So, the original pattern I was using is located here. The only problem with it is that as far as I know, not only is it not possible to do ribbing in nalbinding, but no extant examples of Viking knitted or nalbound goods have ribbing. (In fact, ribbing is not widely found in knitted garments until the 1500s, according to a couple of sources I found while looking into it.)

Now, to be fair, crochet is certainly not period - it wasn’t invented until the 1800s. But it looks a heck of a lot like nalbinding, done right.

With that in mind, here’s my modified mittens pattern.

General starting information

Yarn: I used 4-ply (4 Seasons Merino) with a 4mm hook, and later an 8-ply yarn (Mondial Bio-Lana) on a 3.5mm hook. Note though that even with the same ply count, I’ve found that yarns all behave differently (even if they’re the same type of fiber) so you may need to adjust even if you’re using a 4-ply yarn.




Some different yarns I've used for this pattern. Top is 4 Seasons Merino wool 4-ply, and bottom is Mondial Bio-Lana wool 8-ply. This pattern is based on the 4 Seasons; while it's rougher and more prone to splitting than I'd like, I found that I had to alter the pattern quite drastically for the Mondial Bio-Lana.

Gauge: I…didn’t do a gauge square (you should always do a gauge square, or at least a few rows) but the original pattern says:

  • 4mm hook and 4ply yarn: 18 SC x 22 rows should be 4 inches.
  • 4.25mm hook and DK (usually 8ply) yarn: 17 SC x 20 rows should be 4 inches.
  • 4.25mm hook and light worsted (usually 8ply) yarn: 17 SC x 20 rows should be 4 inches.
  • 4.5mm and worsted (usually 10 or 12ply) yarn: 15 SC x 18 rows should be 4 inches. Adjust accordingly.

Fit: This pattern fits my hands and is based on the ladies small size from the original source; my wrists are 14cm circumference, circumference of hand at knuckles is approximately 17cm, and length from my preferred cuff to middle finger is 21cm. Modify accordingly. These take a bit of effort to pull over my wrists, but that’s by design - I tend to have a lot more trouble with gloves being too big in the wrists than too small. If you prefer a looser wrist, put a couple more chains into the start.

Other things you need:

  • Stitch markers are essential. I use paperclips. Choose the colours you’ll use for each section in advance - I normally use white for the foundation chain and/or first round, then here I’ve used yellow for the cuff rounds, green for the increase into the hand, blue for the hand, pink for the turned sections around the thumb slit, back to blue, and then red for the decreases.



Colourful, cheap stitch markers. I have considered getting some that I could add paper labels to, so I can keep better track of specifics, but they'd probably cost more.

Stitches: chain (Ch), single crochet (SC), slip stitch (slp), single crochet two together (SC2tog). Yes, I’m mixing my terms. Don’t @ me.

The pattern

Cuff: Ch 28 and join slp. Mark. Beginning in the 2nd chain from the hook, SC2tog, work 24 SC, and SC2tog again for a total of 26 SC; skip over the slip stitch.

Work 26 SC for 9 more rounds. Do not join the rounds - just continue each one. But, mark the end of each round for convenience.

  • Adjustment: When you join the foundation chain, check that you can fit it over your wrist. Check again when you complete the cuff - the foundation chain will be tighter than the completed cuff, hence why it’s 2ch bigger than needed.

Hand:

2SC twice, SC 10, 2SC twice, SC 10. This increases to 30.

  • Adjustment: Check here if it seems to be fitting the width of your hand alright.



The completed cuff and increase into the hand section.

Repeat for 4 rounds of 32 SC.



The hand section, before the thumb slit.

Ch 1. Work 30 SC, but do not join; you will now be turning the work to form the thumb slit. Be careful to always work the same loop; you should only see a ridge forming on one side of your work, and there should not be any ribbing effect. For example, if on the first round you have worked the loop furthest from you, work the loop closest to you after turning - don't keep working in the back loop. (That gives you ribbing, which is not what we want.) Ch 1 at the end of each round, before turning.





The loops. In the first image, note the two sides to each loop - if you always work in the back loop relative to yourself, you will get ribbing, which is not what we want here. You'll need to remember which loop you started in, and stay on that loop. The second and third images show what I mean by a 'ridge' - it's more of a line formed by the unworked side of each loop. This is a good guide as to whether you're in the right loop or not (and later, if you've got the glove the right way out or not!). Another way to help yourself remember is to always insert your stitch markers into the same loop - either the loop to be worked, or the opposite loop. I find it easier to insert the markers into the opposite loop, purely because the hook will tend to get caught in the paperclip otherwise.

Work this for 7 rounds.

Work 30 SC, then slp to join the two sides. You will now resume working continuously in the round.




The hand section with thumb slit, before and after joining.

  • Adjustment: Check here that the thumb slit is large enough, and is sitting at the right point. I had to adjust this section from the original pattern because the thumb slit was sitting too low, and extended up too far. Ensure that your thumb has a full range of motion, but that the slit is centered around the point where your thumb joins to your hand; it should not extend higher than (roughly) the pad on your palm below where your index finger joins your hand, or lower than the joint of your thumb.

Work 10 rounds of 30 SC, at least. The finished section should reach about halfway up your pinky finger.

  • Adjustment Check the spread - at this length, it should be loose at the outer edge, but still accomodate a spread-out hand. Continue regularly checking the fit while working, just in case - always ensure you can spread your hand out without too much difficulty.




The hand section, before decreasing, worn and not worn. Note the length relative to my pinky finger.

Now, work the following:

  1. 1. SC 13, SC2tog, SC 13, SC2tog. Decreasing from 30 to 28.
  2. 2. SC 12, SC2tog, SC 12, SC2tog. Decreasing from 28 to 26.
  3. 3. SC 11, SC2tog, SC 11, SC2tog. Decreasing from 26 to 24.
  4. 4. SC 10, SC2tog, SC 10, SC2tog. Decreasing from 24 to 22.
  5. 5. SC 9, SC2tog, SC 9, SC2tog. Decreasing from 22 to 20.
  6. 6. SC 8, SC2tog, SC 8, SC2tog. Decreasing from 20 to 18.
  7. 7. SC 7, SC2tog, SC 7, SC2tog. Decreasing from 18 to 16.
  8. 8. SC 6, SC2tog, SC 6, SC2tog. Decreasing from 16 to 14.
  9. 9. SC 7, SC2tog, SC 5, SC2tog. Decreasing from 14 to 12.
  • Adjustment: If you have a particularly long ring finger, you may need to work a single round without a decrease. If your middle finger is *not* longer than your index finger, you may need to do more decreases per round.



The hand section at round 6. Note the curve at the top.

For the final row at the top, SC2tog until there are no more stitches left, then break the yarn (leaving a long tail) and tie off. Use the tail of the yarn to sew the ends together.



The completed hand!

Thumb

Ensure that you are working in the correct loop to produce the correct effect here. The side with the ridge is the 'wrong side' (ie, inside) of the mitten.
Join in yarn to the top of the thumb hole. Mark this point.
SC around the thumb hole - should be 20 SC.
Then:

  1. SC 8, SC2tog x2, SC 8; total 18 SC.
  2. SC 7, SC2tog x2, SC 7; total 16 SC.
  3. SC 6, SC2tog x2, SC 6; total 14 SC.
  4. SC 5, SC2tog x2, SC 5; total 12 SC.
  5. Work 5 more rounds of 12 SC, or enough to cover the end of your thumb.
  6. SC2tog in all, break yarn, tie off, sew in end.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of a mitten with a thumb finished this way - I got frustrated with the thumb on the other three, and they're quite rough.

Working this in Mondial Bio-Lana

When I worked this pattern in Bio-Lana, I had to make a number of changes:

  • I started with a foundation of ch 26, decreased to 24 for a better cuff fit (though I still worked a total of 10 cuff rounds as I've found that longer cuffs are better for warmth) and then increased to 28 in the hand section.
  • I worked 9 rounds for the thumb hole - 8 turning, and the 9th was rejoined.
  • I worked a total of 13 hand rounds - three before the thumb hole, and 10 above.
  • I worked the first 3 decreases by decreasing by 2 each round (28 -> 26 -> 24) and then the next three decreases by 4 each round (24 -> 20 -> 16 -> 12)
  • My thumb hole was 20 SC around, with 4 decreasing rounds (down to 12 SC around) and 7 rounds of 12 SC to finish.



A pair of mittens completed in the Mondial Bio-Lana. This was much denser and warmer.

Additional notes

Be very careful to avoid washing any woolen items hot water. They will become fulled, meaning that they will shrink. You can do this deliberately if the gauge is still too big in your chosen wool or if you want the stitch to become much denser, but be very careful with deliberate fulling, as it's very easy to overdo it. (This can happen even with Superwash wool.)
Take note as well that wool stretches. Don't do your stitches too tight - it should always be easy to pull the yarn through the next stitch, regardless of fiber, but with wool you may need to work looser than usual. It can take a lot of effort to adjust.
If you have conductive thread (and know where it is!) then after completing the thumb, you could add some to the thumb section to be able to use your phone easily. I bought my conductive thread from Adafruit - but then misplaced it, so no mitten'd phone use for me. From others who have tried it, it's important to make large but dense stitches and leave a long 'tail' of thread on the inside of the thumb to allow for conductivity. (When I locate my conductive thread, I'll post about using it on my purchased wool full-finger gloves - but I honestly cannot remember where it got to.)
Lastly, if you weren't doing these as fake nalbinded mittens, you could follow the original instructions for the ribbed cuff. If you do this, you won't need to work the increases on the hand section, and you may find fitting the wrist to be a lot easier.
If you are making these for another person, you'll need the following measurements:
Preferred cuff length (if longer or shorter than the pattern), length around the desired start of the cuff or wrist around, widest point of hand around, length from the longest finger to the wrist bone, inside length of the thumb (from middle of web to tip) and outside length of thumb (from third joint where it joins the rest of the hand, to the tip).
It's still helpful to check the fit regularly on the recipient.


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