Holli Yeoh

Newfoundland Trigger Mitts

trigger mitts

In a box of my childhood things in my mother’s basement I discovered this pair of mittens I used to wear when I was Devan’s age. They are trigger mitts from Newfoundland.

D & H

 Devan and me, both at 8 yrs old.

In the 1970s we moved from Alberta to St. John’s, Newfoundland. It was a big adventure for my family and although a part of Canada, Newfoundland seemed so different to us in many ways.

trigger mitts

Among our many discoveries was the strong tradition of knitting in Newfoundland—especially handknit trigger mitts, sometimes called three finger mittens.

It seems they are unique to the Newfoundland knitting tradition with the index finger separate from the rest of the mitten allowing the wearer to jig for cod or pull a trigger when hunting.

trigger mitts

We were quite taken with these mitts and I wore mine proudly even though obviously I neither fished nor hunted.

trigger mitts

The stranded patterns on the mitts are quite common in other maritime areas of North America and Robin Hansen’s books contain many colourwork patterns that are familiar to me from our Newfoundland days.

trigger mitts

In addition to the trigger finger, what seems to be particularly distinctive to the Newfoundland mitten is that the stranded pattern stops at the base of the fingers whereas in other areas of Eastern Canada and the US the pattern runs from the wrist to the tips of the fingers.

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  1. pam said,

    September 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I have never seen or heard of trigger mitts! But they make perfect sense. Why aren’t they more common.

    Your son looks just like his Mom!

  2. Nigel Pottle said,

    September 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Hey Holli,

    Thanks for the memories. Of course I wore trigger mitts when I was a kid, knit by my mother. They were a normal part of our winter back in Newfoundland. You can still buy them in craft shops there such as Nonia on Water Street in St. John’s and I’m sure any self-respecting craft shop in Newfoundland will have a few pairs for sale.

  3. Sherry said,

    September 17, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    My grandmother knitted mitts, and every once in a while I was sent a precious pair. I would like to carry on the family tradition, but have not been able to find a pattern. I was back to visit my parents in Nfld. this summer but was unable to track down a relative with a pattern. Do you have a pattern? I have green ones that are very similar to the ones Devon is wearing in the picture, a gift from my aunt when I saw her this summer.

  4. genny said,

    September 20, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Wow! so cool, I love mittens although our temperature doesn’t really get cold enough to wear them. I’d seen split finger mittens but never heard them called trigger mittens before, but of course! makes perfect sense!

  5. Catherine Eddy said,

    November 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

    There is a book by Robin Hansenm with Janetta Dexter called “Flying geese & partridge feet’ with the shooting mitts or also called gunner,s mitts pattern. I got mine from Briggs and Little woolen mills in PEI. I learned to knit them from an older sister in Law. There aren,t many patterns around because it is difficult to explain and much easier to learn from an older person visually. Robin Hansen has another book called ‘Fox&Geese & fences. there,s a slightly different pattern there also.

  6. Catherine Eddy said,

    November 6, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Sorry. Briggs and little are in New Brunswick ,not PEI

  7. Holli Yeoh Knits » Newfoundland Bubble Mittens said,

    March 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

    [...] couple of weeks ago Devan lost his (my) Newfoundland trigger mitten at school. We’ve scoured the school top to bottom and checked the lost and found repeatedly. [...]

  8. kim said,

    January 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Hi. I am new at this knitting stuff, well i’ve been at it on and off for a year. I love to knit in my spare time. I dont know all the lingo when it comes to knitting so for that reason I like to watch the patterns being made. I am a visual person. LOL. Im hoping that you might know of a video on here for the trigger mitt. I have been looking for a few months now and cant seem to get anywhere with it. Thank you. KIM

  9. Holli said,

    January 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I don’t have a pattern for these mitts and I haven’t run across a video demonstrating the technique. That’s a great idea. Good luck with your search.

  10. Margaret said,

    December 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Hello Holli;

    These are great! I would love to have the pattern, PDF? I’m assuming the only place to find them is Robin Hansen’s books?

    If there is an on-line PDF version, could you point me in the right direction!

    Again, great! I’ve heard so much about them from my MAGS customers/ and at Craft shows.

  11. Holli said,

    December 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    I’ve found a written pattern for trigger mitts in a booklet published by the Anna Templeton Centre for Craft Art and Design in Newfoundland. It’s called Operation Homespun and is an assembled collection of traditional Newfoundland knitting patterns. It can be ordered online at http://www.annatempletoncenter.com/operation-homespun-2/

  12. Beverley Wentzell said,

    March 31, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I myself have knitted since about 12 yrs old, and crochet as well, I have been knitting everything going BUT I really would like the patter to the Trigger Finger Mitts. Saw a program on Land and Sea this Easter Sunday, and would love the pattern.

    June 14th will be married 50 yrs and we have a downs son 45 home with us and going blind
    and I love to have peace and knitting gives this to me.
    Wuld appreciate your assistance. I knit the two different kinds of NFLD mitts and people love thme. Thank you

  13. Zoe Morris said,

    March 31, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I, too, would love to have the pattern for the Trigger Mitts as seen on Land and Sea on Easter Sunday. I will soon be staring radiation therapy for breastr cancer and it would be lovely to embark on a brand new project. Thx Zoe

  14. Wanda Golds said,

    June 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I’d love a pattern for these Newfoundland trigger mitts….any idea may I can obtain one?

  15. Holli said,

    June 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    There’s a trigger mitts pattern in Operation Homespun, a booklet published by the Anna Templeton Centre for Craft Art and Design in Newfoundland. It can be ordered online at http://www.annatempletoncenter.com/operation-homespun-2/

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