A Gift of Baltic Mittens



Kate's mittens that her dad brought her from Lithuania. Photo by Kate Grusauskas.


Kate's mittens from Latvia. Photo by Kate Grusauskas. 

When Interweave’s Contracts Administrator, Kate Grusauskas, gave us a show-and-tell of the fabulous mittens her father brought back from his tour through the Baltic countries, we had to know more. Daniel Grusauskas was kind enough to share his Baltic knitting adventures with us. Enjoy shopping for handknitted mittens vicariously!

When I told my daughter that I was going to take a tour of the Baltic countries from late June until early July, her initial reaction (and request) was that I had to buy mittens. My initial reaction was, “Are you out of your mind?  Who in the world stocks mittens at the height of summer?”

She said the Baltic countries did. I continued to resist. She continued to persist. Then a package arrived in the mail containing two issues of Knitting Traditions magazines with articles on Baltic mittens from all of the Baltic countries. My instructions were that I was to use these as guides to find and select the mittens and then present the  magazines to the knitters.

I reluctantly agreed, packed the magazines in my suitcase and forgot about them.  The second day in Lithuania I asked our tour guide, Signe, if she was aware of any place to get mittens.  She naturally asked why. I retrieved the issues of Knitting Traditions and shared them with her. She was captivated and impressed and asked to borrow them. She also steered me to a store in Vilnius where I bought my first pair of mittens from a rather limited selection.

As we rode the bus to our next country, Latvia, Signe and I talked about the magazines and mittens in general.  She told me I would find a much bigger selection in Latvia. A few days later while we were taking refuge in a small mall on a rainy day in Riga’s old town, I stumbled upon a shop that had row upon row of mittens hanging over a rod. I tried to remember what the mittens in the magazine looked like so I could get something similar. Finally I just picked out what was pleasing to me.

Kate's Mittens from Estonia. Photo by Kate Grusauskas.

Having purchased two pairs of mittens in two different countries I thought that my mitten quest was complete and we were off to Estonia. At the end of a free afternoon spent wandering around old town in Tallin, we passed by a park on our way back to our hotel. The sidewalk was lined up with vendors selling all kinds of tourist attractions, including one elderly lady who had the stone wall bordering the park piled with mittens. What the heck. I had to look. I fell in love with a pretty pair that had a kitten image knitted into the back of the mittens. I purchased those for about half the price of the ones I had gotten in stores.

So I had progressed from reluctance to enthusiasm regarding mittens, as had my tour guide. She retained the two issues of Knitting Traditions and said she would share them with future groups. When I got home I sent the mittens to my daughter. Her comment? “Good job, Dad.”

Thanks so much, Kate and Daniel, for sharing your story and your mittens!