27 May 2006
These were possibly the most essential accessories for survival of my Fulbright year in Russia: felted archive glove/mitts. I invented the concept myself to suit the peculiar requirements of a year spent huddling over documents for 7 hours at a stretch in freezing cold archive reading rooms. Needless to say, we all sit there in our coats and scarves, but what to do about freezing fingers when the whole point is to be scribbling as much as possible? So I made felted mittens, with one innovation - the first finger on the right hand is separate, as for a glove, and at the tips of both that finger and the neighboring thumb I cut a small hole, so that I can grip a pen but not lose any more warmth than absolutely necessary. They work well, though they're a trifle bulky. I wear them long enough to get toasty warm, then take them off again for an hour or so for a break. It's probably good for my hand and wrist muscles to vary the grip, in any case! I used a Russian brand of 100% wool (Semyonovskaya), stranded with a fingering-weight wool of the same brand in a contrasting color (though the picture doesn't reflect it, it's actually cherry-red yarn with lime green stranded in.) NB: I did much of the work for the first mitten while watching the National Tragedy of an election unfold on TV at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.