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. 


54 comments


  • Carol

    I love to knit anything but my large family of 12 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren think of me as a mitten knitter. One year I knitted 18 pairs.
    Now when one of my grandchildren bring a boy friend to visit, I make them a hat and mittens for Christmas. They now call it a right of passage.


  • Janice Hardin

    What a lovely story. I am so glad you did share it. Good reminder of all we hold dear!


  • Catherine Martinez

    I like this story. I have turned part of my weaving and knitting time into time for learning darning. It takes time to learn but is so worth the effort. It feels good to save a worthy item of clothing, remembering that the Earth cannot give as much as we all seem to want to take. Keep on darning! The new pieces we make will be all the more treasured for those we save.


  • Teresa Vuocolo

    I loved your story, and the importance you put on the memories you have because of your mittens. Encourages us all to keep knitting for people in our life.


  • JOYCE MORROW

    Thank you for sharing these stories. As a knitter for more than 70 years I like to think there is more to knitted objects than the fiber or even the process and time involved. There is in each item, LOVE: love for someone to take your time/talent for them, love of craft, love of fibers and textures involved as the knitter feels the work in her/his hands – so much love.


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