Customer Reviews: Latvian Mittens: Traditional Designs & Techniques
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
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on November 3, 2006
I just received this book in the mail. I love it. It has a great overview of the history and importance of handknit mittens in Latvian history. It also includes several Latvian poems about mitten knitting, which I thought was fantastic.

There are several full length patterns in the book that explain the different techniques used to create the mittens in the book, but then there are many, many more charts in the back of the book, as well as color photographs of finished mittens corresponding to the charts. I don't think this is a great book if you are a very beginning knitter, but I do think that if you've learned how to knit, purl, increase and decrease and done a stranded color project, you should do fine with this book. As another reviewer said, you have to piece together the techniques from other sections of the book to make any of the charts in the back, but really, it's not that hard, and the instructions are clear.

My only criticism of the book is that the charts themselves are in black and white and a little crowded together. Otherwise, I found this book to be well worth the money I spent, and I plan to make lots of the mittens found in it, as well as probably mixing and matching to make my own, unique, mittens.
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on August 24, 2006
This book is a fabulous treasury of traditional patterns with its colorful pictures. All techniques are covered in detail with drawn illustrations. This is, however, by no means a pattern book for a beginner. To construct a certain mitten, the techniques and patterns must be picked out from different parts of the book and put together. On the practical side, the binding of the book could be better; mine is already falling apart and loosing pages after a couple of weeks of use. Nevertheless, I'm very satisfied with the purchase, and will make many of the mittens in this book.
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Elizabeth Upitis has included many models of Latvian mittens from the various regions of the Baltic state. Mittens play an important part in courtship and marriage rituals in Latvian culture. The patterns are rich and decorative, with edgings of fringe or scallops and small patterns reminiscent of Fair Isle knitting.
Even though you probably won't want to make as many mittens as a Latvian bride should need for her dowry, you will be inspired by the variety. The patterns, colorways and edgings are quite useful for adapting to other knitting designs like sweaters, hats and vests.
All my grandparents came from Latvia, and I wish they'd been able to bring some of these wonderful folk handworks with them when they came to America. I would have loved to have seen some from the old country. The author has done a great job in documenting the patterns and the lore behind them.
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on June 17, 2009
I just recently learned how rewarding it is to make mittens, and this was the first book that I bought to fuel my obsession. The charts are clear, and there are so many wonderful photographs that it reminds me of an art book. Usually, I am not a fan of reading the history behind things (yeah, that makes me a little shallow but there you go) but the author of this book did such a wonderful job of briefly describing what I can only assume is a rich history behind the role that mittens play in the culture of Latvia.

Although I would be hesitant to say this is a wonderful beginner's book, I consider myself a beginner at not only mittens but fair isle/color work and this book has proved to be an invaluable reference since she takes the time to write out directions for some of the mittens (so you don't have to rely specifically on the graphs).

Lastly, I have learned many new techniques and feel as though this book has not only helped my "mitten making" but has increased my skill as a knitter.
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on November 25, 2008
This is not an expensive coffee table production that will impress with it's arty photography. This paperback impresses with the excellent research of patterns and their cultural traditions. Colour photographs give a good idea of possible colour combinations. The designs are presented in form of graphs rather than written description, which makes the following of a pattern totally easy. It is a very good and comprehensive collection of the mittens of Latvia.
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on February 11, 2016
This IS a beautiful book BUT it is unusable unless you want to go into a lot of trouble re-drawing or mechanically enlarging the charts. Almost all the charts are on the tiny side. This might have been acceptable if they were crisp and clear. That is unfortunately not the case. Seriously, you'll need a magnifying glass for some of them! Specially the ones that are filled in with what looks like hand-drawn 'x's. I feel that the book is expensive enough that the publisher could have put in a little more effort so we don't have to.

Totally disappointed - I'm returning the book and will wait for a better version.
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Latvian mittens are colorful and have patterns a bit like Fairisle or Norwegian style color knitting. They often have fringed or scalloped edges.
This book has many color photos of amazing patterns to knit. This edition is out of print and a new one is being published, with an expanded set of patterns and photos.
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on April 20, 2008
When I first received my copy of this book, I was amazed at the amount of mittens in it, and the fact that there are patterns for each and every one of them. Then I actually started to read it and got a bit confused because of the way the book is put together, but since I got used to it, I've only loved it. Amazing book, countless possibilities!
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on December 12, 2007
A great book , but not the best. I find it a bit difficult to see the patterns since they are like copies of copies and to black - and to figure out where to set the thumb. Really nice patterns and some words from the different designs.
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on December 7, 2011
I've wanted this book for a long time and thought it was going to feel like a treasury of some sort. I couldn't understand why it wasn't published in hardcover. Now that I finally have it, I understand why. This book is not a pattern reference although you can use the designs for many different garments. It's full off symbols and interesting history. After I complete a few of these projects I can't see myself going back to this book time after time. I agree with some of the reviewers about the too small graphs. There's one graph on page 56 that's a blurry compacted mess. Maybe if the book was published in one language it would have more room to display bigger and easier to see graphs. I don't believe you have to be an experienced knitter to get really nice results, but you may need to phone a friend on a few things. I like the fringe ideas. They're nicer than plain rib and the color choices make the designs pop. I think the price fits the intellectual and historical value. I'd like to see instructions for knitting finger-tip to cuff, larger graphs, and one language. Maybe then it will warrant a hard cover.
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