How to Knit Mittens: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you in the market for some winter gloves? Knitting your own mittens will save you both time and money, not to mention that they’ll be hand-knitted with love, which makes them worth more than any store-bought pair! Follow this step-by-step guide on how to knit mittens and never suffer through another winter without cozy hand protection again.

Bear face mittens
Bear face mittens

Casting On

When you’re first learning how to knit, casting on is the first step. It’s where you’ll establish your stitches and get everything set up for knitting your project. Casting on might seem simple enough, but there are a few different ways of doing it that can lead to different results – choose whichever feels most comfortable for you!

Knit a long tail about 6 inches long and use the thumb of your non-dominant hand (if you’re right-handed) or the index finger of your dominant hand (if you’re left-handed) to grasp the end of it close against the ball while keeping all but an inch free in your other hand.

Grab a needle with your non-dominant hand and thread the yarn through the eye of the needle by looping it around several times before pulling it through.

Thread this needle onto your long tail and hold them together at one end with your fingers from both hands before using them to pull some slack from both sides until they’re at least three times as long as they were originally when they were next to each other.

Hold onto this newly cast-on row with both hands, ensuring that there’s still an inch remaining before cutting off any excess yarn by running your fingers along it so that you don’t leave any loose ends dangling at either side.

To begin knitting your mittens, wrap the working yarn over the needle pointing towards you then under and over again.

Bring the working yarn back to its original position, wrapping it over and then under.

Keep repeating these steps with your hands moving in opposite directions – called knitting – until you have knitted as many rows as needed for the cuff of your mitten(s).

To continue knitting your mitten(s), turn the workaround so that what was on top becomes what is now on the bottom and vice versa. You will now be working from the opposite direction than before; hence why turning the work is necessary if continuing straight after casting on new stitches for additional rows. The last thing you want is to have turned your work halfway through and realized that you need to start knitting backward because the wrong side of your knitting will show on the outside of the mitten.

Once you’ve reached the desired length for your mittens, bind off those stitches with a stretchy bind-off technique like crochet or Kitchener stitch. The easiest way to learn how to crochet is just by picking up a crochet hook and following along with these instructions:

-Take your needle out from underneath whatever stitch it currently occupies and insert it into an empty space two rows below it.

-Loop the working yarn around your needlepoint and pull a loop through.

-Pass the needlepoint behind this new loop, grab the nearest stitch from behind and pass it over this new loop before releasing it. Repeat this process, passing loops behind previous loops, until you reach the end of your row. With every second stitch on your final row, pass that corresponding stitch over its corresponding passed-over loop to create an easing effect for cleaner edges. For example: Pass 1st Stitch Over 2nd Stitch Pass 2nd Stitch Over 3rd Stitch Etc.

The Basic Garter Stitch

Girl hiding her face with hands
Girl hiding her face with hands

The following instructions will make a pair of basic garter stitch mittens. Cast on 6 stitches onto a smaller size needle, or for larger mittens, cast on 8 stitches onto a regular size needle. Garter stitch is worked by knitting all rows in every row which means that when you reach the end of the row and have one extra stitch remaining before starting the next row, turn your work around and knit backward into this last unworked stitch before continuing down the new row.

The purl side has one less knit stitch than the right side since knitting purls take up more space than knits do. When it comes time to add color, remember to twist yarns around each other when changing colors so as not to create long loops of slack yarn. It is often helpful to start the second color at the back of the work so that these ends are hidden between layers of fabric.

To finish off, either sew together with a mattress stitch or just use a contrasting-color piece of yarn and weave through both layers then pull tight. Tie in several knots if desired but be sure not to leave any loose ends! You’ll need approximately five yards of yarn per mitten. In general, it is better to cast on an even number for half of the stitches – for example 2×4, 4×6 – in order to avoid running out of materials mid-way through.

The easiest way to measure how much yardage you’ll need is to measure your arm circumference plus two inches (for where thumbs will come out). Multiply this number by 5 yards and divide by the gauge per inch (g/in) – 7 x 5 = 35 divided by 7 = 5 yards total needed per mitten; 18 x 5 = 90 divided by 7 = 12 yards total needed per person.

Cuff and Thumb Hole

Girl hiding her half face with hands
Girl hiding her half face with hands

To make the cuffs and thumb holes, you will cast on nine stitches for the hand of the mitt. You then knit back and forth in rows. Decrease one stitch at each end of every other row until you have five stitches left. Bind off these five stitches and put them back on your needle with the other end that was just bound off. Knit back and forth across these stitches until you reach seven rows total (you will have 11 stitches). Next, decrease one stitch at each end of every other row until you have three stitches left.

Now tie a knot and cut your yarn tail close to the work. Weave in the ends. Take the rest of your 9 lengths and fold them in half so that both ends are parallel to each other. Thread both pieces through the middle loop of an i-cord maker (or darning needle) so they form two loops side by side, about 3 long. With RS facing, thread the top loop over one segment and under another segment of the cord.

Bring it back up through the bottom loop but not all the way through – leave a little slack here; take the bottom loop over the top loop from front to back and thread it over one segment and under another segment; bring it up through the top loop but not all the way through – leave slack again; take top loop over a bottom loop from front to back, etc., until you’ve made 12 loops out of 9.

Finishing Up

Once you’re done knitting the mitten, there are a few steps that you need to do before it’s ready for use. First, I usually stretch out the fingers on one of my hands so I can get an idea of how big the holes need to be. Next, I use a darning needle and cotton yarn to thread through the fabric from one side of the hole and back around again until it forms a tight knot on either side of the hole.

The next step is weaving in all your loose ends – make sure you go back up along the same row that you originally made each stitch on or else it’ll be impossible to find them again! Now comes the part where you sew the two sides together. I usually just bring one edge over to meet the other and then start sewing a seam across about three inches away from where they met.

For now, we’re going to leave it as is without any ribbing at the top since this will change depending on what kind of hat we decide to knit with these mittens (perhaps more ribbing might be necessary for earflap hats). One final touch is adding some buttons on either side of the thumbs near where they connect with the palms – this keeps our hands nice and warm when we need it most!


The best part about knitting your own mittens is the opportunity to customize them however you want! So, get yourself some yarn and knitting needles, and before you know it you’ll be keeping your hands warm this winter. And even better? They’ll only cost you a few bucks, instead of $50 for the high-end designer kind.

Also, check out the latest articles “How to knit a hat” and “Summer crafts

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