We continue the Wovember Words EU sheep and wool tour in Latvia where the word for sheep is aita, and the word for wool is vilna.

latvia_rel98

The only breed of sheep that we could find with origins in Latvia is the Skudde which is listed on Wikipedia as being a breed from Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and Switzerland.

Skudde ram, photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Bwiesem
Skudde ram, photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Bwiesem

However, the Latvian Sheep Breeders Association list many other breeds that are kept in this country, including several that we have discussed elsewhere during this series of Wovember Words:

Latvian Darkheaded
Estonian Darkheaded
Lithuanian Blackhead
German Blackhead
Oxford down
Hampshire
Ile de France
Texel
Estonian Whitehead

Merinoschaf (Merino sheep) with two lambs - photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to 4028mdk09
Merinoschaf (Merino sheep) with two lambs – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to 4028mdk09

German Merino
Charolais
Swifter
Suffolk
Dorper
Dorset
Romanov
Gotland

German Heidshnucken, photo taken by ArtMechanic and released under a GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 through Wiki Commons
German Heidshnucken, photo taken by ArtMechanic and released under a GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 through Wiki Commons

Heidschnucke Horned Grey
Jacobs
Persian Blackhead
Finnish Landrace
Leicester
Ostfriesen milk
Belgium milk
Various crossbreeds

In terms of what happens with the wool from these animals, as far as we can tell, there is one factory that offers a total service for transforming raw wool into finished products: Pāces vilnas fabrika which translates as Pace wool factory. You can see the factory in the video clip below.

PĀCE yarn can be purchased here from amu and here from Dzijas and there is a lovely blog post about the mill and the wool here.

We also found SIA Klippan Saule – a subsidiary of the Swedish textile group Klippan Textil AB:

Collaboration between Klippan Textil Group and SIA Klippan Saule began in 1992, just after Latvia gained its independence. In fact, Klippan Saule was one of the first Latvian companies to partner with a western firm. Klippan Saule successfully started exporting throws and blankets to Sweden in 1994. In 1997, SIA Klippan Saule became a subsidiary of Klippan Textil Group. Today the group sells its products throughout the Baltics, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Iceland, Japan, United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, etc.

The website shows that both carded wool and spun yarn can be purchased on site, as well as a range of throws and blankets, but there is no description of the origins of the wool that is processed there; does anyone reading this know? The colours are amazing, and put us in mind of the extraordinary stranded colourwork folk knitting traditions and world-famous mittens with which Latvia is associated.

We recommend this amazing book – documented in the video footage below – as an introduction to the joyous tradition of Latvian knitting, and there are loads of amazing knitters and glorious Latvian designs in the wonderful Ravelry group: knit like a Latvian.

We hope you have enjoyed this brief stop in Latvia – as ever, please notify us if we have made any errors, and if you feel that there is an element of the sheep and wool scene in Latvia that you feel we have overlooked, please share your wisdom in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Aitas un vilna in Latvia

  1. Great to see this post!

    I am deep into latvian knitting and I translated the book to German, so german knitters can enjoy it now as well 😉

    There is another latvian wool brand: Limbažu Tīne, they have such a great choice of colour and this wool is perfect for the tightly knitted latvian mittens and stockings.
    http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/limbazu-tine-divkarsa

    Let me do a little selfpromotion, if you follow this link to my blog, you will see a lot of articles and photos of the wonderful latvian knitting tradition:

    http://www.wockensolle.de/tag/latvia/

    Cheers, Connie

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