As of late, I’ve been playing with and redesigning one of the mittens in “Latvian Mittens” by Lizbeth Upitis (published by School House Press). The graphs in the book are very incomplete and are up for quite a bit of interpretation — the repeats and positioning of the motifs just aren’t quite where I want them to be, so I pulled out the ‘ole graph paper and started over. So far, I’m really pleased with the initial drawings and am anxious to pull my yarn and needles out and start knitting. My working version is the graph on the left and
the pattern that I’m modifying is for the black & white glove on the cover. This is really a great book with dozens of mittens. The instructions for the mitten construction is written in both Latvian and English (Latvia being that little country nestled in by Estonia, Lithuania,and Russia and by the Baltic Sea — a bit of unknown territory to most of us), there are partial graphs, photos of mittens from the various regions of Latvia in the center of the book and a sizing chart in the back of the book. There’s also a chapter about the history that mittens have played in the Latvian culture and the role they played in the rites of marriage. I love this one quote in the book, “Pretty knitter is that maiden, She will be my loved bride, I will give her my hand manly, And to her my ring of gold”, but the one after that is great, “Dear, dear maiden, What a mitten!–hands are freezing. Have you knitted those cold mittens, Sitting on a freezing stone?” Well, I won’t be sitting on a “freezing stone” knitting my mittens — instead, I’ll be all snuggled up with my dogs and a good cup of coffee!