We have loads of superb mitten books, the best of which tend to focus on a specific cultural tradition.
My personal favorites are Lizbeth Upitis’ Latvian Mittens, Annemor Sundbø’s Norwegian Mittens and Gloves, and Robin Hansen’s Favorite Mittens, which captures patterns and techniques from the Canadian Maritimes and Scandinavia. (Cold climates are knitting’s best friend.) Those are just three examples of a genre that fills a long shelf in my personal library.
Mittens are excellent little knitting exercises, like crossword puzzles for our hands. They offer all the intrigue of bigger projects, the increases and decreases and nuanced shaping, but on a small and oh-so-portable scale.
What makes Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knitted Mittens stand out? I’ll be honest, part of the fun is that it’s the newest, shiniest toy in the chest. And in that regard, Trafalgar Square did a beautiful job of producing a solidly built hard-bound book with abundant full-color photographs, easy-to-copy charts, and ample margins for note-taking.
But it’s what the photographs and charts depict that make this book a must-have.
These aren’t your typical traditional, geometric-patterned Scandinavian mittens. Yes, they have roots in the genre, but Linvik’s world is charmingly figurative in a way that’s clearly contemporary. Almost all of the 45 patterns in this book feature animals, including squirrels, penguins, cats, sheep, and cows. But there’s more. The animals don’t just sit there, copied from a generic chart. Most of them actually strike mirror poses so that when you hold up the mittens, the animals interact. In some cases, such as the cow (long my favorite and for sale separately on Ravelry), the pattern only reveals itself when you hold the two hands together.
In terms of difficulty level, these patterns will require confidence in working with two colors. While there’s some basic instruction at the beginning, it’s hardly enough to teach you from the ground up. But she does walk you through all the steps of a sample mitten pattern, explaining how to read all the markings on the charts, work the increases and decreases, gussets and thumbs.
Some patterns are a little more complex than others in their motif. While the penguin and owl-themed mittens each include a miniature penguin and owl motif on the thumbs, plenty of patterns keep the background motifs simple and rhythmic. All feature one pattern on the front side, and a complementary pattern on the back side.
Linvik didn’t just appear out of nowhere. For years she has blogged (in Norwegian) and maintained an online pattern shop as well as an active presence on Ravelry. In that regard, it’s worth noting that two of the book’s patterns (“A Bird in the Hand” and “Jorid’s Christmas Heart”) are available from her site as free downloads. The rest of the book’s patterns are either new or ones that she sells on her site for $6 to $6.50 apiece.
Also worth mentioning: If you fall in love with one of the book’s mitten patterns and wish you could make a matching hat, she may very well have the pattern for it in her shop.
An Open Book
Your creativity needn’t be limited to the 45 patterns that have been charted in the book, either. Tucked in the very back are empty charts that you can fill in with your own designs for adult or children. As long as you use a yarn that’ll knit a mitten-sized circumference with 60 stitches for adults, 48 for children, the world is in your hands.
Pat | October 2, 2016
Mitten patterns translated. I had seen this book on Ravelry in its original language. Was so happy to find it via an Amazon mailing. I pre-ordered and it was here so fast I got to sit and flip through the patterns. Looking forward to making quite a few of the designs.
anne | December 6, 2016
I’m insane now over wanting to make a pair of mittens from this book. I have only made, however, some fingerless mitts and have zero experience with color work.
Where does thou beginneth with some color work and mitts so that yours truly can make a set of these beautiful mittens?
Pat | December 6, 2016
Since you have made fingerless mitts these are pretty much the same, you just add in the decreases for the top of the mitten and thumb (unless all your fingerless mitts were the ones without a thumb gusset & partial thumb).
As to color work – try a smaller size pattern and practice keeping the stitches spread out so the stranded areas are not pulled tight. You can try holding one yarn in each hand (so you knit throwing and picking). With practice your tension will improve.
atomic momma | December 7, 2016
Wow thank you so much, Pat. I’m encouraged. I just taught myself to knit Continental a year ago after years of knitting English style. One teacher told me that knowing both styles help with color work – which is what you’ve described here.
My fingerless mitts had a thumb gusset and partial thumb so that will be a help. I’m just now getting used to fingering weight yarn on dpns – the Rose City Rollers socks helped me with that.
Any other suggestions regarding needles? I like dpns vs circulars though I’ve done both. I prefer to spread stitches out over 4dpns as opposed to 3.
Oh good grief…..I am going to order this book now….
Thanks again for your response – much appreciated!
Erika T | January 12, 2017
I saw the book at one of my knitting classes & just fell in love with it! I’m trying to challenge myself with different knits this year and colorwork & mittens would fit the bill. Besides the patterns are adorable, for kids or adults ?
Harriet Langley | September 22, 2018
I have this book and just ordered the suggested yarn to knit the horse mittens. How do I know the size?