A mitten is a glove that encompasses a person’s entire hand without having separate sheaths for individual fingers (except for the thumb). Because they expose so little surface area to the air, mittens usually have a higher thermal efficiency than more traditional fingered gloves.
Mittens are currently understood to be a fairly recent invention, with the earliest known examples originating from Latvia around 1000 AD (mittens are a significant enough part of Latvian cultural heritage that the official national costume of Latvia still features them). First Nations people and Vikings also have a strong historical attachment to mittens, though it isn’t known exactly for how long these cultures had adopted the garment.
A number of variants exist in modern times; ‘idiot mittens’, for example, are connected by a length of yarn to a matching coat – preventing them from getting lost or falling off during a winter sporting activity.
Most people are no doubt familiar with ‘gunner’s mittens’ (though perhaps not by that name), which have individual sheaths for fingers concealed underneath the typical single sheath and allow the wearer to uncover their fingers without removing the whole mitten. These were invented in the 1930s for Canadian servicemen, allowing them to get their fingers free to fire their weapon at a moment’s notice.
‘Scratch mittens’ are for tots and toddlers; they do not separate the thumb, with the intent being to prevent little ones from scratching-up their faces.
Mittens are a much simpler knit than fingered gloves, can incorporate beautiful patterns over their large surface and are almost always a great gift because of how oft-needed they are