Selbu Mittens by Anne Bardsgard is not kidding around. It is a heavily researched and richly illustrated book containing everything you could conceivably want to know about Selbu mittens – history, methodology, and if you want to knit along – patterns. It claims to have 500 charts and 35 classic patterns, and I feel like they may have under-reported.
It was created together with an exhibition of mittens and gloves at the Sverresborg Trondelag Folkemuseum and includes reconstructions of older mitten as well as plenty of background and information for designing and knitting your own. The book starts with a history of knitting in the area and goes pretty deeply into the formalizing and codifying of what constitutes a “Selbu mitten” for commercial purposes. The conventions for designing a mitten are then laid out, and then there are pages and pages – a really seriously lot of pages – of charted out designs.
So what does constitute a Selbu mitten? Interestingly, they can be mittens OR gloves. There are differences in the cuff design based on the owner’s gender, and then there are just a ton of other design options.
Toward the end there are reconstructions of historical mittens written and charted out so that you can knit your own version. In amongst the classic patterns is a pair of christening mittens knitted in her youth by Belle Gunness, who went on to move to America and become an infamous serial killer. And you can’t say that about every knitting book, can you? I keep wanting to call them murder mittens, but they were nothing to do with that.
So, whether you like history, Norwegian design, or true crime, this book has something for you! It is a bit spendy, but if you are a mitten enthusiast, it will be worth every penny.
Reading any good knitting or knitting-related books lately? Do tell!