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Magnificent Mittens Hardcover – January 28, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Anna Zilboorg is a knitter, dyer, and designer who focuses on one-of-a-kind garments. She has traveled from the Orient to Turkey to Armenia researching ethnic knitting. Her other books include Fancy Feet and 45 Fine & Fanciful Hats to Knit. She lives in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Xrx Books; First Edition edition (January 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964639130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964639133
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,261,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I resisted buying this book at first, even though I admire Anna Zilboorg's work a lot. (see her books Fine and Fanciful Hats, Fancy Feet and Socks for Clogs and Sandals to see more of her creative, colorful designs.) BUT...was I ever pleased with this book when I got it.
Turns out the value is not just for the mittens, which are in every sense magnificent, but also for the techniques she uses to embellish the cuffs, and for the color patterns and colorways.
The mittens themselves have HUGE deep gauntlet cuffs that make them suitable wear for dress coats. Could be good with a cape for dramatic evening wear if you are going out somewhere COLD. The cuffs are further enriched with fringe, embroidery, duplicate stitch, and other edgings. A method is given for lining the mittens with angora if you choose, to make them extremely comfortable and very warm to wear.
The patterns are based on Turkish color knitting, eye-teasing repeating patterns that are quite different than Fairisle or Norwegian knitting. These are related to Islamic art, where repeating, interlocking geometrics are used since Islamic art forbids the representation of anything from nature. The colors are rich and exciting. In addition to the color and embellishment, Anna Zilboorg provides several ways of attaching the mitten thumb (on the palm or side "sore thumb sticking out" methods.)
BUT...even if you don't want to knit a single mitten, the techniques for fringe and edgings, plus the color patterns are useful for pillows, sweaters, hats, socks, and more. Either way, this book is a visual treat (wonderfully photographed and printed by XRX press) and a treasure to own for any knitter.
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Format: Hardcover
Beautiful mittens are these, all of which demand competence with colorwork, up to seven colors in some cases (some of her color choices are pure genius, some are alarming). The pattern charts are derived from many sources (a lot of geometric designs from weaving), mostly Turkish, but include a couple of Fair Isle charts, too. Except for two children's patterns and one for a man's hand, the mittens are all the same size: they seem all meant to fit Ms Zilboorg herself. The mittens knit up to 25 stitches across the back and the palm each, with a border around the edge of either 2 or 3 stitches. The total circumference of the hand is therefore about 54 stitches (give or take a few, depending on the pattern), at a tension (gauge) of 6 to 6 ½ stitches to the inch. Most have a large flared gauntlet that can be pulled over the cuff of the wearer's coat or jacket.

They are knitted from tip to cuff, not in the other direction. This is opposite to the mitten design that most Western knitters are familiar with, and instructions for the cast on technique are extensive, detailed, and are both illustrated and photographed. Ms Zilboorg prefers a peasant thumb with no gore (which she ingeniously calculates to fool the eye into disappearing by using the same patterning as the hand itself; she calls it an "invisible thumb"), but also includes some designs with a thumb gusset attached at the side of the mitten, instead.

The biggest drawback to this book's approach is its unswerving adherence to one basic mitten design structure. An unvarying knitting gauge is unhelpful for those who prefer yarns of different weights, or for a mitten wearer whose hand is a very different size (especially bigger).
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By A Customer on October 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this title during a late-night Amazon splurge, admired the pictures, and shelved it for several months. Then, prompted by I don't know what, I pulled it out, bought yarn for a pair of mittens for my son, and plunged in. Yes, you do have to actually READ the instructions, which can be kind of tough on experienced knitters who are not used to having to pay that much attention to cast-on techniques, for example. However, it is really not that hard and is SO SO rewarding. I am absolutely hooked on knitting these mittens -- they are in my briefcase for every business trip and I have had the nicest (and most amazing) conversations with people sitting next to me. (Quite a change from the usual business flights where we all pretend that the people around us aren't really there.) A good sportweight yarn (Dale of Norway's Falk, for example, with Tahki's Sable as the angora blend lining in wonderful colors) works nicely for these mittens, or you can splurge on the really lovely, hand-dyed stuff through Carolina Homespun. (I'm saving that for the grown-up mittens.) Either way, it's a really gratifying project and I highly recommend it to anyone getting just a little burned out on sweaters.
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Format: Hardcover
Indeed, this is a lovely and inspiring volume. My only criticism is that the book lacks an index. I am a beginning knitter and made my very first pair of mittens from this book. It was extremely frustrating to page back and forth every time I needed to review instructions for constructing the thumb, the cuff, etc. An index at the back of the book would have helped immensely since the author's comments and instructions were scattered in rather extensive narrative throughout the book.
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