Fingerless glove

looking for what's missing... I'm a knitting, spinning, mother of teenagers with a big dog, a small cat, minus the lovely rabbit Meliflua.

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Location: Virginia, United States

Right now I'm listening to "An Irish Country Village" by Patrick Taylor, reading "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" by Anna Quindlen and knitting Wisconsin Wintersocks. And casting off the lace shawl I've been working on since I last posted.

Monday, June 02, 2008


I love mittens. Mittens are companionable. I love how my fingers can keep each other company when wearing mittens. I love the smell of wet wool mittens drying by the heating vent. I love the colorful patterns. I love how they keep my fingers warm without being pretentious. I love how they have history.

I am not just talking about History with a capital H. Aside from the stories of Latvian brides knitting mittens for all their future in-laws, of fishermen's wives knitting chunky mittens to be fulled in the cold, salt water of the North Sea, of Norwegians using black and white yarn to express their independence with locally produced goods, I have my own mitten history.

I remember 7 different pairs of mittens from my childhood winters in Wisconsin. My earliest memory is of a red, no-frills pair on an idiot string. It was certainly before first grade, since an idiot string beyond kindergarten was Simply Not Done. We cut our strings with our blunt-tipped scissors before we stopped believing in the tooth fairy. My aunt knit me a pair in fabulous Arctic Cat purple and a burgundy pair with a saffron gold, seed stitch cuff and matching hat. (Twenty years later, when I saw the pattern in a Workbasket magazine at a yard sale, I laughed in recognition.)

The mittens are long worn out, but I still have the hat. It is one of the reasons I believe in hand knitting. Keeping a hat that no longer fits for 40 years means knitting matters. I will show you a photo as proof just as soon as the gremlins bring my blue tooth back. (The gremlins are ignoring me.)
I had a chunky, funky, harvest gold, commercial honey-comb pair of mittens in 1968 when that style was trendy, followed by an ugly white vinyl pair that worked great for snowball fighting. When department stores could still be found on downtown main streets, I bought a leaf green, sleek, ribbed, mohair pair from Prange's.

I was fond of them all, but my favorite pair was black with a pattern of red rosebuds and green leaves. When I left one on the playground, I was frantic. I inexpertly darned the thumbs when they wore thin. I kept those mittens years beyond usefulness, until they finally disappeared during a move. In memory of those mittens, I am knitting an ambitious pair of fringed Latvian Sun mittens from the Schoolhouse Press knit-along. I hope to get them done in time for the county fair. Or at least make enough progress for an interesting photo.


Anonymous smf said...

Loved the memories. I checked out the website with the fringed Latvian mittens...WOW! Now that requires expertise and dedication. I guess I'm really technologically (thank heaven for spell check)challenged...what on earth is a "bluetooth" (not counting someone who has just finished a glass of blueberry Kool-Aid)?

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Cassie said...

LOL!!! we cut our idiot strings with our blunt tipped scissors. Hahahaha!

6:40 PM  
Anonymous cassie said...

btw Grandma, bluetooth is a feature that allows you to send things between computers/phones/iPods wirelessly.

but I like your blueberry Kool-Aid explanation too!!!

6:42 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Hi Gail!
Loved your post! Wish Prange's was still around.

Sorry it took so long to get back to you about the needle size I'm using for Lyra. I'm starting with a 3 (3mm) and may switch to a 3.25mm a little further on as some knitters have had binding problems on the outer edge when blocking.

Can't wait to see your doily progress, and your Latvian mittens. Are you on Ravelry? There's a whole Latvian mitten group on it. If you are on Rav, please friend me and let me know--I'm heartlandknits.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Cassie said...

"I love how my fingers can keep each other company" that's totally something colleen would say.

11:17 PM  

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