Sunday, December 18, 2011

Easy to Knit 28X28 Fingerless Mittens

Haha!  You didn't know I could knit, did you?  Actually, I'm not an expert, but I do find it enjoyable to knit simple items.  Last Christmas I made fingerless mittens for my sister and my niece.  I was pleased with how they came out, although they were surprisingly time-consuming to knit because of the intricate design. 
Saturday night we had our coldest night of the season so far here in Vermont--it was only10 degrees around 10:00 PM and my husband said it was 2 degrees at 4:00 Sunday morning.  I have two little Yorkies who like to dawdle when they go out to potty.  I can't hook up the two leashes if I put my gloves on first, but then they get so excited to go out that they dance around making it almost impossible to get my gloves on afterward.  So I decided that I need a pair of fingerless mittens for myself.  I can put those on BEFORE I hook up the leashes.
Daffney is 9 years old and weighs 10 pounds.  She's big for a Yorkie.  That's a freckle on her ear!  She's the Queen--can you tell?

Oakley will be 2 years old next month.  He weighs 6 pounds, which is normal Yorkie size.  He's full of the devil!  That's the camera flash making it look like he has green eyes.  They're really dark brown, almost black.       
This is the logic of a lazy knitter:  I want to use big needles with chunky/bulky yarn and a really simple pattern so that my project works up quickly.  Chunky yarn can be warmer than finer yarn, but...if the needles are too big then there's open space between the stitches and the cold air gets in.  I already had some Bernat Softee Chunky yarn which is rated 5-Bulky and some large needles in various sizes.  I don't use wool because of allergies, but if you can wear it, wool is warmer.
I decided that, for a really simple design consisting of ribbing and stockinette stitch, I'd make my own pattern.  My first effort was with #15 U.S. needles, but the stitch was too airy and my small hands find it hard to get consistent stitches with such thick needles.  My second effort was with #13 U.S. needles and that was an improvement, but the mitts were too big for me and the stitches still a little too loose.  Rather than reduce the number of stitches, I decided to try my #10-1/2 (6.5mm) bamboo needles and those were the best.  I love the way those bamboo needles feel in my hands!
I prefer to use circular needles whenever possible, even when I'm knitting a flat item.  I find them easier to hang onto and they don't get in the way when one of the dogs decides to cuddle up in the chair with me.
If you can knit, purl, cast on, cast off, and sew a simple seam by hand, this project is really easy.  It only took me about an hour per mitten.  I call them "28X28 Fingerless Mittens" because you cast on 28 stitches and knit/purl 28 rows. 
This is what the fingerless mitten looks like when it's finished.  The thumb and fingers are free, while the rest of the hand, the wrist, and a couple of inches of the arm are kept warm.

If you need a little help with the basics I love this website:
The long-tail cast-on is my favorite because you don't end up with a loose strand of yarn between your needles that keeps growing:

There are several ways to sew seams.  Here's an easy one:
SUPPLIES--If you want to try this out, these are the supplies that I used:
  • 1 ball (100 grams) Bernat Softee Chunky yarn (100% acrylic)
  • #10-1/2 (6.5mm) Bamboo needles (I use 29" circular needles, but they can be much shorter for this project--or you can use straight needles)
  • A yarn needle for sewing the seam (I like the steel ones with big eyes for chunky yarn)
  • Scissors
  • A knitting counter (optional)  This is a necessity for me because of frequent doggy interruptions.

There are three sections:
  1. A long ribbed section (Knit 2, Purl 2) for the wrist. 
  2. A stockinette section (Knit a row, Purl a row) for your hand and your fingers up to about the first knuckle.
  3. A short ribbed section at the top
My Gauge for the stockinette area (the ribbed area will be a bit different):
    -  10 stitches to 3 inches
    -  10 rows to 2 inches
INSTRUCTIONS (For ease of following, there are no abbreviations in my instructions!)
  • Cast on 28 stitches, leaving a 10-inch tail to be used later for stitching your seam.
  • Rows 1 through 14:  Knit 2, Purl 2.   Repeat until you reach the end of each row.  This makes a long ribbed section that will keep your wrists warm.  If you want to cover more of your arm, simply add more ribbed rows.
  • Row 15:  Knit
  • Row 16:  Purl
  • Row 17:  Knit
  • Row 18:  Purl
  • Row 19:  Knit
  • Row 20:  Purl
  • Row 21:  Knit
  • Row 22:  Purl
  • Row 23:  Knit
  • Row 24:  Purl
  • Rows 25 through 28:  Knit 2, Purl 2.  Repeat until you reach the end of each row.  This makes a short ribbed section at the top.
  • Cast off (also known as bind off) in a pattern of Knit 2, Purl 2 until the end of the row.  Leave a 10-inch tail for stitching the seam.
  • This is what you have after you've done the cast-off/bind-off.
  • Fold the piece in half with the wrong side showing. 
The piece has been folded in half with the wrong-side-out.  I'll use the bottom tail to stitch up the entire lower ribbed section.  Then I'll used the top tail to stitch down as far as the opening for the thumb.  Don't forget to weave in your tails.
  • Using the bottom tail (the tail left over after the cast-on) stitch a seam from the bottom of the wrist ribbing to the top of the wrist ribbing.  Then leave an opening in your seam long enough to allow your thumb to fit through.  My opening is about 1-1/2 inches.   The opening starts where the long ribbed area meets the stockinette area.
  • Using the top tail (the tail left over after the cast-off/bind-off), finish stitching the seam from the top of the mitt, down to the top of the thumb opening.
  • Weave in both tails so that they don't show.
  • Now turn your mitt right-side-out and it's ready to wear!    

I have fairly small hands.  Before stitching up the seam, my mitts are about 8  inches wide in the non-ribbed (stockinette) area.  The mitts measure 6-1/2 inches from top to bottom.  They're still a little roomy on me, so next time I might make them 24 stitches wide.   I've also decided I'd like them to go further up my arm, so next time I'll add an extra 6 or 8 rows to the long ribbed section.
If you need bigger mitts, you can use bigger needles.  If you don't want to change the needles you can cast on more stitches.  If you decide to cast on more stitches, be sure to add the stitches in multiples of 4 for this pattern.  In other words, cast on 28, 32, or 36, etc.
If you have long fingers, you may also need to add some rows in the stockinette section--not the ribbing section.  For each Knit row you add, you'll need follow it with an added Purl row.
If you want the mitts to go further up your arm, simply add more ribbed rows to the long ribbed section.
Also, don't forget about gauge.  Remember that if you knit more tightly than I do, your mitts will be smaller than mine.  If you knit more loosely than I do, your mitts will be bigger.

© Copyright 2011 Linda's Art Barn. All rights reserved.


  1. That was definitely comprehensive. You sure do write good instructions. I like those. Great instructions. I'm in the middle of knitting a long shawl for my friend in the nursing home. I wish I would have crocheted it because I would be done by now.

    I love your dogs.

  2. Thank you, Bonnie. I guess I have a good balance between my left and right brain!

    What a lovely thing to do for your friend in the nursing home. She's going to love it.

    Those dogs are my little buddies!

  3. That's a terrific pattern! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. You're welcome, Lori! I made it simple because I like simple and I wrote the instructions in detail because I have a hard time translating knitting patterns. I figure if those abbreviated instructions are confusing to me, they're probably confusing to a lot of other non-expert knitters. I'm in the middle of knitting a hooded scarf now that is rated easy, but I'm kinda lost!