colorblock mitts

update 1/2/15:  hello friends, i apologize for the inconvenience, but i developed some storage issues on my current server just before christmas, and my gallery archives have been disrupted as a result.  i am working as quickly as i can to permanently correct this issue, but the process has been slowed with the holidays.  i thank you for your continued patience and promise to have the tutorials back in tip top shape as soon as i possibly can.  

i love stripes.  i mean, LOVE stripes.  at least half of my clothing is striped, and i don’t immediately see any drawbacks of making the transition to a 100% striped wardrobe.  back in july, i made the below wonderful homage to stripes for my sister’s birthday, both the pattern and yarns from my favorite favorite little purveyor of yarn, quince & co, out in maine.  not only do i love their message and mission, their yarn (all 100% wool) is excellent quality and in my favorite palate of colors i’ve seen from any single manufacturer.

Screen Shot 2013-01-06 at 8.28.18 AM

rayures, photo credit

anyway, knitting something like that leaves you with something like this:


which i figured would only be resolved with more stripes.  however, it’s recently come to my attention that color blocking is big.  i’m not exactly on top of the trends, so by the time they trickle down to me, they’re probably already on the way out.  but, leafing through the new j crew catalog the other day suggested wearing these won’t embarrass you for at least another season.

these are a great beginner knit to practice your knitting in the round on double point needles (dpns).  this is a step by step photo tutorial full of little tips and tricks to manage all those needles and make smooth, seamless color transitions.  if you’ve been thinking about trying mittens or gloves, this is a great starting point to get the basics under your belt before you advance to separate fingers or a closed top.  you can easily change the look by changing the colors, the length of the color blocks, or the length of the whole mitt to make them more of a wristie.  if you’re a seasoned knitter, these will knit up in a single afternoon and require little attention.


skills required

  • knit and purl stitches (k and p)
  • make one (m1), see my favorite, most seamless technique for m1 here
  • knitting in the round on dpns (it’s ok if this is your first time!)
  • joining colors (explanation to follow!)


  • set of 4 size 5 dpns (i HIGHLY recommend bamboo for beginners.  metal needles are slippery and will slide out left and right which is frustrating and discouraging (i used them my first time and didn’t return to dpns for weeks.  wooden needles are much stickier, in a good way).
  • 3 balls of scrap yarn with gauge of 5 stitches/in.  i used quince and co finch in the colors chantarelle, petal and clay (bottom to top).  i realized after completing my first mitt that this color combo eerily resembles neopolitan ice cream.  i am not certain of yardage, but it could not have been more than 50 yds/color/mitt.  in fact, i’m sure it was much less.
  • two markers (i like to make mine out of yarn because it is flexible and easily replaced)
  • tapestry needle for weaving in ends

a note on sizing:  my hands measure almost 7″ around the widest part of my palm, and i knit the S size.  as you can see from the photos, it’s not skin tight.  M and L will be almost an inch larger each, so keep that in mind when you’re selecting size.

here we go!  my instructions are intentionally chatty, so if you just want to get to the point, read the bold text.

  1. cast on 36 (42, 46) stitches with your first color using the long tail method for sizes S (M, L).  you can cast them all onto one needle.
  2. DSC03574
  3. now, you will divide the stitches as evenly as possible onto two additional dpns.  slide the stitches all the way to one end, and start slipping them from your cast on needle onto an empty needle.
  4. DSC03575
  5. repeat with the next empty needle.
  6. DSC03576
  7. now we are going to join the stitches to work in the round.  fold the three needles into a triangle shape and make sure your stitches aren’t twisted.  my three needles with stitches are always in this “A” orientation, so i do a little sliding each time i turn the work to knit off another needle to return them to this orientation.  place a marker, and join to work in the round, using the fourth, empty needle.  you will always be knitting into the top point of that A and all you worry about are your empty needle, and the needle you’re knitting off of.  the other two holding stitches are just that–temporary stitch holders, so you just want them as far out of the way as possible until you finish one needle, turn your work, and come to the next one.
  8. DSC03577
  9. work in k1p1 rib for one inch.  each time you knit all the stitches off of one needle, you use the newly empty needle to knit off the next one.  each time you turn your work, you slide your needles back into the “A.”  nothing terrible will happen if you don’t, you will just notice the needles bumping into your hands.  if you hold your yarn differently, you might find a variant orientation that works better for you!  i am a self taught knitter, and this is the style that evolved for me quickly on my first don project.
  10. you might notice after a few rounds that the ribbed stitches between two dpns get a little sloppy.  when i see that happening, i like to knit to the end of a needle, and before using my empty needle on the next set of stitches, i knit another stitch or two from the next needle onto the needle i just completed to close the gap.  you only need a marker for the beginning of the round–the other stitches don’t care what needle they’re on, but your life will be easiest if they’re divided evenly across needles, so i’ll displace 2 stitches at the end of each needle, for example.
  11. DSC03581
  12. after one inch of k1p1 ribbing, switch to stockinette stitch for another inch (total two inches in first color).  remember, when you’re knitting in the round you knit every row for stockinette stitch.
  13. join color 2 at the start of the round.  there are many ways to do this, here is what i do.  break the thread of your first color leaving a 5″ tail.  wind color 2 around your hand to prepare to knit with it leaving another 5″ tail, then knit it into the first stitch of the new round (the stitch will be loose, which we will fix later).
  14. DSC03591DSC03592
  15. **jogless jog!  here’s how to get seamless stripes.  knit one round in color 2.  when you come to the end of round marker, slide marker, and insert your needle purlwise into the stitch below what was your first color 2 stitch (you are inserting into a color 1 stitch), pick it up, and place it on the needle beside that first color two stitch.  knit the color 1 and color 2 stitch together as one.  this evens out the color change rows and prevents that pesky jogging you get with knit stripes.  you might also notice the first or last stitch of a color block gets very loose when it’s knit into for the first time because we haven’t yet secured that 4″ tail.  just pull on the tail to return the stitch to it’s normal size, and i promise, we will permanently fix this at the end!
  16. DSC03595
  17. DSC03596
  18. DSC03597
  19. continue knitting in color 2 for an inch (total 3″ from cast on edge).  
  20. thumb gusset:  knit to one stitch before end of round marker.  place a second marker, m1, k1, m1, slide marker, knit to end of round.  rounds 1 and 2: knit.  round 3:  knit to first marker, slide marker, m1, knit to end of round marker, m1, slide marker.  repeat rounds 1-3 three (four, five) more times more until there are 11 (13, 15) stitches between markers.  pay attention to the length of your color block–somewhere in here you will be switching to color 3 once color 2 has reached 2″ in height (4″ from cast on edge).  do the color transition exactly as outlined in steps 13-18.
  21. once you have the correct number of stitches between markers, knit again to your first marker, remove marker, and slide 11 (13, 15) stitches onto waste yarn.  cast on one stitch (i use the backward loop method) to help close the gap created by the thumb stitches.  leave your end of round marker in place.
  22. DSC03599DSC03600
  23. continue knitting in stockinette stitch until color 3 block measures 2.5″ in height.  switch to k1p1 rib stitch for another 0.5″, and bind off loosely in pattern (that just means bind off in a ribbed stitch, too).
  24. transfer your 11 (13, 15) thumb stitches evenly onto 3 dpns and remove waste yarn (i do it in that order).  wind color 3 yarn around your hand in preparation to knit, and pick up 1 stitch to help secure the gap where the thumb joins the hand (total 12, (14, 16) stitches).
  25. DSC03601
  26.  knit 0.5″ in k1p1 rib stitch, bind off loosely in pattern.  you may want to go a size down in your needles for this ribbed section–i did not, and you can see in the picture it is a little loose–personal preference.
  27. finishing!  weave all your loose ends normally except those involved in color changes.  turn your mitt inside out.  select a color change location, where you will have two 4″ threads.  if the stitch is loose, give the tail a nice tug to get it back into shape before you weave it in permanently.  i like to twist these two threads over each other once to cover up the little hole that can appear in these color changes.  so, twist once, and weave threads in.  i try to weave in the tail on the same-colored fabric so there is no chance of it being visible on the right side.  repeat for remaining color changes.  trim your loose ends, and you’re done!
  28. DSC03602DSC03603

follow these instructions again to make your second mitt.  no need to reverse anything–the mitts will be identical and you  just turn one over to go on the opposite hand.

if you would like to make these mitts extend down your arm, just keep knitting in the round from your cast on edge until you reach the desired arm length and want to begin the thumb gusset.  there are no increases or decreases for shaping–it’s just one long tube and a thumb, so you can make it as long as you like.  you can also change the lengths of the color blocks or the number of them, now that you’re an expert in seamlessly joining two colors!

as always, please let me know if you have any questions.  happy knitting!

2 thoughts on “colorblock mitts

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