Sunday, January 19, 2014

Endless Knot Mittens: Russian Style, Inspired by Bhutan

It's been years since I posted anything here about knitting but I am still an avid knitter. Please allow me to show off my most recent major project.

This is the most fiddly pattern I've taken on so far in my crafting career. It was not the kind of knitting that can be done with one eye on the TV. It required my full attention so it took me several months to complete. I'm happy with the results.

Endless Knot Russian-style Mittens

The Buddhist symbol of the Endless Knot appeals to me very much. I wanted to knit something with this motif. The Endless Knot is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and it has various meanings, for example, that "all phenomena are conjoined and yoked together as a closed cycle of cause and effect".

I thought I was going to have to attempt to design something myself until I found a pattern that could become what I wanted with only minimal modification. I used a cross-hatched colourwork mitten pattern by Charlene Schurch from an earlier version of her book Mostly Mittens: Ethnic Knitting Designs from Russia ( link). 

Certainly, I am very much aware that slapping a Buddhist symbol on an item for daily use can be extremely offensive. Images of the Buddha should really not be used in the casual way they can be seen here in North America (on t-shirts, homewares, greeting cards and much more). However, I believe it was acceptable to have created a garment bearing the Endless Knot. In Bhutan, I saw this symbol used on clothing, bags, upholstery and even on carpets. I hope that it was correct to have surmised that the symbol could be used on humble, non-sacred objects.

My colour choice, rust and deep blue, was inspired partly by the exquisite coral and turquoise necklaces Bhutanese ladies are known to pile on with their traditional fashions and partly by the rich colours that embellish the many historic fortresses.

Endless Knot Russian-style Mittens

Endless Knot Russian-style Mittens

Endless Knot Russian-style Mittens

Endless Knot Russian-style Mittens

More of my mittens: birds, trees and Totoro.

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