I’m posting from the capital town of Saaremaa island, part of Estonia. I’ve been at the Nordic Knitting Symposium and plan to go to Estonian Craft Camp on Sunday.
The knitting symposium was intense with workshops all day and three lectures every evening about Estonian, Latvian and Russian knitting. There were workshops on knitting from all the Baltic countries And north west Russia, which for me was one of the highlights. It was an opportunity to meet knitters from Russia, whose workshops I took.
The knitting they showed is larger gauge than that done in Estonia, using on 2.5mm needles with a light double knitting type wool. The patterns are from an ethnic group called the Komi, which were new to me, but they have been documented in an English language book by Charlotte Schurch, Mostly Mittens: Ethnic Knitting Designs From Russia.
One of the teachers was Zlata Ushakova, here on the left. She hand and machine knits, selling her products by travelling to Moscow by ferry and overnight train from her home in Arkhangelsk.
This is what I made, which is described as a holder for small things; it’s actually a mitten without a thumb and a cord attached, but quite ingenious.
My final project was a small wristband using another Komi pattern; we had the choice of three, a fish, arunning dog or a seagull. Mine is the running dog, in case you can’t tell.
I also went to the machine knitting workshop which was a challenge. (Hand knitters look away now). The teacher had designed a project for a single bed machine including many techniques – a picot hem, a complicated buttonhole, a pocket, some punch card patterning, increasing and decreasing, and finished off with short rows. It was fun following the instructions and as there were only 4 of us in the class, two beginners and two experienced machine knitters we were all able to get finished.
I finished the pouch with buttons cut from a jacket found in a second hand shop in Viljandi bought for .25 euro. After taking off the buttons, the jacket stayed in the shop! The pouch was then washed and dried and pressed in my hotel room. I think it’s the first time I have asked for the iron and ironing board in a hotel.
At the end of the event we were all given a sheet of A3 paper on which to arrange our productions and the final show was an impressive display of hand work.
For me, the lectures were the most interesting and useful part of the symposium, and they added to my knitting knowledge, especially that of Russian knitting. Of course the chance to meet up with old knitting friends and make new ones was perhaps the greatest pleasure and benefit of attending.
It was also interesting to look around the Department of Native Crafts, located in a former bakery in Viljandi, with impressive workshop spaces for textiles and wood and metal work. It made me wonder if such a thing might ever be possible in a UK context.
So, onwards and upwards to Craft Camp. I’m being really brave about missing the heatwave in the UK.