Create Your Own Winter Games Story

The world blanketed in a fresh blanket of frozen white, the way the sunlight sparkles like off each unique crystal, and the crispness of the air: these are the reason why I love winter sports. In truth I participate more in snowshoeing and sledding than speed skating or ski jumping, but I love watching snowboarding and figure skating. And the 2014 Winter Games are an amazing opportunity to witness some of the best winter sport athletes in the world. It's also a fabulous chance to fit in a little extra handwork time, maybe some crocheted mittens.

Handknitted Mittens  
Handknitted mittens in the collection of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum in Ishpeming, Michigan. (1993.9.1).
Photograph by the author and courtesy of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum.

More importantly this is an chance to create your own history. What story will your projects tell? In the Winter Games eBook, Susan Strawn tells the story of one pair of knitted mittens. Here is a brief excerpt.

1940 Suomi Olympic Mittens

Handknitting seems a fine fit with the "skisport," as Scandinavian immigrants called moving over snow on two planks when they first introduced skiing to America. So I was not surprised to see handknitted mittens exhibited at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum in Ishpeming, a small city in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The mittens captured my attention, their handknitted presence a quiet interlude among dynamic displays of historic ski costume and technical gear and within a gallery of superstars who have skied, ski-jumped, and snowboarded their way into posterity.

The beautifully knitted mittens feature structured bands of geometric motifs in white and red on a deep blue background, and a Norwegian-style thumb gore incorporates patterns well coordinated with the body of the mittens. The museum label reads, "Sample Woolen Mittens proposed for Winter Olympic Games 1940 – Finland (GAMES NOT HELD)." The Olympic rings logo, Suomi (Finland in the Finnish language), and 1940 are knitted into the mitten tops. The national flag of Finland since 1918 has a blue Nordic cross on a white background, and variant State flags are blue and white with a small red coat of arms, so perhaps these represent patriotic colors of Finland.

  Knitted Mitten Pattern
  Mittens Based on a Finnish-American Design: Adapted from Mittens in the Collection of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum by Susan Strawn

The mittens proved most curious. Who was the knitter? What are the Finnish and Finnish-American connections with the Olympiads? Why would mittens dedicated to Finland and Olympic Games be found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? Even more puzzling, the 1940 Helsinki Olympics would have been held in summer, not winter, so why would a (presumably) Finnish-American knitter invest time and wool in mittens for a summer athletic event? And why is the name for Finland knitted in the Finnish language, not in English?

-Susan Strawn

Challenge yourself this year and knit your own Winter Games 2014 accessories. Download the Winter Games eBook today.

Best wishes,

P. S. Are you a winter sports enthusiast? What is your favorite sport?

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