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Gloves and Slavs


As promised in my previous post I did some furter research on the question of knitting gloves (with 5 fingers) in Balkans region. I have come up with a theory about this which is based on the nature of Slavic (Balkanist?) soul (a similar argument that  Cloopco suggested as well).

Imagine that you are a poet. Can a poet write a letter to his mother? This, surely, should pose no problem to a master of words. In fact, it’s such a simple act that it is not worth mentioning.

Imagine a great architect. Can he build a dog house? You’ve got to be joking! After working on a church with a great dome supported only by 4 columns mentioning a dog house is surely not an item.

And imagine a wonderful cook. Can she peel potateos? After having made 17 different types of “burek” in one month, you come and ask about peeling the potatoes?

I think I should make a short interruption to further illustrate my point. Here is what my grandmother answered after I asked her if she ever knit gloves with 5 fingers.

“It’s very simple. You start at the wrist and than divide off the stitches for the tumb, knit some more and than make the fingers.”

Really, what is this? It must run in the family!

After assuring her that I KNOW how to knit gloves with 5 fingers (at least in theory) and that I just want to know wheter people in her village knit such gloves in general, she answered:

“Of course we were. I made such gloves to your grandfather just before he went to the army.” (That must have been just after WWII).

So, here’s what I think.
Great knitters of Balkans of course knew how to knit gloves. Of course they did knit them. But people who would dream about patterns, imagine new combination of stitches, jelously hide their work from ‘competitors’ and make endless colours combinations just for fun would never, ever brag about a simple thing like gloves. “Gloves – pheeewwww! That’s way to simple to even mention!”
That’s why, today there’s no gloves in ethnological museums, no patterns to be found and no documents about these little treasures.

I have, however decided that:

  • I will not ask my family members about such knitting questions anymore. It’s not good for my knitting reputation – probably both of them (my mother and grandmother) think I just wanted a quick recipe on how to knit gloves.
  • I will look for gloves from this region some more – this time I will try to dig out some written sources. My idea is to try to contact Ethnological Museum in Ljubljana. I hope this will not ruin me as a knitter ;))

And here’s a picture to celebrate great ethnological imagination of this part of the world:


It's not knit. But I'd still love to wear it :)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 29/01/2009 08:53

    The explanation is very likely, considering the mentality of this region :) Looking forward to reading your further research results.

  2. 29/01/2009 10:46

    I looked through my photos from holidays in Bulgaria last year and here is the one from the Etnological Museum in Nessebar:, you can see several glove pairs here, some of them with funny pompoms on the fingers. *^v^*

    • 29/01/2009 21:08

      Joanna, thanks so much! Finally some photographic evidence. Aren’t they sweet with those pompons?

  3. cloopco permalink
    29/01/2009 21:08

    So- we can, we know how but we just don’t want to! :)))) Sounds like us!
    Compliments for your dedication, cashmerecafe! I spoke to a friend of mine who has been working in Etnographic museum in Belgrade for a few years now and, in the middle of our conversation, I remembered these gloves so i started: “You know, i’ve been reading about tradional mittens and gloves in this reagion lately and, apparently, there are no examples of real gloves…” (now, this was supposed to be the intro part) when she suddenly stopped me with the question:”Really????”. No hope, se didn’t even know about this, how could she know the reason!
    Never mind – Bulgaria has got gloves, that’s comforting enough! (That’s why they’re in Euope! It is all about gloves, you see! :))) Yap, sarcastic, I know!). I think I’ve seen something similar in Ukrainian traditional clothing. The finger tips are sharp- no grafting, just decreasing; very smart!
    Great picture, Joanna! :)

  4. 30/01/2009 09:10

    I ja bih ovo nosila!

  5. 30/01/2009 18:07

    i really enjoyed your ethnological research! after reading your post- i already was won over- then looking at the photo of joanna, i got to say you have to be absolutly right!!
    the mittens are soo elaborate, the glove are rather simple and easy in comparison.
    have a nice weekend

  6. 31/01/2009 23:27

    Cek, cek, ja sam arhitekta i bas bih voljela da 2 nedelje rasmisljam kako psu da napravim kucicu ! Ali stvarno.

    Meni baka kaze da je uvjek mrzjela da pravi rukavice sa prstima, pa nije. To su ti Crnogorke :)

    A vidis, u nasem jeziku i nema posebnih rijeci za rukavice sa prstima, bez njih i onih sto su svi prsti osim palca u jednom ….

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