No swatch, any stitch count, any yarn mittens. Part 1: Planning

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This article is the first part of my no swatch, any stitch count, any yarn mittens pattern. For introduction and outline of this pattern see: Knitgrammer’s no swatch, any stitch count, any yarn mittens pattern.

Next article: Casting on and making the top of your mittens.

In this article I explain how to measure your hand (or how to estimate the measurements based on age or gender) and then decide what size mittens you should make. I also provide help with yarn and needle size selection. If you are a seasoned knitter you can skip this article and go directly to selecting the top pattern.

1.1 Take measurements

If you are knitting the mittens for yourself the first thing you need to do is to measure your hand circumference (measurement E on the schematics). Take the measurement above the base of the thumb. The second measure you need is from the base of your thumb to the tip of your longest finger (measurement A on the schematic). See images below for reference.

If you are not able to measure the circumference or the length of the hand (for instance because you are going to gift the mittens) you can use the size chart for knitting mittens to determine the average size of mittens based on age and gender.

1.2 Decide the dimensions of your mittens

If you are going to make a peasant thumb without a gusset or if you wish to wear something (gloves or thinner mittens) underneath your pair I suggest that you make your mitts a bit wider and longer than your hand. Otherwise, for a close-fitting mitten, the circumference of your hand and the mitten can be the same.

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1.3. Selecting the needles and the yarn

I prefer making mittens with wool or wool and nylon blend. The yarn used for mittens does not have to be as durable as the yarn you use for socks. In addition, mittens don’t need washing quite as often as socks which make non-superwash wools a good option.

See this article for a few tips on what kind of material to use and how thick should the yarn be.

1.3.1 Selecting the needles

After you have picked your yarn it is time to pick the needles. This pattern is written for the magic loop method (for long circular needle) but you and adjust it for the double pointed needles as well. The important thing here is to find needles that get you a good gauge. I like to make my mittens with quite dense fabric and basically with the same gauge that I knit my socks with.

The gauge is, however, a matter of taste and you may also knit with a looser gauge if you prefer softer fabric over more long-lasting and warmer mitten. Usually, fabric knitted with wool also relaxes a bit after you have given it a soak and dry so knit rather with a bit too tight gauge than a bit too loose.

Below you can find the most common gauges mittens are knit with. The more stitches there are / 4” or 10cm the more durable and warmer the mitten will be

For instance, I knit my mittens usually with gauges 32 sts (Fingering), 28 sts (sport), 23 sts (DK) and 21 sts (Aran), 20 sts (Chunky) / 4” (10cm).

Yarn weightStitches / 4” (10cm)
Fingering30-36
Sport24-30
DK22-28
Worsted, Aran19-23
Chunky17-21

From the table below you can check the typical needle sizes that are used to knit mittens. If you are a loose knitter you should select a smaller needle size than if you are a tight knitter.

Yarn weightUSmm
Fingering0-2.52-3
Sport1-32.25-3.25
DK1.5-42.5-3.5
Worsted, Aran2.5-63-4
Chunky6-84-5

Now you should be ready to cast on and make the top for your mittens.

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4 Responses

  1. Deborah Darone says:

    Wow, interesting approach has intrigued me to try a pair of mittens! Thankyou Ida!

  2. Margaret says:

    I have been asked to knit my grand-daughter a pair of mittens for NZ winter. So, where do I start? Obviously right here!! I have been knitting all sorts – sizes, patterns and styles over 69 yrs, but this is the first for mittens. Here goes! Many thanks Ida!!

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