Buying and Selling

It seems that lots of knitters are also wannabe shop keepers.  We hoard our yarn that we’ve bought here and there, without an idea of what to make with it but we bought it because it was just too beautiful to leave behind.  And when we have more than is reasonable for space/budget/partner understanding, we sell it on to other like-minded knitters.  We buy and sell and trade yarn with almost as much enjoyment as knitting with it.

I have so much yarn now that I’m in danger of reaching SABLE (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy).  Yes, this is a subject discussed on Ravelry.  I love all of it.  Some more than others.  I decided the other day that if I can in any way justify buying a spinning wheel I have to sell some of my stash.  I have to get this monster under control.  If you are interested, and are on Ravelry, you can find my destash page here.

It doesn’t help the stash balance when I go to interesting places and end up buying yarn.  I always say that yarn bought while on vacation doesn’t count.  But I still have to find somewhere to put it!  I never did show you what I bought in Finland.  It wasn’t much since I was trying to be good.

I bought this yarn from Tuulia, who’s company name is Knitlob’s Lair.  The blue/green is sport weight wool.  The multi skein is sock yarn with 75% wool, 25% poly.

Then, when we went to Vassa to look around, I bought 2 skeins at a yarn shop.  It has dog hair in it.  Actually, 30% dog hair.  I bought it for the uniqueness of it and I think it will make a fine pair of color work mittens.  It’s actually pretty darned soft.

And that’s all the yarn I bought to bring home and knit with later.  I did buy 2 big skeins of Finnish wool that I used in the Swing Knitting class.  Here’s a photo of my project in progress.  I’ve set it down now while I finish some other things first.  I really like the gradient dye.  It’s going to be a large rectangular piece which I will sew into a bag and will wash and felt it.

And that’s all I bought in Finland!  Good, right?

So, I’m busy trying to sell stash yarn (and I did immediately sell off 5 skeins), and up pops an ad in the Dutch Spinners group on Ravelry.  OMG.  You know, I’ve been stalking spinning groups and spinning sites for 6 months now and nothing ever made me want to put down my money before.  But this was just perfect. In every way.  Here she is.

I will pick her (all spinners call their wheels either him or her, mostly her) Tuesday night and this is the photo from the owner.  It’s a Kromski Mazurka.  Now, I’ve fallen in love with the look of the Kromski Minstral and this Mazurka is kind of the grandma to that newer wheel.  What a perfect wheel to learn with and at a steal of a price.  The owner is also going to show me a few things about it when I go to her house Tuesday.  I can’t wait!

Which leads to my last recent purchase…some fiber to practice with of course.  I bought this at Penelope Craft Thursday.  100% merino.

And now I’m done buying.  For now.  Until I need more fiber.  And sell more stash.

Weversmarkt

Today was the yearly Weversmarkt in Hoorn (weavers market).  There were, at last count, 140 vendors selling everything from weaving looms and supplies, to knitting yarn, to felting stuff, buttons, spinning supplies and more.  We were 7 and stayed all day.  Luckily it was sunny and very warm all day!

I bought a few things.

Two skeins of Kauni in blues, purples and greens and a skein of grey to go with it.  I’m going to make a “swing knitting” shawl with that.  I bought 2 skeins of undyed sock yarn for, well, dying.  I bought a pair of felted baby shoes my hair dresser (her baby of course).  And buttons.  Just look at how fabulous these buttons are!

And I bought a hat.  I don’t wear hats, but this hat is just perfect.

Here are some photos from the day….

You can see all my photos from the day here.  I will definitely go again next year. This was the best market I’ve been to in the Netherlands, for what I’m interested in anyway.  I didn’t get to try any spinning on a wheel, but I did get to see a few, which was also pretty interesting.  I’m still thinking about getting a wheel.  Yes, I need a new hobby like a need a hole in my head, but that’s never stopped me before!

Wearing a Blanket

Quite some time ago I bought fabric at Weldraad in Amsterdam.  They sell wool fabrics as well as wool and natural fiber yarn.  This fabric sat in my stash for well over a year before I found a pattern I really liked and then found the time to sew it up.

The pattern is Vogue #8863.  It calls for “decorative ribbon” to be sewn on next to the zipper on both sides, but I decided to knit that part and sew it on.  I knit the pieces in eye of partridge stitch (knit on the right side, slip every other purl on the wrong side, alternating the slip stitches each 2 rows) using Madelinetosh sock yarn in color Mourning Dove.  I sewed them onto the zipper with my sewing machine.  One side came out looking great, but one side looked really wonky so I hand stitched (with the yarn) a daisy chain stitch down the side.  It neatened it up really well.

Ginni and I decided to both make this jacket and cut out the fabric at her school, with all the big work tables, just before Christmas.  That in itself took about 5 hours once we figured out what we wanted to do and how to do it (not following the pattern exactly of course).  We have similar figures and kind of thought that this jacket would make us look big and boxy but didn’t care because we liked the design so much.  Actually, the end result doesn’t look as much like wearing a blanket as I thought it would.  I guess the diagonal cut of the thing makes it look less short and wide.

That day at Ginni’s I took my serger with me and serged (overlocked) the main seams in both the jacket pieces and the lining.  It is lined in knitted merino wool and the lining is what you see coming down into the long sleeves.  I LOVE the lining fabric more than the outside fabric. It’s so soft and cuddly!

And here’s the back, which is pretty plain.

I’m very happy with it and this gives me some enthusiasm for doing more sewing.  I should look through that stash bag and see what other gems are sitting in there……

(Looking at these photos I notice that my hair really is getting long! I’ve been growing it out…. six month to go and I can stop having bad hair MONTHS.)

((And I also notice how much I look like my mom.))

Road Trip

Next Saturday I’m making the long train trip to this event.  I’m very tempted to go by car, because I have a new car, but N. has convinced me that we should go by train so we can knit.  Knitting trumps driving a new car.

I’m not sure if there will be a lot of knitters that I know going to this event.  It’s pretty far away.  It’s going to take us 3 hours by train to get there (only a little over 2 hours by car however).  Dutch people think that traveling an hour to go somewhere is already a big deal.

The event is held in a “manege” or horse arena.  It will be cold.  It will be full of people and wool so I hope that we heat the place up with our enthusiasm and woolliness.  I’m hoping to find some really nice local yarn (which is a new thing actually) and some interesting sheep breed specific yarns.

If you live in the Netherlands, or northern Germany, or even northern England, make a fun day trip out of this and come along.  It’s good to support our local wool!

Wood into Color

Well, it’s been a while since I posted here.  This is what happens when you start a new job, then go away for a week, and come back to that new job.  I feel like everything is turned on its head and I don’t have the time to catch up with myself.  But let’s start again, shall we?  And let’s start with some color!

A few weeks ago I dyed some yarn using logwood and oak.  I got the dye stuff from De Kat windmill, the same place where I’ve bought dye stuff before.  I did a mordant of alum (15% of weight) a few days before and let the yarn dry with the alum in it, then rinsed it well before dyeing.  That’s all the prep I did ahead of time.

On the day of dyeing I used 50% WOG (weight of goods) dye powder.  Both the logwood and oak were very fine powders so I just threw them into the pot and filled the pot with water and cooked them both just below the boiling point for an hour.  Looking back, I should have then strained off the dye water and left the sludge behind, but I didn’t because I was afraid I’d lose some of the dyeing power behind.  I wanted good rich deep colors and was afraid if I just poured off the dye water I wouldn’t get that.  Boy was I wrong!

I had 6 skeins of 100% merino, fingering weight, to play with.

With the logwood I was going for deep dark purple.  With the oak I was hoping (yet again) for yellow.  Even though the books all say that yellow is an easy color to achieve with a variety of dye plants, I have a completely different experience.  I find yellow difficult to get.  I first put 2 skeins of 100% merino into the oak dye pot.  It became pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to be yellow.  It was tan.  Even a little brownish.  Bummer.  After leaving in the pot at well below boiling (about 75 degrees C) for an hour, I took it off the heat and let it sit outside in the pot.  No change.  More on this one later.

For the logwood, the dye pot was a lovely reddish color.  I put my 3 skeins into the pot and the color changed and struck immediately to a dark purple!  Wow! The alum really changed the chemistry in the pot and was immediately visible.  I left them in there to cook, at about 85-90 degrees C, for an hour and then let them cool outside.  After they cooled down a bit I hung them up to dry.  I didn’t rinse them yet.

Here’s the pot before putting yarn in:

And here’s the pot with yarn in it:

Then I put in another skein, into the dye pot, to see if there was strength left in the dye.  Wow! A lovely lavender color came out and STILL I think that pot would have produced some great lighter colors.  Unfortunately I was out of yarn and out of time.  I kept the pot around for a few days hoping to have time to play with it again, but I didn’t.  In the warm weather we were having, it started to look a little icky so I ended up dumping it out.  What a shame!

But before I dumped it, I decided to stir it up and throw in one of those tan skeins.  What the heck, right?  I let it sit right down in the bottom of the pot, where the sludge of logwood was, and let it cook for an hour.  Then I left it to sit over night in the pot.  It came out nearly black!  Fabulous!  The logwood just kept giving and giving.

What did I learn from this dye session?  First, logwood is strong.  I could have dyed 5 different shades of purple from that one 200g bag of dust.  Second, yellow is trickier than you think.  I’m happy with the tan/blonde skein that I got, but it aint yellow.  I’m going to try again with Weld and hopefully I WILL end up with a yellow skein.  Third, if you want to get a consistent color, you HAVE to strain the sludge out of the dye pot.  If your skeins are stacked in the pot, the skein on the bottom will get more color.  Either stir them often (which might felt them) or take the time to make a clearer pot, free of heavy color in any one place.  Here are the results…

The photo is a little bit lighter than in real life.  The far left skein is the one that was first tan, then overdyed and is now nearly black.  The middle 3 skeins were the first 3 into the logwood pot.  They are dark purple, and two of them have streaks of black in them too.  Lovely.  The far right skein is the one that was dyed in the pot after the first 3, with leftover dye.  I’m just thrilled with all of them!

And here is the tan/blonde skein.  It’s nice.  I like it.  But it’s not yellow!

Since this dye session I’ve bought some more indigo (the easy kind that only needs a little reducing to work) and weld and the chemicals needed to dye both.  So, yellow, blue, and some overdyeing to make green.  Wish me luck!

Red and Other Colors

Wednesday was dyeing day.  I only had two pots on the stove – one for cochineal and one for fustic.  I was aiming for fuchsia and bright yellow.  I didn’t get either one.  That’s what natural dyeing is all about – surprises and experiments.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I bought all my dye stuff from De Kat windmill the week before.  I’ve also been doing my homework.  Besides looking at online blogs and web sites and reading loads of info on Ravelry, I also have in house these books I used as reference:  Colors from Nature by Jenny Dean, Wild Color also by Jenny Dean, The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing by J. N. Liles, Indigo Madder and Marigold by Trudy van Stralen, and finally Verfreceptenboekje by Atelier Bientje.  Every book and web site has their own recipe.  Just pick what sounds good to you and give it a try.  It’s a lot like cooking.

First I did the mordant work – cooking the yarn in chemicals to get it to accept the dye.  For the fustic I used alum, citric acid and a little cream of tartar.  For the cochineal I used tin and a lot of cream of tartar.  I read that the CoT is a modifier that keeps the tin from turning the yarn brittle and hard.  That worked out well as my yarn is very soft and in excellent condition after dyeing.

While the yarn was cooking in the mordant water (for an hour) I made my cochineal dye bath – or at least started it.  Here is a jar full of ground up bugs:

When the yarn was finished with the mordant I took the skeins out and set them aside to cool off.  I could then use those same two pots to prepare the dye.  I followed my recipes – For the cochineal I used 10% weight of goods, 10% cream of tartar and 2.5% tin.  For the fustic 100% weight of goods only.  I skimmed off the scum from the top of both pots before adding the yarn.  I clearly didn’t filter enough of the wood fiber from the fustic pot as there was a lot left in the yarn when I was finished dyeing.  More on that later.

I rinsed my cooled yarn skeins in plain water, and then lowered them into the dye.  I had 4 skeins for the cochineal (1 100% merino and 3 MCN 80% merino, 10% cashmere 10% nylon) and 2 skeins (100% merino) for the fustic.

As you can see, the cochineal pot is a lovely fuchsia.  I was thrilled with this so far.  The fustic, on the other hand, was not at all what I expected.  Ugh.

This was supposed to be bright yellow!  It looked like mud to me.  Or worse.  Oh well, maybe it would change with cooking.  So I watched the pots closely over the next hour and made sure they stayed just at the simmer level, no boiling, lots of steam.  I had the overhead sucking fan working overtime and the windows open.  The fumes weren’t bad at all.

After an hour I carried the pots outside and had a think about what I saw.

The cochineal dye looked fairly exhausted.  The water around the dye was pretty clear.  The fustic, too, unless you stirred it and then all the sediment would come up.  I decided to take out the cochineal yarn and call it good.  Look how red it came out!  What happened to that lovely fuchsia color of the dye?  I don’t know.  A pH change I’m guessing.

I then had a brain wave.  Why not see what effect the exhaust from the cochineal dye would produce on non-mordanted wool?  Why not see what it would do to that brown fustic yarn? What do I have to loose?  So I quickly soaked my two leftover skeins of 100% merino skeins in plain water for an hour and pulled out ONE of my fustic skeins and rinsed it well.  Then I threw all three of them into the cochineal pot.  The fustic skein took up the red right away, I guess because it was mordanted and the other two were not.  I didn’t let it sit in there too long.  I left the two un-mordanted skeins and the one remaining fustic skein sit in their respective pots until the next day.

Here’s a photo of the first results hanging to dry.  The four on the right are the cochineal skeins and the one on the left is the fustic skein with the cochineal exhaust dunk.

The next morning I rinsed all the skeins outside under a faucet and was please to see no dye runoff at all.  This gave me the courage to wash them in my washing machine, wool cycle, to get any remaining residue out.  This worked out great and all the fustic wood pieces easily washed out.  All the bug carcasses too.  Here are my results after everything was washed and dried.

First, the MCN yarn with cochineal.  Super duper RED.  If you look REALLY closely, you can see slightly where the nylon part of the yarn didn’t dye as deeply.  This only adds depth to the color I think.

Second, the 100% merino skein.  Perfect sold RED.

Now, when you see the results of the cochineal exhaust dye you are going to laugh.  Please don’t laugh too hard.

Yes, they are a tangled mess.  There’s a reason for this.  Remember, I decided at the last minute to throw them into the dye pot.  Because it was last minute, I completely forgot how these were delivered from the shop – with ties so tight that dye couldn’t reach the yarn.  For all the other skeins I spent 20 minutes the night before re-tieing everything more loosely so that the dye could reach everywhere.  An hour after I threw these pink ones into the pot I went to check them.  When I pulled them up I could see clearly that they were completely white under the tie places.  I grabbed my scissors and cut the ties and dropped them back in.  It was too late to tie new ones.  Oh well.  At least they are evenly dyed after sitting in the pot all night.  I’ll just have to spend a few evenings winding them into balls while watching tv.

Now the fustic.  Here’s the one with only fustic, which sat in the pot over night.

It’s a nice light golden brown.  It’s not a color I wear, but it’s a nice color all the same.  Warm.

And here’s the one dyed in fustic, then dunked in the cochineal exhaust.

Isn’t it interesting?  The combination of red and brown makes a kind of weird salmon color.  I like it.  DB saw it and didn’t like it at all.  It’s not to everyone’s taste.  As my mom would say, “it’s different”.  Here are the two together so you can see the combination.

And here is the entire lot.  800 grams, in 8 skeins, all fingering weight.  Just waiting to become something even more beautiful.

 

Pimp My Clothes

Last Wednesday I spent the day at DIY Textile School playing with paints and fabrics and threads.  I decided I wanted to pimp some shirts.  Here’s what I made.

I used techniques I learned in the Mixed Media class to dye these 3 shirts.  I let them sit in the dye overnight in zip lock bags and then rinsed them out the next morning.  Here they are drying in the garden.

So, from left to right…. first the long sleeved t-shirt.  It started out white.  I rolled up the sleeves and put rubber bands around them.  Then I folded the body, rolled it up as tightly as I could and put rubber bands around that.  I then dipped it into some purple dye all around the edges and stuffed it into the plastic bag.  Here is the result:

I think it looks like some kind of weird alien x-ray!  Cool, right?

Then the yellow tank top.  I bought it at the HEMA.  It was a solid bright yellow.  I spun it into a spiral shape and put rubber bands criss crossed over it.  I poured red dye into the center and dabbed dark blue dye (which turned pine green with the yellow fabric) around the edges.  Results…

Yay! Hippie tie-dye bright shirt! I love it.

Finally, this kind of beach cover up dress.  It started life as dull beige.  Who wants dull beige?  Not me.  So I dyed it in purple, spirals again, one below the other.  As I type this post I’m wearing this dress now.  It’s not as bright as I really wanted, but it will do.

Interesting how the red split from the blue in places.  I mixed red and blue dyes together myself, in liquid form, but still the red broke away.  I like it.  Now, as long as our heatwave keeps up I’ll be wearing this dress a lot.

It’s super easy to do!  Go on, give it a try!

I’ve spent today dyeing yarns.  That blog post will be coming up on Friday.  More beautiful colors to show you!

Of Windmills and Color

Yesterday G. and I rode our bikes to the Zaanse Schans to buy dyes for dyeing yarn and fabric.  It was a glorious day!

I suggested going to the windmill De Kat to buy these dyes because I knew the weather would be nice.  G. suggested going by bike, which made me gulp and exclaim “bike!?”.  I’d never biked that far in my life and was a little nervous about it.  Silly me.  It was great.

We met part way there because she lives in Amsterdam and me in Haarlem.  We met at bike route point #11, which is where one of the many ferries takes cars and bikes across the North Sea Canal.  She had mapped the whole thing out using “Fiets!” app, which also has a web site where you can see your routes and upload and download them.  Luckily, here in NL, the country is crisscrossed by numbered and marked bike routes.  My route yesterday was this:

We biked through small towns and past fields of sheep and ponds with ducks and geese.  We got a little bit lost in Zaandam because there wasn’t a sign where we should have made a left turn.  It’s times like that that I’m happy to have GPS on my phone!  We were soon back on course.  We biked past not one, but TWO chocolate factories which smelled so strong it was almost (but not quite) sickening.  We can smell the chocolate in Amsterdam and Haarlem when the wind is right.

G. couldn’t believe I’d never been to Zaanse Schans before.  I live with a Dutchman.  Why would he want to relive his school trips with me?  I feel bad that I didn’t go there with my mom when she was here.  I just didn’t know how nice it was.  And how close to home.

We only went to the one windmill, De Kat, because we were on a mission to buy dyeing stuff, and because we didn’t want to get home too late in the afternoon.  There were tourists, but it wasn’t super crowded.  We climbed up the stairs to the middle layer of the mill, where the works are inside and the walkway is outside.

There’s a small gift shop and we asked where we would buy the dyes.  The woman said “oh you have to get Piet to take you to the back room”.  Piet was dressed in traditional clothes, including wooden shoes, and carried his bone pipe with him.   He took us through the door marked “Private”, into a fantastic room filled with magic powders.

Nearly all of the products they sell are for making your own paints.  Only a very small part of it, just one “bookcase” was for fabric and wool dyes.  That’s ok.  It’s enough for us to play with!  Isn’t this a fantastic place?

G. wanted a photo with Piet to send to her mom.  Here it is.  Very sweet.

I bought more stuff than I was planning on buying.  I couldn’t resist.  I bought cochineal which is very expensive.  I’ve never dyed with it before so I’m looking forward to playing with that.  Logwood, which I have used before.  Fustic and woad, which are new to me.  I also bought some chemicals for mordants and modifiers – alum and iron and potash.  I was looking for copper for a modifier, but they didn’t have it and I suspect you can’t buy it anymore because it is dangerous to use.  Just as well I couldn’t get it.  I also bought a sweet little book of recipes which included bits of yarn as samples.

We had a quick sandwich in the area and hopped back on our bikes to head home.  G. left me at Zaandam to head to Amsterdam and I pedaled back the way I had come.  I have to say, by the time I reached the ferry I was pooped!  Still 8km to go.  When I was on the ferry you could see in the distance a big cruise ship coming up the canal heading for Amsterdam.  I stopped on the other side and took a few photos of it.  I wanted to include the boat watchers.  I found it really funny that people would drive to this point, get out their chairs and picnic stuff and hang out watching boats come and go on the canal.  Plane spotters and train spotters and now boat spotters.  Takes all kinds.

I biked 40km (24 miles) in total yesterday.  When I got home at around 3pm I put my head under the kitchen faucet and ran cold water.  The farthest I’d ever biked before was 20km to the beach and back.  This was twice as far.  I felt really tired but really good.  Today my legs feel tired, but not sore and not nearly as bad as I was expecting.  I even went to knit night last night in Amsterdam and BIKED to the train station!

I complain a lot lately about getting older and how my body is changing.  I don’t like it.  Not at all.  Getting old sucks.  Pains popping up where there weren’t any last week.  Swollen fingers and sleepless nights.  And then I go for a bike ride like this and I count my blessing over and over again.  I’m so happy I can do this.  Getting old sucks, but getting old in style is pretty ok.

p.s. If you want to know how to change the direction that a windmill is facing, you can find out HERE.

Playing With Paint and Fabrics

I’ve had two more Friday Mixed Media classes at DIY Textile School so I have some photos to show you.  These past two classes we put paint onto fabric, and then learned how to take color out of fabric.  For example, here are two screen prints made with the same screen.  The one on the left was printed with silver fabric paint.  The one on the right was printed with homemade color remover.  I love them both!

We actually made the screens ourselves using photos or drawings that we brought to class.  I used a photo of a lace shawl that I knitted for my mom, with a little editing in Photoshop.

We also made our own stamps and stamped paint onto fabric.  This one started out life as a cleanup rag during the first class!  I stamped my self made stamp on it and I think it’s pretty cool just like it is.

During this past class we also made a fabric collage.  The idea during all these classes is to learn to use the different techniques and not worry so much about what you actually produce.  But of course we want to make something we like!  We can’t help ourselves.  Here are our collages, with Ginni giving us some hints and critiques about what we’d made.

Mine is the second from the left on the bottom row.  See the little purple flowered fabric in the bottom right corner of mine?  That fabric has a little story.  Before DIY Textile School was in its present location, I went to see Ginni on a “sewing night” at her old place where she first started having classes.  I had to cut out fabric for a dress that I was making to wear to my niece’s wedding.  I used Ginni’s big tables to cut it all out and I gave her the leftover fabric to use in her class.  I had forgotten all about it.  It was 4 years ago after all!  Well, I was rummaging through Ginni’s bins of fabric scraps to find something for this collage and I came across my own fabric! It was so funny!  What memories it brought back – of cutting the fabric, sewing the garment, going to the wedding, M&J now.  I had to use it in this collage.

We have only one more class in this course, which is a little bit sad.  I want more!  I guess I’ll have to sign up for more!  If you want to play with fabrics and paints and stamps and screens and photos and stuff, go check out the school web site and sign up for something.

Estonia

It seems like ages ago that I was in Estonia, but it was actually just a month ago.  I don’t know where the time goes.  I do realize that I’m a terrible travel writer if a whole month has gone by and I still haven’t written about this trip.  I have uploaded 488 photos to flickr but haven’t put names or labels to them, nor have I edited any of them.  It is such a daunting task! Maybe you will enjoy them in their raw uploadedness.  I had a hard time deciding what the header image for this post should be, but finally decided that this one captures the trip for me – knitting, wool, outdoors, rustic and natural, friendly and fun.  This photo was taken at the yearly Heimtali Fair.

I went to Estonia to participate in the International Conference: Traditional Knitted Sweaters around the Baltic Sea.  When I say “participate” I really mean be there and watch and listen and learn.  It was not a big event.  I’m guessing only about 200 – 250 people attended.  Those who gave presentations were from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and the Shetland Islands.  There were people in the audience, like our little group, from the Netherlands, German, Denmark, and I think Latvia.  I felt privileged to be there among these dedicated, serious scholars and artists.  There were of course those who came who weren’t so serious, and just enjoyed being at the event.

I have so many photos of lovely Estonia, but I will leave you to look through them on flickr (see link above) and will just show you one or two photos of each part of the trip.  Keep it short and sweet.

J. and I traveled together and arrived in Tallinn Wednesday before the event.  The weather was cool but sunny and we walked around the Old Town.  It’s beautiful and extremely well maintained, in a sort of Disney-ish way, but still it is a working city center.  There are foreign consulates here, and museums, and offices in these old buildings.  They do cater to the tourist (huge cruise ships dock each day, spewing out tourists with cameras around their necks), but in the evenings when the tourists have gone back to their cruise ship, the locals come out to party in the pubs.

Dutch Embassy

On Thursday all the travelers who needed a ride from Tallinn to the event in Viljandi met up to get on the tour bus organized for us.  There were the other Dutchies, plus some others from Sweden, Norway and Finland.  We drove through the lovely countryside for two hours and then were dropped off at our accommodation.  Everything was so well organized!  Buses were always waiting for us at the right time to get us to the right place, all during the 3 day event.  It was flawless and took all the stress out of travel in a foreign country.

J & I stayed in the place farthest away from the town, in little houses in the woods.  It was charming and perfect.

We barely had time to drop our bags and grab a bite to eat (above photo) when we were hustled onto the bus, back to town, for the fashion show.  This was a show put on by the Viljandi Culture Academy students.  There were more than 50 students modeling their work, walking the runway to music that was also pretty amazing.  It was live streamed that evening too!  At this Academy students study textiles, woodworking or metalworking.  It was so impressive.

I took loads of photos, but from my angle sitting on the floor, they just don’t do the show justice.  HERE are some of the professional photos taken that night.  Since it was live streamed I was hoping to find a video of it somewhere so you could hear the music and see how they danced down the runway, but alas, I can’t find one anywhere.

After the show we walked to a small museum in the town and had dinner outside.  Just us and the mosquitos.

The next morning we were taken by bus to a building on the main street that had an auditorium – main stage with the room below filled with chairs.  The day was spent watching and listening to experts talk about the history of knitted sweaters in their country.  They were historians and artists, known for their research and writing.  It made me sad that I don’t come from a place with such deep traditions in fiber arts.  Even my adopted country has scant to show for knitting traditions.  We have a few fisherman’s sweaters and hats, which we most likely copied from our neighbors further north.  But the Scandinavians and Baltic cousins!  They are not only rich in history, but they also continue to value these skills and knowledge and support it so it will continue.  In the U.S., if it don’t turn a profit, it ain’t worth saving, and therefore much of value is lost and forgotten.

Friday night we had dinner in what was built as a German Baron’s summer house.  It is now a school building, in yet another school for traditional arts outside of Viljandi.  We were also entertained by traditional Estonian musicians.

The conference has been held in Estonia for the past 3 years.  It will now move to Finland for the next 3 years.  This was officially announced after dinner.  There was also a handing over of a very long knitted piece, the story behind which was kind of explained, but went a little past me.  I think you had to be in the In Crowd to know what that was about.

When we got back to our little cabin in the woods on Friday evening, our neighbors from Norway invited us to sit outside and drink some wine for a while.  What a nice night that was!  It was Norway’s National Day so they were ready to celebrate and sing songs and eat and drink.

The next morning we packed up and loaded up in the bus, heading to Heimtali Fair and Museum.  First we heard a short talk by Anu Raud and saw slides of her work, then there were talks by our presenters about where their inspiration comes from.  I wish I had been able to see Anu Raud’s work in person – her murals look amazing – but they are currently in a museum in another town.

After these talks we were free to wander around the small fair, spend some money, eat some lunch, and watch the walking knitting tag team competition!

There were lots of tables with things for sale made from wood, metal, and lots and lots of wool.  Later on there were dances by little girls in costumes.  As you can see, the sun was shining and it was so hot we searched for shade to sit in.  I did buy some yarn here.  I couldn’t resist.  It was such a bargain!  A sweater’s worth of yarn for less than 15 euros!

The afternoon came all too soon and we piled back onto the bus and headed back north to Tallinn.  J and I spent the night there and visited the Old Town again on Sunday – out last chance to shop and look around.  We visited a shop that we had heard about over the weekend.  We met the mother of the woman who designs all the clothing in this shop.  This photo isn’t the designer (she was sick) but this shop keeper was so friendly and helpful even when we didn’t buy anything.  They also had a bicycle covered in knitting in the big front window.  Who could resist going in?

And that was Estonia in a nutshell!  It was a wonderful trip and I’d really like to go back again.  The people are all very friendly, it’s beautiful, the food was excellent in the restaurants we went to, and the prices are much much cheaper than Amsterdam.  We were lucky with the weather too – while it was cold and awful in Amsterdam, it was warm and sunny here.  That and all the knitting – kind of a little paradise.