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A couple of old mittens.

We have just discovered a couple of old mittens in the attic in Arne’s family home, and we are now getting them cleaned to add them to our archives. We don’t know much about them at the moment, but we plan on doing some detective work, and hopefully, we will be able to update you with more information as we start to discover things.

At the moment, we believe these mittens were made in the 1940s or 1950s. The reason we think this has to do with the quality and look of the yarn, as well as the natural colours. It wasn’t popular to knit with strong colours like red and blue until around 1955, so we think these were made before 1955.

View of the mittens from the top of the hand. Both motives are called Selbu and depict roses with 8 petals. Click to enlarge.


View of the palm and thumb of the mittens. The smaller has the same Selbu rose from the top of the mitten and a smaller pattern on the palm. However, the larger mitten has an unusual pattern repeated both on the palm and the thumb, which has been inserted in a way that is not typical of traditional Norwegian mittens. Click to enlarge.


The mittens were quite dirty and stained, so we are now in the process of cleaning them. Unfortunately, we had to wash them because of the visible stains. Our most preferred way to clean 100% wool fibres is by storing them outside, in the cold, overnight, as wool is self-cleaning when using this method. But because of the stains, that was not possible. This is what we have done so far:

  1. We soaked the mittens in cold water, using a mild detergent used specifically to wash wool fibres.
  2. After soaking them, we pressed the water gently out of the mittens without making any necessary movements that would felt the fabric.
  3. We rinsed them three times, again, gently pressing the water out of them and not subjecting them to any rough treatment that could potentially felt the fabric.
  4. The mittens are now drying; we have laid them flat and will leave until they are completely dry.
  5. Once the mittens are dried, we will make sure to store them in an acid-free box, away from sunlight, in our archives.

We promise we will get back to these mittens as soon as we discover any more information.

While we wait, we designed several mittens in our webshop, which are inspired by traditional Norwegian mitten patterns, like the Eivor Mittens, which we designed for Rowan in 2018.


Eivor Mittens, from our webshop. Click on the image for more.

    • Joanne Barber on April 14, 2021 at 3:53 pm


    I hope you will say more about how you clean wool in the freezer in one of your YouTube videos. How is it self-cleaning? I am guessing you don’t mean free of actual soil.

    • Kathy on April 14, 2021 at 5:42 pm


    Wool is self-cleaning if left in the cold?? This is a revelation to me! Please tell us more!

    • Alicia on April 14, 2021 at 6:04 pm


    I’d love to know a bit more about how you store your knitted items please. What is an acid-free box? And do you fold or roll larger items etc? Do you fill the box or leave some space?

    • Susan Romig on April 14, 2021 at 6:05 pm


    I wait for the start of snow to clean wool. Natural wool with lanolin cleans in snow because the snow is water and attaches to dirt but is repelled by fat (lanolin) so you rub snow into wool rugs and blankets and shake out the dirty snow while preserving the natural lanolin. I lay wool rugs in the yard and when the snow covers them by about an inch I sweep it off and turn the rug over and repeat. But how it would work in just the cold, of say a fridge, I don’t know, unless some kind of frost forms on the fibre and so would work like snow.

      • Patti R on April 14, 2021 at 8:31 pm


      Amazing. Thanks for the tip, Susan. If only I can remember to do this next winter. . .

    • Amy on April 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm


    I love these old mittens – but can we talk about the painted trunk they are sitting on in this photo? Wow!

    • Ibtissam Shahbal on April 22, 2021 at 1:32 pm


    These are wonderful. I love the geometric backs
    Please consider making up a pattern for them!

    • Bonnie Whitney on April 26, 2021 at 5:48 pm


    I’m trying to find your baby socks pattern. I went to your blog but it didn’t help. It lists all the years of your blogs but does not tell me content. Can you please tell me where the baby socks pattern is located. Thank you.

    • Gloria Allen on April 27, 2021 at 6:31 am


    Dearest Arne & Carlos: Hope all is well. I am knitting your sock yarn teddy bear pattern and cannot figure out how to ‘work on 2dpns until a circular needle can be used.’ Please help!

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