In northern Sweden, about 75 miles above the Arctic Circle, the tiny village of Lovikka is famous for mittens. They have helped Swedes avoid frostbite ever since they were first created by a young villager named Erika Aittamaa in 1892.
Lovikka, with a population of only 61, looks much like it did in 1892, with one exception: the world’s largest knitted mitten, sitting inside a protective wood and glass display case, pops out of the scrappy pine trees along northern route 395.
The mitten is nearly 12 feet (3.5 m) tall, and is the work of 14 local knitters from the Lovikka Housewives Association. It took a little over a month and 50 pounds of wool to finish the job, and in the year 2000 it earned a citation from the Guinness folks that it was, indeed, the largest knitted mitten in the world.
After Erika Aittamaa made that first pair, word of the warmth and simple beauty of the Lovikka mitten spread, and she taught other women in the village to make them exactly the same way. A classic “cottage industry” grew, and the mittens went on to be manufactured in larger quantities throughout the 20th century. More recently the local craft has taken a hit from cheaper versions made in large factories overseas, but the little northern village keeps alive the legacy of their special contribution, right there on display.