September 20, 2009

knitted lace of Estonia - Haapsalu shawl, part 1

Estonia has a long history of knitting and is home to some of the oldest knitted artefacts in Northern Europe, dating from the end of the XIII century. On the west coast of Estonia is the resort town of Haapsalu, famous for its thirteenth-century castle ruins, curative mud baths, and pleasant beaches. From the early XVIII century until 1918, when Russia ruled Estonia, it was during this period that Haapsalu became a destination for tourists and a flourishing resort town. The women of Haapsalu, being industrious and creative, began a cottage industry of knitting lace shawls that has continued into the XXI century.
The Estonians had no written instructions for their patterns - the techniques and designs were handed down from one generation to the next. Stitch patterns were preserved on long knitted samplers or on individual sample pieces. The knitter would study the sample and decipher the pattern without the aid of charts or written instructions.

This book is the first one with detailed instructions of techniques and patterns. In Estonia a true Haapsalu shawls (square, triangular and rectangular shawls) are made with openwork lace patterns, and if there is a lacy edge, it is always knitted separately and sewn to the completed center section by hand.

The Haapsalu shawl is so very lacy and thin that it is possible to drag a shawl through a ring.

Why I had written so much about Haapsalu shawl? Because I was started knitting the one :)

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  1. Thanks for the information on the history of this shawl. My grandmother had a sampler of different knitted stitches she used as a reference. I'm glad to know that some of the patterns are being written down. Knowing what beautiful work you do, I'm sure your shawl will be wonderful. Lidia

  2. Thanks, Lidia. I hope that I will necessarily finish this project.


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