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Book Review: Norwegian Mittens and Gloves: Over 25 Classic Designs for Warm Fingers and Stylish Hands by Annemor Sundbø

Norwegian Mittens and Gloves: Over 25 Classic Designs for Warm Fingers and Stylish Hands by Annemor Sundbø, Trafalgar Square Books, 2011, 160 pp.

Annemor Sundbø purchased a rag, or shoddy, mill (a factory for recycling woolen fibers into yarn or stuffing for mattresses, etc), and ended up with a treasure trove of folk knitting motifs and patterns.  She shares those with us in Norwegian Mittens and Gloves.

The book begins with an extensive foreword highlighting her realization that knitting history was “being lost in the shredding machine”, and her decision to begin rescuing the motifs.  She also addresses the history & meaning of different motifs, and how they’re used in surrounding countries.

Author Terri Shea contributed a chapter on basic techniques, a nice primer on how to work this style of mittens & gloves.  Between this chapter & the plethora of motifs in the book, you have the tools to work your own designs.  If this chapter looks familiar, it is: it’s nearly the same one in Shea’s book Selbuvotter.

The meat of the book is in the 25 patterns, a mix of children’s, women’s and men’s mittens & gloves, the majority worked in Ask Hifa wool at a gauge of 28 sts/in.  (A few are worked in Embla Hifa, at 24 sts/in.)  Yarn can be ordered from www.nordicfiberarts.com (note the url is incorrect in the book).

The patterns are generally given in one size only.  They are, of course, primarily charted.  Some of the patterns have a shaped thumb gusset;  a few do not.  You could substitute in a shaped gusset if the particular pattern you wanted to work didn’t have one.

Each pattern gets a full page color photo showing both the front & back of the design.  In some cases the original mitts or gloves, from which the new pattern was worked, are shown in a thumbnail picture.

The charts are easy to read and show both the right and left hands.  In most cases the charts are gray & white;  for those patterns that have more than 2 colors the charts are also multicolored.

The last chapter, One Mitten is a Pattern Treasure Trove, discusses how you can use the motifs in other types of patterns (hats, socks & sweaters).  She also includes standard measurements for sweaters size small- xxl (chest 43.5″ to 59″) and child size 1-12 years (chest 23.75″ to 39.5″) and for mittens and gloves size small child, boy/girl, women’s, and men’s.

Overall, this book is a very nice addition to your knitting library if you’re interested in exploring this subject.  Comparisons between this and Selbuvotter are bound to come up.  Some of the motifs (and, indeed, patterns) are the same, which isn’t surprising, since the source material is the same.  This book does seem to have more animal & people motifs (dogs, rabbits, some of the birds, the little dancing people) than Selbuvotter.  It’s certainly a lovely book;  the color photos are fantastic.  I think it is more approachable, especially to knitters new to knitting mittens, as well, with the separate left & right hand charts.

Most of the patterns from Norwegian Mittens and Gloves are on the Ravelry page here.   Note that this is the link for the Norwegian version; the version from Trafalgar isn’t in the Ravelry database yet.

There’s a link from Trafalgar’s page to an article about Annemor Sundbø  in the winter 2011 issue of IK here.  It’s fascinating — check it out for more background information.

I received my review copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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