Monday, November 23, 2015

Let's Make A Pair Of Mittens

As most of you know, I am a knitter.  I taught myself to knit from a Learn To Knit book when I was in sixth grade.

I did need some help learning to purl from my long time friend's mom.  Wendy, I still remember the light bulb moment when she showed me.  It took thirty seconds, but made everything click for me.  My first project was mittens on four double pointed needles.  I remember they were blue, and I was very proud.  Now I am seeing on Facebook and through other knitting sites they offer instructional videos for $39.99.  I find it hard to believe people will pay that much for something I could learn by myself as a child.

There are two schools of thought for knitters.  One type I call knitting purists.  They will only use super valuable yarn, buy designer patterns and spend tons of money on a project.  I guess they think their time is worth so much more than I do.  I agree that money can be invested in a classic sweater that will remain in style and last a lifetime.  I also believe if you are a hard to fit person, perhaps making an item that is custom fit is necessary.  For the most part, I belong to the other school.  I believe knitting is therapeutic and fun.  It should be made for the least amount of money possible.  I buy yarn on sale,  at thrift stores and garage sales from people who buy expensive yarn and then donate it when the project doesn't work out.  Why make a pair of kids mittens (which will most likely get lost) for $12 when you can buy a pair for 99 cents or make them for 50 cents.

For those who don't want to spend $40 on a video on how to make mittens, I am posting this little tutorial for free.  I hope you can follow my instructions.  Any type of knitting worsted weight yarn will work.  Recently at Joann fabrics I found a bag of mill end yarn.  Some of the colors were  NFL football team colors.  I found some orange and black self striping yarn which happens to be our grandson's school colors.  It did cost $7.98 but with some store discounts, I did get a couple dollars off.  There is 14 oz. in the bag which is quite a lot of yardage.   I have made two pair of mittens and a hat and only used half the yarn.

This is the packaging for the yarn and the 9" circular needles
 plus the double pointed needles I used. 

Classic Knitted Mittens for a Child

These mittens will fit a child about 8 to 10 years old.  Adjustments can be made for other sizes using the same general instructions.  There are a lot of patterns on the web.  For this pattern I used a size 3 and a size 5 needle.  I like using 9 inch stainless steel circular needles but using double pointed needles will also work.  In fact, you will need double pointed needles for the thumb and finishing off the top of the mitten.

I cast on with the larger needle (size 5) and then knit the stitches for the cuff with the smaller needle (size 3).  This gives the cast on some stretch and the cuff made with a smaller needle makes a snug fit around the wrist.

Begin by casting on 36 stitches.  Place a stitch marker and begin knitting Knit 2, Purl 2 around the row.  Continue placing the knit stitches over the knits and purl stitches over the purls.  This will make the ribbed cuff.  Knit in this manner for three inches or longer if you want the cuff to come up higher on the wrist so it fits under the coat cuff.

This is the knit 2, purl 2 ribbing, but knit 1, purl 1 would also work.

Switch to the larger needle (size 5 in this case) and begin knitting every stitch around.  Transfer marker on each row.  Knit even for three rows.  On row 4, slip the marker and increase on the first stitch of the row, then knit 1 stitch and increase in the next stitch.  Place another marker and finish knitting the row.  The stitches between the markers will be your thumb stitches.  Knit even around for rows 5 and 6.  On row 7, slip marker and increase on the first stitch of the row, then knit 3 and increase in the stitch before the next marker.  Continue in this manner of knitting two rows even and increasing every third row until you have 11 stitches between the markers.  Knit two more rows even.  You will have 44 stitches on your needle.

The thumb gore with the 11 stitches between the markers.

At this point the stitches between the markers are put on a holder to be worked later.  I use a piece of yarn because it's flexible.  A small safety pin or stitch holder would work but I like using the yarn.

Yellow yarn serving as a stitch holder.

Now place a marker, cast on two stitches and begin knitting around again on 35 stitches until the measurement from the top of cuff is 5 inches plus 3 inches for the cuff for a total of 8 inches.   The size of the mitten can be adjusted at this point.

Completed hand ready to be decreased and finished.

When the length of the hand is where you want it, it's time to decrease for the top of the mitten.  At this point I change to double pointed needles to accommodate the lesser number of stitches.

Finish using double pointed needles.

Row 1 of decrease:  (Knit 2 together, knit 2), knit 2 together, knit 2  repeat around.
Row 2 of decrease:  (Knit 2 together, knit 1), knit 2 together, knit 1 repeat around.
Row 3 of decrease:  Knit 2 together in succession around row.

Break off yarn and draw through remaining 9 stitches.  I usually run the yarn through two times and fasten off to the inside.

All that is left is finishing the thumb by using the double pointed needles again.  Tie on a new piece of yarn and put the stitches onto your double pointed needles that are being held on the yarn (11 stitches) plus 2 to 4 stitches from the area where you cast on stitches for the hand.  You may have a small hole which can be closed by pulling the yarn tighter or worse case sew it closed when finished.  I usually manage to knit those extra stitches tight enough to avoid a hole but either way works fine.

11 stitches on needle plus the picked up stitches.

Knit around the thumb until it is 1 1/2 inches long.  Rather than deal with knitting stitches on three needles, I just put them on two needles and knit around with the third.

To finish the mitten, decrease the stitches on the thumb by knitting 2 stitches together, knit 1, around the row.  Next knit 2 together in succession ending with 3 to 5 stitches.  Cut the yarn and draw through the stitches in the same manner as the top of the mitten.  Secure the yarn and fasten off.

Finishing the thumb

Weave all the loose ends and you have a mitten.  Now do it all again to make a pair.  There isn't a right or left.  Both mittens are made the same.  I have a suggestion for the striping yarn.  Try to start your cast on at the same color point in the yarn.  That way both mittens will somewhat match.  If you don't mind that your stripes don't match, then start the cast on anywhere.   Good Luck.