tisdag 2 augusti 2016

Vilnius, Lithuania - from a knitter's perspective

Vilnius, Lithuania
We have recently spent four days in Vilnius, Lithuania. A very nice experience and one that I recommend. From a knitter´s perspective I had hoped for more (and easier to locate) local yarn shops and sellers of knitted items. But Vilnius is not Tallinn or Riga. Vilnius is a treasure-chest for lovers of amber, churches and other places for worship and history. The Old Town has a strong historical image and it is ideal for walks. Many nice views are to be found if you leave the most central streets and their very commercial focus. I recommend booking a hotel in the Old Town. This is a long post! To facilitate for the reader I have made an index:

1. Yarn shops
2. Books on knitting and book shops
3. Linen
4. Gift shops / Souvenir shops
5. The cathedral
6. The National Museum of Lithuania
7. The Museum of Applied  Art'
8. Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
9. The Vilnius University and the Bell Tower of St. Johns' Church
10. Views from our walks
11. Read about the visits to Tallinn (2013) and Riga (2015)


1. Yarn shops
We had read blogs and searched the Internet to find recommendations for yarn shops worth visiting. We arrived to Vilnius with a list and we planned our first walks so that we would check out the shops in a fairly systematic order. It proved much harder, or at least less rewarding than we had anticipated. Many of the shops were nowhere to be found. Sometimes the name could be seen on a window but the business premise was empty or occupied by another trader. Here are some of the shops that we did visit.
Casa Lana/ House of wool
Vilnos Namai, I think this is also called Casa Lana / House of wool. It is a bit confusing. Searching the internet to find out which is correct is even more confusing. The shop is situated next to the Kempinski Hotel, close to the Cathedral Square on Universiteto Gatve 16. We found this by pure chance when we were out walking, it had moved from its previous location, which was the address we had from the Internet.
Casa Lana/ House of wool: Yarn
The first thing that we saw when we entered was a BIG old wool drum carder just inside the door. The shop sells yarn and carded wool. They had yarn made in Lithuania and I bought some but not much, since I was a bit dubious regarding the quality. This was the first yarn shop that we visited and here we got very aware of the fact that you do not easily make your self understood in Vilnius if your language of choice is English. There is a big difference compared with Tallinn and Riga. BUT with a smile, a pen and some gesturing most questions and answers can be communicated. I also bought a book here. It was standing alone in the yarn shelf so I was not really sure if it was for sale at first.
Mezgimo  Zona
Mezgimo  Zona is situated on PYLIMO G. 38D/1 - 2, VILNIUS. We had to visit this shop twice on the same day since it did not open until 11.00 and we were out walking in the morning. It is well worth a visit. It was the only shop situated on the address that we had found on the Internet. It seems that shops move around a lot in Vilnius.
Mezgimo  Zona - Books
The first thing we saw when we entered was an entire wall of knitting books. I got really excited since I haven't got Lithuanian books on knitting. But I was promptly brought back to earth when my question if these books were for sale got the answer that they were not. They were just for the customers inspiration, still they were a very large and nice collection. 
Mezgimo  Zona
The shop has quite a lot of yarn but not a lot of Lithuanian yarn. There is a lot of sock yarn and knitting needles. I found double pointed needles from Knit Pro called Nova Cubics. They are cubics but made of brass instead of wood. I had not heard of these so I bought some (I have now tried them out and I like them a lot). I also bought some yarn. This time I chose a natural coloured 2-ply yarn from the Faroe Islands spun from pure Faroese wool. I trusted this more that the Lithuanian yarns for sale.
Mezgimo  Zona
We were very nicely treated at Mezgimo Zona. English was spoken and we recommend this shop if you visit Vilnius.

Geros Akys / Hobi Centras
Geros Akys / Hobi Centras is situated at Upes Gatve 9, (upper floor of: VCUP, Vilniaus Centrinė Universalinė Parduotuvė, Vilnius Central Department Store). This was one of the few times that we ventured outside the Old Town. It was a bit of a shock to enter this very modern "Central Department Store", a galleria. Hobi Centra is a store for different textile hobbies and they have some yarn but I was not impressed. You don't have to visit this if it means having to make a detour. Service was very indifferent.

2. Books on knitting and book shops
We had high hopes for finding books on Lithuanian knitting in the yarn shops, but we were disappointed. Most books that we bought were found in book shops. BUT a few were bought in yarn shops. I have to tell you that you should ask if the yarn shop sells books. Books are not always featured in the shops. They can be tucked away (don't ask me why) and only presented when asked for.
The following three book shops are worth a visit.

Akademine Knyga situated at Universiteto g. 4, Vilnius

Humanitas Meno leidinių knygynas (Art publications bookstore) situated at Dominikonų g. 5, Vilnius
Versme, knygynas
Versme, knygynas, Knygu namai Didžioji g. 27, Vilnius


3. Linen
As Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania produces a lot of linen products. They are excellent and prices often very reasonable. They make for better souvenirs than a lot of the things sold in the souvenir shops. The linen shops are many and you can find them almost anywhere, both in the most commercial streets as well as in the more secluded parts of the old town. Here are a few that I can recommend.
LINO STILIUS
LINO STILIUS Pilies g. 6-6, Vilnius
LINAS NORDIC
LINAS NORDIC L. Stuokos-Gucevičiaus g. 13, Vilnius

and Lino Namai Vilniaus g. 12, Vilnius

4. Gift shops / Souvenir shops
There is an abundance of souvenir and gift shops in Vilnius. All targeting tourists. Here is what we learned:
Stay away from them!
 


5. The cathedral
The cathedral
 The Cathedral  of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav is very impressive and worth a visit. Is is situated on a place that originally was used for the worship of Perkunas, the Lithuanian thunder god.
The cathedral
The Cathedral Belfry and the Cathedral
6. The National Museum of Lithuania
 
The National Museum of Lithuania

The National Museum of Lithuania is well worth a visit. It shows artefacts from Lithuanian life from Neolithic times to the 20th Century.
The National Museum of Lithuania - Bands
I, of course, focused on the textile exhibitions in the museum.
The National Museum of Lithuania - Socks
The National Museum of Lithuania - Bands

7. The Museum of Applied  Art
The Museum of Applied  Art
The Museum of Applied Arts is housed in the Old Arsenal, built in the 16th  Century and restored in the 1980's. It has temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of 15th-19th Century sacred art from Lithuania. Many of these pieces were hidden in the walls of Vilnius Cathedral by Russian soldiers back in 1655. They were discovered in 1985 but remained a secret until 1988 (because of fear that they would be seized by the Soviets) when they were displayed.


8. Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
This is a very exiting place. it is situated on a site that has been settled since at least the 4th (!) Century. Today this is the latest of a row of palaces that through the centuries have been remodelled, extended, destroyed and rebuilt. It is now restored and a very impressive building made into a museum. You start the tour beneath the courtyard with the remains of the foundation of the different palaces through almost two millennia of Lithuanian history.
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania - Detail of a tapestry from ca. 1510
The tour continues through the restored ceremonial halls of the Grand Duchy. It is all very impressive. Do not miss if you visit Vilnius.
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania - Detail of a tapestry
9. The Vilnius University and the Bell Tower of St. Johns' Church
The Vilnius University
Vilnius University was founded in 1579. It was closed by the Russians in 1832 and reopened first in 1919. It has Lithuania's oldest library with five million books. Today it has 23 000 students. It has 13 courtyards and they are worth visiting.
The Vilnius University
The Bell Tower of St. Johns' Church - Foucault Pendulum
The Bell Tower of St. Johns' Churh has a Foucault pendulum built in 2011.  Since I had never seen one in motion before I thought it was great to visit the Bell Tower.

10. Views from our walks
We walked all the time in Vilnius. I think it is such a great way to get the feel of a place. We lived in the  Old Town, so everything we visited was within walking distance. Vilnius is such a great place - do visit! 

Here are some photos from our walks. All presented in random order.
Vilnius
Vilnius



11. Read about our visits to Tallinn (2013) and Riga (2015)
Tallinn, Estonia (2013)
Riga, Latvia (2015)

2 kommentarer:

  1. Yes, in regard of wool and knitted items, Vilnius is absolutely disappointing. As I wrote in my blog as well, the knitted items are all the same which means to me that they all come from the same factory and most are machine-knitted ... you are right, the stands in Pilies Gatve with wool souvenirs are not worth a cent...

    but there are lithuanian knitting books, I found a handful in the bookshops,
    see here:
    http://www.wockensolle.de/neue-strickbuecher-aus-vilnius/

    SvaraRadera
  2. Hi Connie
    Thanks for your comment. We also found some knitting books. I will write a post about them later.
    All the best

    SvaraRadera