Sunday, August 26, 2018

Buff Mittens in the Adirondacks

buff mittensCarol Pearsall of Johnsburg, wife of local historian and author Glenn L. Pearsall, is writing a book on “buff mittens” and is looking for stories and examples.

Buff mittens differ from the modern mittens as they were tufted like a shag rug for extra warmth. They required three times the usual amount of yarn that one would use in knitting modern mittens. Often merino wool or a merino cross was used and the art of making these mittens rose and fell with the cycle of wool availability. Warm and durable, they are considered an Adirondack tradition that reached a heyday in the 1880s to early 1900s. However, a reference to buff mittens is found in the diary of Ruth Henshaw of Leicester, Massachusetts in 1803.

Carol asks if you have a story of these mittens or examples of them, you contact her at

Photo of Buff Mittens provided.

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3 Responses

  1. Bill Quinlivan says:

    I am fairly sure that the Adirondack Experience has examples of these in its collection and I have seen examples in various Antique Shows, the largest in our region is about to occur in September here in the town of Indian Lake — good hunting, Carol!

    • Carol Pearsall says:

      Thanks Bill. Adirondack Experience does indeed have buff mittens and has allowed me to photograph and record the information they have on theirs. I have been able to track the style through the Maine State Museum, Shelburne Museum and Old Sturbridge Village as well. Finding mittens at an Antique Show would be fine, but I’m also interested in a mitten’s history – who wore them, where they are from and if possible, who made them. My best resource there has been family who still have a pair they will allow me to photograph. -Carol

  2. Cathy McNamara says:

    My father worked as a lumberjack in the Adirondacks when we were kids.
    He always had a pair or two of these mittens. He called them fringe mittens. my sisters have looked and looked for a pattern for these mittens. Maybe now that I know the correct name for them we can find one.

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