Anatomy of a Mitten

Mittens are a must have winter staple to keep you warm in the cold months. Plus, they are structurally fairly simple and can knit up quickly. This makes them a nice last minute Christmas gift if you still want to give something handmade. So let’s look into what goes into making a mitten.


Mittens are knit on circular needles using the magic loop method, or using double pointed needles. You’ll also need some scrap yarn or a stitch holder for your thumb stitches.


Usually mittens are knit from the cuff up. That means that you will start by casting on the stitches to fit around your wrist. Sometimes the cuff is knit in a rib, and sometimes it has another design, like colorwork or cables.


Your hand is the widest at the base of your thumb. To accommodate this, patterns might have you increase the number of stitches using a technique like the M1R or M1L stitch. Then you will have to separate some stitches to knit the thumb. The thumb is knit in the round as well, it is just a much smaller round.


This is where the main design of your mitten will have its time to shine. Usually this is pretty straightforward until you start to get to the tip of the mitten.


When you get to the desired length of your mitten, you will likely start to decrease the number of stitches that you have using k2tog and ssk stitches. At the very tip of the mitten, the Kitchener stitch is often used to create a seamless finish over the top of the fingers. 

Kitchener Stitch

The Kitchener stitch is a great technique to learn for when you are finishing up the tips small accessories like socks and mittens. In case you were wondering why it is called Kitchener, it was apparently named after Horatio Herbert Kitchener, although it seems that it is in more of an honorary capacity than as an inventor. You can read more about it here.

Mittens are a creative and fun project for the winter. If you need some pattern inspiration, check out our top 10 favorite mitten patterns.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *