I always have to check out the local crafts when we travel. Especially embroidery if I can. Latvia had lots of crafts - beautiful knitting, intricate weaving, and some spectacular embroidery.
There were a lot of vendors set up around town who had very pretty hand made things. However most were modern designs and I was looking for traditional Latvian work. I found a boat load at SENĀ KLĒTS.
The shop was just down the street from our hotel. It was clearly destiny! They had exhibits of traditional folk costumes from different eras and regions of Latvia and also sold handmade goods that were created with traditional designs.
I wish I had a bit to share about each of these displays and the region they represented but I think the study of Latvian needlework would take some time - although it would clearly be worth the effort.
The costumes were a mix of weaving, knitting and embroidery. The embroidery was amazing, intricate and colorful:
This site has quite a few Latvian embroidery patterns and examples of costumes from each region. I'm not quite sure how to utilize these. When I have a little time I think I'll compare some of my pictures with the patterns and explore a little more about technique and see if I can post a usable embroidery pattern.
The site Latvian Stuff has information on the symbols used in Latvian folk art. Many of them represent the pagan Gods that were worshipped in that region. It's really interesting. I definitely see the Dievs or God's sign, which is a sort of triangle, as seen here:
There is also the Thunder Cross, a symbol for Pērkons, the God of war. It is essentially a swastika although used in Latvia, as in many cultures, long before the Nazis got a hold of it.
These designs were so beautiful I was truly inspired.
We of course picked up a couple of souvenirs here. I bought a belt weaved with a traditional design -
The husband bought a beautiful pair of knitted mittens -
The number of patterns for Latvian mittens was innumerable. At this store and on many stands along the street we saw mittens of every color and patterns, no two the same.
I found the above photo on Riga Summit showing thousands of Latvian mittens knitted for that event - as you can see the patterns and colors are so varied.
I did a little searching around online and it looks like Latvian knitting patterns are very popular. The site Knit Like A Latvian has a bunch of pictures of her mitten projects and there are also patterns on Ravelry and other sites.
I'm not quite at that level so I'm just working at making a scarf for the husband to match his mittens.
This is my first time changing yarn color. I really am a knitting novice, but I'm hoping it will look nice enough when I'm finished.
Latvian needlework is something I will absolutely continue to study. I really want to attempt some of that embroidery design. I love the opportunity to be inspired by the traditions and designs of other countries and Latvia was an especially great experience.