A Latvian Break (Remembrance of a Summer Past)

This is insane. It seems like only a few weeks ago, I was enjoying magnificent summer holidays in Latvia, full of woolly findings, ideas and projects, with the firm intention of sharing all those wonders here.
But months have passed, work has reasserted its rights on my days, not much knitting has been done, and my Latvian break has gone to that special place summery memories go… For the record, and not just nostalgia’s sake, here are a few highlights of a linen- amber- and wool-laden trip:

In Old City Rīga (Vecrīga), at the Hobbywool yarn store, I bought some wool and the authoritative book by Maruta Grasmane on Latvian mittens (see patterns here).

In the charming little town of Kuldīga, in a small store which sold mainly Russian commercial yarn, I bought two skeins of beautiful blue Latvian wool on sale in an old box lying on the floor. In Liepāja, at the Saiva Applied Arts Studio, I found the perfect buttons for my Streymoy cardigan, made of mesmerizing Baltic amber. Let’s see if I ever get to sewing those on…

In Dundaga, I visited the Pāces Vilnas Fabrika, the only factory in the country to process wool from Latvian sheep, from fleece to yarn. It was hard resisting the urge to splurge, but I finally settled on a few skeins of rustic fingering, that would probably be perfect for a pair of mittens or more.

In Rīga, finally, at Tīnes shop, I bought a pair of those mittens they quaintly refer to as “ethnographic”, for reference. And some yarn for practice.

I don’t know whether or when those woolly souvenirs will be put to use. But for now, just having them around is oddly satisfying as I trudge through knittingless days.

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In-between knits

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Two days ago, feeling a bit nostalgic about my summer trip to Iceland, I went rummaging in my stash and brought out two small cakes of wonderful light gray lopi, locally produced in Þingborg, near Selfoss. And what better pattern for a quick and pleasurable knit than Karen Templer’s Wabi Mitts? One can’t help but marvel at its subtle simplicity and ingenious construction. An ode to the opposable thumb, if I may say so (check out that reverse stockinette gusset, surrounded by those two neat slipped-stitch ridges). Though the yarn is labelled as “2 ply”, it’s actually two strands of unspun lopi, which you hold together (I separated them and used only one fragile strand for the last three rows and bind-off).

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These fingerless mittens provided a very enjoyable break from my Streymoy cardigan, which is nonetheless advancing at a reasonable pace.

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I find these in-between projects, which knit in a couple of days (such as that baktus scarf I also recently made in Noro Silk Garden as a gift for a friend) very satisfying. They provide the kind of much-needed instant gratification that give me the courage to keep slogging through the longer endeavours. All right, “slogging” is a ludicrous choice of words. I’m having a blast on that cardigan. For now.

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