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Our MacLean Mitten

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October 2007 At Catherine's Home
Catherine's MacLean Mitten

October 2007 West Bay, Cape Breton Nova Scotia

The Story of The MacLean Mittens
as Written by Chris MacPhie
of West Bay, Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Chris shared her MacLean Mitten pattern with Carol while we were visiting Catherine's home at West Bay, Cape Breton.
Chris wrote:
Mittens from:  A Nova Scotia Work Basket
Nova Scotia Museum
Halifax, Nova Scotia
(Out of Print)
I did not live in Nova Scotia in the winter, so didn't know about this "family pattern" until the late 1950's when I was in highschool.
My Aunt Caroline, Catherine Urguhart's sister, knitted them for me and sent them to Brookline (Mass.).
Her mother, my grandmother, knitted the pattern gotten from her mother.  (My greatgrandmother was the sister-in-law who was given the one mitten found on the Grand Banks fishing boat.
Around 1974 I heard that they were putting together this Work Basket Book.  I knew two of the ladies.  I told one that we had a family mitten pattern.
So Joean Gordon took my pair of mittens for many months to make a graph of the pattern.
At one point they almost decided not to put it in the book as it was most likely a Newfoundland pattern.
But it had been in the MacLean family for 120 years.  It would be Johanna )MacLeod) MacLean who first figured them out.
So 3 generations had knitted them, and it may die out with the present generation.  Catherines Urguhart's daughter tried to make them, but had trouble around the thumb.  So she gave up, and I only made one pair of mittens so would not even attempt a patterned pair.
I do not know how Aunt Caroline knew the exact year, but  close enough.
Aunt Caroline knitted her my daughter a pair during a visit with us.  Her time to leave must have been before she was to finish them.  So I saw her light on late in the bedroom, and there she was knitting madly in bed!
(She was also a weaver so patterns were easy for her.)
So, that is the story of the Mittens, with the hopes that it can be carried on.
Chris MacPhie
West Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

October 2007 At Catherine's Home
Our MacLean Mittens and Pattern - Catherine's Mittens

The Story of Our MacLean Mittens as Written In
'A Nova Scotia Work Basket', Mova Scotia Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1978 (Out of Print):
page 10:
'A similar mitten was found in 1858, on a fishing vessel, by a Cape Breton fisherman while he was catching cod on the Grand Banks.  He brought the mitten home and persuaded hes brother's wife to copy the pattern in a pair for mittens for him.  The pattern was passed down in the family to the present generation."

October 2007 A Precious Find
Thank you Chris & Catherine!

Anyone interested in this MacLean Mitten Pattern may contact Lu Dawn via email.

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May 2007