Book review of Knitting Hats & Mittens from Around the World

As knitters we are so lucky to enjoy a craft that has cultural influences from so many different parts of the world. And because people depended on knit items for their survival in colder climates. Ingenuity and necessity have been the catalysts for knit styles and techniques that we are familiar to us today.

In Knitting Hats and Mittens from Around the World, Donna Druchunas has gathered a fascinating collection of accessories designed by a variety of designers and inspired by our global knitting heritage.

Beginning in the regions of Scandinavia where the winters are long, you will find a set of Finnish hat and mittens knit in bright red and white.

Each designer provides a short explanation of the inspiration and background for their interpretations. Beth Brown-Reinsel used a pattern from a nineteenth century Norwegian sweater as the inspiration for her two-color Sunnhordaland Hat and Mittens.

The frosty blues set against a fluffy, white angora yarn background used for the Winter Garden Hat and Mittens make me think of snow on moonlit night. The Icelandic Leaf mittens are paired with a lovely tam.

The Min Ulla Hat and Mittens are meant for serious protection from the elements. The Mittens have a fascinating construction that I couldn’t help think would be ideal for skiers. The outer layer features a peasant thum, while the inner layer has a keyhole thumb opening that allows the wearer to retain some dexterity. Thanks to a heavier gauge, the hat and mittens knit up quickly.

Our tour of Europe begins with a Latvian hat and mittens designed by Lizbeth Upitis. The brightly colored two-color work is based on a Latvian myth that tells of the sun leaping each morning from the sunrise tree.  The Greek Fisherman’s Cap and Gloves are inspired by the classic Greek fisherman’s cap. Knit in one color, the cuffs of twisted rope cables. The top of the mittens and the hat have anchor patterns.

The Lithuanian lace hat and gloves were inspired by a pair of gloves Donna Druchunas saw in a museum in Lithuania. The French Lace Beret and Fingerless Gloves are tres chic. Anne Carroll Gilmour combined a wedding anniversary trip to Inshmore Ireland. Her hat and gloves feature a knit knotwork version of her wedding band.

The British Driving Cap and Knucks are probably my favorites. The Gansey-inspired brimmed hat works perfectly with the fingerless gloves that have leather patches stitched onto the palms.

The jump from Europe takes us to New Zealand! The two-color work on the hat and fingerless mitts are based on Maori tribal creation myths.

The Chinese Short-Row Hat and Mittens design is based on the hats of ancient China, in the very traditional colors of cinnabar and black. Both the hat and mittens are worked primarily from side to side, with short-rowed sections. The clean lines of Japanese Sashiko quilting are reflected in the
two-color, indigo and white hat and mittens shown on the cover.

Thanks to the migration of knitting to the New World, there have been all sorts of unique interpretations over the centuries. A vintage barbed wire collection from a little cowboy museum in Wyoming served as the inspiration for the Fenceline Cap and Gloves. The bold, liner two-color patterns shout out, “Knit me!”

Immigrant folk art inspires many crafts in the west. The Folk Headband and Mittens were inspired by Scandinavian felted and embroidered mittens. But, the abstract floral embroidery designs have an American simplicity.

The Peruvian Ch’ullu Hat and Fingerless Gloves feature earflaps and intricate two-color designs.

I love the way knitting adds a whole new way for me to be an armchair tourist – what a gorgeous book!

Knitting Hats & Mittens From Around the World

Want to explore more? Also see these titles in the series:

Knitting Scarves from Around the World (and review)

Knitting Sweaters from Around the World 

Knitting Socks from Around the World