Basic Fingerless Gloves

Traditionally, fingerless gloves were used by fishermen to provide dexterity for removing fish hooks, while providing warmth to the rest of the hand. Nowadays they are welcomed by keyboard users--allowing fingertip control, coupled with warmth. Just last weekend, I noticed that our favorite teller at the grocery store was wearing a beautiful pair of black and pink fingerless Valentine's day gloves. When I commented on them, she said that she needed them to keep her hands warm. Read more ... for fingerless glove knitting instructions.

Fingerless gloves are a design subset of basic gloves, the difference being that the fingers are not completely covered. This leaves considerable latitude, from no fingers to the example shown where the finger pads are free for typing, but most of the finger is covered for warmth.

These fingerless gloves feature a two-color stocking stitch pattern of deliciously soft, warm and lightweight alpaca yarn. The fingers were knitted to the top joint, and finished with 3 rounds of 1 x 1 ribbing. This left the fingertips and pads unrestricted for typing. Smaller diameter needles were used for the fingers to improve durability and to reduce the stitch gauge to better match the tension of the 2-color portions of the glove. Still smaller diameter dpns were used for the ribbing on the fingers to reduce bulk. Waste yarn was used to reserve a thumb opening and reduce design and knitting complexity since the thumb is knitted after the glove body with this method.

  1. Drops brand yarn (Norway). 100% 100% Alpaca, 3-ply fingering weight, 50 g / 1.75 oz - 180 m /200 yds. 1 skein light grey (0501) and 1 skein dark grey (0506).
  2. Waste yarn in a contrasting color for thumb opening
  3. Elastic (Optional): elastic sewing thread (Stretchrite, 30 yds, available in black or white) or Woolly Nylon
  1. Blunt-nosed darning needle for weaving ends
  2. One yarn bobbin to hold yarn for the thumb.
  3. Twelve (12) stitch markers (to mark increases, wrist position and, to locate the thumb)
  4. Knitting / Stitch gauge
  5. Tally counter and/or stitch register
  6. Tape measure or ruler
  7. Two (2) stitch holders, 2 circular needles, or two cables.
  8. Fingertip knitting guide, for colorwork.
  1. One (1) 2.5 mm crochet hook (for picking up stitches)
  2. Two (2) 2.75 mm, 24" circular needles for 2-color segments.
  3. Four (4) 2.5 mm double pointed needles (dpns) or two (2) circular needles for knitting fingers and thumb.
  4. Four (4) 2.0 mm dpns or 2 circular needles for knitting the 1 x 1 ribs that finish the fingers and thumb.

Gauge (also called tension): Measured in the round, in stranded, stocking stitch. With 2.75 mm circular needles: 18 stitches = 2", 16 rows/rounds = 2". (By comparison when knitted flat with a single color the gauge with 2.75mm needles was: 10 st and 16 rows = 2".)
Sock GaugeKnit GaugeSince the glove is knitted in the round, the test swatch should also be knitted in the round as fabric knitted in the round is usually tighter (more sts/inch) than fabric knitted flat. The photograph shows how to use a knitting gauge for measuring tension. If you are unable to achieve the correct tension with the needles specified, test with another swatch using the next needle size, larger or smaller diameter as appropriate. The number of sts per inch is more important than rounds per inch, as you have more leeway in adjusting the number of rounds. Please note, if you are creating stranded work, or using other stitches (lace, rib) the tension may also change. In the 2-color alpaca gloves, the plain, single color stocking stitch gauge on 2.5 mm needles matched the gauge of 2-color, stranded work with 2.75 mm needles.

If it is the first time I'm using a specific yarn, I would normally start by knitting test swatches of about 4" x 4" with the needle size recommended by the yarn manufacturer.

Start by reserving yarn on a yarn bobbin for knitting the thumb. This allows you to knit the thumb without cutting the yarn used for knitting the glove body and, reduces the number of yarn tails to weave in. For the 2- or 4-color stranded gloves, I used a fingertip knitting guide to manage the yarns and blocked the glove body before the fingers were knitted. The Color Work - Stranding article includes a link to a video showing the use of finger tip yarn guide demonstrating the stranded knitting of these alpaca fingerless gloves.

  1. Cast on 52 sts of main color (MC) using 2.75 mm needles. Join in the round.
  2. Work 2 rows of 2 x 2 ribbing with MC.
  3. Work 2 x 2 ribbing for a total of 2-1/2", using the MC yarn for the knit stitches and a contrast color (CC) yarn for the purl stitches.

If you choose to make a single color glove, then use the 2.5 mm needles. For illustrated instructions for casting on with 2 circular needles, read Circular Cast On. For additional details on knitting a 2-color cuff, click on the following link: Basic Glove - Cuff.

    Glove Body:
  1. Round 1: Using MC, K across both needles, increasing 12 sts in the round (total 64 sts, 32 ea needle). Locking stitch markers can be used to mark the positions for increases. Knitting into the front and back of a stitch works well.
  2. Rounds 2- 4: K across both needles with MC.
  3. K across both needles in the pattern of your choice, until the piece measures 2-1/2" from round 1 of the body. The next step is reserving the thumb opening with waste yarn.

The glove construction diagram will be used as the basis for describing the stitch placement on 2 circular needles for the thumb and finger steps, so I will briefly describe the image. The top row of circles represents the stitches on the first circular needle, with the start of round at the upper left. The loops represent stitches and the thumb stitches are indicated by the dark blue circles. Certain of the stitches have been numbered for reading ease. To use this chart, picture your hand palm side up, with the fingers coming up between the two rows of dots (between the two circular needles).

The cuff has been completed and 12 stitches were added in the previous step, bringing to 32 the number of sts on each needle. A stitch marker or starting yarn tail indicates the start of the round.

    THUMB OPENING - Waste Yarn
  1. Step 2Step 2Step 1Step 1Left Thumb:
    Greater detail on thumb construction can be found in the article: Basic Glove - Thumb Opening.
    Knit across circular needle #1 (32 sts), then k20 sts (position 53) from the second needle, knit 9 sts with waste yarn in a contrasting color. In the diagram above, the thumb opening is represented by dark blue stitches for the right hand and dark pink stitches for the left hand. In each example the thumb opening is 3 stitches in from an end of the needle holding the palm stitches.

    Return these 9 sts to the left hand needle and then knit them again, this time with the MC & CC glove yarn(s) and stitch pattern. PM (Place Marker.)

    K to end of round. This marker aids in measuring the distance from the base of the thumb to the base of the fingers.

  2. Work rounds in stocking stitch for another 2 to 2-1/4" beyond the thumb opening. This is the approximate level for the start of the fingers. The actual level will be determined after the thumb is at least 50% knitted in the next step. It may be helpful to place another stitch marker to indicate the thumb level, although the contrast, waste yarn may also be used as an indicator. In the photo above, a second stitch marker was used.
    THUMB OPENING - Pick Up Provisional Stitches
    In the previous step, waste yarn was used to reserve 9 sts for the thumb opening and the glove was worked even to the start of the fingers.
  1. Pick Up StsPick Up StsUsing yarn reserved on a bobbin and a 2.25 mm dpn (or smaller diameter needle if it is easier), pick up 9 sts from the round directly below the waste yarn. With a second dpn, pick up 9 sts from the round directly above the waste yarn. This may be accomplished from the outside or inside of the glove. Click here for more detail as well as images for both the stockinette and purl side waste yarn stitches: Basic Glove - Picking Up Thumb Stitches and for more detail on the thumb: Basic Glove - Thumb Opening.
  2. Pick Up 2 Sts Pick Up 2 Sts You will now have two dpns, lying parallel to each other. Using a 2.5 mm dpn, knit 9 sts from the bottom dpn. Then pick up and knit 2 sts from the left hand side gap between the two dpns. Now knit across the 9 sts on the 2nd dpn. With a third dpn (if you haven't already added a 3rd needle) pick up 2 sts on the right hand side in the gap between the upper and lower rounds. Rearrange to uniformly distribute the sts across 3 dpns or use 2 circular needles.
  3. Knit even in stocking stitch until the thumb is 3 rounds below the knuckle (or 3 rounds fewer than the desired length).
  4. Knit 3 rounds of 1 x 1 ribbing with 2.25 mm needles.
  5. Bind off loosely in 1 x 1 ribbing. Do not cut the yarn until the other fingers have been knitted and fitted.

For additional details and photographs read: Basic Glove - Thumb Opening.

There are many combinations of stitches that can be used to knit the fingers of a glove. In the "Basic Glove - Fingers" article, I created a series of illustrations, with different patterns, to explain how fingers are designed and knitted. The following finger pattern is a 64 stitch variation to correspond with the 64 st fingerless glove. I made the baby finger the smallest (18 sts) and the index finger the largest diameter (20 sts).
Reading the Finger Chart
The top circular needle, cable or stitch holder holds the stitches for the back of the hand. The bottom set of stitches represents the palm side of the glove. I have rendered the stitches in four colors--a color for each finger. The stitches in the middle are shared between two fingers; for one finger they are cast on stitches, for the adjacent finger, the stitches are picked up. The arrows represent stitch direction and I have marked the start of round for each of the four fingers, with a red dot.

The same chart is used for both the right hand and left hand. Since I varied the size of the baby finger and index finger, this chart represents the right hand; the left hand is the mirror image (i.e. the 18 sts would be on the right and the 20 sts on the left). The key differences are finger lengths. It doesn't matter if you start knitting with the finger on the left or the finger on the right of the chart. If you start with the finger on the right, you will proceed across the diagram from right to left. Normally, the first finger you would knit is located where you you finished knitting the glove body.

    Knitting the First Finger
  1. Transfer the first 9 sts, dark blue in chart, from the palm stitch holder to a 2.5 mm dpn. Knit these 9 sts. Cast on 2 stitches, bicolored circles, using a knitted cast on and a second dpn. Knit across the 9 back sts.
  2. Redistribute the 20 stitches across 3 dpns or 2 circular needles and knit all rounds, until you are 3 rounds below the first knuckle or three rounds below the desired finger length, when measured with the glove on the hand.
  3. With 2.25m needles, knit 3 rounds of 1 x 1 ribbing.
  4. Bind off loosely in 1 x 1 rib pattern, leaving a long tail (10-12").
  5. Do not weave in the yarn tail at the finger tip at this point. This weaving is done after all the fingers have been knitted. It is convenient, however, to weave in the tail at the base (start) of the finger at this stage.
    Middle Finger (2nd finger)
    Please reference the dark pink stitches in the Finger Chart.
  1. Transfer the next 8 sts (dark pink) from the stitch holder #2 (palm stitches) to a 2.5 mm dpn.
  2. Knit the 8 palm sts, cast on 2 sts (represented by light blue/pink circles in the chart), k 7 sts from stitch holder #1 (back of hand), and pick up 2 sts on the side of the index finger (circles colored pink/dark blue).
  3. Redistribute the 19 sts across three (3) 2.5 mm dpns or two (2) circular needles.
  4. Knit stocking stitch in the round, until you are 3 rounds below the first knuckle or three rounds below the desired finger length, when measured with the glove on the hand.
  5. With 2.25m needles, knit 3 rounds of 1 x 1 ribbing.
  6. Bind off loosely in 1 x 1 rib pattern, leaving a long tail (10-12').
  7. Do not weave in the yarn tail at the finger tip at this point. This weaving is done after all the fingers have been knitted. It is convenient, however, to weave in the tail at the base (start) of the finger at this stage.
    Complete Remaining Fingers
    Follow the chart for the 3rd and 4th fingers.
  1. For the third finger, read the light blue stitches. K 7 palm sts, cast on 2 sts, K8 sts from the back of hand and pick up 2 stitches cast on for the the previous finger (19 sts).
  2. For the baby finger, read the green stitches. K 8 palm sts, K8 sts from the back of hand and pick up 2 stitches cast on for the the previous finger (18sts).

Try the glove on to make sure the fingers are the desired length. If so, weave the remaining yarn tails in.

Yarn GuidesRelated Posts
Basic Glove - Cuff
Basic Sock - Cuff (cuff discussion & quality tips)
Basic Glove
Circular Cast On (illustrated instructions)
Color Work - Stranding (includes link to a video showing use of finger tip yarn guide for these gloves)
Stitch Patterns (rib stitch)
Tools & Sources (fingertip yarn guides) The lower one in this photo was used for marshalling the fingering weight yarn.

Click here to watch a video on using a fingertip knitting guide to knit with 2 colors in the round: .

Further Reading: I have included links to certain of the Basic Glove article sections for additional detail and reading.

  1. Hand Measurements
  2. Hand
  3. Thumb Opening
  4. Fingers
  5. Basic Glove Quality Tips for Knitting Fingers

New Monica Knits Baby Sock Pattern for Sale!