Saturday, May 25, 2013

Haapsalu - A Lacy, Seaside Town

Haapsalu is a picturesque town located in Western Estonia directly on the water.  It has been a resort town for 150 years and has been visited by royal families and celebrities.  I am staying on the promenade which provides me with a beautiful view, the sounds of water splashing, swans a-swimming, and some fierce winds today.

This is not my hotel but the Haapsalu Kurhaus or Resort Hall where I ate lunch on my first day in town.

But more important than the resort aspect, this little town is known for its lace shawls and scarves - Haapsalu lace is known to many knitters and non-knitters.  With that in mind, I made arrangements to visit the Haapsalu Rätiku Muuseum (Museum of the Haapsalu shawl).  May is not quite tourist season, so hours can be shorter or non-existent.  Aide promised to be at the museum from 11-2 on Friday, so I took an early bus from Tallinn to Haapsalu.  The museum is small but hosts many samples of Haapsalu lace including shawls (rectangular), scarves (square or triangular), and even some dresses that were inspired by the traditional lace.

Knitters familiar with Haapsalu lace may know that 85-year old Linda Elgas is a Haapsalu master knitter.  Besides my museum guide, Aide, there sat Linda Elgas knitting lace at the museum!

In addition to meeting Linda Elgas, I also found a narrow lace scarf knit by Linda Elgas that I purchased for my collection.  It was an unexpected surprise to meet this famous grande dame of Haapsalu lace knitting!

In order to further my Haapsalu lace skills, I met with another famous Haapsalu knitter, Siiri Reimann, who is the author of two large books - The Haapsalu Shawl and The Haapsalu Scarf.  I introduced myself to Siiri through the internet, but met Siiri in person at the Sweater Conference last week.  Today I was able to meet with Siiri for a one-on-one Haapsalu lace knitting class.  She is a delightful person and a wonderful teacher.  The meeting took place in her classroom at the school where she teaches.

I was very happy to spend time with this extremely talented and generous woman.  Now it's time for me to get knitting!

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