Saturday, August 2, 2014

Estonian Craft Camp - I'd Sign Up All Over Again

Estonian Craft Camp 2014 - what a great experience!  60 students from Norway, Finland, Sweden, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Estonia participated in the craft camp.  An article in the local Viljandi newspaper, Sakala, reported that the craft camp students were returning home with Estonian culture.  The craft camp organizers quipped, "I hope they leave some of our culture here in Estonia."  I was so excited to see my picture in the newspaper that I had to pick up a copy to bring home with me.

Well, there's plenty of handicraft culture still left in Estonia, but we had wonderful learning experiences with our Estonian instructors and great camaraderie with the various international students who were all interested in handicrafts and learning traditional techniques to incorporate in some way into our own lives.

There were many class offerings and each student could choose 3 classes.  I chose all fiber-related classes but there were other offerings as well - working with ceramics, birch bark, glass, or bone.

My classes:

Wristwarmers from Muhu Island and a distinctive diagonal cuff were knitting techniques taught by Kristi Jõeste.  Don't you love that Muhu pink?

Bountiful Decorations was taught by 3 lovely ladies - Liina, Liina, and Annika, each with their own specialty and focused on a different area of the country - from Muhu, Mulgi, and Setu.  I learned some embroidery techniques and how to work multi-colored crochet.

Plaited Ribbons was a hand-weaving/braiding class taught by Mari and Helve. 

I met these ladies last year at the Heimtali museum and had an impromptu mini lesson on hand-braiding at the time.  I came home with an Estonian book on braiding (17 Kirrivat Paela) and I experimented a little bit with the techniques.  Mari and Helve remembered me from our brief meeting last year and I was able to jump right into an intermediate project and completed some wonderful Kihnu-style key chains with these fabulous fabric tassels!  So fun!

Our classes took place at the Olustvere technical school and on the grounds of the Olustvere manor (in the distillery, in the pit house, and at the horse stables).  Olustvere is just 21 km (13 miles) from Viljandi.  Dorm facilities were available just across the lane from the school and a short walk took us to the cafeteria where all meals were served, except a special farewell dinner on Thursday evening which was served in the elegant manor house.  The organizers and coordinators could not have been more helpful.  They went out of their way to accommodate all requests - from food to Wi-Fi access to an evening sauna and more.  The Viljandi Culture Academy looks forward to hosting more craft camps in the future and I'd love to return!

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