My obsession with Norwegian Selbuvotter began in a ferry terminal in Bergen. I watched as two ladies effortlessly churned out the most beautiful mittens I had ever seen, completely from memory. By the time we reached our destination of Rysjedalsvika, I had vowed that one day, I would be able to do the same. Years later on a different ferry, this time to Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands, I took my first stab at the feat. I bought a knitting kit in the ferry gift shop, only to find that there were no instructions in English. My German travelling companion did his best to translate, but the thumb still eluded me.
After returning to Canada from my Nordic adventures, I knitted my first successful Selbu mitten from Vibke Lind’s Knitting in the Nordic Tradition, and owe my eventual mastery of the technique to Terri Shea’s Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition. If after knitting these, you’d like to fall down a rabbit hole of stunning patterns reproduced from antique mittens, I highly suggest getting your hands on a copy of it.
While I’ve tried to make the instructions as clear and thorough as possible, this is not a beginner pattern. You should already be comfortable doing stranded colour work in the round. Even I’m still working on the “from memory” part.
The three patterns in this collection were commissioned by Tammy-Jo Mortensen in 2013, and I have dubbed them “The Mortensen Mittens” in honour of her continuing support and enthusiasm for my knitting endeavors. My hope is that they will continue to help Albertan Settlers with Scandinavian heritage, like Tammy-Jo and myself, to reconnect with the cultures that our ancestors left behind.
Yarn: Custom Woolen Mills Mule Spinner 1-ply
approximately 60g of MC and 40g of CC.
Needles: One set of 2mm double pointed needles
One set of 2.5mm double pointed needles
(The size of the mitten can be adjusted by going up or down a needle size or two. 2.25mm needles for child sized mittens, and 2.75mm or 3mm for a larger adult size.)
Gauge: 4cm = 12 stitches/12 rounds in stranded colour work on 2.5mm needles
I highly suggest knitting a swatch to test the gauge for this pattern, as the weight of the Mule Spinner 1-ply can sometimes vary quite significantly between lots. I like to think of it as a charming quirk of the Industrial Revolution era spinning machinery with which the yarn is produced.