Tin Can Knits

blog.tincanknits.com · Dec 1, 2016

Let's Knit some super simple mittens


There is nothing like a nice pair of warm winter mittens . This quick and cozy knit is just the thing to stretch your skills and keep your hands toasty.

First, you will need a pattern so download The World’s Simplest Mittens and then away we go! You can knit your mittens using double pointed needles (casting on tutorial here), or using a single long circular and the magic loop technique (tutorial here).

Following the directions for your size and weight of yarn:

With smaller needles cast on:
Fingering: 32 (36, 42, 46, 52) sts.
DK: 28 (34, 38, 44, 48) sts.
Worsted: 24 (28, 32, 36, 40) sts.
Chunky: 22 (26, 28, 32, 36) sts.

Place BOR (beginning of round) marker and join for working in the round.

Tip: when I use double points I don’t like to use a BOR marker. Instead, I distribute my stitches with 1/2 on the first needle, 1/4 on the second needle, and 1/4 on the third needle. This way I know the BOR is at the start of the ‘full’ needle

Work in 1×1 rib (k1, p1) until piece measures 2.5 (2.5, 3, 4, 4)” from cast on. Switch to larger needles.
Fingering and DK: knit 3 (3, 4, 4, 4) rounds.
Worsted and chunky: knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3) rounds.

So far so good? Work in 1×1 rib means you are going to work: k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1 etc.
This pattern has generous cuffs so if you prefer a shorter cuff you can work fewer rounds here.

Ready for a thumb gusset!

::: thumb gusset :::

Take a quick look at your hand. Your thumb sort of sticks out a bit right? Even the part of your thumb that is still a part of your hand. Well, we have to make an extra little triangle of fabric to accommodate that part of your thumb.

To create this triangle of fabric we are going to work some increases. Some patterns specify which type of increase to use and some don’t, it is knitters choice. You can use any increase you like, for this pattern I am going to work some M1 (make 1) increases and to be a little extra fancy we are going to do paired increases, first an M1L and then a M1R (make 1 left and make 1 right). (check out the full tutorial on M1s here)

Set up round: m1, k1, m1, PM, knit to end (2 sts inc)
Rounds 1 and 2: knit
Round 3: m1, knit to marker, m1, SM, knit to end of round (2 sts inc)
Fingering: work rounds 1-3 a total of 6 (6, 7, 7, 8) times, 15 (15, 17, 17, 19) sts between BOR and marker.
DK: work rounds 1-3 a total of 5 (5, 6, 6, 7) times, 13 (13, 15, 15, 17) sts between BOR and marker.
Worsted: work rounds 1-3 a total of 4 (4, 5, 5, 6) times, 11 (11, 13, 13, 15) sts between BOR and marker.
Chunky: work rounds 1-3 a total of 3 (3, 4, 4, 5) times, 9 (9, 11, 11, 13) sts between BOR and marker.

See a pattern forming? We are increasing 2 stitches every third row and you should start to see a triangle forming. Notice how the increases make the thumb gusset distinct by ‘leaning away’ from the mitten? That is because of the paired increase we are using.

::: putting thumb stitches on hold :::

Next we are going to put the thumb stitches on hold. For this you will need a darning needle (preferable a dull one) and a small piece of waste yarn. While it is sometimes preferable to put sts on a stitch holder (like a giant safety pin), for a mitten waste yarn has the necessary flexibility.

Thread your needle with the waste yarn and thread it through the thumb gusset sts (the ones between the BOR and the marker). You can now remove your marker.

Waste yarn has been threaded through the live sts, the marker has been removed, and they are now on hold.

Next we are going to cast on 1 stitch in the middle of the row. Why, you ask? Because the thumb stitches ‘grew’ out of 1 knit stitch, but then we put all the thumb stitches on hold. So we are going to need 1 new stitch to take it’s place. The cast on method we use is the backward loop cast-on.

::: hand and decreases:::

The hand is pretty simple, just keep knitting every round.

Continue knitting every round until piece measures 2.5 (3, 3.75, 4, 4.5)” from end of thumb gusset.

On to the decreases!

Fingering set up: k16 (18, 21, 23, 26), PM, knit to end
DK set up: k14 (17, 19, 22, 24), PM, knit to end
Worsted set up: k12 (14, 16, 18, 20), PM, knit to end
Chunky set up: k11 (13, 14, 16, 18), PM, knit to end

Round 1: (k1, ssk, knit to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1) twice (4 sts dec)

Fingering: work round 1 a total of 6 (7, 8, 9, 11) times, 8 (8, 10, 10, 8) sts remain.
DK: work round 1 a total of 5 (6, 7, 9, 10) times, 8 (10, 10, 8, 8) sts remain.
Worsted: work round 1 a total of 4 (5, 6, 7, 8) times, 8 (8, 8, 8, 8) sts remain.
Chunky: work round 1 a total of 3 (4, 5, 6, 7) times, 10 (10, 8, 8, 8) sts remain.

If you haven’t worked an ssk or a k2tog check out those tutorials as well. Got your last few sts? Great, almost done!

Break yarn, leaving a 6” tail and weave through remaining live sts. Pull tight to close top of mitten.

::: thumb :::

Place held sts back on larger needles. Knit across these sts, pick up 1 stitch from body of mitten, PM and join for working in the round.

Fingering: 16 (16, 18, 18, 20) sts.
DK: 14 (14, 16, 16, 18) sts.
Worsted: 12 (12, 14, 14, 16) sts.
Chunky: 10 (10, 12, 12, 14) sts.

Once the stitches are back on the needles, you are ready to take out the waste yarn

You now have all your thumb stitches on your needles.

Knit every round until thumb measures 1 (1.5, 1.5, 1.75, 2)” from pick up.

Next round: k2tog around

Break yarn, leaving a 6” tail and weave through remaining live sts. Pull tight to close top of thumb.

You are closing the top of the thumb exactly the same way as the top of the mitten. You may have a small hole where you picked up. Just use your yarn tail and stitch up the hole before weaving in your ends on the inside of the work.

Weave in your ends and block your mittens. You are ready to wear them out!


Check out our many other the fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family! Like our work? Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.

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