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How to Knit Playful Mittens Using Leftover Yarn

Our classic hand-knit mittens cheer up chilly days, thanks to playfully mismatched color-block patterns. Buy at least two skeins of yarn in different but coordinating colors (two skeins are enough to make one pair of women’s and one pair of kids’ mittens), or use leftover yarn from your knitting basket. The mittens make sweet holiday gifts, so start now—and let your imagination dictate the design.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner
For the warmest mittens, use worsted-weight yarn. Our pint-size mitten pattern fits most 2-to-3-year-olds.

Stitch by Stitch

If you’re new to knitting, get acquainted with basic stitches and terminology, then learn to use stitch markers to track rows. Once you have the fundamentals, follow the how-to below. Our row-by-row patterns for women’s mittens (and for kids’, in parentheses) make them easier to knit than you might think.

Supplies

4 double-pointed needles, U.S. #4
2 skeins worsted-weight yarn, in different colors
4 single-pointed needles, U.S. #6
Darning needle
Split-ring stitch marker (optional)

Note
Start counting rounds anew at the base of each section.

Gauge
20 stitches and 30 rows equal 4 inches on U.S. #6 needles, after blocking.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

How-To

1. KNIT CUFF Using #4 needles, cast on 36 (26) stitches. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist stitches. Work in a knit 1, purl 1 rib until cuff measures 2¾ (1¼) inches.

2. Switch to #6 needles, and change colors if desired (as shown, above; for details, see “How to Change Colors,” below). Work 10 (4) rounds in stockinette stitch.

3. START THUMB Round 1: Knit 1, make 1 right, knit 1, make 1 left, knit to end of round = 38 (28) stitches on needles.
Rounds 2 and 3: Knit.
Round 4: Knit 1, make 1 right, knit 3, make 1 left, knit to end of round = 40 (30) stitches.
Round 5: Knit.
Round 6: Knit 1, make 1 right, knit 5, make 1 left, knit to end of round = 42 (32) stitches.
Continue in pattern as set, increasing 2 stitches every third round 7 (5) times before and after the increases from the round before, until you have 15 (11) stitches between increases.
Round 15 (11): Knit 50 (40) stitches.

knit-mittens-how-to-step2-105-d112295.jpg
Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Round 16 (12): Knit 1, slip 15 (11) stitches onto waste yarn (as shown, above), knit to end of round = 35 (25) stitches.
Pull working yarn tight over held stitches when continuing to work rest of round. (This will prevent a gap later, when picking up stitches for the thumb.)

4. KNIT HANDS Work in stockinette stitch for 24 (12) rows, or until hand measures 1¾ inches (1 inch) from desired finished length.

5. Rounds 25 (12), 27 (14), 29 (16), 31, 33, 35: Knit all stitches.
Round 26 (13): *Knit 5 (3), knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 30 (20) stitches.
Round 28 (15): *Knit 4 (2), knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 25 (15) stitches.
Round 30 (17): *Knit 3 (1), knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 20 (10) stitches.
Round 32 (women’s size only): *Knit 2, knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 15 stitches.
Round 34 (18): *Knit 1 (0), knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 10 (5) stitches.
All sizes: Trim yarn, leaving a 5-inch tail. Using darning needle, thread tail through remaining stitches and pull together tightly. Weave in and trim ends.

6. COMPLETE THUMB Place the 15 (11) held stitches from waste yarn onto 3 double-pointed needles.
Round 1: Knit 15 (11), pick up 2 stitches in space between thumb and hand = 17 (13) stitches.
Round 2: Knit 15 (11), knit 2 together = 16 (12) stitches.
Rounds 3 through 12 (5), 14 (7), 16 (9): Knit all stitches.
Round 13 (6): *Knit 2 (1), knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 12 (8) stitches.
Round 15 (8): *Knit 1 (0), knit 2 together, repeat from * around = 8 (4) stitches.
Round 17 (women’s size only): Knit 2 together all around = 4 stitches.
All sizes: Trim yarn, leaving a 5-inch tail. Using darning needle, thread tail through remaining stitches and pull together tightly. Weave in and trim ends.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

7. FINISH Undo half-knots or bows created when changing colors, and cross tails over each other. Using darning needle, thread tails through same-color fabric section; trim ends (as shown, above).

How to Change Colors

Switch colors wherever you like: Simply drop the old yarn, leaving a 5-inch tail, then begin knitting with new yarn, leaving a 5-inch tail. Knit a couple of stitches with the new yarn, then tie a loose half-knot or bow with both tails on the wrong side of the knitting. Adjust the tension of the stitches and continue knitting.

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