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My very first Latvian mittens
Completed in June 2009


Who doesn't love the cover of Lisbeth Upitis' book on Latvian Mittens? The mittens are so colorful!

I knit these mittens with Knitpicks brand Palette yarn, in the fingering weight, which is just perfect for Fair Isle projects.

For these mittens, I used three colors: cream, asphalt heather, and raspberry heather. (FYI, the heathered yarns have a lot of color depth; I prefer them to the plain, solid colors.)

This Palette yarn is wayyyyy cheaper than my usual favorite, the Jamieson & Smith brand two-ply jumper weight.

And, the Knitpicks Palette yarn is definitely softer to work with than the J&S. So, all in all, I give the Palette yarn two knitting needles up.

For my first Latvian mittens, I chose Graph #54 from the book.

Latvian mittens employ the lazy afterthought thumb.

Ideally, the thumb should blend into the palm, but I just couldn't bear matching the print. So, I had a little fun making my own lazy thumb.

I changed the cuff a bit from the original pattern. I do prefer a longer cuff on mittens and gloves, so I tend to alter patterns a bit at the cuff.

By the way, if you ever decide to cast on with a contrasting color, as I did with the raspberry heather, make sure and double the yarn for your cast on; otherwise, the cast-on edge won't be beefy enough. The thumbs are identical on both sides.

It was definitely fun knitting these mittens. The pattern held my interest. I'm not a big fan, though, of carrying three colors in a row, but I think the annoyance was worth it in this design.

I will surely use this book again. The color photographs are amazing, and inspiring. And, the many, many graphs in the book could always be used for other Fair Isle projects. So, this book, as a reference, is a keeper.

One thing that I didn't like about the book is the abbreviated knitting instructions. Sure, you can read about different cast ons as well as uniquely Latvian knitting methods, like braided effects and fringe. Also, the book does do a good job of painting a historical and cultural background on Latvian mittens, including folksongs and riddles. And, you can read about the role of mittens in the rites of marriage, which is really interesting.

But, I just wish the knitting instructions were dumbed down a bit. I really prefer a whole graph for a mitten, from cuff to fingertip. The graphs in this book are just a little slice, and you basically have to figure out the math involved. How much to cast on? Where oh where do I insert the thumb? How far do I knit till I start decreasing at the fingertip?

When I knit, I want a very clear and comprehensive road map. I don't want to have to think about things. I want to follow a pattern and trust that the project's going to turn out well.

Of course, I understand that with the variety and scope of mittens included in this book, the author simply didn't have space to print full-blown graphed patterns for every single mitten option.

So, sure, it's a toss-up. In a knitting book, do you want a plethora of mittens with incomplete patterns? Or, is it better to have a few, select mittens in a book but include full-blown graphed patterns?

I vote for the latter.

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