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'Sweater Wall': woollies
If you want to buy some woollen sweathers (or woollen anything) head to the seweater wall, near Viru Gate: this is the place whre local ladies set up their stalls along the town wall and sell their traditional woollen garments.
What to buy: woollen sweathers (or socks, or mittens, or hats, or woollen anything).
'Sweater Wall': Splash out on wonderful ethnic knitwear!
What to buy: (work in progress)
Tallinn does an excellent line in ethnic knitwear, which shouldn't come as a great surprise given the harshness of the climate. This makes an excellently practical souvenir of your trip (as well as providing much-needed insulation if you're visiting outside summer).
The jumpers (that's jerseys to you North Americans), cardigans, hats, gloves and scarves are made of wool, and dyed in subdued colours that reflect the colour palate that traditional plant-based dyes would have offered - think muted shades of grey, brown and blue (which is much more attractive than it sounds). The designs are also largely traditional geometic patterns, livened up with some motifs to appeal to tourists: horses, bears and the like. They are extremely warm, but being wool, beware that they can be a bit 'scratchy' at first, so be sure to wear a T shirt or some other garment underneath so that you don't end up irritating your skin.
The main place to buy knitwear is at the 'sweater wall' by Viru gate, although it was also on sale at the Christmas market and the craft market when we visited. We ended up buying jumpers for our kids at the 'sweater wall' and tried to negotiate with the Russian woman at one stall - all I can say is that the response to our Africa-honed haggling skills was a stony stare and a blunt 'nyet!'!
The 'Sweater Wall': Not a shop
Estonia is famous for its knitting, and you will find more hats/sweaters/jackets/mittens and scarves than you can shake a stick at in every tourist-targeted shop in the city.
The 'sweater wall' became well-known as the place where ordinary women sold their knitted items from stalls...........a woolly market, I suppose.
It's still there, and so are the women. And there you will find all the hats/gloves/socks/bootees/whatever you could possibly want.
But do be aware that prices will be only a little lower than in the shops (if at all). Don't try to haggle: the price that is being asked for is the price you are expected to pay.
And don't expect to get anything cheap: Estonia is no longer the cheap country it might once have been, and fair enough: the Estonian people have to make a living in the same way as everyone else.
What to buy: Take your time and look at the stalls. I suspect their contents are knitted by outworkers all over the area (and I also suspect quite a lot of garments are knitted in factories, by machines). So look for something which really appeals to you, at a price which seems fair (remember that hand-knitting takes a lot of time).
The hats with ridiculously long 'tails' (to be wrapped round your neck like a scarf) are typically Estonian, apparently.
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Knitting vendors: Support a local knitting vendor
During the day on Muurivahe Street north of Viru Street, there are tables with local knitting vendors. It is debateable whether all of the merchandise is homemade (a local Estonian woman told me that she thinks most of the merchandise is made in China). In any event, it is a nice outdoor shopping atmosphere. I purchased a knitted hat with flaps that cover my ears. Some of my co-workers have criticized the appearance of this hat, but I love it on a cold day because it certainly keeps my head nice and warm!
What to buy: Sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves
What to pay: Prices seem to be negotiable.
All over town: Lovely knitwear
Long, cold winters need warm, woolly sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves and anything else that can be snuggled into before stepping out into the chilly outdoors. Whether your taste is for traditional Nordic designs of reindeer and snowflakes, the funkier colours and stripes of the things being sold by this lady at the Christmas Market or something in between, the knitwear sellers of Tallinn will give you plenty to choose from - and at prices that are considerably cheaper than any you will find in countries like Norway or Finland. Whether you shop at the "Wall of Sweaters" (watch out for pickpockets taking advantage of people engrossed in shopping if you're there in crowded summer), in one of the numerous souvenir shops around the Old Town or a regular shop, the only problem you will have is choosing - just be sure that what you are buying is what you want - don't pay hand-knitted prices for something that is machine-made!
What to pay: Prices vary according to the quality and complexity of the piece. Keep in mind, at the Wall of Knitting they're given in euros, not Estonian kroon - an exhange rate of about 1:15 - so that sweater, whilst cheap enough, may not be quite the bargain you think it is
Apleks: Sweaters at a Reasonable Price
after the sticker shock that we suffered in Norway sweater stores, this was a marvelous change.
The sweaters were beautiful and very reasonably priced. There was also a discounted area in the rear of the store.
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