Mathilde F. Lind

Old-type Muhu mitten **

​​Teacher: Riina Tomberg

Riina tomberg

Riina Tomberg was born in Tallinn, Estonia, living in Saaremaa, Kuressaare. She graduated from Estonian State Art Institute (Estonian Academy of Arts) as a textile designer in 1981, Master degree in Estonian Academy of Arts folk art department in 2004. Riina participated in expeditions to Finno-Ugric people by the Estonian State Art Institute and Estonian National Museum in 1978-1986. Riina has participated in many national and international exhibitions of textile art since 1980.
Since 1992, she has had a textile studio and knitting workshop Ruut & Triip OÜ in Kuressaare. Since 2000, Riina has been a lecturer in the UT Viljandi Culture Academy Estonian Native Crafts programme. Riina is the author of a book 'Vatt, Troi, Vamsa - Knitted Jackets from West Estonian Islands', published in 2006. She has conducted various workshops on Estonian traditional knitwear.

Muhu girl knitting, ERM Fk 350:197

Riina describes her work as follows: "The inspiration for me lies in the traditional way of life, doing things with your own hands for yourself and the closest people around you. You would like to protect them not only from bad weather, but from anything bad that could come across. I would like to use that kind of thinking in my work, even in modern design."

Muhu is a small island on the west coast of Estonia, well-known for its colourful knitting tradition. During the 19th century, though, the costume of Muhu women and knitting was very different from the clothing of the later period. Natural dyes and sheep wool´s undyed shades provided the choice of colours back then. Skilful, elaborate ways of knitting were used to create items for festive occasions.

Etnographic Muhu mitten, ERM A 290:601/ab

Muhu white mittens with an inserted ornament on the back were part of the older type of traditional dress that was used in the second half of 19th century and was gradually replaced with the newer type of dress in the first years of the 20th century. By 1922, these mittens had already been out of use for three generations. The change in fashion was quite radical: the black pleated skirt with coloured stripes at the hemline was replaced with a striped skirt in reddish orange with bright stripes all over.

In this workshop, the participants will learn to knit an eight-pointed motif widely used in Muhu traditional textile - "Muhu mänd". This motif, knitted on the back of a mitten’s hand, makes these mittens stand out among knitwear known to us from the 19th century.

Knitting a Muhu mitten

We`ll knit the cuff of the mitten and the black ornament. As these mittens were very tightly knit with small needles and the stitch count was up to 180 sts, the pattern we`ll knit during the workshop will be adapted. The yarn we´ll use will be 10/2 wool and the needles 1,25. The yarns and needles are included in the participation fee. Participants can bring their favourite knitting needles along with them. This workshop is suitable for advanced knitters.​