Mamoru Mitts

JULY 2, 2019—
Out of an abundance of respect for Japanese culture and for the issues around cultural appropriation, I’ve elected to change the name of this pattern, which was originally published as Wabi Mitts. Takako Ueki of Habu, whose yarn inspired this pattern and is sold in the kits, upon hearing that I wanted to change it, suggested the name Mamoru Mitts. Mamoru means “to protect” in Japanese, which feels just right to me. (Further thoughts here.) Thank you, Takako.

DECEMBER 2, 2014—
I’m so pleased to be re-releasing this pattern today, which has been updated with all-new photos and some revisions to the text. The details of the knitting are unchanged from the previous version — the edits are only for current Fringe Association styles and wording. And the best part: The pattern is now available in print form with the knit kit at Fringe Supply Co. Happy knitting!

Wabi Mitts free knitting pattern

At Stitches Midwest, 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 Mamoru pattern is below, and you can also add it to your queue or favorites at Ravelry.

Wabi Mitts free knitting pattern

Mamoru Mitts

These mitts were inspired by Habu N-68 linen-wool roving — a slubby, rustic, fingering-weight yarn that’s alternately held single and double over the course of the pattern to achieve a dense mitt with refined edges. (Substituting a single strand of heavier yarn will create heftier top edges, altering the look of the mitts.) Without a lot of stretch, and at 7″ around, these fit a medium-large woman’s hand, but the gauge is slightly loose. To make them smaller, go down a needle size, or eliminate 1 stitch from the thumb and 2 or 3 from the hand.


  • 2 balls Habu N-68 linen-wool roving (109 yards each; pictured in Color 1/charcoal), or approximately 150 yards fingering-weight yarn
  • double-pointed needles in size US4/3.5mm and US7/4.5mm, or size needed to obtain gauge (or use your preferred method to work small-circumference in the round)
  • stitch markers
  • waste yarn (smooth cotton or dental floss)
  • tapestry needle for weaving in ends


  • Gauge: 4.75 sts and 6.5 rounds = 1″ in stockinette
  • Size: 7″ circumference (measured above thumb); 6″ long


With smaller needles and yarn held double, CO 35 sts and divide between needles. Join in the round, making sure sts are not twisted around needle, and pin a marker for beginning of round (or use yarn tail to denote this).

Knit 3 rounds.

Change to larger needles—
Setup round: k28, pm, p3, pm, k4.
Slip round: k to 1 st before m, slip 1 knitwise wyib, sm, p3, sm, slip 1 purlwise wyib, k to end.
Straight round: k to m, sm, p to m, sm, k to end
Repeat 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: k to m, sm, pfb, p to 1 st before m, pfb, sm, k to end. (2 sts increased)
Slip round: k to 1 st before m, slip 1 knitwise wyib, sm, p to m, sm, slip 1 purlwise wyib, k to end.
Repeat last two rounds 4 more times (total of 10 rounds), ending with a Slip round. (13 sts between markers)
Next round: k28, sm, p13, sm, k4

Separate thumb and finish hand
Next round: k to m; drop marker. Place next 13 sts on waste yarn; drop second marker. Using backwards loop method, CO 2 stitches on right-hand needle; k to end. (34 sts)
Next 10 rounds: Knit.
Drop and cut one strand of yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail.
Change to smaller needles—
Next 3 rounds: Knit. (Avoid working tightly.)
BO loosely.

Finish thumb
Place 13 held sts on needles. Join yarn held double; pick up and p 2 sts, coinciding with the extra cast-on sts. (I.e., 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.) Join to work in the round.
Next round: Purl.

With smaller needle, BO as follows: k1, *p1, pass previous st over, k1, pass previous st over; rep from * to end.

Block as desired. Weave in ends, using yarn tails to close up any gaps around the thumb, if needed.

Repeat from beginning for second mitt.


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



BO = bind off
CO = cast on
k = knit
m = marker
p = purl
pfb = purl through front and then back of the stitch before slipping off left needle (1 st increased)
pm = place marker
sm = slip marker
st(s) = stitch(es)
wyib = with yarn in back