Norwegian Totoro Mittens
Totoros are the shy forest spirits portrayed in Hayao Miyazaki’s Japanese animated film My Neighbor Totoro. There’s a big one with an umbrella, two little ones, and a bunch of dust bunnies (or soot sprites) who like to swirl out of dark corners. I wanted to capture all of these elements on mittens, which in the Norwegian tradition are wonderful surfaces for intricate stranded knitting designs. If you are comfortable with combining mitten-knitting (in the round) with stranded knitting, then this pattern should pose no problem.
This pattern uses different gauges to achieve different sizes, and the original gauge was never recorded. The above-recommended needle size and yarn weight were added in 2015 purely based on what turned up most often in a project search. Check out the different project pages for this pattern in order to get ideas about sizing, yarn, needles, yardage, and so on.
Note: This pattern involves long floats, and the danger of fingers getting caught in them. As the pattern notes, if you don’t mind the interruption to your knitting groove you can wrap the floats every few stitches to keep them anchored. Since writing the pattern I’ve also seen clever ravelers pick up stitches just inside the cuff and knit a lining out of some very fine yarn (planning for a slightly larger size, just in case). Others have worked the entire pattern in double-knitting. Think about what will work best for you.
Also, many have asked for help regarding the thumb, which follows a construction typical of Norwegian mitten knitting. There are lots of online tutorials for this available, but a particularly thorough one can be found here.
Updates: the download now also offers a French pdf option! Translation and formatting courtesy of the enterprising Nylwenn. Also, jarvisle67 noted the erratum in step 7, which should read 12 rather than 18 sts. All patterns downloaded after 20 Jul 2014 have been corrected.
Copyright: Unsurprisingly, many have used this pattern without consent to create Totoro mittens for commercial use. Please note that this pattern is intended as an homage under fair use / fair dealing copyright law. Anyone selling knits adorned with motifs drawn from this pattern is doing so without this designer’s knowledge or consent.