Mittens to Knit Inspired by a Late-Medieval Mitten

A sixteenth-century child’s mitten now in the collection of the Museum of London and shown in my article “A Child’s Mitten from Sixteenth-Century London,” which was featured in the January/February 2010 issue of PieceWork, inspired this contemporary mitten design in two sizes.

I have chosen knitting techniques known from the sixteenth century, such as the early German fingertip (or Emily Ocker) cast-on and the haphazard placement of knit-two-together decreases. The fragment of remaining cuff edge suggests the use of a standard bind-off.


Susan Strawn’s child-size knitted mittens. Photos by Joe Coca.

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, 55% merino/33% microfiber/12% cashmere yarn, sportweight, 137 yards (125 m)/50 g ball, 1 ball of #26 Seafoam (MC) for mitten body; small amount of #11 Chocolate (CC) for decorative band
Needles, two sets of 5 double pointed, size 2 (2.75 mm)
Tapestry needle
Finished size: 5 inches (12.7 cm) hand circumference and 5¼ inches (13.3 cm) long
Gauge: 13 sts and 19 rnds = 2 inches (5.1 cm)


Susan Strawn’s adult-size knitted mittens.

— Susan Strawn

Susan Strawn, an associate professor at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, teaches classes about textiles, including the history of costume and cultural perspectives of dress. She is the author of Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press, 2007) and a member of PieceWork’s editorial advisory panel. She was formerly an illustrator and photostylist for Interweave.

Download a copy of the January/February 2010 issue of PieceWork to make a pair of your own “Mittens to Knit Inspired by a Late-Medieval Mitten” designed by Susan Strawn and to read Susan’s article, “A Child’s Mitten from Sixteenth-Century London.” For another great pair of knitted mittens, read our blog post, “Ice Harbor Compass Mittens to Knit.”

Learn more about historical knitting in PieceWork!

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