Souvenirs from Lithuania

My father travelled to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on the other side of the continent from us, and asked if there was anything wool-related he could bring back for me.
Yes there is!

Lithuania has a a strong knitting tradition just like many of its neighbouring countries do (Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Russia). Each country has handknits that are characteristic of that particular country.

For Vilnius they are:

  1. beaded wrist cuffs, called Riešinės in Lithuanian.
  2. Women from the region producing hand knits and selling them in little market stalls in the capital.
  3. yarn from local sheep spun in local spinneries.

My dad got me all three of them!

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Something else Lithuania is known for is an interest in linen. Both for spinning and for garments. And knitting with unspun wool.

The cuffs, the Riešinės, are impressive!
lithuanian knits
They are knit sideways, on small needles. One has a slit for the thumb, the purple one has not.

Somehow the beads only show up on the outer side of the cuff. They are not seen nor felt on the inside, next to the skin. Perhaps because it’s done in garter stitch and the bead is positioned on the outer edge of the stitch.

Riešinės are beautiful things and very worthy of a google or etsy search.
lithuanian beaded cuffs

The socks have an interesting toe:
lithuanian knits
The decreases in the lace pattern are continued right up to the tip.

They will be marvelous to wear coming winter.
lithuanian knits

They use the same heel as we over here in the Netherlands traditionally do. A heel I know as “A Dutch Heel”. It’s wonderful how this technique spans the width of Europe and I wonder if there was any interaction between Lithuanian and Dutch knitters to share this exact same technique.

 the Hansa countries in Europe

Both countries are sea faring nations and were once members of the trans-European travel routes called Hanseatic route with which I bored you once before, pondering pan-european fairy tales. I wonder…

Like in all European cities the interest for knitting is soaring in Vilnius and my father found various signs of modern interest:

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The yarn he got at another shop, the Woolhouse, which is the biggest yarn shop in Vilnius.Address: Universiteto st. 10 ,Vilnius , post code LT-01122

It’s run by LitWool who also runs the spin plants that process Lithuanian wool. They have an online shop too. 

They have all those specific natural colours that, up until now, I only knew from the Shetland breed. It’s logical though that all traditional land breeds have this variety of colours:
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My dad got me four skeins; a warm ceam, a wool white, a fawn and a heathered grey:

These yarns contain spinning oil, added at the factory to facilitate making it into a thread. Most yarns from European sources contain spinning oil: Kauni, Letland yarns, Estland yarnd, Shetland yarns, Donegal yarns.

I wash my skeins before I use the yarn because this spinning oil affects me. I am weirdly sensitive to these mineral/vegetable oils, they somehow act like caffein to my system. I get them on my hands, then I touch my eyes or face and next thing I know I lie wide awake at night. It’s a weird thing but it’s a true thing. These oils spike the adrenergic neurotransmitters of the Sympathetic Neurosystem of which I have an easily excitably bunch who partake in a long afterparty.

I can handle the oiled yarns just fine for skeining and washing but I need to wash my hands afterwards. It also makes me aware how often I touch my face without thinking about it.

Washing is done with hot water and wool soap or dish detergent:

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Add a splash of vinegar to the last rinsing water to neutralize the pH to the value wool likes.

The yarn blooms up wonderfully! Still wet:

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I’d like to combine it in colourwork I think. A tea cosy perhaps?

Oops! The heathered grey has a lot of kemp in it. These are upper hairs that are for strength and transporting raindrops away from the skin. The skein is still wet:

Kemp hairs make for scratchy itchy sturdy yarn.

Ewww, the hairs are not secured in the yarn. A lot of them came loose during washing:

Ugh. Because I washed all four skeins together the black kemp hairs got all over and into the other skeins:

The skeins are dry now and I just spend an hour picking out all these hairs from the three remaining skeins. An hour is about as long as it takes for these photos to upload, out here at the cabin, so that was an appropriate wool blog task.

Now dreaming about what to make with these yarns.

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One thought on “Souvenirs from Lithuania

  1. How sweet of your father. Everything is so pretty, esp. the white socks ❤️. What a shame, those kemp hairs. On the other hand I think that it proves that we West-Europeans have become spoilt and picky and we are ready to discard things with imperfections while in other places they are valued, too.
    Have fun knitting and wearing your new things.

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