Sunday, 31 August 2008

I wither and you break from me;
yet though you dance in living light,
I am the earth, I am the root,
I am the stem that fed the fruit,
the link that joins you to the night.
Judith Wright Woman to Child

Friday, 29 August 2008

Life afer...

(random photo of something I like, which has nothing to do with this post)

I used to stare in disbelieve at my friends when they announced their desire to die at 50, 60 or 65, because they didn’t want to grow too old, too weak, too sick, too dependent on others, etc. I never saw the point of choosing a random age to define being old, as there are plenty examples of the active & fully alive people of that age and conversely the half-asleep people of the younger age. Today I stumbled on the blog of a woman, who moved to London from Paris at the age of 74, and on the whole seem to be enjoying her life. I find her example inspiring and am wishing to be in the good health & sound mind when I reach her age. (She also appears to have an even bigger book addiction than I do, which makes her extra likeable)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

More bags

Last week two beautiful bags arrived from Rachael's etsy shop. I love them, specially the zebra one, which has an interesting history (I can't believe Rachael managed to part with it).

You still have few days left until 1st of September to enter her give-away and plenty of time to help her bring some Christmas cheer to the Russian orphans.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Short trips during long weekend

We rented a car for the long weekend, but haven’t booked any accommodation. On Friday Cat developed a runny nose and I started to get worried that we’ll be stuck at home for the whole three days. Despite my worries we ended up having a fantastic weekend.

On Saturday I had a haircut and in the afternoon we took a walk along the Grand Union Canal in the small village just outside London, but I forgot to bring my camera.

On Sunday we went to Ruislip Lido, because I love tiny trains and wanted to check out the railway there for ages.

As well as catching the train we enjoyed running on the grass, playing at the playground and building sandcastle, though Cat was more interesting in throwing the sand around.

On Monday we traveled to the Wimpole Farm – a perfect place for a young family like us. Cat enjoyed looking at the animals.

I marvelled at the beautiful flowers

(though I wasn't the only one),

artistic scarecrows

and checked out the contemporary textile exhibition by CHAT.

Clive and I enjoyed looking through the rooms in the Wimpole Hall and all the clocks, specially the ones with pendulums, kept Cat mesmerized.

And we left with a pile of books from their second hand shop (and I have to point out that this time Clive got more books than I did).

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Not only Cat insist going up and down the slide on her own, today she also insisted on walking up the stairs without any help from me all the way to the third floor (that's fourth for the normal people, who count the ground floor as the first one) where we live. I, myself, am uncomfortable with heights and therefore feel very much terrified of her falling down, but am trying to be encouraging of her independence.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Autumn flower bracelet

I was looking through my bead for another project and felt inspired to make something simple and quick to celebrate the approaching autumn, though one may argue that it is already here.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Crochet beauties

I had yesterday’s post all written up and ready for posting in the evening, but I had two glasses of wine with the few friends to celebrate my cousin’s birthday (the lucky girl herself is in Australia at the moment) and since I don’t usually drink alcohol I totally forgot about blogging. I keep on wondering how everyday posters manage to find time for it. Anyway, here is yesterday’s post:

I love reading What Not to Crochet blog, though I don’t always agree with the authors assessments, but I have to admit that there is a surprising number of hideous crocheted things and crochet books often disappoint me with their impractical, boring and even ugly designs. Therefore I treasure finding beautiful crochet masterpieces. On Saturday in Fortnum & Mason store I discovered the work of French designer Sophie Digard. Sadly her website doesn’t have much information, but you can see examples of her amazing multi-colour work here.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Video quote

Today's quote comes to you in the video format, because we were reading this tiny rhyme all week long and I love the way Cat says the last word (ignore her slightly distracted look - she was trying to figure out what papa was doing on the other side of the room, which luckily prevented her from trying to turn the camera around to see the baby on the other side).

Saturday, 16 August 2008

My kind of shop

Today was a good day because I discovered another fabric/haberdashery store in London. MacCulloch & Wallis is off Oxford Street, very close to John Lewis (another place I love to visit for yarn and other various craft bits and bobs). Doesn’t the façade of the shop make you fall in love with it straight away? I wish I could take some of your inside, so we could marvel at all the beautiful fabrics, laces, ribbons and buttons together.

I also wish I had real-life friends interested in craft, so they would show me places like this instead of having to rely on lucky accidents to discover them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Start of a new wardrobe

No, not for me, but for Cat's doll. First I crocheted a hat in under two hours.

Then it took forever to make a simple dress out of my husband's old work shirt and a scrap of fabric from Polina, because I did it by hand as I don't own a sewing machine.

I was dreaming of "borrowing" my sister's sewing machine on arrival to Australia, but since we are staying in UK for longer I'm wondering if I should buy one. I have a long list of things I'd love to sew, like this Simple Kimono Wrap. Does anyone have any advice on buying a sewing machine for a total beginner? Anyone knows where one can buy/look at sewing machines in London?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Is summer already over?

BBQ on Sunday under heavy rain - doesn't this look stereotypically English?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Magic potions

The Book Book (bought after reading Soule Mama’s post, greatly enjoyed by me and waiting for the Little Girl to grow up a bit) has few small exercises to massage the imagination and one of them is to describe a magical potion. My latest one would be:
Some inspirational reading,
Followed by swirl of ideas,
Search for the handy materials,
Gluing down of some paper,

Painting over it with gesso and then watercolour,
Writing few words that feel suitable,
Finally sprinkling some shiny sparkles
And instead of stirring constantly contemplating my dreams.

What is your magic potion? I think Rachael’s one would include sewing machine, beautiful fabric, children’s laughter and some willing helpers. Please read her post to find out how YOU can help her to bring some Christmas cheer to Russian orphans and to WIN one of her beautiful creations.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Studio Journal

We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!
Richard Bach “Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story”

This is the quote I'm going to put on the first page of my new studio journal tomorrow. I used to struggle trying to keep various journals, diaries, notebooks with quotes and sketchbooks until I took Sharon B’s online Studio Journal course. Throughout six lessons with the aid of design exercises she tried to get us into a habit of consistently using our studio journals. I loved learning new to me design tricks and now can see them used everywhere from packaging to the modern paintings. The other beauty of taking the course was a very active and inspirational forum where students shared tips, images of their work and the links to the relevant articles or websites.

However, the main lesson for me was the freedom of putting everything into ONE studio journal. And after six weeks I have one complete journal full of photos, images, quotes, my own writing, samples of thread, drawings and design ideas. And looking through it results in new ideas. For example after reading Shirley Trevena's Taking Risks with Watercolour I realised that for years I only tried to paint separate objects (mostly fruits and vegetables) instead of attempting to create a whole painting. And while thinking of subject to paint I remembered the photo taken in the park (and added to my journal).

And used it to paint an autumn leaf fall. This simple painting is far from perfect and I can point out many mistakes to you, but it is the first complete painting I’ve done since childhood and I felt fantastic doing it.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Russian resources online

I was searching for information on English translations of Pavel Bazhov's wonderful Ural tales when I found some of them available online in Russian.

I also stumbled on this LiveJournal full of wonderful images including old book illustrations (more here), Russian embroidery and much more. Even if you don't read Russian, it's probably worth clicking around to see what inspirational design and paintings you may find.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Chasing or spot the squirrel

These photos are for those of you, who mistakenly got the impression from my previous photos that Cat is a gentle child, who doesn’t chase pigeons and other small creatures.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Fighting blandness

The move to our current flat was supposed to be temporary (around 6 months), but we already spent over a year living here. Once the decision to stay in UK was made, we started looking for a new accommodation and were horrified to see how much the rental prices went up. And with the property prices falling, everyone agrees that it is bad time to buy. And so we decided to stay here for a bit longer, while we consider our options.

Therefore on Sunday afternoon we done something that should’ve been done months ago – we rearranged the furniture and swapped rooms with Cat. Now we are back in the main bedroom with the inbuilt cupboards. My workspace is also better arranged with the printer next to the desk and space for some drawers to store all my craft materials.

I want to use some of my free time to concentrate on creating items to make our living areas more visually pleasant, because I hate living in the bland environment and realised that I feel drained of energy surrounded by white walls and pale carpet. However as a small start and celebration of us taking the first steps in improving our flat (isn’t it ironic that flat is also synonym for dull & monotonous?) I bought a print from Rima Stainesetsy shop. If you have time visit her blog and her website to marvel at the magical world she created. And even if you don’t have time, stop by Once Upon O’clock to listen and to see something unique.

Monday, 4 August 2008

One year ago

Exactly one year ago Cat had her first cold (though I didn’t blog about it until the day later) and we spent most of the day cuddling up on the couch. The only reason I know this is because I finally bought some photo albums and today started to choose photos to put into them. This year I have a cold and would’ve loved to spend all day long on the couch. Instead we entertained each other the best we could. Bored with my sluggishness Cat went to explore, found the case for my glasses, took out the wipe cloth and proceeded to wipe all her books in turn. Thankfully we have many, so I had a nice break lying next to her watching her clean.

P.S. It is hard to believe that a year ago she couldn't even crawl

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Change of plans

Человек предпологает, а бог распологает
Russian proverb, which roughly translates as man plans, but God does (Sorry guys, I have a cold, probably mild fever and my brain isn’t up to translating. Anyone wants to offer a better translation?)

For over a year we were talking about moving to Australia and even started collecting documents to apply for spousal visa for Clive. However, when my husband resigned from his job, he was promptly offered a great position. So after all our preparation and planning in a second everything changed. The offer was too good to refuse, and we decided to stay in UK for few more years.

If I know you in real life and you haven’t received my group email about this, please let me know, as it highly likely means that I don’t have your latest email address.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Unbalanced Rainbow Shawl

I thought I finished crocheting the shawl, but when I looked at it I realised that I made the beginners mistake of getting too caught up in the stitches and forgetting to check the whole. Its sides are tonally unbalanced due to one having more dark colours than the other. Ironically after reading This Year's Word: Half Way Point post I was contemplating the Balance, the word that I would choose as the theme for the rest of the year. I have a tiny bit of yarn left, so I can unravel few rows and use it to shift the colour change somewhat. Or should I just leave it as is?

Pattern: Eva's shawl
Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock

Friday, 1 August 2008

More words

This week Cat started pointing at me and saying “Mama” throughout the day. About time! I was getting slightly grumpy at being called generic “Eee!” or hearing whiny “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma!” when she was super hungry or in desperate need of comfort.

I also realised that she says few Russian words, like:
где (where), usually it’s где bum (where is ball?) or где ты (where are you?);
туда (there), as in “let’s go there” when I’m going in one direction and she is insisting we go in the opposite one;
один (one), два (two), три (three), we usually walk downstairs counting the stairs instead of catching the lift and since we are on the third floor there are a lot of stairs to count. Though when she counts on her one she usually says один, один (one, one) or один, три (one, three), but asked how many legs she has she replies две (two).
And she also says up in English. There are few other words, which I can’t think of at the moment.