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The renaissance of Latvia's ethnographic mittens
September 9, 2009 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Knitting colourful and intricate wool mittens is a Latvian tradition. To welcome guests to a NATO summit in Riga in 2006, hundreds of knitters from around the country made 4500 pairs of mittens. The mittens were photographed individually before they were given away and arranged into galleries according to the region they came from. No two pairs are the same.
posted by bewilderbeast (22 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sadly, these are actually not that warm.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:20 PM on September 9, 2009


Fucking mittens.
posted by xorry at 9:21 PM on September 9, 2009


Beautiful
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:25 PM on September 9, 2009


Awesome! Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:32 PM on September 9, 2009


Beautiful knitting. In this context, what is meant by the word ethnographic? What kind of knitting would not be called ethnographic? Is it being used as a synonym for traditional?
posted by idiopath at 9:33 PM on September 9, 2009


Miittens sporting the thundercross symbol (aka swastika) were not welcome at the summit.

I've made a pair of these, using Lizbeth Upitis' book Latvian Mittens. They take a special kind of patience and attention to make.
posted by medeine at 9:41 PM on September 9, 2009


Download all mittens here...

Yay!
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 PM on September 9, 2009


Interesting. I wonder what kind of craft you would make for a summit on Risa.
posted by jeffkramer at 9:57 PM on September 9, 2009


idiopath : From context, I think that "ethnographic" is being used to indicate folkloric/traditional. I suspect a non-native English speaker, based on grammatical and stylistic patterns.

Very nice mittens.
posted by jlkr at 9:59 PM on September 9, 2009


Hah! You stole my idea for a post! I actually collected a bunch of stranded mitten links for a mitten post: not just Latvian ones, but also Selbuvotter mittens from Norway and the mittens knitted by the Komi people of Russia that Charlene Schurch covers in her (awesome, soon-to-be republished) book Mostly Mittens.

Oh, and I was also going to link to these charts, which are cool if you want to knit your own Latvian mittens.
Sadly, these are actually not that warm.
I've found them to be pretty warm. If you want to make them warmer, you can buy some really thin gloves and wear them under your mittens. It's the layering thing.

And now I want to knit another pair of stranded mittens.
posted by craichead at 10:03 PM on September 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


In this context, what is meant by the word ethnographic?

I think it's probably a carry-over from the fact that so much of the ethnographical study of Latvian culture has revolved around documenting the thousands of local & regional variations on things like "dainas" (typically, four-line verses), as well as folk costumes & their elements, like jewellery, belts, skirts, socks and "prievites" (cute little neckties for men).
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:16 PM on September 9, 2009


Fucking mittens.

what you do with your spare time is your business. if it feels good, do it.
posted by mannequito at 10:18 PM on September 9, 2009


So ethnographic mittens are the kind that would be documented by an ethnographic survey? In other words a synonym for traditional, OK.
posted by idiopath at 10:25 PM on September 9, 2009


Oh goodness. If I weren't so crap at stranded knitting, I'd attempt to make a pair of those. They're beautiful.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:05 AM on September 10, 2009


13. Interesting Latvian beliefs about mittens

Mittens and socks should be knitted in summer, then they will be warm, soft and strong. /A. Zvejniece, Lubāna./

One should not wash new mittens when there is an old moon,
they will lose their color and let through the wind. /K. Zilbers, Meņģele./

One should not wipe their nose in a mitten. Whoever does that never gets rich. /J. Andriņš, Taurkalns./

One should not give their hand to another with a mitten on, otherwise they will give away their luck/A. Tidriķe, Pabažu jūrmala./


I'm just imagining a mom watching her kid wipe his nose on the mitten she spent hours knitting, and thinking, "That's it. I'm telling the little bastard if he does that again he'll suffer the wrath of the FATES!"
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:13 AM on September 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow. What an awesome project.
That is just amazing.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:08 AM on September 10, 2009


Fucking mittens.

No, THESE are fucking mittens.
posted by clavicle at 8:09 AM on September 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Selbuvotter, there's an amazing self-published book about them which we just profiled in the magazine for which I work, they've got a long history and many fascinating stories behind them. Yay, mittens!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:56 AM on September 10, 2009


I love mittens.
posted by sperose at 9:09 AM on September 10, 2009


Sadly, these are actually not that warm.

If you want a really warm mitten, knit some with thrums! Yay thrums! Unfortunately, it doesn't work so well with a patterned mitten, as the anchored part of the thrums shows on the outside.
posted by amarie at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2009


Idiopath,

Not "traditional" because all knitting is anything but traditional ... "ethnographic" probably should have been "ethnic" ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2009


I've knitted stranded thrummed mittens - just tuck the thrums into the stranded yarn, not the working yarn. Almost too warm.
posted by catlet at 4:33 PM on September 11, 2009


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