Skip to content

The Mitten

What characterizes a Selbu Mitten?

Lady cuffs

The cuff on lady and girl mittens have lace or rib cuffs.

The cuffs of the oldest mittens were often knitted to be relatively long. They could be more than 10 cm for small lady mittens, which by today's standards would be considered girls mittens. This was logically referred to as long cuffs. For mittens for sale the standard for lady cuffs was set to 10 cm. These days they are often knitted  to be shorter, 8 cm is common.

Lace cuffs comes in many variations, both in stitch number in, and between the hook patterns. The knitters often have their own preferred variations. Rib cuffs are also knitted with a personal twist. Often the knitters can have their own stripe pattern that's not used by others. It can have mirror symmetry, meaning that it has different stripes that are knitted and mirrored about the middle, or it can be stripe compositions or stripe configurations that repeat themselves on the length of the cuff.

Kids mittens sometimes have a slipped stitch border and extra bands or elastics in the transition between the cuff and the hand of the mitten. This ensures that the mitten fits extra snugly. Older mittens always have a slimmer border that reaches around the entire hand below the main pattern. There are handsome examples of mittens with up to four borders in this transition. On younger mittens this border is often omitted.

If a tight fitting cuff is desired, or the wearer has thin wrists, it might be a good idea to knit alternating two normal and two purl stitches. This causes a the cuff to contract a decent bit. If a more open, wider cuff is desired it might be a good idea to knit something like alternating three normal and one purl stitch. If the stitch number is divisible by three one can knit two normal and on purl stitch. There are lots of possible adaptions.

Men's cuffs

The cuffs on men's mittens, men's cuffs (short cuffs/two thread cuffs), have a short purl stitch border of a few rows, max 2 cm.

On older mittens the purl stitch border could be knitted using two colors. As an exception there are men's mittens with lace cuff borders, but this is knitted as a picot edge, short like the purl stitch edge. The remainder of the cuffs there would contain a larger pattern border, or a combination of smaller borders, 6.5 - 8 cm in total.

Mittens with longer lace cuffs, that were used folded over, have been known from neighboring parishes. There are also examples of twined knitting i in the transition to the main pattern and with twined kitting and fringes.

Men's mittens usually have several borders around the wrist, often one large and one or several smaller borders in the cuff itself. The oldest mittens often had a star patterned border and some sort of hook patterned border.

when choosing a border for the wrist it's usually best to choose a border which pattern configurations fits the number of stitches in the mitten blade, or the cast-on, or possibly something in between, so that you increase the number of  stitches by a few to knit the border, and a few more to knit the blade.


The palm side of the hand and the inside of the thumb are covered entirely by a pattern, often referred to as inimønster (inside pattern) . This is a typical small patterned  endløsmønster (infinite pattern). To not confuse it with the purl side inside the mitten I have chosen to call these grip patterns. Throughout this project more than a hundred different grip patterns have been discovered. See pattern placards in the chapter «Patterns used in Selbu».

The informants have several notes on how the grip side should be knitted: The number of stitches on the grip side should be as close to as possible to the number of stitches on the outside, max two stitches difference when using needles of width 2.5 mm. If a grid pattern is knitted, then the stitches in the grid should be complete against the sides of the mitten. A great emphasis is put on making sure the mittens'  edges end the same way (see example patterns under «Stælpa» (The Pole). Some knitters make it a point to keep the pattern symmetrical at the tip.

Before the two thread mitten

Before two thread knitting became common in Selbu, the mittens were knitted, crocheted/shepherd's knitted or single needle knitted in grey yarn.

Picture shows an exception, two-thread shepherd's knitted mittens, from Selbu Village Museum, which belonged Ingeborg Jonsdatter Bårdsgård.