A step by step tutorial on knitting fingerless gloves (thumbs included) – easy and free pattern suitable for absolute beginners
Are you a knitting beginner and you want to make yourself some gloves? But you are scared because they do look intimidating? Well, no worries! You came to the right place because in this tutorial I will show you exactly how to knit fingerless gloves.
I put together a simple and fail-safe knitting pattern and recorded a video for you, so you can follow along step by step. You’ll even learn how to knit the thumb hole the really easy way. And the best part: These fingerless gloves are knit flat.
You only need to know 4 standard techniques:
If you are just starting out, I kindly recommend you to go through all these linked tutorials first before you started with these fingerless gloves. And beyond that, you should definitely bookmark my free knitting school and consider subscribing to my newsletter.
Materials you will need:
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
You will only need a couple of basic knitting tools every beginner should own. If this is one of your first projects, consider asking around among your friends/colleagues. Often there’s someone who can borrow you a knitting needle for a time.
- ~100 meters of nice (light) worsted yarn. I am using the Alpaca Fino yarn by Pasculai.
- Circular knitting needles size 4.00 / US Size 6. I am using the Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina circular needles for this pattern.
- Scissors & A tapestry needle
- Measuring tape
- (optional) some pins
Please consider that your hands are one of the most sensitive parts of your body and quality yarn will pay off. It really doesn’t have to be alpaca yarn. Merino wool (maybe with a bit of acrylic so it’s easy to care for) can be a good choice. Here’s a guide to the best knitting yarn for beginners.
We are knitting flat and you could use single-pointed needles as well. But that way it’s much harder to check if you are knitting the right size. With circulars, you can simply wrap your work in progress around and check.
Fingerless gloves instructions:
Typically, gloves come in pairs and you probably will want to knit one to fit your left and right hand. It doesn’t matter with which side you start but you will have to take care when placing the thumb hole for the second one (see below). Here’s a tutorial in case you don’t know how to read knitting patterns yet.
Step 1: Figuring out your size
The very first thing you need to do is figuring out your size and the number of stitches you need to cast on. This might sound a bit tedious but it’s actually quite easy. Plus, if you blindly follow my instructions (or any other knitting pattern) chances are really low you create something that fits.
Why? Because you might knit with different tension and/or yarn and this will create a different gauge. No two knitters are alike so don’t expect the same outcome either.
Before you start, you need to knit a little swatch. In this case, you don’t need anything grand – just a couple of rows in a 2×2 rib stitch. The swatch will also help you to practice the stitches a bit before you fully commit.
- Cast on 24 stitches
- Row 1: *k2, p2*
- Row 2: *k2, p2*
- Continue knitting for 10 more rows.
- Row 11: bind off all stitches (but don’t cut the yarn)
Now, take out your measuring tape and we’ll need two pieces of information:
- The circumference of your hand/arm at its widest point: You don’t want to create any chokepoints as you slide your hand into the glove. So, hold one hand as you would wear a glove and find the widest point. For me, that’s around the knuckles of my thumb.
- The number of stitches you needed to cover 2inches/5cm: Measure in the middle of your swatch and then simply count the number of stitches in the same row.
Once you have those two numbers, you can easily calculate how many stitches you need to cast on with a calculator:
- Simply divide the stitches you counted by 5 centimeters
- And then, multiply the resulting factor with the circumference of your hand
- Take that number and multiply it times 0,90 (the rib stitch has negative ease and you want to account for that by casting on 10% less than your swatch says)
- And then round down the next number dividable by 4
Example: My circumference is 23 centimeters. And I needed 11 stitches to cover 5 centimeters on my swatch. So, 11/5 = 2.2 -> 23*2.2 =50,6 -> 50,6*0.90 = 45,6 -> cast on 44 stitches.
Note: Your number may be much higher or significantly smaller. This will depend a lot on the yarn you picked and how tight (and loose a knitter you are) – and obviously on the size of your hands.
Step 2: Knitting the body
These fingerless gloves are knit with two different patterns: Stockinette stitch and a 2×2 rib. You could knit them with ribbing all the way up to the tips but I felt that the little band around the wrists adds a little something to an otherwise plain design.
- Cast on as many stitches as your calculation said you required plus 3 selvage stitches. For me, and a men’s size S, I cast on 47 stitches.
- Row 1: K1, *k2, p2*, k2
- Row 2: P2, *k2, p2*, p1
Continue repeating these two rows until you knit approximately 10 centimeters (4 inches) ending with a row 2. After you knit 12 or so rows, take a second and see if you can fit your knitting around without overstretching. If you can’t, you’ll need to cast on more stitches. If it seems way too loose, consider adjusting your cast on accordingly.
If you want, you can also create longer fingerless gloves by adding a couple of more rows. Be careful, though. Your arms get wider the further up you go.
I knitted a total of 30 rows to reach the wrists. For the sake of convenience, I will continue with that number from here. So, please take my row count with a grain of salt. Nothing speaks against holding your work in progress next to your arm and see if it measures up to your preferences/body size.
- Row 31: knit
- Row 32: purl
Repeat rows 31+32 altogether 4 more times.
- Row 39: k1, *k2, p2*, k2
- Row 40: p2, *k2, p2*, p1
- Row 41 – 52: Continue knitting in the 2×2 rib until your knitting reaches up to the knuckle of your thumb (Note: If you have bigger or smaller hands, you would obviously need to knit more or fewer rows; for me 4 centimeters or 12 rows were perfect).
Step 3: how to knit thumbs on a fingerless gloves
The most simple thumb is knit by casting off a couple of stitches on the right side in the middle of your project and filling the gap with a simple backward loop increase in the return row. There are many other ways to knit a thumb hole but as a beginner, this will be both very easy to knit and look pretty.
I know this might sound a bit complicated. But a backward loop increase is basically nothing else but a glorified loop around your needle. So, kindly read my tutorial. I also show it to you in the accompanying video to this pattern.
- Row 53: Continue knitting the ribbing but stop in the middle after the next 2 knit stitches.
In my case: k1, *k2, p2* [5 times), k2
And here, right in the middle of your row, bind off 6 stitches. Make sure you bind of the last 2 stitches really tightly. And then, continue knitting the ribbing for the rest of the row just like before.
- Row 54: Continue with the ribbing and when you come to the point where you bound off those 6 stitches, you need to cast on 6 stitches with a backward loop increase. So create those 6 loops (don’t do them to tight; it will be much harder to knit them in the next round) an then continue with the ribbing.
- Row 55: k1, *k2, p2*, k2 (be careful when you knit across the 6 increases bridging the gap. It can be a bit difficult to knit those stitches, so go slow. You can use the tip of your needle to loosen the stitches up before you knit them).
Important: This will create the right glove. For the left glove, you need to start the bind off in row 53 at least 6 stitches BEFORE the middle, right after 2 knit stitches. (In my case that’s k1, *k2,p2* [3 times], k2)
Note: If you have large thumbs you may have to bind off 8 stitches. An easy way to check: Hold your thumb over the ribbing (and stretch it a bit). If it covers more than 6 stitches, go for 8 stitches.
- Row 56-66: Continue knitting another 4 centimeters of the 2×2 rib stitch (12 rows).
- Row 57: Bind off all stitches loosely; So try to stretch the stitches a bit as you go. The 2×2 ribbing is quite stretchy and you do not want to restrict it overly much. You don’t want it to be too loose either as your hands get narrower to the top. So, I wouldn’t pick a stretchier bind off.
Step 4: Closing the seams
Before you start with the seaming, you might consider blocking your finished fingerless gloves. It’s much easier to do so before and you don’t end up with a permanent fold line either (which would happen if you block any tubular project flat).
It’s certainly not a 100% necessary step but it often improves the stitch definition and the general look of any finished knitted garment.
From here, you need to start seaming using the mattress stitch. So, simply close your square into a tube (make sure the right side is facing outwards) and thread the long tail from the bottom on a tapestry needle. And then find the very first ridge of knit stitches on the left side and go underneath the very first stitch.
It’s often a lot easier if you hold the edges between your fingers. That way, you can see the little ribs in between the V’s of the knit stitches much better and it’s easier to pull the yarn through on top of that.
You always have to go underneath one rib on the left and then underneath one rib on the right side. After 10-14 stitches, pull tight gently and continue seaming. Once you are finished, you only need to weave in the rest of the tails.
Simply go through the stitches of a rib on the inside/wrong side of your gloves (invert them before you do for easier access) and then cut the rest of the tail off with your scissors.
And after you finished this first fingerless glove, it’s rinse and repeat. Simply repeat these instructions for the second glove (make sure you place the thumbhole differently).
Even if you blocked your finished project, the ribbing will contract quite a bit. That’s quite normal – it will stretch out beautifully when you are wearing them.
Here are some further tips: Nothing speaks against using a different color for the wrists. I think in my case, white would look pretty stellar. Also, you could take a bit of contrasting yarn and embroider some details to the wrists (or beyond). I think that would be another really easy way to upgrade this pattern.