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Mittens (Tumgluttons)

Curated Submission
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
1900 – 1960
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
27 x 13
Materials & techniques
Wool; Knitted, hand-sewn
Helen Devereux
Textile Museum of Canada T2007.25.1ab
During the 1960s while working in Newfoundland, Helen Devereux came across this pair of knitted trigger mittens or “tumgluttons” on a deserted piece of land. She picked them up and kept them for over 40 years before offering them to the Textile Museum of Canada.
Sheep were raised in many parts of Newfoundland, and women often spun wool and knitted garments, including this type of mittens for their families. They are a cross between a mitt and a glove, constructed with a separate compartment for the index finger in addition to the usual thumb and remaining fingers. They were used by men while fishing or sealing, and allowed the movement of a glove with much of the warmth of a mitt. A man would wear out a pair in a single winter, so very few have survived.

This pair had been mended and lost in a field where Devereux found them, and they provide a glimpse into the harsh way of life lived by fishing communities in Newfoundland. She explains that “often, if out in a boat fishing, the ‘gloves’ or mittens, with the hands inside are first dipped in the salt water. This is done to keep the hands warmer than dry mittens.”
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