Monday, October 5, 2009

Some basic patterns for mittens and socks

I'm so excited that the Youth Campaign is on!

I'll be focusing on mittens and socks for this youth campaign -- in worsted weight, they're fast and easy, and you can make more individual items, ensuring that more children will have at least one warm thing. And worsted is thicker than, for example, sock yarn, so those socks will be that much warmer. Use any pattern you like. I've compiled this list of very basic patterns for those of you who might need a starting point, but that's all they're meant to be. The Internet is full of free patterns -- be aware that not all are very well written. Those on this list should be reliable. I checked all the links and they are "live" as of this writing.

Remember, 14-year-old boys and girls often have adult-sized hands and feet. An adult medium would certainly be appropriate for many of the older kids in this campaign. Also, remember to use wool (or other animal fiber). Some of these patterns call for Woolease or Encore; those yarns have only a very small percentage of wool, so they're not suitable for this project. It's not a "wool snob" issue! Wool is just plain warmer. For the same reason, don't use lacy patterns.

Do not feel that your contribution won't count if you can only make one pair. That's a very important kid who wouldn't have had those mittens or socks without you.

Mittens should be the kind that cover the hand fully, closed at the top, and cover the entire thumb. Handwarmers and wristers are not acceptable -- it's COLD there, and this is likely the only pair of mittens your kid will have. Mittens can be either knitted or crocheted.

Basic children's mittens. This is my own basic pattern, so I know it works. Use the larger size for this campaign. Worked in the round. Use the same instructions with bulky yarn and appropriate needles to make a larger size. Because you count rows, not inches, the mittens will stay proportional.
Kris Percival's worsted weight mittens Plain, warm mittens.
mittens for women and girls, from a book my mom used when I was growing up (scroll down on page)
Classic mittens, to knit on 4 or 2 needles, in many sizes. Scroll down for 2-needle directions if you prefer to work flat and then sew up. Be sure to sew up firmly and neatly if you do that.
Never made mittens before? Here's a step-by-step class from Claudia Krisniski. The small or medium size would be best for this campaign.
crocheted mittens I do not crochet much, and have never made mittens, but here's a pattern from a reliable source. Use the larger size. If you crocheters out there have road-tested, free patterns to recommend, please do so!

Socks should come well up the leg -- 5 to 8 inches, depending on size, and should have a heel. Remember, this may be your kid's only pair of winter socks. Leave long ends and weave them in securely. Knitters only for socks, please! A foot length anywhere from, oh, about 6 inches (15 cm) to 9 inches (23 cm) would be suitable for this age range. And there are probably some boys whose feet are bigger than that, so if you find your sock came to 10 inches, do not despair. Bigger than that? You should probably rip back a bit and make it a little shorter.

All of these patterns are knit from the top down. If you prefer to knit toe-up, I'm guessing you're already an experienced sock knitter, with favorite patterns of your own.

Easy worsted socks, with stripes Folk-art stripes
Socks for "regular" worsted (e.g., Paton's Classic, Cascade 220, Galway) from Canadian Living. They know about cold!
Very basic pattern, with contrast heel and toe. Please fasten your ends very firmly, avoiding lumpy knots
Basic socks, again from Canadian Living, in Peace Fleece. This pattern also works for Bartlett, Briggs & Little, and other more "rustic" worsteds

I hope these are helpful! If you find a wonderful free on-line pattern, feel free to post the link. Knit fast!! Knit often! Use bright colors! But, on the other hand, if you love natural sheep's gray, knit naturals! We want warm hands and feet.

Finally, when you've finished your items, post a picture. And, unless you're very shy, we encourage you to get in the picture with them. I know, I know -- I hate to have my picture taken. But I am meeting a friend later this week, camera in hand, to see what she can do. . .


GenKnit said...
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Judy said...

The "Classic Mitten" vintage pattern listed is the one I have used for years - the book was my mother's and has long since become loose pages kept in a plastic sleeve. One green striped mitten is waiting for a thumb on my couch now. I love this easy pattern - just finished a project with my sister using it. We outfitted my niece's kindergarten class with mittens to be kept in their school cubbies for recess. (30 kids in Gary, Ind.)

GenKnit said...
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Bloo said...

Thanks for the reminders about these good patterns, Elizabeth. I have made 6-7 pairs of your Basic Children's Mittens for A4A and its a wonderful, fast knit (I use one strand of chunky (or maybe bulky?) Lopi and the smallest size pattern instructions to get a thick dense mitten that has a hand a little under 7" long, not including the cuff), which should be fine for the older kids.

I wasn't planning on doing socks as I'm a little "socked out": I was working on a pair for myself while travelling last week. But now I think I may try the Canadian Living Basic Socks as I have some pink and grey Briggs & Little that has been languishing in my stash for years now. I think that doing socks in something thicker than sock yarn will be some nice almost-instant gratification!

Cathy said...

Bloo beat me to it, I can vouch for Elizabeth's mitten pattern, too. Only at that time, I didn't know Eliabeth was aka Duraknit!

When I decided to learn to knit mittens a couple years ago, this was the pattern I selected. I followed the directions, step by step...they didn't let me down! I think they are easy to read & understand.

Now I'm going to check my stash! I know there's some Demin Paton wool from my infamous single crochet ripple afghan in there someplace.

Cathy said...

How about 'denim' wool...not 'demin'? Where's spell check when you need it????

GenKnit said...
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Jean said...

Elizabeth, your Basic Children's Mittens pattern has been my favorite mitten pattern for a while now, and I realized only a couple days ago that you updated the pattern to include 12-14 year size. I wonder if I should knit with double strands of Patons Classic Wool or should I knit with just a single strand. What is everyone else doing, single or double?

Jean in Maine

Judy said...

I am making mittens single strand worsted on size 4 needles. They seem plenty cozy to me as they are fairly tightly knit. I have one striped green done except for the thumb and have started #2. I will do the thumbs last to see if it will be striped or just plain dark green. (depends whether the lighter green stash is sufficient to stripe the thumb)

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