Thursday, August 23, 2007

Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen

While I have been doing some knitting, I haven't been taking a lot of pictures, so I thought I'd tell you about a book I got recently, Favorite Mittens, by Robin Hansen. I bought this book because growing up, I remember some of the girls wearing Fox and Geese mittens, and I loved them. They're not the kind of mitten you can buy in the store, and no one in my family knitted, so I always made do with store bought. Now that I'm a knitter myself, I decided it was time to make some of these mittens, and so I bought this book. I am so glad that I did!

This is the first knitting book I've bought in awhile that I've wanted to make almost every pattern, and the very first one I've read cover to cover. Each pattern has a passage describing its history and origins, all of which are absolutely fascinating. Most exciting to me, they all have origins in Maine and the Maritimes. Some are quite simple, like the Chebeague Island Fisherman's Wet Mittens, which are plain mittens knit large enough that they will felt to the hands of the wearer. Most interesting to me, these mittens are intended to be worn wet, which keeps the hands of the fisherman warm. Other patterns are more complicated, like the Double-Rolled Mittens, which seem to be like thrummed mittens, but with roving held all through the inside like fair isle. I can't wait to try these!

Other patterns in the book are traditionally made in certain colors, my beloved Fox and Geese among them, but I imagine them in bright colors to bring cheer to a winter day. I have a plan in the back of my mind to go through this book front to back and make all of the patterns this fall/winter. I'm not sure if I will yet, but I will definitely be making at least one or two patterns soon!

A recurring theme throughout the book is the importance of keeping these patterns alive. Some of the patterns included took quite a bit of hunting down by Robin Hansen. Most of the time, when she found someone who knew the pattern (and this person had always learned the pattern growing up and memorized it), they couldn't believe that the pattern was in danger of falling into oblivion.

Apparently, these patterns were culled from Hansen's books Fox & Geese & Fences and Flying Geese & Partridge Feet, which I haven't seen in person, but will look out for. I saw a glimpse of a star patterned mitten I would love to make, too. If you love mittens, be sure to check out this book! Check it out even if you're not crazy about mittens, just for the fascinating history lesson.


Amy said...

That sounds like such an interesting read! I fear I'll never again have use for mittens, but I love to make and wear them.

Ellen said...

I'm so glad I read this post this morning, because I was about to place a shop order for Fox and Geese, but after your post opted for Favorite Mittens (since it sounds like it is sort of like a "Greatest Hits" album!). Copies are on their way to the shop! Yay! and thanks!