Driving Mitts

This simple pattern for driving mitts comes from the 1838 edition of The Workwoman’s Guide and is described as “very useful for gentlemen or coachmen.” In the 1830s, of course, “driving” referred to horse-drawn vehicles, so the mitts are ingeniously designed to be thinner across the palms so that the wearer could easily hold the reins.

The actual construction is quite simple; the mitts are essentially just rectangles. The rectangles are sewn together end-to-end leaving a space for the thumb.

Directions in modern terms:

  1. Cast on 40 stitches.
  2. Knit 4, *knit 1, slip 1, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, knit 4.
  3. Repeat row 2 until the work is the width of your hand.
  4. Knit 4, *knit 1, purl 1, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, knit 4.
  5. Repeat row 4 until the knitting is twice the width of your hand.
  6. Cast off.
  7. Sew the cast-on edge and the cast-off edge together, leaving a space wide enough for your thumb.
  8. Make a second mitt to match.
My cat is always curious about my knitting.

I used worsted weight wool and size 4 needles for my driving mitts, which fit me perfectly. However, my hands are fairly small; for someone with larger hands, I would recommend either casting on more stitches, or using bulky wool with larger needles. Luckily, since this pattern is so simple, it’s pretty easy to customize.

The k1, s1 side makes a thicker fabric and is worn on the outside of the hand; the k1, p1 side should be worn against the palm.

Now, all I need is a carriage…

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