My very creative and talented Auntie Madeleine taught me how to make indigo dye last weekend! I’ve never worked with a natural dye like this and had no idea what is involved – it’s a delicate balancing act between all the ingredients, the temperature, even the humidity and the air. I’m looking forward to sharing more of the process next week, and showing off my new Shibori dyed muslin squares! In the meantime you can hop over to Madeleine’s website here and see some of her amazing handmade textiles.
This amazing panda print jersey fabric popped up for sale on one my Facebook sewing groups a few months back and I couldn’t resist! I’m on a quest for the perfect toddler leggings pattern – this pair have a centre front seam and I also added ankle cuffs and a jersey waist band (rather than elastic which I always think looks uncomfortable). I also widened the leg at the top, tapering down to the ankle. They’re still a pretty slim fit (even though Orla is usually a little behind size-wise) so I think I’ll widen them a bit more next time – I’m looking for something between a legging and a harem – back to the drawing board!
We had such a good time visiting the Carl Larsson Garden in Sweden! The family home (‘Garden’ means house in Swedish) where Carl lived with his talented wife Karin is still privately owned by the Larsson family but you can have a guided tour which I highly recommend! I love Carl’s fairytale like paintings but enjoyed learning about Karin’s work the most. She was an incredible interdisciplinary designer / maker and the house is full of her weavings and embroideries as well as furniture that she designed. The way the family lived in their house is so inspiring – painting portraits on the walls and doors, a family workshop for crafts and everything designed to make the perfect use of space.
There’s a great piece of writing about Karin on the Carl Larsson Garden website which I love, taken from a 1997 exhibition at the V&A Museum:
“Karin’s textiles were absolutely original. Pre-modern in character they introduced a new abstract style in tapestry. Her bold compositions were executed in vibrant colours; her embroidery frequently used stylised plants. In black and white linen she reinterpreted Japanese motifs. Technically adventurous, she explored folk techniques and experimented with others. A good example of her bold weaving is the tapestry ”The Four Elements” that she composed in 1903 to be hung above the new sofa in the dining room.
At Sundborn the Larssons developed an aesthetic partnership. He was effusive, covering the walls with foliage and flowers, she arranged the living flowers, but in her designs austere and often abstract. The colours of the interior seem to have been jointly decided. Their combined contributions created a perfect whole”
The pictures at the top of the post were taken in the garden outside the house where they had set up lots of easels for kiddos to paint and had the sweetest little artists robes for them to wear! Orla is pulling a totally fake sad face that she experiments with sometimes. She held it like that for me until I had captured it from every angle! The other photos are from the Carl Larsson Garden website which is full of information – go and have a peek! The Carl Larsson gift shop was on a whole other level – they had the most beautiful aprons which they had copied from photos and paintings of the family along with craft kits to re-create some of Karin’s textiles as well as things from Carl’s paintings. I hope we’ll be back one day!
We had a dreamy time in Sweden a couple of weeks back – how I wish I was back in our log cabin by the lake! We fell in love with the landscape and countryside – I don’t think I saw a single normal building on the three and a half hour drive from Stockholm up to Dalarna, just identical red and white cottages. At this time of year the sun only goes down for a couple of hours from about midnight which was surreal and beautiful at the same time. When Orla woke me up the first morning, the sun was blazing and the whole house was glowing with all that woodwork! I sprang out of bed, started chatting about getting milk and books, switched on the radio then checked my phone… 4.00am.
Walking from our cottage to the lake each morning I found the traditional wooden buildings fascinating! Each little plot of land seemed to have one main house followed by a guest house and then a series of smaller ones which looked like sheds (though a couple turned out to be saunas – much more fun). Maybe people just buy a plot of land and then keep adding buildings as the family grows? They were all built and decorated in exactly the same style right down to the red paint (‘Falu Red’ originating from the nearby copper mines, so Google tells me) and hanging baskets filled with geraniums. Our house was very traditional with wood panelled walls, a tall, pitched roof, floral curtains, log burner and sauna. It would be fun to go back during the winter! The Darla horses pictured above are hand carved and originally came from this part of Sweden. I kind of regret not buying one to take home with us but since we live in such a tiny flat I’m trying hard to be a minimalist. This photo will just have to do for now!
I’m used to swimming in the freezing cold Atlantic coast of North Cornwall so the warm, fresh water lakes were a dream. Each night after Orla was tucked up in bed Ciaran and I cooked our dinner over the BBQ and sat out on the decking in the twilight under blankets. On our last night we heard a noise in the grass next to the house and a deer and her foal casually wondered across our lawn. That’s what I love about Sweden – it’s wild but friendly at the same time. We promised ourselves we would be back one day!
I can’t believe my girl is two years old today! These toddler years are wild. Orla’s so chatty and funny at this age – fond of exclaiming things like ‘I love it Birthdays!’. Sometimes she’ll just say ‘happy’ and do a little dance to herself. It’s brilliant watching her figure out how the world works – she says hello and goodbye to people we pass in the street but also to things like piles of builders sand. She wasn’t really vibing her cot so when we got back from Sweden the weekend before last we built her a big girl bed. Now every night at some point between midnight and 5 am she casually wonders into our room, cheerfully says ‘Hello Mummy!’ and climbs in with us. She has an absolutely iron will – if she can sense any kind of rushing or pressure to get ready and out of the door in the mornings she digs her heels in and then I find myself doing things like bribing her with Haribo before 9.00am (this happened this morning). I could talk about her all day! The cake above is a double decker lemon drizzle with plain buttercream in the middle, glace icing on top and a few lemon verbena leaves for decoration! Happy Birthday my darling!
I stumbled across this beautiful flower meadow in Cornwall where we spent a gloriously sunny week at the beginning of July. I love the wild mixture of colours – so much so that it inspired me to get my paint box out!
I paid a flying visit to Paris a few weeks ago and had such a lovely time showing my Mum around. We got ourselves an Air B&B just off the Rue des Martyrs and spent a fun 36 hours visiting the food shops, cafes and galleries and of course, walking all over the city! During the entire trip I got my camera out once and took this single photo… sometimes you just have to live in the moment I guess!
I do love those beautiful Parisian apartment buildings with their rectangular windows, shutters and Juliet balconies – when I got home and looked at my solitary photograph it reminded me of this beautiful print by Manuel Canovas. It’s called ‘Les Toits de Paris’ and is available as either cotton interiors fabric or wallpaper. I would use the fabric to make a little pin board with criss crossing ribbons or to cover a notebook. The wallpaper would look gorgeous in a tiny bathroom and you could use any leftovers to cover box files for your desk! It’s the kind of print that lets your imagination wonder.