Mastodon Knitted Chainmail Hauberk for a Young Knight —

Knitted Chainmail Hauberk for a Young Knight

hauberk thumbnail


About 200 grams worsted weight wool or wool blend — this will be plenty even if your Knight is bigger than mine and you want short sleeves. I suggest Knitpicks’ Wool of the Andes. At $2/ball for real wool you just can’t find a better deal!

Size 15 circular needles (Or bigger. Or smaller. Add or subtract a few stitches from the body if you use different size needles, or your knight is more round or much smaller than mine. Garter stitch is VERY stretchy, so don’t sweat it too much.)
Yarn needle
Scrap yarn for cast on and stitch holders

The Chainmail Hauberk:

Using scrap yarn and a provisional cast on, cast on 30 st for top of shoulders.

Back: Work back and forth in garter stitch to underarm (8 ridges or so for a sleeveless hauberk, maybe 9 or 10 if you want sleeves. Use your own judgement.) Put these 30 stitches on a string, and pick up 30 from the cast on edge.

Front/neck: Work 10 stitches (right front). Cast off the next ten. Work the next ten (left front). Turn. Work ten, drop yarn, skip the ten cast off stitches, use the other end of the yarn (or the other ball) to work the next ten. Turn.

Neck increase row: work to last stitch of right front, make one, knit last stitch. Now the right front has 11 stitches. For the left front, knit one stitch, make one, knit to end. Now the left front has 11 stitches too.

Knit back across for the wrong side, using both balls of yarn to keep fronts separate.

Repeat the right-side neck increase row and the wrong-side plain row until you have a total of 30 stitches again: 15 for the right front and 15 for the left front. On the next right-side row, knit all the way across with the first ball of yarn so the two sides are joined.

Continue working back and forth to underarm (count ridges and make the front match the back), then join with back section and begin to work in the round. Place a marker at the join. Now that you’re knitting in the round, you’ll need to purl every other round to stay in garter stitch. Invite your Knight to help!

(If you don’t want to purl, leave the front and back separate and sew up the side seams when you’re done.)

Here is how it looks after having used up my first ball of yarn:


When the body is long enough (to lower hip), work a split in front and back to allow easy horseback riding:

Put all 60 stitches on a string. Starting at center front (count 15 over from the side marker), pick up 30 stitches (to center back). Work these 30 stitches back and forth until the flap is long enough (8-10 ridges). Cast off.

Pick up the remaining 30 side stitches and work flap to match the other one. Cast off. Weave in ends.

If you want sleeves, pick up stitches around the arm holes. I’d work flat and weave the underarm seam so you don’t have to do any purling :)

And now, photos of the finished armor!

knitted chainmail

knitted chainmail

knitted chainmail

knitted chainmail

knitted chainmail

(Thanks for letting me take pictures even though you still don’t feel well, Henry :)

(When Ravelry goes live, you can visit this project there: Chainmail Hauberk for a Young Knight)

Category: Blog, Free Patterns, Handmade 51 comments »

51 Responses to “Knitted Chainmail Hauberk for a Young Knight”

  1. Aaron Benedict

    You need to talk with Doogie, she’s making actual chainmail…

  2. kara

    I think I prefer knitting to metal work :)

  3. Catharine

    Wow. Peter and I are both suitably impressed!!!!!

  4. Annie

    So fun! Nice design Kara and thanks for modeling Henry. :D

  5. Geo

    What an absolutely charming knight!

  6. Flor

    Awesome and just what I was looking for! Have you tried a helmet?

  7. kara

    Y’know, I have a vague memory of knitting a helmet when Henry was little… should be easy enough, just a garter-stitch top-down cap, then cast off across the forehead and knit a little more back and forth on the rest of the stitches so the helmet covers the ears and the back of the neck.

    Have fun making your chainmail!

  8. Beckie Weber

    I was hunting for helmet but love the Hauberk. I have found the perfect material for a chainmail helmet and will wrote your quick notes for one. Makes sense. I knit a pig hat for my husband’s ski helmet the same way.
    Thanks for being out here.

  9. kara

    Great, Beckie! Send photos when you’re done :)

  10. Stephanie

    would you be interested in making a few of these chain mail shirts for halloween? I need four kids sized and one adult size. I can knit okay, but I am super slow and will be working on the rest of their costumes so I probably won’t have time to knit. Thanks either way.

  11. kara

    I’ll email you, Stephanie :)

  12. Taryn

    Kara– we’ve listened to some of your librivox recordings– thank you! And then to find you putting out a wonderful chain mail pattern… wow! Thank you for walking just ahead of me and helping me with my homeschooling endeavors before I even knew I needed it!

  13. kara

    Aww, that’s great, Taryn :)

  14. Speider

    That is awesome! Tell the young knight that the pictures of him has me truly inspired! After first reading about it i thought it would look weird, but after seeing the pictures, this is the kind of stuff i now want for christmas. And I’m 26 years old ^_^


  15. kara

    I will pass on your compliment to the Young Knight (who is not so young anymore) :)

  16. Katie

    This is great!! Would it be possible for you to convert this pattern to doll/bear size? I am not experienced at making patterns. I’m just branching out from simpler knits and looking for new things to knit. I would really appreciate if you could post it online or email it to me. :)

  17. kara

    Dolls and bears come in a lot of different sizes :) If you knit one from my pattern, you’ll see how it is made (it is VERY simple) and then you can make more in any size you like.

  18. Katie

    Thanks. :) I’ll give it a try!

  19. wendy

    My 5year old grandson is fascinated by medieaval knights and asked me to knit him some chainmail. I didn’t have a clue where to start, so thank you so much for your pattern.

  20. Kacy

    Thank you so much for this pattern. My husband never ever dresses up I told him to name anything. He said a Knight Templar. I can’t wait to make this for him.

  21. Robyn

    This is so great. I love the knight. I’d trust him any day! So my friend, not a knitter, found some grey sequins acrylic for arm warmers, which she requested I make for her (we have deal – she buys the yarn for things she likes; I knit them). Then she found a Joan of Arc helmet pattern. The arm warmers then became “gauntlets.” THEN, she went on the hunt for a chainmail tunic and wa-la! here you are! We’re both very pleased. Thank you!

  22. Andrea

    Wuld you email me if you have any advice as to how to make this with straight needles??

  23. kara

    Sure, just knit a front and a back, then seam them together up the sides.

  24. Holly

    What length circulars do I need?


  25. kara

    No idea! Shortish is probably fine.

  26. Sisse

    Hello Kara,

    I thought I was going to have to come up with something myself, but you have done the work for me :-) Thank you for this! I’m making it for my boys, who incidentally are also home schooled :-) I would love to translate your pattern into Danish and post it on my website – would that be okay with you? All credit to you, of course, and links to your site. Thank you also for making your home schooling blog public, it’s a great place to find inspiration!

  27. kara

    Yes of course! Translate, repost, have fun! :)

  28. Sisse

    Thanks :-) I’ll post a link when it’s done, so you can see it!

  29. Sisse

    Here’s the link:

    Thanks again :-) He LOVES it!

  30. kara

    What a handsome young Viking! :) I’ll link to your translation from my Ravelry page!

  31. Sisse

    Thanks :-)

  32. Rach

    That’s fabulous! and so easy (even I can prob do that). Do you have a pattern for a helmet???

  33. kara

    No… but you can figure one out! Easiest thing would be to knit a garter-stitch rectangle. Sew it together along the short side, and gather the top. Or find a simple top-down cap pattern and knit it in garter. Or if you want to get fancy, try a balaclava pattern. Good luck!

  34. Jen_A

    Thi sproject is my first attempt at knitting, and I’m doing the garter stitching on a loom instead of needles. Can anyone help me with HOW to “make a split”? I’ve figured out adding and decreasing stitches, but can’t figure out how to split the piece for the crotch.

    Thanks in advance!

  35. kara

    I’ve never used a knitting loom, but I imagine you would knit across the row to the center, then set aside that strand of yarn and finish the row with a new strand of yarn. When you work back, use the second strand of yarn to the center (where you picked it up), then complete the row with the original yarn.

    You’ll suddenly be knitting two separate pieces.

  36. Rachel

    This is so awesome I can barely handle it! Thank you for sharing your pattern!!!

  37. kara

    Aw, thanks :) Have fun knitting!

  38. Laura

    Fantastic! This is just what I’ve been looking for, but I haven’t knitted since I was in school (about 30 years ago!). I think I can remember enough to get by, but can anyone suggest how many stitches I’ll need across the back for a tunic to fit an approximate 42 inch chest?

  39. kara

    That will depend on your gauge — how many stitches you get per inch with YOUR yarn and YOUR needles. Knit a swatch approximately 4 inches square. Measure it, count how many stitches there are per inch, then multiply by how many inches of knitting you need.

    Good luck! You can do it!

  40. Michele

    I know 2 boys who would be quite inspired in that!
    Thank you…so sweet

  41. Susan Averello

    My 21 yo asked for chainmail to wear to a con. I looked and she found this. I know how to resize it for her – I am just so glad she found this.
    Ordered pewter Patons metallic yarn. Once they get older they get pickier.

  42. kara

    Haha that’s great! :)

  43. RuAlice

    Thank you so much! I love your style, so easy to follow and to adapt. :D

    I’ve made this for my young man; he’s King Richard in Robin Hood in his school play. He’s absolutely thrilled! :) I’ve added a silver crocheted boarder to make it look really regal. :)

  44. kara

    That’s great! My little knight will be 21 in a couple of months, can you believe it? :)

  45. Laura Agaba

    I am attempting this for my costume as Queen Susan from narnia. But I am curious if you have ever written out a more detailed / beginner version of this pattern. I have knit a good bit but I am a little lost with your descriptions

  46. kara

    No, I’ve never written down any other versions. Is there something particular that you’re stuck on?

  47. Bethany

    Thank you for this pattern. Your end product looks great, and I’m excited to see how mine turns out. Also, I just realized (despite having looked at this pattern several times before) that I’m on! I’ve heard that website countless times listening to audiobooks! Anyways, you are by far my favorite narrator on librivox, and this pattern looks wonderful.

  48. Rach

    gonna have a go at this for myself, for wearing as a Roman soldier in Cubs. we’re using the basic theme of the roman army to build the programme round this term. the kids don’t realise how much they’re learning and how many badges (esp the boring ones) they are ticking off already

  49. Amie

    I’m going to make this for my son for his birthday in October! I’m not a very good knitter, I can knit socks on four needles but that’s it!
    I’m going to give it a go and am hoping the lady at the knitting shop where I’ll get the wool from will help me!
    Can you please tell me how old your son in the photo is please? Will help me gauge size!
    Also, you mention using circular needles, I’ve never used them but will give it a go! Does that mean there’s no sewing up? Am I knitting in a tube?
    Thank you very much. 😊

  50. kara

    Hi Amie,

    In October of 2007 my son had just turned 12. He is (and was) a tall and slim boy.

    You can totally knit this project flat, so don’t worry about the circular needle. Use big needles and it will be so stretchy that gauge doesn’t matter.

    Start with the back — cast on 30 st and work in garter until you think it’s long enough to reach your knight’s lower hip. Then put 15 of the stitches on a string and work the other 15 in garter until it looks long enough. Count the ridges, and work that many on the other 15 stitches.

    Then knit a front. Cast on 10 stitches. Work in garter and increase one stitch at one side on every other row until you have 15. Put these 15 on a string and then do the same thing again to make the other half of the front — this time, make the increases on the other end. Then when you have 15 stitches again, put both front pieces together so that the increased edges form the V of the neck, and start knitting all 30 until you reach the lower hip again (count the ridges). Work the split the same as for the back.

    Then sew the back to the front at the shoulders. Sew up your side seams, leaving gaps for arm holes. All done!

  51. Lorraine

    Hi Kara,
    I’m a bit confused with the instructions. After casting on 30 stitches and working 8 or so rows, you say to put these stitches on a string and pick up 30 from the cast on edge. I am not sure what you mean by the cast on edge. I knit quite a lot, perhaps the terminology is different from patterns in Australia. Your help would be appreciated, I’m knitting this for my 5 year old knight for Christmas.

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