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!

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