Knitty: little purls of wisdom
Kollage Yarns/Needles
beauty shot


Elizabeth Zimmermann was right: fancy mittens with lovely stranded patterns knit in small gauges are probably best made in May.* Mittens knit in January should be thick and warm and finished quickly so you can get back outside and play. Shelburne mittens are knit in a bold cross-stitch rib that really stands out in a bulky yarn. No need for a cable needle; you simply work a knit 2, purl 1 rib, but on every other row, you cross the knit stitches by working the second stitch first. A tweedy merino-alpaca blend and longer-than-usual cuffs make these mittens perfect for deep winter, and the superwash wool keeps them from shrinking and felting with wear, as mittens are apt to do. With sizes for both children and adults, you can outfit the whole family with new mittens to celebrate the New Year.


*Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac, entry for May

spacer model: Emma spacer photos: Lee and Tom Juvan

child [woman, man] Shown in all sizes.


Circumference of hand: 5.5[6.5, 7] inches in pattern stitch, unstretched; to fit 6-6.5 [7-7.5, 8-8.5] hand circumference when worn.
Hand length: 5.5[7.5, 9] inches
Cuff length: 3.5[5, 4] inches
Total length, from cuff to fingertip: 9[12.5, 13] inches



spacer Rowan Felted Tweed Chunky [50% merino wool/25% alpaca/25% viscose; 55 yd/50 m per 50 g skein]; 2 [3, 3] skeins.
child: wode (289) [shown above]
woman: blue shadow (284) [shown immediately below]
man: grey pebble (283) [shown above]

Recommended needle size
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]
spacer 1 set US #9/5.5 mm double-point needles
spacer 1 long US #9/5.5 mm circular needle
spacer 2 short US #9/5.5 mm circular needles

spacer stitch markers
spacer stitch holder or waste yarn
spacer yarn needle



13 sts/18 rounds = 4 inches in Stockinette stitch
16 sts/20 rounds = 4 inches in pattern stitch, unstretched


[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

It is very hard to check gauge in ribbed stitches, so before you begin, take the time to knit a swatch in stockinette stitch. Then check the gauge of your mittens after you’ve knit a few inches of the cuff in cross-stitch rib. It should stretch comfortably around the hand of the intended wearer.

All three sizes of mittens use nearly all of the recommended yarn; if you intend to save your gauge swatch or make any alterations to the pattern (a longer cuff or hand, for example), you should purchase an extra skein. To make the child’s size in a set of 3 mittens, you will need 3 skeins.

The thumb on the child’s and man’s mitten is plain reverse Stockinette stitch (purl every row in the round). The thumb on the woman’s mitten has a two-stitch crossed rib running up the outside center.

Cross-stitch 2x1 rib (worked in the round over a multiple of 3 sts)
Round 1: [Skip 1 st and knit into 2nd st, then knit into skipped st, then slip both sts from needle together; p1] to end
Round 2: [K2, p1] to end

M1p: Make 1 purlwise. With point of left-hand needle, from back to front pick up bar running between last st on right-hand needle and first stitch on left-hand needle, and purl into the front of it.


MITTENS (make 2)

Using needles of your choice, CO 21 [27, 30] sts. Place marker and join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.

Work even in cross-stitch 2x1 rib until cuff measures 3.5[5, 4] inches from CO edge.

Thumb gore setup:
For child and man’s sizes: Work 11[-, 14] sts in pattern as established, pm, M1p, p1, M1p, pm, work in pattern to end of round.
For woman’s size: Work -[12, -] sts in pattern as established,  pm, M1p, work 2 knit sts of rib in pattern (crossing if necessary), M1p, pm.

For all sizes: work 2 rounds even.

Thumb gore increase round: Work to first marker in pattern, slip marker, M1p, work to next marker in pattern, M1p, slip marker, work to end in pattern.

Work 2 rounds even.

Repeat the last 3 rounds 1[1, 3] more times; 7[8, 11] sts between markers.

Woman’s size only: work 2 more rounds even in pattern.

Separate thumb: Work to first marker in pattern, slip next 7[8, 11] sts to waste yarn or stitch holder removing markers as you go, CO 1[2, 1] st(s) over gap, work to end of rnd in pattern. 21[27, 30] sts.

Work even in patt until fingertips are just covered, or about 8.5[11.5, 12] inches from CO edge, ending after a pattern round 1.

Decrease for top as follows:
Rnd 1: [K2tog, p1] to end. 14[18, 20] sts rem.

Rnd 2: [K1, p1] to end.

Rnd 3: [K2tog] to end. 7[9, 10] sts rem.

Break yarn, leaving 6-inch tail. Thread tail though remaining sts twice and fasten off inside mitten.

Transfer thumb sts from waste yarn to dpn or preferred circular method. Leave an 8-inch tail tucked into the body of the mitten and pick up 1[2, 1] st(s) over gap, pm, and work in rev St st for child’s and man’s mitten; and for woman’s mitten work in rev St st with a 2-st cross-stitch rib over outside center of thumb, as established. Total of 8[10, 12] sts for thumb.

Child’s and woman’s size:
Work even until tip of thumb just covered, or approx 8[12] rnds.

Decrease round: P2tog around. 4[5] sts rem.

Break yarn, leaving 6-inch tail. Thread tail through rem sts twice and fasten off inside mitten.

Man’s size:
Work even until about 1 inch from tip of thumb, or approx 7 rnds.
Tip round 1: Work in pattern to last two sts, p2tog. 11 sts rem.
Tip round 2: Work even in pattern.
Rep last 2 rnds once more. 10 sts.
Tip round 5: Work even in pattern.
Tip round 6: P2tog around. 5 sts rem.

Break yarn, leaving 6-inch tail. Thread tail through rem sts twice and fasten off inside mitten.

Use tails from thumb to close up any gaps at base of thumb. Weave in ends. Block gently if desired.


Lee thinks winter doesn’t last nearly long enough! She is the designer of several patterns published in Knitty, including Shroom, Sugar on Snow, and Unmentionables.

You can see more of her work on Ravelry and in Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain.