Saturday, August 16, 2008

Estonian Lace Knitting at GGFI

My afternoons at the GGFi were devoted to learning the art of Estonian lace knitting with Nancy Bush. Nancy is passionate about Estonian lace, but equally passionate about the people, and the country. Sometimes, outsiders adopt the techniques of an art form of a country, without any deep or abiding feeling about the people, culture, or country that produced the art.
I have met many foreigners in Ireland eager to show off their mastery of Irish music on various instruments, who seem to lack passion for the country, its people, and the culture. They seem more interested in showing that they can play the music with more technical perfection than the natives. But in my mind, they fall flat, because they lack passion, and humanity. The Irish are often unimpressed by technical prowess, when the performer fails to also demonstrate a passion for the music.
The antithesis of this kind of cultural tourist, are people who recognize that it is not possible to appreciate the art form without being passionate as well about the people, culture and country that produced them. Nancy Bush is driven to document the history of Estonian lace knitting, and to teach the form to others. She is deeply committed not only to the artform, but to the women who produce it.
During the six days, we worked on three projects, and learned various techniques including : a traditional Haapsalu Sall (shawl) with a “knitting on” lace edge border, an Estonian Lilly of the Valley lace sampler with a sewn-on border, and a small Estonian triangular shawl. The techniques we learned were making nupps (a kind of bobble that can include from 2 to 7 or more stitches), a special triple stitch for K3tog, sewn on borders, a stretchy knitted cast on, and a special Estonian cast off.
Nancy brought many examples of shawls from Estonia. She also brought shawls she had knit for her upcoming book Knitted Lace of Estonia. I won’t include any pictures of these as the book hasn’t come out yet. It is due in October.

It took me time to master the techniques, so day one of any project, I made many mistakes. But by day two on the project, I was beginning to master the knitting, and feeling good. Some of my classmates were frustrated, but they also persevered and managed to finally produce. I haven’t blocked my projects yet, but should do it soon, and take pictures.

I bought 2 skeins of Darlene’s new Nature’s Palette lace weight silk and merino yarn in white. It is 660 yards, and 30% silk and 70% merino to make the Estonian Triangular Summer Shawl in the current (summer 08) issue of Piecework.


Guaria del Bosque said...
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Guaria del Bosque said...

How exciting! I am currently working on my first Estonian lace shawl designed by Nancy Bush. I say ‘first’ because I’m sure there will be others. Since I’m only an advanced beginner when it comes to lace, it will be a while before I feel brave enough to take one of her workshops. I’m anxious to hear about your experiences and to see what you knit there!