How to Knit Mittens

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Figure A: Using tapestry needle, pull six 12-18" lengths of mitten yarn through cast-on edge of cuff below where pinkie will be.
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Figure B: Separate the 12 strands into 3 groups of 4, making sure that you keep both ends of the same strand in a single group.
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Figure C: Braid the three groups until the braid is the length you desire or at least the length of the cuff.
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“Yarn Works” is the ultimate sheep to sweater reference book for fiber enthusiasts everywhere.
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Learn how to knit mittens with this excerpt from "Yarn Works" by W. J. Johnson.

In Yarn Works (Creative Publishing International, 2014) W. J. Johnson shares her fiber arts expertise with a scientific approach to spinning and dyeing the perfect yarn for your project and a variety of delightful patterns created for each of the fiber groups she describes. The book is divided into four main sections—Fiber Workshop, Spin Workshop, Dye Workshop and Knit Workshop—and includes a brief history on each subject. Johnson herself is a photographer, media and installation artist, educator in fiber arts and fiber artist with more than thirty years of experience spinning, dyeing and knitting yarn. This wool mitten pattern comes from “Part 4: Knit Workshop.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Yarn Works.

How to Knit Mittens

Project Note

The Lovikka mitten is considered a trademarked knitting design. This mitten pattern has been influenced by Lovikka design, but is not a copy. To pay homage to the knitting design yet still honor the trademark, I have designed these wool mittens in a contemporary style with a button-embellished cuff and nonnatural color. Trademarked and true Lovikka mittens are knit with natural, undyed wool; feature a braided tassel; and are embroidered with geometric patterns typically in the colors of blue, yellow, and red. They are sold with a certification tag to authenticate their origin and are timelessly beautiful.

Pattern Notes

• To figure out proper size, measure hand around the knuckles and include the tip of the thumb. The extra thumb measurement gives the ease needed to cover the modest shrinkage that occurs during the light fulling process. Traditional Lovikka mittens fit quite loosely, but I designed this pattern to fit a bit more snugly and therefore be more functional for driving or other active use. If you prefer a larger mitten, pick a size larger than your hand measurement.

• The slight fulling does not substantially change the knitted measurements.

• The pattern is written to be worked on three double-pointed needles, but can also be worked using two circular needles.

• The instructions are identical for the left and right mittens. Shape left and right mittens while fulling and drying.

Before You Start




Child 5–8 yrs (child 8 yrs/woman’s small, woman’s medium, woman’s large/man’s small, man’s medium, man’s large)

Instructions are given for smallest size, with larger sizes in parentheses. When only 1 number is given, it applies to all sizes.

To fit hand circumference: 7-1/2 (8, 8-1/2, 9, 9-3/4, 10-1/4)” [19 (20.5, 21.5, 23, 25, 26) cm] (see Pattern Notes)


Circumference: Same as hand circumference above.
Length: 8-1/2 (9-1/4, 10-1/4, 11, 11-1/2, 12)” [21.5 (23.5, 26, 28, 29, 30.526) cm]


• 102 (128, 160, 192, 230, 276) yd [93 (117, 146, 176, 210, 252) m] bulky singles wool yarn

• Size 9 [5.5 mm] double-pointed needles (set of 5) or size needed to obtain gauge

• Stitch holder

• Tapestry needle to finish ends and embroider pattern in cuff


• Buttons or beads for the embroidered cuff (with a hole size that will fit the yarn or thread)

• Fingering-weight wool yarn for embroidery: 6 yd [5.5m] for each color, depending on embroidery pattern used or if the yarn is used as a carrier for beadwork


14 sts and 20 rnds = 4″ [10 cm] in ST st.

Adjust needle size as necessary to obtain correct gauge.



Using long-tail method, CO 26 (28, 30, 32, 34, 36) sts. Divide sts among 3 dpns, mark beg of rnd and join, taking care not to twist sts.

Purl 2 rnds.

Knit 7 (9, 11, 13, 15, 17) rnds.

Cuff-turn ridge: Turn work inside out so the purl side is facing you. Knit 1 rnd. Turn work right-side out again and continue working in the original direction. Note: A small hole will be created where you turned the work, but it will close up during fulling.


Knit 21 (23, 25, 27, 29, 31) rnds.

Next rnd: K15 (16, 17, 18, 19, 20); put next 6 (6, 7, 7, 8, 8) sts on a small holder or waste yarn; using backward-loop method, CO 6 (6, 7, 7, 8, 8) sts; k0 (0, 1, 2, 2, 3).

Knit 13 (15, 17, 19, 21, 23) rnds or until the mitten reaches the top of the little finger.

Distribute sts onto 4 dpn as follows: 7-7-6-6 (7-7-7-7, 8-8-7-7, 8-8-8-8, 9-9-8-8, 9-9-9-9).

Dec rnd: Dec at end of each dpn as follows: knit to last 2 sts, ssk—22 (24, 26, 28, 30, 32) sts.

Rep Dec rnd until 8 sts rem.

Cut yarn, leaving a 6″ [15 cm] tail.

Using tapestry needle, thread tail through rem sts, and pull tight.

Weave in tail on WS.


Transfer the 6 (6, 7, 7, 8, 8) thumb sts from the stitch holder to a dpn.

Pick-up rnd: Join yarn and knit across thumb sts; using free dpns, pick up and knit 1 st at side of thumb opening, 6 (6, 7, 7, 8, 8) sts along CO edge and 1 st at other side of thumb opening, mark beg of rnd—14 (14, 16, 16, 18, 18) sts.

Divide these sts onto 3 dpns as follows: 4-5-5 (4-5-5, 4-6-6, 4-6-6, 4-7-7, 4-7-7) and pm at halfway point of rnd.

Dec rnd: [Knit to 2 sts before marker, ssk] twice—12 (12, 14, 14, 16, 16) sts.

Remove 2nd marker.

Knit 8 (9, 10, 11, 12, 13) rnds or until fabric reaches the base of the thumbnail.

Final rnds: *K2, ssk; rep from * around until 8 sts rem. If desired for ease of decreasing, divide sts on 2 dpns for final decs.

Cut yarn, leaving a 5″ [12.5 cm] tail.

Using tapestry needle, thread tail through rem sts, and pull tight.

Weave in all ends.


Cut six 12–18″ [30.5–45.5cm] lengths of the remaining mitten yarn. Use tapestry needle to pull them individually through two loops at the cast-on edge of cuff below where pinkie will be (Figure A); ends of strands should be hanging in equal lengths on both sides of the cuff edge. Separate the 12 strands into 3 groups of 4, making sure that you keep both ends of the same strand in a single group. (Figure B). Braid the 3 groups until the braid is the length you desire or at least the length of the cuff (Figure C). Holding all ends together, tie a single square knot at the end of the braided strands. To lock the knot in place, take one of the longest strand ends coming out of the knot and wrap it around the base of the knot and, with a tapestry needle, sew this end into the knot, cutting off the yarn at the knot surface to bury the end. Trim the remaining tassel ends to the length you desire.


Using a dishpan, place the mittens into about an inch (2.5 cm) of hot, soapy water and vigorously push on the fabric until it just begins to tighten. Be careful to not agitate the mittens for too long, or they will overshrink. This is not a typical fulling process in which the fabric becomes dense, with little stitch definition. The stitches should still be clearly seen when properly fulled. Also be careful with the tassel ends so they don’t clump together in the fulling.

Rinse the mittens in clear hot water and lay flat to dry with thumbs at opposite sides for left and right mittens.


When dry, using a hand carder or hairbrush, gently brush the surface of the mittens until they have an even, furry appearance.


Fold the cuff open before adding embellishments. I sewed ornamental buttons on the pictured mitten cuff, using the remaining spun singles as thread. But any embellishment can be used, such as beads individually strung onto the singles yarn (or a lace-weight spun yarn) and stitched into the cuff fabric, freeform embroidery, or even traditional simple lines or geometric zigzags. With a needle to fit the yarn and embellishments used, sew the yarn through the knitted surface. If embroidering, just pick up the knitting stitches on the RS rather than sewing through the sts to the WS. Sketch out a pattern in advance if that helps you to visualize your final design. For all methods of sewing, at the beginning of the sewing and at the end, hide the embroidery ends in the back of the cuff fabric by weaving the ends back and forth to lock them in the fiber. Trim the ends close to the surface.

More from Yarn Works:

How to Knit Wrist Warmers

Knit Cowl Pattern

Reprinted with permission from Yarn Works: How to Spin, Dye, and Knit Your Own Yarn by W. J. Johnson and published by Creative Publishing International, 2014. Buy this book from our store: Yarn Works: How to Spin, Dye, and Knit Your Own Yarn.