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Norwegian Mittens and Gloves: Over 25 Classic Designs for Warm Fingers and Stylish Hands Hardcover – November 8, 2011
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Inside you’ll find a delightful collection of traditional Norwegian mitten and glove patterns, including animal motifs, figures, and border patterns, plus easy ways to translate them all into designs for hats, sweaters, and pillow covers.
One day in 1983, Annemor Sundbø of Kristiansand, Norway, became the owner of a “shoddy’ (rag or recycled material) mill, where she immersed herself in the patterns she found inside on almost 1,000 different mittens, in addition to a warehouse full of other knitted castaways. This was the start of a life-long search for examples of classic Norwegian traditional knitting. Since the onset of her “obsession” with Norwegian hand-knitting history, Sundbø has won several prizes for her contributions to Norwegian culture, and has become the author of multiple knitting books.
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She has picked patterns for this book that have appeared in magazines, leaflets, or from mittens she has found that have been darned and re-worked. There is a very educational section on Basic Techniques. It covers the anatomy of mittens and gloves, cuffs, ribbings for cuffs, pattern knitting, thumb gussets, and shaping mittens and gloves. She also discusses how to design gloves unique to fit your own hands.
The patterns in this book are what we traditionally think of when someone says 'Norwegian' mittens or gloves. There are no fancy nuanced and contemporary patterns. These patterns comprise true folk art and are the real stuff of Norwegian lore. The pictures are in color and the patterns are clear and easy to read. Some struck me more than others. I loved the 'Mittens with a Red Thread', all brown and white except for two red lines in the cuff. Even though I'm not a fan of bugs, I loved the "Spider Mittens', blue and white with a spider-like pattern on one side. The "Olive MIttens" are lovely. The "olive branch or twig conveys messages about benedictions and peace". These mittens have olives on one side and a repetitive, small pattern on the reverse side (as do most of the mittens). As a dog lover, I was attracted to the "Flornes Dog" mittens in black and white with a big dog on the back and snow flakes on the thumb. The "Starfish" mittens may be my favorite. They are knit in rose and white. The "Star pattern on these mittens are often found on Norwegian Fana sweaters."
There are many more mitten than glove patterns in the book. The book ends with a section called "One Mitten is a Pattern Treasure Trove" and this section is "for anyone who wants to follow their own imagination and creativity." This is a wonderful resource for those of us who want to learn about the Norwegian knitting heritage and who would like to incorporate Norwegian mitten and glove knitting into our repertoire.
As in all my knitting reviews, I asked myself three questions:
Will I knit the patterns from this book?
Are the patterns clear and easy to read?
Will the book be a good resource?
The answer is a resounding 'YES'.
From that same shoddy-mill experience comes this fourth Sundbo book, which presents 28 patterns for traditional Norwegian mittens or gloves that use classic Norwegian folk symbols and motifs. Each pattern replicates a pair of authentic rescued mittens or gloves, and each pattern is accompanied by a thumbnail photograph of the original pair. Without the photos of the originals, a knitter might think that whimsical, seldom-seen motifs like "squirrel and hare" or "daddy longlegs" were contemporary inventions, merely "inspired by" authentic Norwegian folk designs!
In fact, there is only one modern motif included, which is used in Sundbo's charming "dancing grannies" mittens. Each pattern is illustrated by an enlarged, full-color photo, printed on glossy paper. Each pattern also includes clear and complete charts for knitting the elaborate designs in the original colors. This is a beautiful book to simply page through! At the start of each pattern, Sundbo explains the meaning of the motif or motifs used: for example, "Odin's ravens" represent "tidings and memory". The book also includes chapters on basic techniques for knitting Norwegian mittens, and on designing garments incorporating the book's traditional Norwegian motifs.
For me, a knitting history buff, this book rates an unqualified 5 stars. I also highly recommend Sundbo's second and third books, Invisible Threads in Knitting, and Knitting in Art.
- The pattern sizing leaves a lot to be desired. Each of the patterns are written for one size only. For example, the reindeer gloves on the cover are women's gloves. If you want to make them for a man or child, you'll be reworking the pattern on your own. Also, some of the sizes for the other patterns are vague, and labelled "Child," or "Woman's and Man's" (for gloves). For the amount of time that is going to go into these mittens/gloves, I'd like to have a better idea whether they'll fit.
- The patterns were designed using the same Norwegian sport weight wool, which would have to be ordered specially online (and I have only found one that carries it), or substituted. Along the same line, all patterns recommend size 1.5 (US) double pointed needles, which I have never seen locally.
There are some wonderful patterns, and the charts are definitely versatile. However, it looks like it will take some doing to find the materials needed, and maybe some tweaking to properly size patterns to my needs.