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When it gets dark at four o’clock in the afternoon, I am in need of cheering handknits to get me out of the house for some fresh air. I am lucky enough to have a tempting basket beside the front door that holds all of my scarves and shawls as well as many beautiful knitted hats.

However, I noticed recently that it was rather lacking in mittens. I’m not sure why I’ve not knitted many pairs of mittens—they are no harder than a pair of socks—so I decided that this was the year to fill the basket with cozy mittens.

Join me down a deep rabbit hole of quirky, cheerful mitten designs. Pattern names are links to the Ravelry pattern page.

Mittens That Never Forget by Elizabeth Lubowitz

For winter mittens that will knit up fast enough to wear before the cold snap is over, then these elephant-themed mittens are absolutely perfect. Elizabeth Lubowitz’s design features a neat picot cuff and the elephant motifs are so appealing, even in the small scale required for the cuff and thumbs. This pattern uses aran or worsted weight yarn in two colors, so you’ll be finished before you know it. MDK Atlas yarn is a nice idea for these.

The following three patterns all use fingering/4ply weight yarn.

Octomitts by SpillyJane

It was very hard to just choose one pair of SpillyJane mittens, as she has such a cornucopia of delights in her pattern repertoire. Cupcakes, gnomes, pints of beer, and flamingoes were all in the running, but I eventually settled on her Octomitts design because, well, octopuses! SpillyJane has a remarkable ability to distill images down to their simplest forms and make them into phenomenal mitten patterns. The Octomitts design includes instructions for both closed and fingerless mittens which is a nice addition.

Calaveritas by JennyPenny

I have a strong suspicion that JennyPenny’s Calaveritas Mittens would prove popular with teenagers—a notoriously hard-to-knit-for demographic if ever there was one! And if the skull motif isn’t up your teenager’s street, then she has more than 100 other mitten designs to choose from. I particularly like how she has tessellated the skull motifs and used a whole skeleton on the thumb.


Animals are clearly a source of great inspiration for Jorid Linvik, a Norwegian designer with a large selection of knitted accessory patterns. These fishy mittens stood out to me thanks to their swirly carp-like main design and the amusing fish bones on the palms.

About The Author

We think Jen Arnall-Culliford is flat-out brilliant. Jen is one of the knitting world’s superb technical editors and teachers, and the star of the tutorial videos.

Cheerful. Cool headed. Supersmart. To take lessons from Jen ups our knitting game, every time.


  • You are exactly correct! I am lacking in knitted mittens as well. Thank you for these suggestions to fill the void. I especially love the Octomitts!

  • That was a fun post! Who knew there were so many options?

    Thank you.

  • Love these! I’m also in need of more mittens. I’d looked through my library the other day, trying to decide if I wanted to make something quick and easy with a thicker yarn, so I have mittens sooner, or something fun and colorwork with finer yarn because fun. After reading this, clearly the answer is both!

    • Jen, so good to hear from you! I did a Bramble Cowl before Thanksgiving and I think it needs Mitts to match!

  • Well, first, I think it’s such a lovely idea to have a basket near the door for hats and mittens. I’m always looking through a chest in my room. And I have never knit a mitten, but I love the elephant ones.

  • So glad to read your article and hope it will be one of many to come!

    Love the spots of bright colour on the Octomitts.

    • It’s so good to hear from Jen – I miss you and do hope we hear much more from you soon. Thank you for lovely mitts suggestions.

  • Bunny wishes by Sarah Kelly are on an immediate to do list!

  • Posts by Jen are always a treasure.

    • Are all of the mitten patterns posted available in one book?

  • The link for fisherman’s friend takes us to the skull pattern

  • I’m a beginner knitter but love the elephant mittens. My daughter loves elephants and yellow – a perfect gift!!! Think I could tackle them without too much disappointment????

  • Love these mittens! With our outdoor temperature at -6 right now, a basket full of mittens is a great idea. The minute I saw the skeletons, I thought of my teenage grandsons. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I love quirky mittens. THESE set me on the path

    • Those are adorable!

  • I love making quirky mittens. I have moose hunters by Jorid Linvik on my needles now.

  • Welcome back Jen!

    I have never knit mittens… now you have me pondering.

  • What fun ideas. Thanks for the research!

  • I’m loving Jorid Linvik’s patterns, and look–she has books! See three of them on Ravelry with links to all their patterns:
    “Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knitted Mittens: 45 Distinctive Scandinavian Patterns”
    “Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knitted Socks: 45 Distinctive Scandinavian Patterns”
    “Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Christmas Knits: Over 70 Scandinavian Holiday Patterns”

    And one more, not on Ravelry but maybe at your favorite bookstore:
    “Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knits for Kids: Over 45 Distinctive Scandinavian Patterns”

    More animals, more quirkiness, MORE!

  • Omg! Look at those tiny elephants!

  • All the mittens look great. A Granddaughter would love the spooky ones!
    How do you get the patterns?

    • Hi, Sylvia – just click the pattern link in the post (highlighted in orange) and then you’ll see a “Ravelry download” option via which to purchase the pattern. The Calaveritas pattern is in kroner, but Ravelry will do the conversion into dollars for you.

  • Love seeing Jen posting again. She’s so lovely

  • Glad to see you back, Jan. Hope we see many more columns.

  • Thank you! Mittens are such a great canvas for design. Good choices!

  • It’s currently snowing here and I am always forgetting my gloves and mittens, so I need the elephant mittens in my life. I saw lots of other patterns for future projects too.

  • Soooo cute!
    Love you Jen!

  • These mittens are so cool!

  • What fun mitten patterns!!! It’s time to get knitting

  • Ha! Turns out I had already favourited a couple of these patterns on Ravelry – thank you for reminding me of them and for highlighting the others. They’re all so fun and cute.

  • This rabbit trail of a post gave me LOTS of JOY… and ideas ! Gotta make myself finish my current Knitvent 2023 socks… so I can decide which mitten to make first! xo THANK YOU Jen !

  • Thanks Jen, I love your ideas. These mittens are adorable!
    Hope to read more of your posts in 2024.

  • The last few mittens I knit, I lined with fleece. Makes them waterproof and comfy.

  • Brilliant, lovely to see you back

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