Time for me to start a year's worth of mittens again - and I'm hoping to persuade others to join me. Most of the mittens I make go to children in the younger age range for Seneca Santa (a local charity for needy kids in Schuyler County, NY). The idea is that warm mittens will probably be accepted most readily by littler kids... while older ones might just prefer "magic" gloves, which could come from anywhere, unlike homemade mittens which could potentially identify them among their peers as having received a charity gift. Or maybe some older children don't mind and just want to be warm, which is what we want for them when we knit. You can, of course, crochet warm mittens, but knitted ones are differently stretchy and conform better to small hands. Seneca Santa gives gifts to children newborn to 10 years old.
These mittens are for 4-5 year olds, the target audience. I like using two strands of yarn for extra thickness and warmth. These are variegated knitting worsted and a yellow baby yarn held together. The red ones at the end, for a slightly larger/ older child, are knitting worsted.heavy sport weight held together. I'm putting in stitch counts for both; use a smaller needle than you think you'd need and knit loosely. size 7 or 8 needles are great; you'll also need two stitch holders and a yarn needle for sewing.
Cast on 24/27 stitches. K1, p 1 ribbing for 12/14 rows. On the next inside row, increase 5 stitches across in purl. knit one row, purl one row for four more rows, ending on the right side. (The red mittens are more traditional: I purled one row, knitted a row and began increasing traditionally for a thumb gusset on three right-side rows each time I was at the 12th stitch from the end.
When I got to 9 stitches, I put the thumb stitches on a holder). For the yellow mittens, knit 12, increase 1, knit 5, increase 1, knit 12. Purl next row.
Last thumb gusset row on the yellow mittens: Knit 12, increase 1, knit 7, increase 1, put the thumb stitches on a holder and knit to end of the row. Purl the next row, picking up one stitch above the thumb to close the gap.
It looks stubby when it's flattened out for the photo, and the stitch holder is a lot larger than it needs to be.
Knit and purl until you have 11 rows above the thumb stitches. This part goes pretty quickly! On last row, K 1, K 2 together across. Cut yarn, thread through a yarn needle and take off all stitches, pull tight and fasten with one buttonhole sewing stitch.
Put thumb stitches on the needle, knit across, adding one stitch to the end of the row. I knit in my end, having left a tail of yarn long enough to knit three stitches with. Knit 8 more rows. Cut yarn, thread through a yarn needle and take off all stitches, pull tightly, fasten off and sew thumb seam. Fasten off again at the join between thumb and hand, then run the tail through the purl stitches, trim flat. Sew the hand seam. You can start from the tail left from casting on, meet in the middle with the tail left from finishing the mitten top. Run all tails through the purl side of the mitten, a few stitches in one direction, then zig zag back in the other direction for security. Trim all tails.
Here are two pairs of finished mittens. Not sure yet what I'll do about matching hats. Variegated yarns make really nice- looking mittens; the "louder" variegations like the Christmas red/white/green that often show up in yarn donations can be toned down a bit with a solid. Having these cool colors is also frankly more fun for the knitter, too.