James' Knit Notes

Europe's Last Matriarchy

After my friend, Pieter, shared that he knits Estonian lace, an article by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslet in The Guardian caught my attention. It’s the story of Anne Helene Gjelstad’s portraits of Kihnu, a tiny Estonian island in the Baltic sea, considered the last matriarchy in Europe. About 300 women are the majority of the residents because the men work away from home. These women are used to hard labor and hardship—Soviet occupation and freezing winters that cut them off from the rest of the world. Isolation has kept their customs alive, including the tradition that women over 60 begin preparing for their funerals, sewing colorful clothes and knitting gloves for the men who will be their gravediggers. For the full article - click here. Photograph by Anne Helene Gjelstad 2008 from her book Big Heart, Strong Hands.

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