Designing Knit Hand Accessories

Glove Trends From Fall 2016

Have you ever wanted to knit a pair of gloves, but were unsure of how to design such a project? In the next two posts, I’ll give you the basics to designing hand accessories –  gloves, mittens or fingerless mitts. This post begins with their anatomy, followed by taking the necessary measurements to create your design.


Gloves, mittens, and fingerless mitts have many of the same components:

  • Cuff – the cuff covers the wrist and extends to the desired length along the arm. Gauntlets are gloves that extend beyond the wrist to below the elbow. Opera gloves may extend up to the upper arm.
  • Wrist – this is the area above the cuff and below the thumb.
  • Hand – covers the back of the hand and palm.
  • Thumb – a tube of knit fabric is formed over the thumb. Some styles incorporate a gusset to make more room for the thumb. Fingerless styles may have a partially formed thumb, or simply a hole for the thumb.
  • Glove Fingers – the circumference of the hand is divided up to form the fingers. Stitches are picked up around each finger to form tubes. Some fingerless glove styles have partial tubes for the fingers, and others have no fingers with the hand stitches knit to a length that partially covers the fingers. Mitten tops are formed by decreasing the circumference of the hand so the top comes to a point.

Fingerless gloves

Measuring the Hand

Depending on the style, there are six key measurements needed to design hand accessories. Using a flexible tape measure, take the following measurements:

  1. Hand Circumference This is the most crucial measurement, because a glove can be designed simply from this figure. Measure around a slightly open hand at the fullest part, above the thumb.
  2. Length of the Hand Measure from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger.
  3. Wrist Circumference This is a necessary measurement for a shaped glove.
  4. Thumb Length (Base circumference of the thumb is optional, but gives a better fit).
  5. Wrist to Where Thumb Meets Palm
  6. Gusset Length

key hand measurements

Gloves require these additional measurements: base circumference of all fingers, length of fingers, base circumference of thumb, and length of thumb. For all styles decide on the desired cuff length below the wrist.

After measuring the hand, trace the hand with slightly open fingers on vellum or tracing paper, and record your measurements. This is great as a permanent record, particularly if you are making gloves for someone else. I like writing my pattern instructions directly on this drawing.

Next time I’ll talk about planning your design, and tips for knitting all these styles.