted (110 yds = 100m / 50g) you make a pair of quite thick, warm and durable mittens. The yarn is non-superwash which means that you can make your mittens even warmer by felting the fabric a little bit. The manufacturer recommends gauge from 18 to 20 sts / 4″ (10 cm) and needles from US6 to 9 (4-5.5mm) so it takes only an evening or two to make a pair.
There’s an extensive selection of beautiful colors and the yarn is quite affordable. For a pair of women’s mittens, you need 2 skeins and for a pair of men’s mittens, 2 to 3 skeins are enough.
- For a thinner sport weight version of this yarn check out the Wool of the Andes Sport
- There’s also a superwash version of this yarn Wool of the Andes Superwash that does not felt and is machine washable.
- If you have sensitive skin checkout the worsted weight merino yarn Swish Worsted.
KnitPicks yarn is available on knitpicks.com.
2. Cascade 220
There’s almost no project that Cascade 220 is not suitable for except socks. Cascade 220 is very similar to the Wool of the Andes worsted (non-superwash, 110yds = 100m / 50g) but it is sold on skeins instead of balls and one skein weighs 100g instead of 50g. You need 1 skein for women’s mittens and 1 to 2 for men’s. There’s plenty of colors to choose from and in addition to solid ones, there are also beautiful heathered colors.
- For a thinner sport weight version of this yarn check out the Cascade 220 Sport
- For a superwash version of this yarn check out the Cascade 220 Superwash (the superwash version comes in balls so you don’t have to to wind the yarn)
- If you have sensitive skin check out the Cascade 220 Merino
3. Novita Nalle, 7 brothers or Isoveli
For basic mittens and socks, I almost always use the wool and nylon blend yarns by Novita. One reason is that they are widely available here in Finland but also they are very durable, affordable, and machine washable which makes them perfect for everyday use. The thinnest of those is Novita Nalle which is light DK weight yarn, 7 veljestä is Aran weight and Isoveli is the thickest chunky weight yarn. Nalle is one of my favorite socks yarns, read here a detailed review of the yarn.
For a pair of women’s mittens you need 100g of each of those yarns should be enough. For men’s mittens 100g of Nalle is enough and 150-200g of the other ones should do.
Check out below some of the mittens I’ve made. The first one on the gallery is a design named Tuiki tuiki mittens. The rest are basic mittens made with my No swatch, any stitch count, any yarn mittens pattern.
Let me know your favourite yarn for mittens by dropping a comment below!