Of puppies, waves, and mittens

Published on Friday January 11th, 2008

On a whim, we went to the coast yesterday. Mr. G’s parents have a little beach house south of Lincoln City, an unassuming and somewhat mildewy little pre-fab that shudders when the washer goes on spin cycle and will someday be demolished and replaced with a sturdy and charming cottage, but a beach house nonetheless, nicely nestled on an estuary teeming with grebes, buffleheads, herons, and gulls of every stripe. Mr. G was feeling knocked about after a presentation he felt he flubbed, and I had two days off in trade for working this weekend, so we packed up the dog and a change of underwear and off we went. We got a late start, but there was light enough when we arrived to cross the footbridge and tramp over the dune to see the wild waves.



Our tough Texas pup found the ocean quite alarmingly vast, noisy, and wet. She treated us to an operatic account of her concerns, with brief intermissions to chase irresistible shreds of blowing foam. Not even a cuddle could convince her we weren’t all in mortal peril.

(Look how big she’s grown!) Once the sea was out of sight, she was her happy inquisitive self again, and we had a quiet evening of knitting, working, and snoozing by a smoky fire that snorted at Mr. G’s boyscout smarts and required near constant stoking. I’ve been knitting this mitten:


I had a hankering for some colorwork, so last Sunday I decided to cast on and reverse-engineer this mitten from a picture in this fabulous coffee-table book of Norwegian mittens that was floating around at the yarn shop last year. The book was – you guessed it – written entirely in Norwegian, which I cannot read. Not a problem, as the book is plum stuffed with thorough charts. But as luck would have it, I fell for the design on a pair for which there was no pattern. Here’s what I know about them: “Mannsvott fra Sør-Trøndelag, Trøndelag Folkemuseum, Sverresborg FTT 28549. Vottene er strikket av Bjørg Sliper fra Trondheim, til hennes svigerfar i 1946.” I’m guessing that means they’re men’s mittens from a place called Trøndelag (which I have no idea how to pronounce), and maybe the knitter was named Bjørg Sliper, and they were either knit or donated to the Folkemuseum in 1946. Maybe some of you readers can help me out here? Anyway, I was drawn to the beautiful sprigs of berries on the cuff, and to the semi-botanical design on the back of the mitten. (Terri Shea refers to those windmills of foliage as pine boughs in her excellent Selbuvotter; I don’t recognize the other elements, but I haven’t read the book cover-to-cover yet. The next pair of (equally beautiful) mittens on the page in the Norwegian book is from Selbu and uses the same berry sprigs.) And wait until you see the thumbs!

Yes, that’s a jar of Swedish cloudberry preserves modeling my mitten cuff – a cuff which was influenced by the advice of a certain Estonian, I might add – and the colors are non-traditional, and the yarn is woolen-spun Shetland, not a proper worsted Norwegian wool. This is not a strict recreation of an authentic mitten. A girl just needs a good pair of overmitts to wear to the dog park and a chance to indulge her mitten fetish, you know? But this girl also likes nerdy knitting history, so if you know anything about these patterns I’d love to hear it!

19 Comments to “Of puppies, waves, and mittens”

  1. Angelika Comment Says:

    That is so cute how protective your pup it. I have no idea how mine would act at the ocean. Gotta try it this year. The mittens are great and you inspire me to some colorwork, but I got some other stuff to finish first.

  2. Tone H Comment Says:

    You’re definitely on the right track! These are men’s mittens from Sør(South)-Trøndelag (one of Norway’s 19 counties). Bjørg Slipen (from Trondheim city in Sør-Trøndelag) made them in 1946 for her father-in-law. The mittens are currently owned by Trøndelag Folkemuseum. Selbu is just south-east of Trondheim, so no wonder you’ll find similarities!

    I don’t know much about these patterns, but we regard them as typical Norwegian. (No doubt Terri Shea knows a lot more than the average Norwegian!). I’ve had a pair for years and they are warm and snug due to the felting from wear.

    Enjoy your Swedish “multer”. Or “hjortron” as the Swedish would say. It has a lovely gold-orange color doesn’t it?

  3. Lisa Comment Says:

    Those mittens look great! Lark sure looks puzzled by the ocean – how cute!! Sounds like you guys had a nice cozy time at the cottage.

  4. sandy Comment Says:

    I’m envious of your time at the coast. I haven’t had a chance to get over there this winter to watch the storms! Lark looks a bit befuddled, but she’ll get used to it! Your husband is so sweet in that photo comforting her. You can tell he’s a good, kind man in that picture.

    The mittens are beautiful. You have such a talent!

  5. Adam Comment Says:

    Wow, a beach house? I’m jealous! Even if it is a bit old, it’s still on the beach, and that’s what counts. Oh wait, I just remember, I live in the desert…drat!

    Love the mittens too, I’m definitely on a stranded mitten kick right now. There’s just something about intricate colorwork on tiny needles that you can wear on your hands that gets my heart all a flutter.

  6. Nicole Comment Says:

    Who cares if they’re not strictly traditional, they’re absolutely gorgeous. Love the colours. And good for you for having the gumption to wing it!

  7. James Comment Says:

    That is going to be one fine looking mitten. High five on unventing the chart. It’s very attractive.

  8. stacey Comment Says:

    she is so big!!!!! I love deciphering charts – what a fun project. The colors you chose are great – very subtle.

  9. gleek Comment Says:

    aw, that puppy is getting so big! i love the picture of mr garter and her. so cute. sounds like a nice little trip away.

  10. Daphne Comment Says:

    The mitten is beautiful. I can see why it appealed to you.

  11. Veronique Comment Says:

    Oh, I love those berries! And the little flare in the cuff is a great detail. I totally understand why you had to reverse engineer them, rather than pick a pattern from the book. So much more fun, so much more exciting! 🙂

  12. Debby Comment Says:

    There is nothing like the ocean for a rest for your soul. I’m sure Lark will come to enjoy it once she sees it enough!

    Thank you for sharing your mitten’s history and culture. It makes the post so much fun to read when you know a little of the background of the design. Those mittens will be perfect for walking Lark.

  13. Seanna Lea Comment Says:

    Gosh she’s gorgeous. I have serious doggy envy looking at her.

  14. Nonnahs Comment Says:

    Oh look at that puppy! I can’t believe how much she’s grown! I just finished a colorwork project too- I was reminded how much I enjoy it. I may need another one now!

  15. Elinor Comment Says:

    What a beautiful mitten! And puppy too! My dogs are highly skeptical of the ocean. It just seems so un-doggy to me but hey, they’re Midwestern dogs so perhaps that’s why?

  16. merete Comment Says:

    the pup is so lovely and your knitting too.

  17. Katie Comment Says:

    It looks really, really cold on that beach. But I can just see the three of you huddled by the fire, knitting and puppy-snuggling to stay warm. Your mitten is lovely.

    What exactly does a bufflehead look and sound like?

  18. Ashley Comment Says:

    What a cutie!! My pooch was also afraid of the water, and would scurry up and down the beach JUST out of range of the waves. Then, one morning we went for a jog and ended at the beach, he was hot and ran right in! Ever since, the only thing that keeps him out of the water is cold temps.

  19. Blue Garter » Blog Archive » Bright copper kettles… Pingback Says:

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