Long Striped Hand Warmers in Swan’s Island Organic Merino

Hand warmers are one of my favorite things to knit. They don't involve the fuss of fingers; they're one size fits all; they don't take eons to make; and they're a great opportunity to express your style. In the past we've featured several hand warmer patterns on the Purlbee, each with its own character. The Daisy Stitch Hand Warmers were homespun and funky; the Pretty Lace Hand Warmers were feminine and sassy; and the Cashmere Hand Warmers were simple and luxurious.

This season we bring you the Long Striped Hand Warmers, complete with a personality of their own. Relaxed, yet refined, they strike a delicate balance that fits every mood, from no-I-haven't-had-a-cup-of-coffee-yet to yes-I-am-fabulous.

The beautiful tonal shifts in the green are the result of Swan's Island's extraordinary natural dyes. This particular green is a mystical concoction made from the shavings of the Osage Orange tree and the fermented leaves of the Indigo herb. When applied to 100% organic merino wool chosen by Swan's Island, not only the yarn, but the story behind the yarn, starts to take on a very special feeling.  --Whitney



8 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch with the larger needles


To fit average woman - 7 inches in circumference and 12 1/2 inches long


The Cuff

With the Main Color (MC) and a set of US #2 double pointed needles, cast on 60 stitches.

Join to work in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

*K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat this round 7 more times.

Changing to US #3 double pointed needles,

**Knit 1 round with MC.

Knit 1 round with the Contrast Color (CC).

Repeat from ** until the piece measures 8 inches from the cast on edge. (If you need some tips on how to knit stripes, check out the "Knitting Stripes in the Round" section of the Rochefort Chapeau pattern.)

Knit 1 more round, ending with an increase (m1). (61 stitches)

The Gusset

Continuing the established stripe pattern,

Round 1: K30, place a marker, m1L, k1, m1R, place a marker, k30. (63 stitches)

Round 2: Knit.

Round 3: Knit to first marker, slip marker, m1L, knit to second marker, m1R, slip marker, knit to end of round. (2 stitches increased)

Repeat Rounds 2 and 3 until there are 19 stitches between the markers.

Next round: Knit to the second marker, place the previous 19 stitches (ie the thumb stitches) on a stitch holder or scrap yarn, knit to the end of the round. (60 stitches on needles)

The Palm

Next Round: Continuing the stripe pattern, knit to the thumb gap, close the gap by knitting the next stitch and pulling a little extra tight, knit to the end of the round.

Continue to knit in the established stripe pattern until the palm measures 1 3/4 inches from the thumb gap (or until the palm reaches your pinky knuckle). End the palm with a round of the MC.

Changing to US #2 double pointed needles and using just the MC,

*K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat this round 5 more times.

Bind off in the rib pattern.

The Thumb

With the next color in the stripe pattern and a US# 3 double pointed needle, pick up 3 stitches from the base joint of the thumb.

Continue with the same color to finish knitting the round, distributing the stitches onto three needles. (22 stitches)

Continuing the stripe pattern, knit until the thumb measures 3/8 of an inch from the base of the thumb.

End the thumb with a round of the MC.

Changing to US #2 double pointed needles and using just the MC,

*K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat this round 3 more times.

Bind off in the rib pattern.

Weave in all the ends. I also blocked my hand warmers to even out the stitches a little bit which worked great!

41 Responses to Long Striped Hand Warmers in Swan’s Island Organic Merino

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  1. Kimmy says:

    What if I only have one set of dpns?
    I only have size 8, would I still be able to knit this pattern…even when it comes to the thumb gusset?
    If so, how many would I cast on? I want to make gloves that would fit a man.
    Appreciate you sharing this pattern. :)

  2. julia says:

    love, love, love.

  3. Susan says:

    Wonderful hand warmers! Love the colors.

  4. angelina says:

    lovely; i have just the fingering yarn, but i was wondering how would one modify this to include fingers like in the daisy pattern? would it be too difficult?
    thanks guys for always inspiring..

  5. sofia says:

    What a coincidence!!!
    These days I’m knitting something like this!
    I love your colors.

  6. Bea says:

    Oh, I had such a pang when I saw that photo of the sheep, shorn, from Swann’s Island. On my last year’s visit to Stonington I bought that poster and I love it so. I really have to knit these handwarmers to complete my story.

    Thank you so much for reviving such lovely memories.

  7. karen says:

    i love the green and the gray. Will you be getting them back in soon? Thanks,

  8. caarin says:

    Oh, I just love these! They are going right to the top of the queue! It’s a perfect idea for my nearly teenage son. I have some gorgeous Koigu kpppm that until know was waiting to become socks – but now he will have gorgeous handwarmers!
    Thanks Whitney!

  9. wic says:

    I adore them. love the colors and would love to make them. if only I could.

  10. jj-momscashblog says:

    I just love this whole blog, you have a beautiful site one can tell by just looking at the setup that you are a very artistic person. I’m also loving these hand warmers and your colors are to “dye” for :) The photography with the warmers on the white linen with the ferns is a still-life that would be beautiful to paint too. Love all of this, so very glad that I found this blog and will certainly be back for more. I may even try knitting these warmers, I use to knit mittens it’s been a long time. Lately I can’t seem to finish my projects which is very disturbing but I know if I start these I would have & want to finish them. Thanks for a lovely journey into knitting and crafts. jj

  11. Linda says:

    Thanks so much for your detailed patterns. I am teaching my mom to knit long distance (yeah, I know) and have been directing her to your patterns and images.
    Gotta say these hand warmers are so cute I’m going to knit up a pair for myself, pronto (yellow and grey).

  12. greedy nan says:

    If making these in UK supplied yarns, what ply would I be using please? I think the needle slzes are the same.

  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Nan,
    The Swan’s Island Fingering is equivalent to a 4ply yarn in UK sizes. For needles you would want to make sure the UK size is 10 and 12

  14. Lucy says:

    Thank you, thank you. The Purl folks do it again! These are exactly the type of hand warmers I was looking for.

  15. Jessica says:

    Hi, I have a question – how would I modify this pattern to fit an average man hand?

  16. Emily says:

    I love these! I made some for myself and now I'm working on them for my eight year old niece, but I'm having some trouble with the sizing. Any suggestions?

  17. purlbee says:

    Hi Emily -

    I think a 6 inch circumference would work for an eight year old, although if you have access to her it wouldn't hurt measuring the width of her hand. If 6 looks good, then cast on 50 stitches. Or if you decide on another circumference, just multiply it by 8.5 and cast on that number.

    Let us know if you have any other questions and thanks for asking!

  18. Laura says:

    Whitney, thank you so much for this pattern. I especially love the large, clear photos and the excellent explanation of how to make the gusset. My hand warmers turned out great, and I love them!

  19. Pwyf says:

    Hi! very nice pattern. Could I do this using a circular needles? Thanks!

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Pwyf-

    You could use the magic loop method using a long circular needle. Here's a link to a video:

    Thanks for your question!


  21. Amy says:

    The links for m1L and m1R are both giving File Not Found errors today. I'm at that part, and I'd like to know what version of M1 each stands for. Thanks!


  22. Amy says:

    I poked around and found the tutorial link in the sidebar:


  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Amy-

    Thank you for pointing this out. The links have been fixed.



  24. Anna says:

    These look so cute! I do have circular needles though. Can/how do you do the thumb and gusset part with circular needles?

  25. purl bee says:

    Hi Anna,

    Do you have 8 inch circular needles? Anything longer will be too long, unless you plan to use the magic loop method. And for the thumbs, even an 8 inch needle will be too long, unless again, you're using a magic loop. There is also the possibility of knitting the thumbs with two circular needles.

    I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions!


  26. Jackie b says:

    I would like to make the fingerless hand warmers. The pattern calls for double pointed needles- is there any reason I couldn't use a circular needle?

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Jackie-

    We don't know of any circular needles short enough for the small circumference of this pattern.

    Thank you for your question!


  28. Carol says:

    Hi. I just finished a pair of these but they seem to have stretched out a lot while I was knitting. Do you have any suggestions on how I can “shrink” them? The yarn was very thin and it's much looser than I would've wanted. Thank you

  29. purl bee says:

    Hi Carol,

    You could try felting them lightly in a top loading washer with a lot of water and soap. Check them very frequently because the only thing worse than hand warmers that are too big are hand warmers that are too small!

    Also, I wonder if you got the proper gauge of 8 1/2 stitches to the inch, because although the yarn is very thin, the finished fabric shouldn't be “loose” the way you're describing. If you knit at 8 1/2 stitches to the inch, the finished size would be 7 inches in circumference which should be good for most women. So, that's a good thing to double check if you plan to knit another pair! (Remember that this may mean having to go down a needle size or two.)

    Thanks for your question!

  30. Catherine says:

    Really like the website. I had a go at these and was very happy with my first attempt at knitting with double ended needles. I used Sirdar Cuddly wool as I couldn't get the colours I wanted in merino. My question is this – any tips for minimising the little ridge you get on the finished knitting (right side), running down the glove at the point where you have changed needles. I can see there is even one just faintly visible on your photo with the green fern. Hope you know what I mean by this! My sister-in-law now wants me to knit her a pair which I am very happy to do, but it would be good to improve that part of my technique. Thanks.

  31. purl bee says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I do know what you mean! Our Double Pointed Needles Tutorial offers a few suggestions for minimizing this "little ridge". Check out the section titled Tips and Details / The First Stitch of Each Needle:

    In addition, blocking your finished piece can really help even out this tension problem. And finally, some people slip their stitches around as they work so that the same stitch isn't always first on the needle. This really works but is a bit labor intensive!

    Thanks so much for your question and good luck!


  32. purl bee says:

    Hi Kimmy,

    It would be okay to knit this pattern with just one set of double pointed needles (the smaller set is used just to give the ribbing a tight, neat finish), however size #8 needles are much, much bigger than what this pattern uses. If you used your #8's with this yarn, the finished knitting would be extremely loose and holey, If you used your #8's with an appropriately sized yarn (like a worsted weight) and followed this pattern as written, the finished hand warmers would be very big (much bigger than for a man, even).

    So, you have some things to think about. Whether you want to buy a new set of double pointed needles or whether you want to find a pattern that suits the ones you have (we, unfortunately, don't currently have one for that weight yarn, although one is in the pipeline!).

    Please let me know if you have any other questions and thank you for these!


  33. JenWG says:

    I love this pattern/design, but the colors available from swans island aren't quite what I'm looking for. The juniper designs pictured are also great but I notice that yarn is discontinued. Would another one of your fingering weight yarns work? Maybe Anzula Cloud? If switching to another yarn, how many pairs of handwarmers would I get per skein.

    Thanks – these will make great gifts for all of my girls!

  34. purl bee says:

    HI JenWG,

    I think you'd be better off with Anzula's Squishy (the Cloud is super fine!). Koigu's Premium Merino would also be great, as would Spud & Chloe Fine. All of these yarns (and a few other great options) can all be found right here: .

    Each pair of hand warmers uses about 200-250 yards of yarn.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions and thanks for this one!


  35. Annalee says:

    I love these handwarmers, and I'm stitching the first one of my pair now. However, I'm stuck on finishing the palm. Once I've done my ribbing in the MC, what do I do with my secondary stripe color yarn? Do I cut it and weave in the end on the palm, and then restart it over on the thumb, or is there a way to transfer it from up on the palm down into the thumb? Thanks!

  36. purl bee says:

    Hi Annalee,

    Great idea, but I don't know of a way to carry the yarn from the palm to the thumb without seriously distorting the shape of your hand warmer. So, yes, I'm afraid cutting the yarn and starting over with it at the thumb is your best option.

    Thanks so much for asking and good luck with the rest of your project!


  37. Lorna says:

    I love this pattern, exactly what I'm looking for.
    I hope you have some time to explain the issues I'm having with my yarn, or direct me to where I could find the answers.
    I'm using a 2ply, light weight, worsted acrylic yarn (sounds awful in contrast to beautiful yarn you recommend- but it's what I have). I did a gauge sample and it came out to 8 stitches per inch. I thought great – I have narrow hands this should work. The warmer so far looks nice. The stitches are tight however when I measure the circumference it comes out to be 8 at the cuff and 9 in the body.
    Why is this happening? How can I accommodate it? Should I use even smaller needles?
    Is there a single resource you can direct me to explain the different types of yarns and terms like sport, worsted, ply. and how to convert between them?
    I'd like to try this pattern with a 4 ply acrylic yarn I have. Do you have suggestions on how to adapt your pattern to this type of yarn?
    Thank you for developing and sharing this beautiful pattern and any advice you can give.

  38. purl bee says:

    Hi Lorna,

    Well, it sounds like you're having some gauge issues. If you were, in fact, getting 8 stitches to the inch instead of 7 1/2, then your hand warmer would be smaller than our finished dimension instead of bigger! So I would first recommend that you check our gauge tutorial to make sure you've got that step down pat:

    I would also suggest that you read through our Knitting a Circular Gauge Tutorial because knitting every round is a lot different than knitting 1 row and purling 1 row: .

    The reason your hand warmer is growing is kind of a mystery, but my best guess is that you're just relaxing into the pattern and so your knitting is getting looser. It may be time to go down a needle size!

    And a great resource for all yarn standards is the Craft Yarn Council:

    I hope this helps address some of your issues! Please let us know if you have any other questions!


  39. Lilop says:

    No one likes Hush?
    So pretty…

  40. go says:

    how would you go about doing m1l and m1r if you were to purl rather than knit? I’ve made one pair already but like the purl side so much that I’m thinking about doing another in purl stitch (and a pattern, so just knitting and turning them inside out is not an option).

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi go,

      To make 1 purl right (so that it slants to the right on the purl side), pick up the bar between the last stitch you knit and the one you’re about to knit, bringing the needle from the front to the back. Purl into the back of this stitch.

      To make 1 purl left, pick up the bar between the last stitch you knit and the one you’re about to knit, bringing the needle from the back to the front. Purl into the front of this stitch.

      I hope this gets you on the right path. Sounds like a really pretty idea!


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