April 4, 2007

Celebrating Mitten Day

Mitten Day has been expedited due to weather. It's just a bit overcast & chilly here today, so I'll jump on the opportunity to discuss cold weather gear.

Mitten Day will be a domestic holiday. Many very beautiful & remarkably complex mittens are created in Scandinavia, Latvia, Russia, Lapland & other countries around the world. Nevertheless; the simple, sturdy mittens traditionally knit in Maine & along the coastline of the northeastern U.S. are a favorite of mine for a few reasons.

  • They last forever when knitted with the type of yarn traditionally used. An important characteristic of this type of wool is that it is not processed with chemicals so it retains some of the natural lanolin. The lanolin provides softness & weather resistance. Two great sources for this sort of wool are Bartlettyarns, Harmony, ME (since 1821) & Briggs & Little Woolen Mills, NB Canada ( since 1857).

  • They are always warm - even when they're wet. The yarn used is approximately aran weight & mittens are usually knit on size 2 or 3 needles. The resulting mittens are very thick & water resistant.

  • They're not so labor intensive that the loss of one results in some type of breakdown or outburst. I resist using special Nordic-style mittens with stars & leaves & squirrels & other patterns that took a long time to execute.

  • These traditional mitten patterns have interesting stories attached to them. For great reading on this subject see Robin Hansen's Favorite Mittens - the best patterns from Fox, Geese & Fences, & Flying Geese & Partridge Feet. I have only flipped through this updated compilation, but I own the two original books printed in the 80s. Favorite Mittens retains quite a bit of the history contained in the earlier books. These books all include mittens in sizes for children & adults, & even some specialty mittens such as shooter's mittens & thrummed mittens (mittens lined with extra wool fleece)

Patterns from Fox, Geese & Fences: Chipman's Block, Sawtooth mittens, Partridge mittens

Like to see more mittens?

1 comment:

Sadie Lou said...

Looks like you figured out how to do links! Good girl! I love mittens--gloves are for losers.