Mitten making


Photo 1: Sherri Herman, visiting from Fort McMurray, Alta., chose red for the start of her handmade mittens. The workshop she is attending is tucked away in a corner of the Adäka festival, where Dolores Scheffen and her daughter Allison patiently meander around the table, teaching the art of mitten-making step by step.


Tahreem Mahmood is in town for a week from Ottawa — and is a fast learner. She’s visiting a friend, who recommended this workshop so she could have something to remind her of Whitehorse when winter comes around.

“We don’t throw away the scraps,” Allison tells the group. “We live by that rule; use everything you have.” Allison and her mom often use the scraps as stuffing for other projects.

Photo 4: Erin Nicolardi carefully decides on which colours of beads she wants for her flowered mittens. She tells Allison, with a laugh, that her hobbies only stick when taught to her by a person rather than a YouTube video. That’s why she’s here.

Mahmood cuts out the outline for her beading, which she chose from a pile of templates Scheffen had stacked on the table. It’s been a few hours, and everyone is snacking on lunch. Allison shares stories about her experience with sasquatches and her grandpa’s stories of little people in the mountains.

Scheffen carefully teaches Mahmood the art of beading — and the importance of using a paper backing. She says she has beaded so much that now she can bead while watching TV, to everyone’s amazement.

Mahmood zooms ahead of the pack, almost finishing the lining of her mitt. She listens to Dolores’ slow and specific instructions.

Nicolardi’s lining is coming along. Edged with hide and sewed tightly with sinew, the mittens are sure to last awhile.

Mahmood stitches the final touch — silky rabbit fur — on to her near-finished mitt. She uses one of the hide thimbles that Dolores had whipped up during the workshop.

Allison is proud of Mahmood’s final masterpiece. She says it’s custom to give the first of anything you make away as a gift.

Maddy Lines