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The Suiti traditional attire

Suiti socks

Up to nowadays, knitted ornamented gloves and socks are useful in everyday life and also form an integral part of weddings, funerals and other celebrations. “During wedding celebrations, the newlyweds shall give “gifts”, i.e., presents in a ceremonial manner. The same goes for burying a deceased person, meaning that in the ceremony of burial the gifts are given as if from the deceased person as a loving memory, honouring the person’s resting in piece. Including today, the pattern of socks are up to the knitter’s taste and the available knitwork information. The recent knitworks demonstrate less of the various star patterns, once popular in the Alsunga area. Casual socks for everyday wear (knee socks and short ones) do not have any special ornaments. However, when combining with the traditional attire, ladies put on the white lace-knitted socks, striped ones or socks with big ornaments. The ancient knitted articles and prievīte belts have an overall yellowish tone and mild shades in multi-coloured combinations, whereas the modern colour language has become bright and lost the soft character.

Earlier, people had knowledge about and used the dying substances they gathered, manufactured or even cultivated in their gardens, while today we have industrially made chemical dyes. Back in the day, the Suiti cultivated cleavers, lavenders, of which red and blue colorants were made, while yellow dye was produced, by collecting dzeltenes in cornfield.

In comparison to other Latvian regions, the Suiti gloves and socks are rather bright and ornamented in multi-coloured patterns. The long socks are left without ornaments only at the knee part. The big-patterned bright knitted socks emerged well after the period the Suiti began wearing the monochrome costumes (clack, purple and red ones), i.e., at the last quarter of the 19th century. That was closely related to the new information coming from Europe’s knitwork publications, use of chemical dyes (by dying yarn bright yellow, red, pink, purple, bright blue and green) and the developing sense of dressing style. Despite of the ornamented knee-socks being intensively bright, they matched well with the monochrome costume-dress, and just like the bright checked villaine, they obtained a significant role of coloured statement accessories.

As for the gloves, the Suiti wore both mittens and gloves with separate finger compartments, called pirkstaiņi. The pirkstaiņi were ornamented with more detailed patterns. The short socks kabzeķes included also sietavas – ribbons of three finger-width and the respective length that were tied around the calves above the foot. Sietavas were not ornamented.

Socks zarainās or zārdainās zeķes

The luxurious, richly ornamented socks were knitted from delicate wool, sometimes even from four threads at once. The Suiti community has never had shortage of industrious needlewomen.

That is demonstrated by the rich inventory of socks in the National History Museum of Latvia, Museum of Kuldīga and Liepāja Museum, not to mention the socks in the hope-chests passed down by grandmothers.
The knitting skill was passed down by generations, which can be seen in the knitting customs alive today. Socks, easily worn-off in everyday life, have to be made from time to time.

Antonija Trumsiņa can be mentioned is a perfect example of passing down the customs to next generations.
She acquired her handicraft and weaving skills from her ancestors and keeps training her daughter Ilga Pavāre and granddaughters. In recent years, the Suiti socks are actively knitted by Aleta Bērziņa from Jūrkalne. She offers her knitwork for sale in various fairs all around Kurzeme.