Knitty: little purls of wisdom
Simply Sock Yarns


My interest in knitting has been kept alive over the years by the almost infinite variety of color, pattern, and texture that is found in collections of knitters and museums around the world. Although I love the smooth, quiet repetition of knitting a rectangular scarf in garter stitch using a luxurious yarn, it is the endless diversity of technique and style that keeps me interested in knitting as more than a way to keep my hands busy while watching TV.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
--from The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

spacer Made in the USA
For those of us who live in the Western hemisphere, sumptuous fibers spun into luxurious yarns in faraway places touch our imaginations the way "Made in the USA" never can. Traveling in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America sounds sexy and exciting. And it is. But traveling closer to home can be exciting as well. The simple pleasures of your local yarn shop can be as rewarding as booths full of strange spices, unknown fruits, and brightly colored textiles in an exotic market. It's all in how you look at it.

"I'm staying home this year," I say.

"But didn't you Oklahoma? North Carolina? Sock Summit in Oregon?"

"I'm staying home this year."

"But aren't you going... on a knitting cruise? California for Interweave Knitting Lab?  Vancouver? visit your relatives Back East?

"I'm staying home this year. In North America."

Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear, I'm not about to stop traveling any time soon. But my alter ego Euro Donna has finally learned how to live with the firstborn me, born in the USA. Although at first we went together about as well as oil and vinegar or chalk and cheese, we've grown to complement each other over the seasons of long-distance travel and those of cocooning at home. And this year that means, I'm staying in North America.

In some ways knitting traditions in the Americas are even richer than those in Old World countries. With immigrants from around the world bringing their traditional clothing designs, color sensibilities, and knitting techniques to the melting pot that is America, a unique blend of styles has evolved into something new.

  • When knitting was brought to South America by the Spanish, the Andean people already had longstanding spinning and weaving traditions. Today, in the mountains of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador, men and women use both natural fiber and synthetic yarns to knit brightly colored chullo caps, many different styles of small purses, and winter accessories.
  • In the Pacific Northwest, knitting was introduced to the Coast Salish peoples by missionaries. Using very thick yarn, spun tightly and also knitted at a tight gauge, local knitters created wind- and water-proof sweaters that could serve as winter coats in much of the United States. The earliest sweaters were made with one color but those that are well-known today are decorated with pictorial colorwork motifs.
  • In New England, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland knitted mittens, along with other cold-weather accessories, became local works of art. Some mittens were decorated with color patterns brought over by different immigrant groups from Northern Europe, while others were made in solid colors and felted or had "thrums" (tufts of unspun wool) knitted in as a lining.

All of these New World knitters modified the designs introduced by Europeans to suit their own needs and tastes. If you find a pattern you like but it doesn't seem exactly right for your design, why not try your hand at making your own tweaks. You can change the number of colors used, make the repeat larger or smaller (this is especially easy with geometric patterns), and even add new elements, such as small diamonds, crosses, or lines between and around the main motifs, to completely change the look.

Here's how:

This pattern, known as Fox and Geese in the United States and Canada, has been used in an identical form as well as in many variations around the world.

The traditional Fox and Geese pattern is knitted with 3 colors.

When worked with 2 colors, this same pattern is sometimes called "Spider’s Web."

Although simple geometric designs with horizontal and diagonal lines intersecting is ubiquitous wherever knitting is found, knitters in each corner of the world have a unique take on the arrangement of the individual design elements and use two or three colors to change the design in simple, but striking ways.

One of the most fun parts of working with traditional ethnic designs is tweaking charts and pattern stitches to suit your own design. I've included several examples of variations of the Fox and Geese pattern, and these examples should give you some ideas for playing with patterns on your own. You can easily draw new charts on graph paper, or color squares in a spreadsheet on your computer, or use special knitting-chart software.

Here are some of the variations of Fox and Geese that I found in my knitting books:

This version of the six-stitch repeat is known as "Noughts and Crosses."

I found this two-color variation of the pattern in knitting book from Poland.

These versions of the pattern were used by Turkish knitters.
When three colors are worked in a row, third color is sometimes added with duplicate stitch.

Enlarging the pattern to an eight-stitch repeat allows for further variations.
The most basic version is known as "Compass and Rose."

In Lithuania Compass and Rose is knitted with three colors,
although knitters don’t have a special name for this pattern.

In the Norwegian "Spinning Wheel" motif the vertical and horizontal lines
are part of the background, which isolates the individual motifs.

In Scandinavia and South America, even larger variations have been used.

This "Cat’s Paw" design was likely derived from the Spinning Wheel design.

This design, known as the "Coca Leaf" pattern in the Andes has many other names around the world.

Learn more:
Ethnic Knitting Discovery and Ethnic Knitting Exploration, Donna Druchunas, Nomad Press
Favorite Mittens, Robin Hansen, Down East Books
Ultimate Mittens by Robin Hansen, Down East Books
Folk Mittens, Marcia Lewandowski, Interweave Press

spacer title
beauty shot

by Donna Druchunas


While European knitters normally made mittens with pointed tips or by dividing the stitches into three or four equal sections for decreasing, I've used the North American style of maintaining the pattern all the way to the tip.

My version uses the Lithuanian three-color variation of Compass and Rose. All three (yes, three) mittens use the same chart, but I changed the sequence of colors for each, resulting in a trio that uses an equal amount of each yarn.

The mittens are made in such a way that they can be worn on either hand so, should you lose a mitten, it's really no loss!

spacer photos: Dominic Cotignola

Adult S [M, L]

Hand Circumference: 7 [8, 9] inches
Length: 10.5 [11, 11.5] inches



spacer Simply Socks, Hand Dyed Solid Sock Yarn [80% superwash wool/20% nylon; 175 yd per 50g skein]; 1 [1, 1] skein each of: Silver Lining, Burgundy and Turquoise

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 #2 /2.75mm needles
spacer 1 set US #4/3.5mm needles

spacer scrap yarn
spacer yarn needle


32 sts/32 rounds = 4 inches in stockinette stitch over stranded color knitting


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

Make 3 mittens alike but change the color sequence as desired – designate one yarn as A, one as B, as C. The A color is the one used for the widest stripes in the ribbing, the C color is the one that is used only once in the ribbing.
You can copy my color arrangements, or choose your own.

Do not cut the yarns when not in use, but rather, run the unused colors up the inside of the mitten loosely.

Ribbing Pattern
Round 1: [K2, p2] around.

The charts for this pattern are very large and fit on a letter-sized page.
Click here and print the resulting page.


With smaller needles and A, cast on 48[56, 64] sts. Join to work in the round being careful not to twist stitches.

Work in Ribbing Pattern in the following stripe sequence:
A: 12 rounds
B: 4 rounds
C: 4 rounds
B: 4 rounds
A: 12 rounds

Start Hand & Setup Pattern:
Change to larger needles.

Next rnd: [K 6 (7, 8), m1] around. 56 [64, 72] sts.

Join B and C and work Rows 2-8 of colorwork chart once.

Thumb Gore Shaping :
Thumb Gore round: Work Thumb Gore chart over first 8 sts of round, place marker; work Colorwork chart to end of round.

Continue in pattern as set until row 9 of Thumb Gore chart is complete.  64[72, 80] sts – 16 sts between start of round and marker.

Size L only:
Next round: Using C m1, work in colorwork pattern as set over 16 sts, using C m1, work to end of round in colorwork pattern as set. 18 sts between start of round and marker.

Next round: Using C, m1, k1; work in colorwork pattern as set over 16 sts, using C k1, m1; work to end of round in colorwork pattern as set. 20 sts between start of round and marker—84 sts total.

All sizes: Continue in pattern as set until you have worked 3 repeats of the Colorwork chart.

Make thumb opening: Slip the first 16[16, 20] sts to scrap yarn and CO 8 sts over gap.

Work even in color pattern as established until 3[3, 4] repeats of chart are complete above the thumb opening.

Tip Shaping:
Work Fingertip chart, omitting chart rows 14-19 for sizes S and L. After all rows of chart complete, 7[8, 9] sts remain.
Break yarn. Thread tail through remaining sts and pull to close.

Remove scrap yarn and place thumb sts on needles.  Distribute across your needles as you prefer. With RS facing, rejoin yarn.

Sizes S + M only:
Round 1: Work across 16 sts following row 1 of Colorwork chart. Pick up and knit 8 sts over CO sts of palm, following chart.  24 sts.
Work in Colorwork pattern as set until 2 full repeats have been completed.  Work rows 1-6 once more.  Cut C.
Next rnd: With A, k2tog around. 12 sts.
Next rnd: With B, k2tog around. 6 sts.
Break yarn. Thread tail through remaining sts and pull to close.

Size L only:
Round 1: Using B k2, work across 16 sts following row 1 of Colorwork chart, using B k2. Pick up and knit 8 sts over CO sts of palm, following chart.  28 sts.
Work in pattern as set until 2 full repeats have been completed.  Work rows 1-6 once more. Cut C.
Next rnd: With A, [k5, k2tog] 4 times. 24 sts.
Next rnd: With A, k2tog around. 12 sts.
Next rnd: With B, k2tog around. 6 sts. Break yarn. Thread tail through remaining sts and pull gently to close.

Weave in ends, closing holes at base of thumb if needed.
On the cuff, weave in the ends vertically on the wrong side of the ribbing. If you weave in the ends horizontally, you might stretch and distort the ribbing and reduce its elasticity. Don't worry that you are not working each end solely into stitches knitted with the same color.
Wash and lay flat to dry. Steam lightly with a hot iron if necessary to help even out the texture of the colorwork.

habit-portraitBlank Donna Druchunas escaped a corporate cubicle to honor her passions for knitting, world travel, research, and writing. She is the author of six knitting books including Arctic Lace, Successful Lace Knitting, Kitty Knits, and Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland. She teaches in the United States in Europe and has just started offering online sock-knitting classes at

Visit Donna's website at