Sometimes a knitting book comes along that you just have to have. Sometimes it's the pretty pictures, or because you saw someone else on Ravelry had knit something out of it, or sometimes you just need the book because you have recently developed an obsession for wanting to knit things like what can be found in the book.
Enter Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch.
This book was originally published in 1998. From what I can gather it must have gone out of print, because that original publishing is available on Amazon for $72!
Mostly Mittens is a book that specifically focuses on the ethnic knitting designs from Russia (hence the subtitle, Ethnic Knitting Designs from Russia). More specifically, it focuses on those of the Komi people, a group of people who settled in the NE part of Russia near the Arctic Circle in about 1700 (according to the book).
This book does a very good job of going into the history of the Komi, their knitting and their influence on knitting traditions. It also discusses the Komi patterns and what the characteristics of these patterns are. I actually really enjoyed this part of the book. I knew from looking at the patterns that things looked a little different than other fair isle mittens I have seen. Something about the geometry of the patterns is different. I really liked that there was explanation for this in the book. I don't normally care a lot about the history of knitting (which maybe is bad of me, but usually I am more concerned with the question of 'is it pretty?' instead of 'how did it come to be?'), but this time I was glad it was there.
But let's get into what everyone really cares about: the patterns! The book is broken down into six section, based on the type of mitten (from Basic Mittens all the way to Complex Borders, and even a few hat patterns made their way into the book). The each pattern has a full color picture of the mitten and then the usual yarn, gauge, needle size info. After that is a brief written instruction for the cuff and then goes straight into the colorwork of the mitten. The chart for the hand and thumb is in the book in landscape format, which makes it very easy to read (no flipping over pages back and forth, all the charts are on one page).
Some of my favorite mittens in the book are Mitten 4, 9, 11, 20 and 24 (not the best name for mittens, but at least they are easy to locate in the book!)
The patterns call for fingering weight yarn and the needles to go along with that weight of yarn (US 0-3). Not too bad for people that like to knit socks and things on teeny needles.
I would recommend this book to an intermediate knitter. If you hate charts, then you need to steer clear of this book. The book is pretty much all charts. But, if you are a lover of knitting charts then I think you might like this book. I would say this book is best suited for someone who has knitted some kind of fair isle before and loves those charts. Sounds like a book for me!
This book is currently available through Martingale and Company with a list price of $24.99. You can get your copy on Amazon for $16.49.