Haapsalu Lace is World Famous, Come Learn with the Best

Haapsalu Lace Knitting Tour started with four wonderful eager ladies, who all are very fond of lace knitting.
After checking in Fra Mare Spa Hotel and dinner we had a visit planned. And not an ordinary visit, but we were invited to lace knitting master Helin Põldve’s home.
It was like entering a lace paradise. She had set up a huge scarf on the stretching rack for us to see. Then she started pulling different color shawls and scarves out of a box like a magician. All the patterns are original designs by herself. She had swans and doves and lily of the valley. Some were inspired from nature, some again from the traditional heritage. She is deeply touched by the situation in Ukraine, so designing and knitting peace doves was her salvation.
Thank you so much, Helin, for showing us your wonder world.

This morning we went to Haapsalu Lace Centre to start learning how to knit like local masters. Siiri Reimann, who is a great knitting teacher and designer, was going to guide us through this process of Haapsalu lace shawl making.
The shawl consists of two parts, the centerpiece and the edging, which is later sewn onto the center piece. Then we’re going to block it and it’s done! We are, of course making a tiny sample, size of a sheet of paper. But regardless, it’s a lot of work and many hours.
The Lace center itself is a very inspiring place because its museum room displays just grand items and the shop side is full of elegant, fine lace work.
Our group is very advanced, so everybody is progressing quite rapidly. We were given a homework today to finish the edging. So tomorrow after a nice city tour we might start the sewing-on process.
And of course, I have to mention that the lunch at Dietrich was delicious. I recommend that place when you are in a vicinity.

When I met our participants over the breakfast table I heard that most of them had a very long night. They finished the homework and got the edging done. Congratulations! Our teacher Siiri will be really pleased.
For the Haapsalu town tour by Helin Põldve we gathered at the train station to learn that the beautiful building was finished in 1905 and in order to celebrate Russian czar visit they built a magnificent 260 m roofed platform, which is still the longest one in Europe.
Then we strolled on chocolate promenade and admired the waterfront and luxury homes. Out tour ended in the museum, where we got lucky to see some old and some new festive gowns.
A Greece Restaurant served us some taste food. Although yesterdays cakes were so unforgettable, we had to go back to Dietrich for some more.
During the afternoon knitting class we learned how to sew the edging to the centerpiece. We used a lot of stitch markers, counting, and some logic, also a really long needle and plenty of yarn to make a VERY stretchy seam. Once that was done, the samples went into a wash. Then we pinned them to a cushion to dry.

It is the tradition of a local knitting club to organize a sit together event called Midnight Knitting on Friday before the Lace Festival. People gather, all dressed in white to do handicraft, which mostly is of course, a lace knitting.
As they start quite late 10 PM, it’s dark outside already. The lights are on, the windows are open and people sitting inside a cheering everybody who’s passing by and people walking by curiously look inside and wave! Such a joyful atmosphere, we were so glad to be part of it.

This morning we had our last session with Siiri. We unpinned our samples and the result made us smile. Just pure pleasure and joy to admire what they have accomplished!
Now we needed to do one last step and pick all the outer loops on a wooden knitting needle again, wet it slightly and set aside for couple of hours.
Meanwhile, we had a stack of pattern books to browse through. Everybody needed to find a favorite pattern for the centerpiece and a matching pattern for the edging in order to get started with the actual full size Haapsalu shawl. Siiri helped us to calculate the correct number of stitches for both pieces. The count reached 1,000 ( for the edging 🙂 )
Lunch took us to a veggie restaurant Beguta. Another treasure of Haapsalu dining scene. Most of the dishes were vegan, nice clean and healthy tastes. On the afternoon we strolled via an handicraft market and reached the Haapsalu Castle. It was recently renovated and has an exciting new inside. We got lucky with a very funny guide Jaak, who turned out to be the director himself.
Before diving into spa pleasures we got a chance to listen to some nice organ and handbell music in the castle’s cathedral.

What a wonderful day it was today full of great people, a lot of knitting, amazing lace works and a lot of laughing. We gathered in the Lace Center to open the festival. The guests to the event were mostly dressed in lace. What a lovely sight it was!
On midday a new lace knitting pattern-book presentation took place. Helga-Miralda Rüütel is a 93-years old knitting master, who’s 54 lace shawls knitted during the last 10 years are now in a book (and at the exhibition at the center). The fashion show presented us some of the latest works of Haapsalu lace masters.
At 1 o’clock started the lace knitting competition. There were two category: advanced and the highest-level. The later is meant for those knitters who have previously won the advanced level competition. Needles, yarn and charts were given out, and the race started. There was two hours to complete the work, stretch it and pin it to the board. This year they had a record number of participants: 36 knitters, eight of which were at the highest level.
What a great experience! Thank you so much, dear Lace Center knitters.

Hiiumaa is the second largest island in Estonia. It has probably more sheep living there than people. Therefore local wool yarn is used and sold in many places and you can find lots of beautiful
products made out of it.
First, we visited an old wool mill Hiiu Villavabrik. Unfortunately, they had a maintenance day so we couldn’t observe them working. Then we continued to an organic farm Lepaniidi Mahetalu, growing goats and sheep and vegetables. As it was raining, the goats prefer to stay inside and we had a great opportunity to pet them. We left that place with loads of local yarn.
Kärdla is the capital town of the islands where we found many wonderful handicraft stores. Also visited the Long House Museum (Pikk Maja), which used to be the director’s living quarters and offices during the great wool fabric manufacture time.
The weather outside got fiercer and windier. During our lunch hour, we ate in the Roograhu harbor, watching waves crash the piers.
Afternoon brought us a workshop by Heli in her farm house Pähkli talu in the middle of the woods, where we mixed together a body scrub. This is the place where Hiiu Ihuhooldus products are all made: soaps and shower gels, moisturizers, lip balms, etc.
Ferry ride back was again peaceful, sun was setting, and we were tired but happy of the long day on this beautiful island.

It was great to see blue sky and sun as we were getting ready to drive to Lihula to meet local embroidery masters. We got very lucky, the embroidered blankets exhibition was still open for last few days. And that was absolutely amazing. New and old blankets were on the display, as well as some designed clothes and home textiles.
The exhibit and our workshop took place in a 18th century manor house, where they have newly renovated some rooms. This magnificent building is a weekly gathering spot for many clubs and social activities, including Lihula embroiderers and history society.
The manor house itself is located in an ancient 13th century stronghold. There is some history-mystery hidden in Lihula.
We had three teachers who showed us some basic stitches and few tricks. Then we traced the pattern twice on the nice, thick woolen fabric and were ready to choose some colored yarns. We were also taught how to choose colors and compare them against the background.
Thank you, Lihula ladies, we had a fun day with you!

Please let us know of you would like to be part of this celebration: info@nordicknitters.com
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