Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Knitter's Guide to Filling Your Shopping Cart in Tallinn

My 2018 trip that included a knitting retreat in Kurzeme, Latvia, began in Tallinn, Estonia. I had friends to visit, bookshops to wander, and museums to explore. Let's talk about the shops. I'm not much of a shopper, but I have my weaknesses: yarn, books, and handicrafts.

We'll start with handicrafts! Handicrafts can mean anything from chintzy trinkets to high-quality products made by master craftsmen or women. There are a number of quality handicraft shops around Tallinn, but my four favorites are all run by the Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union. Each one is unique. The magic words are Eesti Käsitöö which mean "Estonian handicraft." If you don't have much time, start at the shop at Pikk 22. In addition to the main shop, there is a backroom that has a changing exhibit and a lower level with Riina Tomberg's knitwear workshop and a couple of other small workshops.

I've had a knitting workshop on Kihnu mittens with Riina, who is a fabulous teacher and artisan. Riina has written a book titled Vatt, Troi, Vamsa - Knitted Jackets from West-Estonian Islands, which I own. I'm happy to say that my husband and I each own a Riina Tomberg designed sweater. We're fans! I'm always delighted when she is in her workshop and I have a chance to visit with her.

Riina in her workshop

Riina Tomberg Designs

In addition to the Eesti Käsitöö shop at Pikk 22, there are three more locations: Vene 12, Lühike jalg 6a, and Kopli 1 in the Balti Jaama Turg (Train Station Market). You can find additional information at: 

I like to pick up a Handicraft map when I arrive, either from the Tourist Information Center or from one of the Eesti Käsitöö shops. Each year the cover of the map looks different and the shop information is updated. The map includes shop names, addresses, and a description of what products they carry. This is the cover of  a recent map.

Yarn shops, of course, are important. Those who are looking for traditional 8/2 wool yarn for mitten knitting will find it at a number of shops. Each of the four Eesti Käsitöö shops listed above carries some yarn. Other shops that carry yarn in Tallinn include: Jolleri Handicraft Chamber (käsitöökamber) at Müürivahe 11, Alberto at Vana-Viru 11a, Domus Linum at Müürivahe 29, Liann Longad in Viru Keskus (shopping center) at Viru väljak 4/6, and Wool and Woollen at Tartu mnt 60D. For an incredible shopping experience, go to Karnaluks at K. A. Hermanni 1. Karnaluks is a "notions" store carrying knitting needles, buttons, ribbons, yarn, and so much more. The shop is located about 2.4 km (1.5 miles) from the Old Town. You will be overwhelmed, but in a good way! Take a look at their website to get an idea of what they sell:

As I wandered the bookshops of Tallinn, I located some new books that I wanted to pick up:
  • Triangular Knitted Shawls by Siiri Reimann is nicely done with a separate packet of enlarged charts on extra-large paper that pull out of a folder. I purchased this book in Haapsalu.
  • A lovely small book by Siiri Reimann titled How to Knit a Haapsalu Shawl is just 35 pages long in a smaller paperback format. That makes it perfect to carry in your knitting bag for quick reference, as it contains all of the essential information for Haapsalu lace knitting.
  • I already had Aino Praakli's Estonian Mittens All Around the World, but I found her newer book, Estonian Patterns All Around the World, and picked it up.
  • I found and purchased a small 40-page booklet at a museum shop on Estonian National Symbols. You can find a pdf of this booklet on the web at Estonian National Symbols pdf.

My favorite bookshops in Tallinn carry fiber-related books and/or English-language books about Estonia:
  • Rahva raamat has two locations in or near Old Town, one at Pärnu mnt 10, and another in Viru Keskus at Viru väljak 4/6 (shopping mall, 3rd & 4th Floors)
  • Apollo in Solaris shopping center at Estonia pst 9
  • Estonian History Museum Shop in Börsi Käik (Börsi passage is a little one block long walkway)
  • Raamatukoi is a used book store at Harju 1a, right across from Tourist Info, where you might just get lucky and find a special treasure
And then there are shops selling food. Sometimes for lunch, I'm just looking for something quick and light. I'm busy wandering around and don't want to take the time to sit down for a meal. I'm looking for a grocery store to pick up some yogurt and fruit (and chocolate). Two of the most common grocery stores that I have seen are Rimi and Selver. Keep a lookout - you'll easily find them. As for chocolate, you'll find the Estonian brand Kalev. Although my go-to flavor is milk chocolate (or dark chocolate) with chopped hazelnuts, a friend introduced me to white chocolate with rice crisp and blueberry, and it was delightful. I'll definitely have that flavor again!


  1. Lovely Riina... Thank you for introducing Riina's and featuring her workshop..
    I am so glad that I will have a workshop by her at the Craft Camp!

    Cheers, Connie Wockensollr

  2. Thanks for your comment. As you know, Riina is a great teacher and you will surely have another wonderful time at Craft Camp. Enjoy!
    Mary G

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