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Knitters issue call to wear patterned Estonian mittens on Independence Day

The worldwide, nearly 300-woman-strong Knitters' Reproduction Club has issued a call for people in Estonia to celebrate Independence Day on February 24 by donning traditional wool patterned gloves and mittens.

Previously, the Knitters' Reproduction Club (Kudujate koopiaklubi) worked together to knit more than 80 pairs of Muhu stockings that viewers could admire at the world's largest Muhu stocking exhibition at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) in 2020.

In 2021, the club presented Anu Raud with more than 74 reproduced pairs of knitted Mulgi mittens, in honor of the Estonian textile artist's 80th birthday and in support of the Anu Raud Center.

Now the women are inviting the public to break out their knits for Estonian Independence Day.

"The Knitters' Reproduction Club is inviting people to wear Estonian patterned mittens on February 24," said club leader Heleri Jürisson. "And everyone can choose which mittens according to their own affiliation – where their forebears are from, or what area they feel most connected to."

People often ask what exactly constitutes an "Estonian mitten" – is an Estonian mitten blue, black and white? It isn't, in fact.

"Estonians were pretty stationary in the past, and it's because of this that these mittens have varied by parish," explained Anu Pink, the other head of the club with a master's degree in inherited crafts. "Patterns would differ, and even the colors chosen and considered the most beautiful would differ."

According to Pink, the main criteria is that the mittens be made from wool. They are often quite densely knitted as well.

"Maybe Estonians loved lots of patterns, which is why the mittens had to be knit pretty densely, from fairly fine yarn using fairly thin needles," she noted, adding that a major favorite color combination was natural white and dark blue.

"It was believed that mitten patterns are good luck and that they protect the wearer against all things bad and evil," the master knitter said. "And that's what we'd like even today."

She hopes to see a resurgence of people wearing patterned Estonian mittens and gloves on an everyday basis.

The collection at ERM includes more than 4,000 pairs of Estonian gloves and mittens, and users can also browse traditional knitwear online via the Museums Public Portal (MUIS).

Those who want to join in showing off their knitted mittens on February 24 can share photos on social media with the hashtag #kannaneestikindaid.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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