Knitting Poetry


PieceWork‘s Poetry Mittens. Photo by Joe Coca.

Our Poetry Mittens from the PieceWork archives is one of my very favorite projects. Since we have had lots of snow, wind, and temperatures below zero since Christmas, thinking about mittens makes me warm! And the story behind our mittens is just downright fascinating. Here’s an excerpt from Veronica Patterson’s article about Poetry Mittens:

On mittens knitted of fine handspun yarn, words wind around each hand: the opening lines of a poem on one mitten, the continuation on the other. The mittens engage us with their novelty, the skill and though required, and the peculiar attraction of decoding the written word.

About 1970, Susanna Springer of Missoula, Montana, brought a single mitten at an antique show in Chatham, New York. . . . Tucked inside Susanna’s mitten were a newspaper clipping from a Bangor, Maine, newspaper dated 1880 and a handwritten note. The article describes the mitten as being more than 100 years old, as belonging to Mrs. Charles H. Penny, and as having been knitted by her great-great-aunt, Margaret Evans of New Hampshire, who was blind but had in her early childhood learned to knit figures and letters by counting. In fact, the Ns and Ss are reversed, and one line drops to the next in midword. . . . The newspaper article dates the mitten to about 1780. The mitten has “80” worked into the design on the thumb.

Poetry mittens_200
Susanna Springer’s Poetry Mitten. The mitten is believed to have been knitted circa 1780. Photo by Joe Coca.

Susanna Springer’s mitten is shown here; we are so grateful to Susanna for sharing it with us. What an amazing find!

Step-by-step instructions for making our version of the mittens along with Veronica’s entire article on Susanna’s are in the January/February 2008 issue. You can order the digital edition of this issue here. Enjoy Knitting Poetry!