Thursday, 20 February 2014

Magical Latvian Mittens. . .


I am so pleased with how these Latvian mittens turned out even though I nearly gave up in exasperation. By far, they are the most fiddly and time-consuming things I've ever knitted. It took me five hours to do each thumb and trust me, there was plenty of swearing involved and one broken dpn.  But I absolutely love them. I bought the kit at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show last fall at the Hobbywool stand which was gorgeous - mittens in numerous patterns and colours hanging like bunting everywhere.

So I finished the mittens and soaked them (the wool really softens up) and then realized I didn't have any scarves or cowls to match.  Luckily, you get a very generous amount of wool in the kit and there easily was  enough to knit a cowl. I used the pattern from the cuff. 

And here it is. It went so much faster on a large circular needle without having to worry about keeping the pattern within the rib. I really enjoyed knitting this. 

The two shades of gray and the white yarn all came from the kit - and there's still a bit left! Not bad at all for only £10.   I didn't have enough of the red but had a similar shade in my stash and there was enough to knit an inner red lining to hide the strands and make the cowl extra cozy. 

Only problem - it's a touch too big.  However - see those notches at the bottom and top (also a part of the original cuff design)?  They are basically a row of yo and k2tog but came in very useful.  I crocheted a quick foundation chain, weaved it through the notches and now I can pull it tighter around my neck. 

I've been wearing them all with pride.  They go perfectly with my lightweight winter coat. 

And they match my waterproof too so I'll definitely take them hiking (as long as it's dry - there's nothing worse than soggy mittens). 

Included in the instructions are some historical facts about Latvian mittens, a tradition that is a thousand years old and apparently "endowed with magical significance". They were often a part of an unmarried girl's hope chest and knitted as gifts for wedding guests - each one in a different pattern - and dedicated to cows, sheep and horses.  My Harrogate companions also bought kits and are busy knitting and swearing away at them; as keen walkers, we certainly plan to bless the sheep when all three pairs are completed. As for magical powers, working on them has certainly given me a lot of confidence in my knitting.  They were by far the most challenging project I've ever tackled but now I feel I can knit anything!  And that's a pretty magical feeling to have.

1 comment:

Dayana Knits said...

They came out great! The broken dpn is just a battle scar, "wear" it with pride. :). By the way, I find I am gathering thing all the time. Patterns with wide sleeves, wide hems, etc.