Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Estonian Craft Camp - Mulgi Embroidery

The second Workshop at Estonian Craft Camp was Mulgi embroidery. Mulgi is a region of southern Estonia, on the border with Latvia. The region has a distinct style of dress, handicrafts, and language. 

People in the area have long worn richly embroidered pieces, and each symbol is full of meaning and history. The base is usually felted wool, and wool threads are used. The traditional colors are red, blue, green, and yellow, on a neutral background.

The main motifs are Circles - the earth, the sun wheel, the cosmos; Crosses - balance and relationships; Tree of Life - fertility; and the Rose - different number of petals have different significance.
Our project is a game of tic-tac-toe, perfect since the common motifs are either round, or crossed!

The color pallette was a bit more expanded, to fit modern taste. But I still wanted to stay somewhat true to the origins! Many of these threads were salvaged from old knitwear, still a bit kinky and some knots in it. There were beads available too, very traditional with metal disc and the like.
During the workshop I was only able to complete eight of ten pieces during the workshop. Hopefully I will get to the board and the final two circles soon...  I used reds and yellows for the circles, and blues and greens for the crosses. The stitches are all simple - outline stitch, blanket stitch, and some french knots.
I purchased, on the trip, some embroidery wool dyed with plants, in the colors used for Mulgi style work. I'm not sure what sort of project I will use them for, felted bags? Shawl? The rich symbolism offers so many possibilities!

More posts on Estonia, Finland, and the experience at craft camp to come in future weeks!

You too, gentle reader, could enjoy the culture and craftiness of Estonia!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Old Towne Tallinn, Estonia - Mindfully Medieval!

We arrived in Tallinn on the Ferry, and a short walk later arrived at our guest house on the main square of Old Town! In 1050 a fortress was built here, and over the next few centuries a progression of castles, fortress walls, churches, and grand buildings were constructed on this hill overlooking the Gulf of Finland.
Street merchants in the shadow of a medieval wall.

Ornate buildings, both old and new, are the norm in Tallinn.

The view of the parliament buildings and Premiere's house from outside the walls. That red glow is from the slowly setting sun right after Midsummer.

Much of the old moats remain, and are now a band of parks around the center of town.

No biggy, just some huge medieval castle towers. It looks like people might live there...? Also, all this photos are taken after 10:30 at night. It never really got very dark.

Orthodox church from the Russian years. Since it was first a town, Tallinn has been run by Danes, Germans, Russians, and only in recent years, the Estonians themselves. It still has a huge Russian population, many of whom reject Estonian citizenship.

The full moon over the lively town square. Almost Midnight, and the sky isn't quite dark! What a lovely spot!