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In search of gloves


On Friday I came upon an intriguing post at Cloopco about Balkan knitting. To be more specific it’s about knitting gloves – it looks like there is no real / documented tradition of knitting gloves in this region. It looks like they have come only as far as mittens, wrist warmers and similar. Hmmmmm. This got me thinking. (You should read Maja’s post to get a full picture of this ‘phenomena’.)

It’s true that I love every aspect of Balkan ethnology, especially all types of textiles, but (sadly) it’s also true that until now my love has not been demonstrated in any kind of systematic learning and only limited to drooling over photographs or stuff I’ve seen in museums and when visiting friends and relatives in the area of ex-yu (mostly in Bosnia).

As my knitting knowledge is rooted in this regional tradition and since it is my mother who taught me how to knit and she learned it from her mother I decided that I should get informed about this question – so were there any gloves (proper gloves with 5 fingers) knitted?

First I turned to written sources – the only one source which was easily accesible to me and that is a book ‘Arts and Crafts of Yugoslavia’. There’s a section on textiles and a small portion of it dedicated to knitting – but no gloves were mentioned or pictured there. Mittens – yes. Gloves no. Socks – mostly. As if they would be knitting only socks, huh?  I am completely on the same wagon here with Maja – people who could knit such elaborate socks didn’t (couldn’t is the word totally not apropriate here because it denaunces the wrong meaning) knit gloves? Why, why?

So, I made a phone call to my mother and asked her wheter they knit gloves with five fingers. After a brief period she said ‘Yes. I can knit gloves with 5 fingers.’ ‘Mom! That wasn’t the question. I asked you wheter people in your village were knitting gloves with 5 fingers when you were a child?’  To which she replied to me: ‘Of course they were! They only knit more mittens.’
This could mean a lot of things. That maybe there was somebody who knit mittens. That maybe they knew how to knit gloves. Or maybe that she wouldn’t want people of her village to look stupid because they didn’t knit gloves with 5 fingers and she wanted to make a better impression.

My mother is totally unreliable source. I am calling my grandmother tomorrow. :)

While you wait I think you might be interesting in seeing some really beautifully knit socks that were featured in the mentioned book.

Look at these patterns! Would you say they are more than 150 years old?

Look at these patterns! Would you say they are more than 150 years old?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 25/01/2009 11:27

    I ti i Maja tako lepo pišete o tim rukavicama, ovo je stvarno veliki izazov, probaću sigurno!

  2. cloopco permalink
    25/01/2009 17:22

    The search has started? I’m in! Still looking (and having real hard time forgivin my ancestors for this H.U.G.E. omission!)

    I’m, actually, laughing out loud to this “leave a better impression” part! :)))) You’re right, and, once again- so, so Slavic! (“I can’t make gloves????? Who says so?!” ):D

    I’m looking forward to hearing what your grandma will have to say. Though, the situation doesn’t look promising at all! :D

    Now, aren’t these socks just amazing!? I believe I’m just one step away from making a pair myself (socks and stranded colour-work; me??? )

  3. 26/01/2009 18:32

    My goodness!… These are beautiful! I saw some similar patterns in Bulgarian ethographical museums. Unfortunately there are no examples of such mittens and socks in Polish museums, as if people wouldn’t wear them at all. Strange…

  4. 27/01/2009 16:50

    lol- this fabulous post made me laugh! why do they have to knit gloves with 5 finger??? i never liked them that much- maybe that’s just it, they not as comfy! or they worn them to death? non are left of them? hahaha now i am thinking too
    the knitwork of the slavic region is sooo increadibly beautiful- i would loooove to knit a pair of mittens but am not sure

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