[video] The “niks”: an Estonian yarn-winding tool

Deep in my dissertation research, I discovered the existence of a very humble textile tool that I found oh-so appealing, and I thought I should share it with you. Meet the “niks” (sometimes also known as “viiul”), a small wooden stick with holes in either end that has been widely used in Estonia while winding…

[video] Unboxing Berta’s Flax

A few weeks ago, a wonderful fiber artist, Christiane Seufferlein, announced online that she had received a dowry chest full of hand-processed flax. The woman who had owned it, Berta, had passed, and her son wanted it to go to people who would appreciate her incredible treasure. Since then, a supportive, enthusiastic online community has…

[video] My Estonian spinning wheel: A love story

The following text is a transcript of the video above (but with extra images!) For the past two years, I’ve been doing research on wool processing and spinning in Estonia. I’m a folklorist specializing in material culture. For me, this means that I study the tangible manifestations of creativity in everyday life, honoring the handwork…

Spinning log ā€” January and February

I have been so bad about recording my craft projects in an organized way, so I will try to do that here. Iā€™m particularly interested in seeing what my total production is at the end of the year! January January was mostly focused on spinning a huge amount of tricky fiber for a commission. I…

Sharing the Craft

For a little while now, a friend who lives nearby has been asking me to teach her some textile crafts. She first had the notion to do embroidery, which ended up not happening due to time constraints, and more recently, she decided that she would like to learn how to knit socks. She had previously…

[video] Finger weaving sock garters

I just posted a couple of videos on YouTube showing how I make sock garters. The first one is a time lapse so that you can pause it at any time and get a clear picture, but also because no one wants to watch the extended cut of measuring threads. The second one shows the…

The delights of braiding wool

Even though I favor large, intricate projects, when I don’t know what to do with my hands, I almost always turn to some sort of braiding/plaiting or finger weaving. I love the look of little woollen braids in bright colors, and I use them everywhere ā€” to wrap gifts, tie bundles of herbs, close open…

My fieldwork capsule wardrobe

When you prepare to do ethnographic fieldwork, you may learn about how to make contacts, interview people, take good notes, and operate a camera well, but some gaps can occur that have to do with individual needs and the personal, embodied and material aspects of fieldwork. In this case, I will deal with some of…

Back in the field on Kihnu Island

I have been itching to get back to work on my dissertation research, which was delayed not only because of the COVID-19 shutdown, which ended earlier here in Estonia than in many other places, but also because I had been working on a lot of basic craft skills that were to lead up to better…

At home in Estonia

The past couple of months have been a complicated time for most people. Here, it has been a time of stillness, anxiety, and creativity. I’m not sure how my research can happen at this point; I was supposed to be in the field (literally, with sheep!) this spring and summer, and I haven’t gotten to…