Wednesday, December 2, 2009

fishermen's gear (and a prize!)

Chebeague Island Fisherman's Mittens

Over Thanksgiving, Diane Calder of the Chebeague Island Ladies' Aid was kind enough to share the Chebeague Island Fishermen's Wet Mittens pattern with me and my mom. She described how as these mittens are worn by lobstermen and are continually felted as they are dipped in and out of the sea as they pull out their traps and warm their hands up on the exhaust pipe of the boat. The lobstermen also wear the mittens double and even though their hands are wet, they are still very warm. Knitting with raw wool is essential to the felting process. Diane uses Bartlett Yarns 3-ply in natural and was laughingly sorting through all her balls to find whites that matched perfectly to finish the mittens that she was working on. These very firm and felted mittens would be great water resistant, insulated mittens for anybody.

The pattern for these mittens can also be found in Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. The Chebeague Island Ladies' Aid shared the pattern with Robin Hansen when the book was originally published back in early 80s. Diane said orders for the mittens flooded in to the Ladies' Aid from all around the country and she was even asked to do workshops on how to make them. Demand for the mittens has dropped and many of the Ladies' Aid knitters are getting older, so there is a real worry that the art of knitting these mittens may soon be lost. They still take special orders once in awhile and can be contacted through the church website. I would like to make a pair this winter and I'll report back on how it goes. My mom also wants to knit a pair, but I could see a scared look in her eyes at the thought of knitting on double pointed needles. She did go home with a little bit of Diane's wool to cast on with and some dpns. Come on Mom, you can do it, especially if Diane is helping you.

Sailors Uhlan Cap

The Huz, who is good at finding things, found me this pamphlet with knitting instructions for the above Uhlan Cap for sailors. It was published by The Woman's Seaman's Friend Society of Boston and I'm hazarding a guess that it might be from the turn of the century. There are also instructions for Comfort Bags (?!!), Woolen Mufflers, Woolen Wristers, Mittens, Sailors' Curtains, and Finger Stalls. "Ladies having any of the above-mentioned articles can send them to the Woman's Seaman's Friend Society, 287 Hanover Street, care of Miss Frink, who will at once put them to good use."

The Uhlan Cap looks pretty styling even by modern standards and I would love to do a knit-along for this. Is anyone up for it? The word Uhlan seems to come from a Tartar word for brave warrior and I suppose the cap does look Central Asiatic when it's rolled up. I uploaded the entire pamphlet to Scribd as Seamans Friend pamphlet and you can download it from there or below. Please let me know if you knit something from here, I would love to know how they turn out.

PRIZE: There will be a special yarny surprise for the first person to knit an Uhlan Cap and send me a picture of it!

Seamans Friend pamphlet


Meganne Fabrega said...

I love this post! The combination of the pamphlet, the ladies and the knitted items makes me say "Save the Wet Mittens"! (I think that would look good on a t-shirt, by the way.)

Jeanne said...

Very cool - can't wait to see your mitts!

choo choo knits said...

um, had you given me this challenge after christmas you know I would have totally whipped one up :o)

great posting - can't wait to see what the magic it inspires!

Paige said...

What an interesting and fabulous post of knitting past and present. (Dying to know what Sailors' Curtains and Finger Stalls are!)
All right, I shouldn't, but I shall...gonna check out the Uhlan Cap now. Goodness knows I love a challenge, and a prize!

benedetta said...

thanks for the pamphlet! I might make something, but not immediately.
I also have a recipe for fisherman mittens somewhere, similar to thrummed mittens, but they look different from those white ones.
I'll see if I can find it, so we can compare.

Kim said...

Consider me in! Since I am doing no Christmas knitting and am bored with my current projects, Uhlan Cap is just what I need. Plus it is 3 awesome looks in one hat. Very clear instructions too for a vintage pattern.
I also vote that you design a Save the Wet Mittens t-shirt.

MaryjoO said...

oh, I love this post.

I love reading about knitting. (ahem, cough cough, I had a very generous Santa giving time this year in the "I like to read about knitting" book department. )

Jackie said...

Thanks to MaryjoO for the link to this post. I know someone who could use the Uhlan cap and the mittens. I've downloaded the pattern leaflet.