Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ornamented Journey

A friend in Minnesota recently forwarded a link to a blog she thought was quite wonderful. The blog is written by an Estonian woman, Kristi Joeste, who works at the University of Tartu's Viljandi Culture Academy in the department of Estonian Native Crafts.

Book - Ornamented Journey by Kristi Joesti
Kristi has also published a book called 'Ornamented Journey'.  It is coauthored by a childhood friend, Kristiina Ehin whose background includes studies in folk song, ethnography and folklore. Originally published in Estonian, it has just recently been translated into English.  (I had to order it from the UK, since it hasn't made it to the US yet.)

What is so unique about this book, aside from the fact that it is filled with exquisite photos of both new and traditional Estonian gloves, is that it is filled with stories.  Ehin has written a series of short stories to help us visualize the women that originally knit these gloves and the lives that they lived.  Although it is not filled with knitting 'recipes' for all of the photographed gloves, it does include a section of instructions that will allow the reader to use the instructions along with the photos as a jumping off point for knitting their own gloves.

And so I jumped...or at least I jokingly suggested to some knitting friends that we ought to try making a lovey pair of 120 year old Mulgi mittens with a Russian cross design that Kristi showcased in her May 7, 2011 blog post.

120 year old Estonian mittens
My friends thought that it was a great idea...a new knitting challenge.  The catch was however, that these mittens were knit on 000000 needles...Now I've knit on 0000 needles to make a pair of sjonaleister, a type of Norwegian folk sock last summer (well maybe not the whole pair yet).  They were a challenge to use, but I was shockingly unprepared for the 000000 needles when they came in the mail. Their diameter was not much bigger than a pins diameter.

000000 knitting needles with swatch sitting on a moorit colored shawl that was knit with size 2 needles
I did a tiny swatch of 20 stitches by 10 rows (1 inch x 1/4 inch).  The yarn that seemed to work was a Shetland 1 ply cobweb yarn by Jamieson & Smith.  Too bad my eyes didn't work as well as the yarn did!  At this point I decided that this 120 year old pair of gloves must have been knit by someone with very young eyes.  Mine needed lots of extra magnification to get as far as I did.  I was really impressed that Kristi was able to reproduce this pair - especially since it took her 60 hours to do it.  Somehow, I can't imagine that these were very relaxing hours...

I've decided to head back into her lovely book and find a pair of gloves that can be knit on size 1 needles...they seem like giant needles after my little diversion with the 000000 needles!!!