The Lesson Of The Mittens

Here we are in March, a month that hints of spring out here on the high plains of Wyoming but can’t quite let go of winter.  We’ve had another week of that very thing.  The sun warms us up to 60 but by that evening temperatures plummet again 30 degrees and the snow falls and the wind blows.  But soon…spring will win!  So, until then we all carry our gloves and mittens in our pockets, we don’t think twice about it until something happens to open our eyes. 

Sometimes a gem just falls in your lap.  This story of mittens is one of those gems.  Our Kath, who is our expert knitter here at the mill, was coming into work with her favorite mittens and they caught my eye.  They were a bit worn and they looked like a crazy quilt with many different colors and shapes all pieced on…I said oh, those mittens sure look like they have a story to tell!  Well, she proceeded to tell me a bit of the story and I said to please write that down.   

So, she did and here it is…a gem! 

” I found a worn place that developed a hole in my favorite mittens, the right one.  Over a cup of coffee, I mended it as best as I could.  Musing, I counted the darned places, patches, and various fixes.  This fix was number 11. 

The mittens are 29 years old.  I remember when I first cast on to knit them, enroute from Nome to St Lawrence Island, somewhere over the Bering Sea.  The mittens have a story, they’ve accompanied me hiking, hunting, chopping wood, hauling water.  They followed me to Wyoming a year and a half ago.  They’ve been repaired, re-knitted, patched, and darned multiple times.  To me, they are worth keeping, worth fixing. 

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you have something old of value that you hang onto and treasure.  An old car, a piece of antique furniture, or a long-standing friendship or a marriage.  Some things are worth fixing and keeping, their value increasing over time.   

I know nothing lasts forever, and someday my old favorite mittens will be no more.  There is, after all, a time to keep and a time to throw away.  But for now, when I wear them, I’m reminded of the value of old things, their worth undiminished by the passage of time.  I’m grateful for the lesson to hold dear those important things and people in my life.”     by Kath 

 This was said so well and true that I knew we needed to share it.  I’m sure we all have a “mitten” story or something like it that we can reflect on.  Kath’s reflection brought to my mind one of my own mitten stories. 

Years ago, as a young mother I read a book “Mitten strings for God - Reflections for mothers in a hurry”.  With 7 young children it spoke volumes to me on slowing down and celebrating life’s quiet moments, remembering to pause and listen and fill your children’s souls.  I cannot now recall what the mitten strings had to do with the book but maybe it was just about not losing the simple things. 

I also had an old pair of mittens; they were not knit by me but given to me by a dear friend in high school after her trip to see family in Sweden.  They were wool and so durable…they never wore out.  They were a bit scratchy, but I used them all the time, they were the ones I reached for over and over again.  My fingers stayed warm, and toasty tucked inside them.  I finally repurposed those old mittens into stocking hats for the grandchildren's dolls, so they carry on.  

That is my mitten story but as Kath said, “it is about more than mittens”.  It’s about treasuring memories and people that are dear.  So as spring comes and mittens are put away, don’t forget the lesson of the mittens. 


55 comments


  • Gail Bower

    Thank you for sharing. Memories of being a young mother. I did a lot of cross stitch and my two were a big help. I just guided where to put the needle. The three of us created some beautiful work. I had framed the ones they did by themselves and showed them off


  • Harriet held

    Loved it when I was a child my
    Mother knit us sweaters, mitten, hats! That is what we could afford. The yarn was proocessed by at that time the woolen mill in Bozeman the wool was from my parents sheep! My Grandmother also had blankets made for us out of the wool! That is why I am taking my wool to your processing place to make memories for my grandchildren! They love our sheep and mittens and blankets last a long time!


  • Catherine Martinez

    This is such a vital lesson needed for this time in our country. There may be nothing wrong with getting something new, but there is something true and good about receiving, using, and caring for the things we have. Earth needs a break from over production, and we can provide something truly valuable to our loved ones by teaching them to love and care for what they have.


  • Donna Bell

    Karen, I loved this story, touching the heart. Things that last over many years have value, we don’t throw them away, we patch them. A very good story especially for today’s time. Thanks so much for sharing. I too will share. Hugs! Donna


  • Nancy J Lawless

    In this throw away society it is important to remember somethings are much to precious to “throw away”. Help me to work harder at repairing all those things in my life.


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