A Pair of Women’s Muhu Gloves to Knit

The gloves knitted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries on the tiny Estonian island of Muhu were exquisitely flamboyant and knitted at a very tight gauge. Muhu women used their favorite colors—fluorescent pink and bright orange—in abundance, even for men’s gloves! These fine gloves were usually made for the dowry, and a bride may have given up to a hundred pairs to her new family.

Although Muhu gloves were later used extensively as inspiration for items with fewer stitches per inch and simplified patterns, this project invites you to knit an authentic pair of Muhu gloves at the traditional gauge. Fine metal double-pointed needles (affiliate link), fine woolen yarns, and the willingness to knit very, very tightly are required. Muhu gloves pose a true challenge: can you knit like women who lived 150 years ago? In recent years, many Estonian knitters have taken up this challenge, and accomplishing this commendable feat has resulted in great pride.

Muhu

Anu Pink’s glorious gloves for a woman. This project invites you to knit an authentic pair of Muhu gloves at the traditional gauge. Photo by George Boe.

Authentic gloves knitted as they were a century ago celebrate the value of the knitter’s time—time that has been lovingly dedicated to the wearer of the gloves and to the memory of the knitters who lived on Muhu Island long ago. The project gloves are not a reproduction of an old pair of gloves, but the individual patterns have been combined according to the old Muhu knitting traditions. The stitch gauge is similar to traditional Muhu women’s gloves.

Materials (list below may contain affiliate links)
Hea Kindalõng 12/2, 100% wool yarn, light fingeringweight, 328 yard (300.0 m)/50 gram (1.8 oz) ball and 164 yard (150.0 m)/25 gram (0.9 oz) skein, 1 ball each of Dark Cherry Red (MC) and Yellow (CC3) and 1 skein each of Muhu Pink (CC1), Muhu Orange (CC2), Petrol Blue (CC4), and White (CC5)
Needles, set of 5 double pointed, size 0000 (1.25 mm)
Cotton waste yarn
Tapestry needle

Finished size: Woman’s size medium, 7 inches (17.8 cm) hand circumference and 9¼ inches (23.5 cm) long from CO to tip of middle finger

Gauge: 64 sts and 66 rnds = 4 inches (10.2 cm) in St st colorwork patts

—Anu Pink, Translated from the Estonian by Kait Sepp

Anu Pink is a trained needlework teacher with a degree in inherited crafts. She has taught at a secondary school for twenty-five years and published needlework handbooks that are used in Estonian schools. She has dedicated the last ten years to researching the Estonian craft heritage, passing on the traditional skills, and both writing and editing books on a variety of related topics. Because she was born and raised 2 miles (3.2 km) from Muhu, on Saaremaa Island, Muhu needlework has a special place in her heart.

Download the Fall 2018 issue of PieceWork to knit Anu Pink’s Muhu gloves. Learn about another pair of Estonian knitted gloves in our blog post, “Decorating Knitted Gloves with Roses.”


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