Monday, September 19, 2011

The Mitten Summit, Riga, 2006

Hello all,

One of my readers left a comment on one of the postings i did on Latvian Mittens, and sent me a link to a very interesting site and story. NATO had a summit meeting in Riga in 2006. The Latvians had only just joined, and of course were very happy to host such an august meeting. In keeping with Latvian tradition, the decision was made to have 4,500 pairs of mittens made in the traditional manner, each one different, and to give them to the participants of the Summit meeting. Examples were made of traditional mittens from each of the four Provinces. Astonishingly, they provide photos of every pair of mittens made and given away at the summit meeting. They also provide insights into the importance which handmade mittens have in Latvian culture. This article provides some insight into the age and the symbols used in Latvian Mittens.

I will give you just a taste of the designs used on these mittens. The link to the website where you can view all of them is at the bottom of this posting.

the first four are women's and the second four are men's but many designs can be worn by either. The biggest difference is size.


Zemgale      Men's

Zemgale    Women's

Latgale       Men's

Latgale        Women's

These were picked almost at random. Designs are more typical of local regions than of Provinces as a whole, although some generalities can be claimed for the Provinces. If these are not enough designs for you, than you can visit the Website of the Summit directly and view all of the more than 4000 pairs of mittens. You can also learn much more about Latvia and the Riga Summit. Here is the link.

Thank you for reading. I hope that you have found this interesting. I also hope that there will be a few more interesting pairs of mittens being given and worn this coming winter than there might otherwise have been.
I do not knit myself, but i would certainly love a pair like these.

Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals.

Roman K.

For those who do knit, and would appreciate detailed instructions which would be applicable to any of these designs i recommend the following book.

Lizbeth Upitis, 'Latvian Mittens, Traditional Designs & Techniques', St. Paul, Minnesota, 1981
ISBN 0-932394-04-3


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  2. Hi!
    I was wondering how I could find more information about the different mitten patterns within the VIdzeme region…thanks!