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Lithuanian Knitting (Mittens)


Note: this is a repost of a blog post Donna did back in Feb 26th 2007. We are happy to announce that the writing of Donna’s Lithuanian book (no title yet) is done and now it is time for the publishers to do their magic. Some projects for the book still need to be made along with the taking of some photos. The book hopefully will have a possible release around spring of 2012. Crossing our fingers. June Hall who is mentioned in this post is Donna’s cowriter for the Lithuanian Book.

I am half Lithuanian, so when I saw a book on Lithuanian knitting on the Internet, I wanted to buy it right away. The only problem was that I could only find one place selling the book, and no-one there spoke any English. I kept searching on the web, and finally found a copy on E-bay. There was no “buy now” button, so I placed my bid and crossed my fingers, hoping that no-one would outbid me at the last minute. I was lucky, and two weeks later Lietuvininku Pirstines (Gloves of Lithuania Minor) by Irena Regina Merkiene and Marija Pautieniute-Banioniene was delivered to my front door.

There are several books about knitting from the Baltic countries of Latvia and Estonia, but I had never seen a book about Lithuanian knitting before. The book I discovered is filled with charts and photos of gloves and mittens that were made in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as a treasury of stories about the history of knitting in Lithuania and the surrounding areas. (I have since discovered several other books about the Lithuanian National Costume that include information about knitted accessories.)

Shortly after purchasing Lietuvininku Pirstines, I was invited to teach a knitting workshop in England at Woolfest, an annual event similar to the Estes Park Wool Market. It turned out that June Hall, the organizer of the event is also Lithuanian and she has invited Lithuanian folk knitters to teach at Woolfest in the past. You can see some photos of the Lithuania knitting and download a podcast about last year’s Woolfest from the BritKnitCast website. (Not available anymore.)

June travels frequently to Lithuania to work with knitters and spinners who are establishing a cottage industry to sell hand-knitted Lithuanian accessories. You can read about her work at the Lithuania Link website.
June recently sent me a package with four pairs of Lithuanian mittens, and I hope to be able to create a market to sell hand made items from Lithuania in the US.

Although sweaters are made in Lithuania today, they were not part of the traditional clothing worn by women or men. Gloves and mittens, however, have been very important in traditional Lithuanian culture for centuries. In the cold climate of Lithuania, mittens do a much better job at keeping hands and fingers warm, but gloves were used to celebrate the major passages in life. warm, but gloves were used to celebrate the major passages in life.

Made with striped ribbing and multiple color patterns on the cuffs, hands, and fingers, the festive designs were given as gifts and blessings to family members and loved ones.  Originally posted on 26 Feb 2007 by Donna[/one_half]




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Patterns for these mittens are coming soon. Will be announced here on this website.

29-06-11 | 13 comments | in Knitting articles by Donna

13 Responses to Lithuanian Knitting (Mittens)

  1. silfert says:

    C’mon, spring! I gotta buy a book! :)

    • Donna says:

      Oh, it’s taking a long time to finish. I don’t think it will be out next spring but there will be some pre-publication bonuses so make sure to sign up for my mailing list!

  2. Of Lithuanian ancestry. Would love to buy a copy of the book

  3. kathy sywalski says:

    i want this so much for my fatherin law and his descendants to appreciate. his grandmother and mother knitted and when they came to america were professional bakers in nyc. i want to make some of these things for them. thank you for keeping these interests alive

  4. Roni Link says:

    love the mittens. Can’t wait to try a pair

  5. PATRICIA says:

    Will purchase the book as soon as it becomes available. How do I find patterns for the mittens?

  6. Dominic says:

    Donna is currently working on a book about Lithuania. It would be released this year. We may be releasing some of the book online this year to drum up interest. I will be announced on this website.

    For now you can check out the Lithuanian wrist warmer article Donna wrote this year about the mittens and includes a free pattern.
    Check it out here.

  7. Wineplz says:

    I’m also Lithuanian and tickled to have come across your site! The mittens are gorgeous! Has your book come out yet?

  8. Donna says:

    As I am writing this comment, I am looking at proofs for the book right now.
    We may be releasing small pieces of the book later this year.

    Please join our email newsletter for announcements. You can do this on the front page of this website.

    Thanks for your interest.

  9. Diana Savenskas Foster says:


  10. Barbara Bell says:

    I have friends in Lithuania I would love to knit mittens for. I especially like those red/black ones at the top of the page. Looking forward to the release of this book.

  11. Gail says:

    As a descendent of Lithuanians, I am anxious to get this book!
    I have a question and would appreciate hearing from others. My Lithuanian grandmother taught me to knit and often when people observe me knit, they insist on telling me that I am knitting “wrong.” It is basically continental, except that I place the right hand needle into the back of the stitch on the left hand needle and wrap the yarn “the wrong way” when I purl. (I don’t get twisted stitches because of the combination.) Finally, someone told me that this style is Eastern European. Does anyone else knit this way? Are you also of Eastern European descent? Lithuanian?

  12. Gail says:

    In case it wasn’t clear in my earlier post–I knit in the back of the stitch and into the front of purl stitches.

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