Amazing Seto Culture and Handicraft – See the Local Life

This year’s Seto handicraft tour started on August 1st, 2023. We had 12 wonderful people all over the world coming to learn some very special Seto traditional craft techniques. I am so happy to welcome Australian Estonians, and Estonian lady from the United States, we have people from Austria, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands.
On the first day we visited the Estonia National Museum in Tartu. It is an amazing high-tech, modern museum, one-of-a-kind, showing and preserving the every day lives of Estonian people.
We also had a nice lunch in their restaurant.
On the second day we started with the workshops. In the morning singing mother, handicraft master and school teacher Maret Vabarna walked us through the slightly complicated process of setting up tablets for weaving. Belts woven with tablets are quite common in Seto clothing. Once we got it all set up it was pure joy to weave and see the belts growing.
Afternoon brought us some embroidering excitement. Seto kingdom master Marje Linnus showed us how to embroider traditional Seto square stitch. It is very important that it’s done in one long stretch without covering anything double, and that the work will look the same beautiful on both sides.
I was happy to hear that our participants rented bicycles last night and checked out the vicinity. Also, the spa was very popular.

Buss took us to Saatserinna corner of Setomaa in the morning. There is a beautiful handicraft farmhouse in Litvina village called Kriisa talo whose owner is Kala Ingrit.
We spent the whole day there, doing crafts, and enjoying gourmet food picked fresh from the garden.
Our first workshop was learning the seto colorful, crocheted lace. Our teacher Vabarna Jane first showed us all these beautiful works she has done over the years. She started crocheting when she was 16 years old and since then she’s been crocheting master and contest winner for many years.
In order to get a fine result, you need to use a really thin yarn and tiny needle size one.
My students were all really eager. I’m so proud of them that they did not switch to an easier bigger needle size and thicker yarn.
Before lunch our hostess Ingrit showed us how to make local cheese called sõir. This was our appetizer followed by delicious dish she made.
Afternoon workshop was about doll making. In order to understand all the different pieces and details on seto woman’s traditional clothing we made a doll fully equipped with all these important things, instructed by Ingrit.
Dinner was served by the local gourmet restaurant Maagõkõnõ. Once again, vegetables from their own garden and fresh pike from nearby lake Peipus.

Today we learned how to make a sprang belt. Our teacher Marit Külv is very skillful and knowledgeable, she has done her university thesis on the topic.
In the beginning, we got the historic overview of this really ancient technique. Then we started warping – it is the trickiest part of the process. The twisting afterwards is very enjoyable.
For lunch, Seto Museum’s Tsäimaja served us some delicious slow oven-cook lamb.
We spent the afternoon inspecting and researching the old textiles what they keep at the museum, and then we had a guided tour at the old farmhouse complex.
A nice walk to the holy spring finished our day.

It was a glorious day, full of joy, singing, dancing, beautiful traditional clothing, good food, and great company.
Here is a gallery of some moments I captured with my camera. As the village is located on the water, you could come here and leave with the boat – that was just so very cool. There were a lot of contests on different foods and drinks, handicrafts, singing, and dancing.
New queen for Seto was elected and the military parade celebrated this event.

Please let us know of you would like to be part of this celebration:

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By |2023-09-12T15:28:49+00:00September 12th, 2023|Nordic Knitters|0 Comments

Learning Old Võru County Handicraft: Linen Work and Spinning in Southern ESTONIA

DAY1: today started the Handicraft Tour to Old Võru County in Estonia. What a pleasure to see old friends again and make some new friends. We stopped for lunch in Tartu and I had a little walking tour there. Then we continued to Võru Kubija Hotel and Nature Spa. Had our first handicraft workshop on honey comb knitting. The evening most probably brings more knitting and a lot of joy in a good company of similar minded cool people. Not to forget the dinner and some spa treatments.

DAY2: our handicraft tour took us to Rõuge today. But first we stopped at the local museum and heard about Võru history, language and textiles of course. Then we had a hike in the woods which took us to the only canyon in Estonian in Hinni. The spring water was really tasty and refreshing but the mosquitoes were vicious. In Rõuge we got lucky and we were the first visitors of the season in the local handicraft store. Before lunch we also visited Ööbikuorg and we’re fascinated by the perpetum mobile water pumps vesioinas. The lunch at Ööbikuoru villa was delicious and their premises so very beautiful located between three lakes. The afternoon brought us the workshop of sprang belt weaving. Marit Kylv is a great teacher and everybody ended up liking the difficult technique.

DAY3: today we visited the Estonian national museum in Tartu. It really is an amazing museum and every time I go there is something new. I like that it really focuses on every day life of simple men and women, today and yesterday and hundred years ago.

DAY4: today was flax to linen day. Thanks to Margit Pensa and Marit Külv as our wonderful knowledgeable skillful teachers we learned all the tricks how to turn a stiff dried flex stem into silky material. We used all the old tools from beautiful Karilatsi Põlva Talurahva Muuseum, also drop spindles and spinning wheels to create linen yarn. We also toured on the museum premises and were served tasty lunch by Taevaskoja caterers. To finish the day we took a nice hike to see natural wonders in Taevaskoja.

DAY5: today we had two workshops and therefore had no time to drive around, stayed put at the Kubija hotel. Our main topic of the day was the inlay knitting. It is called Roosimine in Estonian and is very widely used in Tõstamaa area in Western Estonia. We also had a workshop on cyanotype printing. As the hotel is located in the middle of the woods it was great source of plant material to be used. We each arranged a beautiful setting, placed it on the prepared textile, put a glass sheet on top of it and let it sit in the sun for 10 minutes. The UV rays reacted with a chemical leaving beautiful prints on the textile.
Thank you, Lüüli Kiik for teaching us all the tricks.

THE LAST DAY: our final workshop was on ancient copper spiral decoration. We have seen these findings of Kukruse lady at the national Museum, now we had an opportunity to make one of our own. But at first we strolled through Kreutzwald’s homestead, which is now a museum in Võru, and our teacher of the day Marika Sepp showed us all the fine handicraft items in their household. The workshop was fun: required some logical thinking and a lot of patients but we all succeeded. The next stop is Riga and the annual grand handicraft market at the ethnographic museum!
Bon voyage my friends!
See you next year!

Please read more about the tours here
Welcome to Estonia! More info at

By |2023-07-10T10:19:57+00:00July 10th, 2023|Nordic Knitters|0 Comments

TIMELESSNESS Exhibition is Now In Estonian National Museum in Tartu, ESTONIA

The grand exhibition, consisting of 32 huge balls covered with different handicraft techniques, has traveled to Tartu, to the Estonian National Museum. The museum building itself is a magnificent statue of modern art. It has already collected awards internationally.

Nordic Knitters has also decorated one ball. We have used color-work technique, the exact same method how we knit our mittens and gloves. Knitted with thin needles and thin yarn, we have created 100 little castles. The motifs and symbols are so strong and protective that they can be use as a “weapon” or shield against the evil and harm we are surrounded in nowadays world.

They are also soft and warm like our family and friends giving us the extra power and embracing us in the goodness of everyday life.

The intro by curators Mae Kiviloo and Kaarel Kuusk at the hall says:

“Wait. Stop. Take a moment. You, who you rush through the reality anonymously among thousands of others; the reality where the environment is built in a moment, quickly, effectively and cheaply. Swoosh-woosh ready, bang-bang ready, click-clack ready …

Leave it all behind. You have reached TIMELESSNESS. You are surrounded by the planetarium of handicraft techniques, where each millimeter has been wor ked over. Yarn flowing through fingers, wood bending in hands – these thinking hands belong to 32 masters who have gathered from places all over Estonia. In their works they use hundreds of years old knowledge and skills. This is how the works of this exhibition were made. These works continue the trail of our ancestors’ thoughts using materials that have grown with us. From day to day, from time to time, preserving our personality and identity, ready to meet the ones who come after us.”

Open until January 19, 2019 at ENM (

By |2018-12-17T11:28:56+00:00December 13th, 2018|Nordic Knitters|0 Comments
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