Mittens can be a bit intimidating, even for those of us who have been crocheting for years. Beginners can crochet mittens by first choosing the right type of yarn and stitch. They can adjust the size according to the wearer, or even add those useful flaps that can be held back to expose the fingers. With a little care and attention, the perfect pair of mittens is within your grasp.
What Yarn Should You Use?
Choose your yarn carefully. Although you may be tempted to use acrylic yarn for its ease of washing, it won't be nearly as warm as wool yarn. Wool naturally wicks moisture away from the skin while at the same time trapping in heat. If you're willing to spend a little extra money, you can buy superwash wool, which has been processed so that it won't felt when you put it in the washing machine. (You probably still shouldn't put it in the dryer though, as the coating on superwash wool is damaged when it's overheated.)
In all likelihood, you'll want to use worsted weight yarn, also known as afghan or aran weight yarn, which would be used with I, J or K sized hooks. This yarn is thick enough to create nice, cozy mittens without being too bulky.
How Much Yarn Will You Need?
Estimating yarn is a tricky business, as you don't want to spend too much money, but you also don't want to run out of yarn. Basic worsted crocheted mittens call for around 50 yards for a baby, 75 yards for a toddler, 100 yards for a child and 150 yards for an adult.
What Stitch Should You Use?
Crochet your mittens using two different stitches -- one stretchy stitch for the cuffs, and one for the body of the mitten.
A rib stitch is a terrific stitch for mitten cuffs; it's nice and stretchy, and using a slightly smaller hook for your cuffs will make them cling comfortably to the wrists. The stitch is worked by crocheting into the back loop as you go across your row.
The body of the mitten can be worked in whatever stitch you choose; single crochet is the simplest, but you can feel free to experiment and use whatever looks best to you!
How Do You Crochet the Cuffs?
Using the smaller crochet hook, chain 6 stitches for a mitten for a baby, 8 stitches for a mitten for a toddler, 12 stitches for a mitten for a child and 14 stitches for a mitten for an adult. Skip the first chain and single crochet (SC) into the second chain in from hook, and in each chain across -- one stitch will be decreased.
Chain 1, SC into the back loop of each stitch as you go across. Turn and repeat this row 8 (10, 16, 20) more times.
How Do You Crochet The Palm?
Don't turn to work another row. Change to a larger-sized hook. SC 2 stitches in each stitch across, giving you 10 (14, 22, 26) stitches.
Chain 1, SC in each stitch across. Turn and repeat this row 4 (5, 12, 18) more times.
Chain 1, SC 1, SC two stitches together, SC to last 3 stitches, SC two stitches together, SC 1. Turn, chain 1 and SC in in each stitch across. Repeat these two rows until you have 8 (10, 18, 20) stitches.
Chain 1, SC two stitches together across row. You now have 4 (5, 9, 10) stitches. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail, and fasten off.
How Do You Crochet The Thumb?
Turn the mitten sideways and insert the larger hook between the 2nd and 3rd rows above the ribbed cuff. Attach the yarn with a slip stitch and chain 1, SC into the next 3 (3, 6, 8) rows. Pull the other side of the mitten toward you and SC into the same 4 (4, 7, 9) rows on the other side. Work the thumb in a circle and SC into all of these 8 (8, 14, 18) stitches.
SC 1 (2, 4, 6) rounds. SC two stitches together around, so that you have 4 (4, 7, 9) stitches. For the child and adult sizes, SC two stitches together 3 (4) times, then SC in the last stitch.
Cut the yarn, leaving a 6-inch-long tail. Fasten off and pull the tail to the inside of the mitten. Use a tapestry needle and the tails of the yarn to sew the top of the thumb closed, and to seam up the sides of the mitten.
How Do You Make a Flap?
Crochet mittens with flaps just like mittens without them -- up to a point. They don't work particularly well on baby or toddler mittens, as babies and toddlers have a hard enough time keeping their mittens on, so these instructions are only for child- and adult-sized mittens. Follow the same instructions for regular mittens, but stop when you've worked only 10 (14) rows of the palm. Proceed straight to the thumb instructions and sew the mitten together, leaving the top of the palm open.
Insert your hook 2 rows down and SC 13 (15) stitches halfway around the outside back of the mitten. Chain 13 (15) stitches. Do not turn, but instead insert hook into the row you've started, joining in the round. SC all the way around all these 26 (30) stitches for 14 (20) rounds.
SC two stitches together, SC 12 (14) stitches, SC two stitches together, SC to the end of the round. Turn, chain 1 and SC in each stitch across. SC two stitches together, SC 10 (12) stitches, SC two stitches together, SC to the end of the round. Turn, chain 1 and SC in each stitch across. SC two stitches together, SC 8 (10) stitches, SC two stitches together, SC to the end of the round.
Chain 1, SC two stitches together across row. You now have 9 (11) stitches. Cut yarn, leaving a long tail, and fasten off.
Sew the top of the mitten flap closed. Use a needle and thread to sew a small button under the flap that you can push through the flap to keep it closed.
Nikki Van De Car is a knitting and motherhood blogger for the website What To Knit When You're Expecting. Her collection of knitting patterns, "What To Knit When You're Expecting," is available from Running Press.