The Renaissance of Latvia’s ethnographic mittens

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What will 9,000 hands have in common during the NATO Summit in Riga this November? 4,500 pairs of traditional hand-made Latvians mittens!
That’s what the NATO Summit Latvia Task Force has prepared for Summit guests. The mittens were specially knitted by hundreds of women and men around the country ranging in age from 30 to 86.

Each pair features a unique design, utilizing a wide variety of traditional colors, patterns and symbols. For Latvians, mittens are much more than a way to warm your hands. Every ethnographic Latvian mitten tells a story, marks an anniversary and represents a specific region in Latvia (Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale and Kurzeme.) Some mitten designs are specially intended for weddings or other special events. There is even a rich tradition of folkloric etiquette associated with the wearing, storing and displaying of mittens. (More about The story of a thousand year old Latvian mitten)

All, mittens for men and women are different in size. Men’s mittens in general are bigger. In addition, more dramatic and reserved colours are characteristic for men’s mittens. The colours in women’s gloves are brighter and more cheerful.  

The ornamentation elements are “blended in” from one neighbouring region into another; therefore the identification of a mitten to a particular region can be characterized more precisely by the composition of its colours and shades.
Latgale is a land of linen; therefore linen-grey light colourings predominate in gloves of this region. Similarly, bright and joyful colours are characteristic for Latgale and also Kurzeme.  Also the word “rakstaini” more precisely characterizes mittens from Kurzeme, because their ornamentation is brighter than in other regions.
Calm and vibrant earthy colours are the basis of mittens from Zemgale. However, light and beige colourings are typical for Vidzeme. 

For most Latvians, this project is a special source of national pride, because it combines tradition, culture and history with something of lasting practical value that will be enjoyed around the world.

Please, enjoy it!

Galleries of the mittens.

Download all mittens here (200 MB .rar file)NEW



1. Why will especially knitted mittens be given to the guests of the NATO Riga Summit?
2. Who will receive the mittens?
3. How many pairs of mittens will be knitted?
4. Who will knit the mittens for the NATO Summit guests?
5. How many knitters are involved in the knitting process?
6. From which region do most of the knitters come from?
7. How many pairs of mittens will one person knit on average?
8. What is the average age of knitters?
9. How many pairs of mittens are knitted during a day?
10. How many grams of wool are used for one pair of mittens?
11. What is the difference between mittens for men and women?
12. How does the mitten ornamentation of the Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale and Kurzeme regions differ?
13. Interesting Latvian beliefs about mittens

 

1. Why will especially knitted mittens be given to the guests of the NATO Riga Summit?

Latvia’s ethnographic knitted mittens are one of the treasures of Latvian culture and part of the wealth of Latvia’s ethnographic ornamentation. Mittens are symbolic of Latvia. Each of them will be a product of individual handwork whose quality is recognised worldwide and will be a special souvenir of Latvia, as every pair of mittens will be unique. 

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2. Who will receive the mittens?

The ethnographic mittens will be given to NATO Summit delegations and media representatives, who will take with them this unique souvenir that is special for Latvians to more than 26 Nations all over the world. 

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3. How many pairs of mittens will be knitted?

All together Latvian master handicrafts women and men will knit 4500 pairs of mittens in the different ethnographic ornamentation and colours of the Vidzeme, Zemgale, Kurzeme and Latgale regions. 

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4. Who will knit the mittens for the NATO Summit guests?

Women from the rural association called “Akorande” will knit mittens with the ornamentation of the Kurzeme and Latgale regions, and the handiwork company “Ramid” will knit mittens from the regions of Vidzeme and Zemgale.

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5. How many knitters are involved in the knitting process? 

In total, 268 knitters are involved in the knitting process and 3 of them are men.

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6. From which region do most of the knitters come from?

Most of the knitters come from Vidzeme. It is interesting though, that they do not knit mittens from their own region but together with the Latgale’ knitters will produce mittens with the ornamentation of the Latgale region. For their part, the Latgale’s knitters are making mittens with the ornamentation from the Vidzeme and Zemgale regions, but the Zemgale’s and Kurzeme’s knitters – produce mittens typical of the Kurzeme region.

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7. How many pairs of mittens will one person knit on average? 

In those regions of Latvia where there are fewer knitters, one knitter will have to make up to 30 pairs of mittens. However, in the regions where there are more knitters, one knitter will make 3 pairs of mittens. 

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8. What is the average age of knitters?

The average age of the knitters is 60 years. The youngest is 30 years old and the oldest knitting master is 86 years old.

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9. How many pairs of mittens are knitted during a day?

The longer the experience, the faster mittens are produced. It takes about two days to make one pair of mittens. The most skilful knitters can make a pair of mittens in a day. 

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10. How many grams of wool are used for one pair of mittens?

Up to 90 grams of wool can be necessary for one pair of mittens. In order to knit all the proposed mittens, approximately 383 kilograms of wool will be used. It will be necessary to shear 38 sheep in order to gather the amount of wool necessary for all the mittens. 

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11. What is the difference between mittens for men and women?

First of all, mittens for men and women are different in size. Men’s mittens are bigger. In addition, more dramatic and reserved colours are characteristic for men’s mittens. The colours in women’s gloves are brighter and more cheerful.  

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12. How does the mitten ornamentation of the Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale and Kurzeme regions differ?

The ornamentation elements are “blended in” from one neighbouring region into another; therefore the identification of a mitten to a particular region can be characterized more precisely by the composition of its colours and shades.

Latgale

 

 

Latgale is a land of linen; therefore linen-grey light colourings predominate in gloves of this region. Similarly, bright and joyful colours are characteristic for Latgale and also Kurzeme.

 

 

 

Kurzeme 

 

 

Also the word “rakstaini” more precisely characterizes mittens from Kurzeme, because their ornamentation is brighter than in other regions.

 

 

 

zemgale

 

 

 

Calm and vibrant earthy colours are the basis of mittens from Zemgale.

 

 

 

 

Vidzeme 

 

 

However, light and beige colourings are typical for Vidzeme. 

 

 

 

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13. Interesting Latvian beliefs about mittens

Mittens and socks should be knitted in summer, then they will be warm, soft and strong. /A. Zvejniece, Lubāna./

One should not wash new mittens when there is an old moon,
they will lose their color and let through the wind. /K. Zilbers, Meņģele./

One should not wipe their nose in a mitten. Whoever does that never gets rich. /J. Andriņš, Taurkalns./

One should not give their hand to another with a mitten on, otherwise they will give away their luck/A. Tidriķe, Pabažu jūrmala./

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We would like thank rural association "Akorande" un "Ramid" ltd. for its co-operation!

Quote

Baiba A. Rubesa

"We support the NATO Summit because we believe in private and public sector partnership. Our joint effort to successfully implement the NATO Summit in Riga provides a great opportunity to realize that partnership. The world’s energy security is important to Statoil Latvia LTD. Global political stability creates the conditions for global economic stability, mitigating unexpected changes in oil prices throughout the world including in Latvia

- Baiba A. Rubesa,
Latvija Statoil, LTD, Executive Director

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