Wabi Mitts

wabi mitts fingerless gloves free knitting pattern

At Stitches Midwest last summer, when we could not keep away from the Habu booth, one of my favorite purchases was some N-68, a nubby, rustic, linen/wool yarn in dark charcoal. I knew right away that I wanted to knit a pair of very simple mitts out of it — something austere and Japanese-ish that would show off the softness and rusticity — and a picture developed in my mind. But as any form of design tends to do, the idea morphed on its way from my brain to my fingers. The result is definitely simple, but deceptively so: Out of the stockinette hand emerges an abbreviated reverse-stockinette thumb, which is crisply outlined all the way around. (Wow, practically slipped into International Art English there.) There’s a small rolled edge at the bottom of the cuff , with clean edges at the top of the hand and thumb.

They’re minimalist, for sure, but of the wabi-sabi school — poetically spare, with details that require you to slow down to notice them. Those details also slow down the knitting a tiny bit, but these are a still a very quick and satisfying project. At a ball and a half per pair, you only need one extra ball of the N-68 to net a second pair. Which is good, because I’m still trying to figure out how to make the first idea work. A companion pattern may follow …

Meanwhile, the full Wabi pattern is below, and you can also add it to your queue or favorites at Ravelry.

wabi mitts fingerless gloves free knitting pattern

Wabi Mitts pattern

These mitts were inspired by, and knit from, Habu’s N-68 linen-wool roving, which is a slubby fingering-weight yarn. I like the rusticity combined with the spareness of this glove, but you could use any fingering-weight yarn for a different look. Without a lot of stretch to them, and at a circumference of 7 inches in the top of the hand, these fit a medium-large woman’s hand, but the gauge is slightly loose. To make them a bit smaller, you could go down a needle size, or eliminate one stitch from the thumb and 2 or 3 more from the hand — just be cognizant of your gauge and what those stitches will amount to.


  • 150 yards (1.4 balls) Habu N-68 linen-wool roving or other fingering-weight yarn
  • double-pointed needles in size US4/3.5mm and US7/4.5mm, or size needed to obtain gauge
  • two small stitch markers
  • smooth cotton waste yarn or dental floss
  • tapestry needle

Measurements (before blocking):

  • Gauge is 4.25 stitches and 6.5 rows per inch in stockinette stitch
  • Circumference (unstretched) is 7 inches at the narrowest part of the hand; length is 6 inches


Starting with one of the smaller DPNs (US4) and holding two strands of yarn together, cast on 35 stitches, then divide onto 3 DPNs. Making sure stitches are not twisted around needles, join for working in the round. Use your tail (or pin a marker) to keep track of needle 1.

Begin knitting
Continuing with the smaller DPNs, knit 3 rounds.
Setup round, switching to the larger needles (US7): k28, pm, p3, pm, k4
Slip round: Knit to last stitch before first marker, slip 1 knitwise wyib, sm, p3, sm, slip 1 purlwise wyib, knit to end
Straight round: Knit to first marker, sm, purl to second marker, sm, knit to end
Repeat the last two rounds until piece measures 2 inches (from rolled edge — do not unroll to measure), ending with a Slip round.

Create thumb gusset
Increase round: Knit to first marker, sm, pfb, purl to last stitch before next marker, pfb, sm, knit to end
Slip round: Knit to last stitch before first marker, slip 1 knitwise wyib, sm, purl to second marker, sm, slip 1 purlwise wyib, knit to end
Repeat these two rounds 4 more times each, for a total of 10 rounds, ending with a Slip round. You will have 13 stitches between the markers.
Next round: k28, sm, p13, sm, k4

Separate thumb and finish hand
Knit to first marker; drop marker. With your tapestry needle, thread waste yarn through the 13 thumb stitches and tie ends together loosely; drop second marker. Using backwards loop method, cast on 2 stitches on right-hand needle; knit to end of round. (34 sts)
Work in stockinette (knit all stitches) for 10 rounds.
Drop and cut one strand of yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail, and switch to smaller DPNs; knit 3 rounds. (Avoid working these stitches overly tightly.)
Bind off loosely. (If your bind-off tends to be especially tight, consider using the larger needle for bind-off.)

Knit thumb
Working from right to left, slip first 6 stitches from waste yarn onto one of the larger double-pointed needles (needle 1), then the next 7 stitches onto needle 2. Reattach yarn (held double) and, with needle 3, pick up and purl 2 stitches, coinciding with the cast-on stitches. (With yarn in front, insert needle purlwise under both legs of one stitch, wrap yarn over needle tip and pull through for a purl stitch. Repeat for second stitch.)
Purl 1 round.
Using smaller needle, bind off in k1/p1 fashion.

Weave in ends. Use your tails to close up any gaps around the thumb, if needed.

Repeat from beginning for second mitt.


<< Fave/queue the Wabi mitts at Ravelry >>



k = knit
p = purl
pfb = purl through front and then back of the stitch before slipping off left needle (1 stitch increased)
pm = place marker
sm = slip marker
sts = stitches
wyib = with yarn in back

27 thoughts on “Wabi Mitts

  1. Beautiful, Karen! http://www.habutextiles.com/YKIT-143 I saw this on the Habu page that you directed us to. (I still dislike their web site!) It certainly IS beautiful in that yarn. I also want to reiterate how much I enjoy your site, from your research, to the links that I can spend hours looking at, to the writing, and especially the aesthetic of it! I love seeing your posts in my inbox! And today I learned a new term: IAE. AND – Thanks for the pattern!!


  2. I just finished these and really love them, for their simplicity but little details like rolled edges and thumb gusset. I love the sparse look to them. Will be making more for presents. Thanks for such a nice pattern.


  3. Quick question – forgive my ignorance – if you cast on with two strands of yarn am I to assume that this continues (two strands for entire pattern?). Thanks!!


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  8. When I slip the st as if to K and then knit it on the next rnd that st is twisted. I am assuming that this is to tighten the first p st in thumb am I correct? Loving the design!


  9. I’m a beginner knitter and I was able to follow your pattern perfectly fine. It was very fun and easy, and my gloves look good too! Thank you for sharing this!


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