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.
For Me Made May this year I pledged to wear each item in my handmade wardrobe at least once! I would be lying if I said I managed it but I did learn a thing or two. My Tilly And The ButtonsCoco dress was hands down my most worn item – no surprises there. I’m definitely at a jersey point in my life right now so really need to whip up a few more of these. Printed cotton dresses are all very well but I really had to force myself to reach for these – I think I’m just into more of a stretchy, cosy vibe these days rather than more structured, woven clothes especially on my top half.
One of the biggest surprises were how many cosy winter jumpers I have knitted over the years! Five to be exact – one of them never made it out of the draw because quite frankly it’s terrible and that leads me to the question, do you ever re-visit the things you’ve made to improve them? I really want to get the balance right between keeping my sewing momentum going with new and exciting projects and making sure the things I have made are the best they can be.
One of my Liberty print dresses is a tad too long but otherwise perfect so I’ll definitely make time to re-hem it. The terrible jumper (or cardigan to be precise) presents more of a dilemma. What do you do with something that has taken an incredible number of hours to make, cost a fortune in premium yarn and just doesn’t quite work? Binning it and moving on Kon Mari style seems to go against everything my handmade wardrobe stands for but there’s no question that it’s a bummer having failed makes lurking at the back of the wardrobe.
I finished this dress in a three night sewing frenzy back in April when a good friend’s Birthday party (and the promise of a child free night of dancing) gave me the urge for something 60’s and shiny to jump around in.
The fabric is another House of Hackney sample sale bargain (from the same trip that yielded my Leonine A-line skirt). It’s been hanging about in my stash for far too long as I’ve been too intimidated by it’s beauty to cut into it. The detail and texture of the fabric is incredible – the black background is lush and smooth whilst the palmeral print is picked out in tiny green and metallic stitches. Different sized stitches give the palm leaves an amazing depth – it would be a shame to save this fabric for the evening really as you can appreciate the detail better under natural light.
The pattern is Simplicity K1609 – a 60’s style shift that is so simple I had a hard time visualising how it would turn out. I even umm-ed and ahhh-ed about making the bow from view B but as soon as those lovely deep side darts came together I knew I was onto a winner and the pattern would let the fabric shine! The side darts are actually a huge feature on the finished dress but you can’t really see them on the pattern model or the technical drawing on the envelope so they were a nice surprise! I cut a straight size 12 and the only change I made was to skip the interfacing as the fabric was weighty enough without it.
I’ve been loving Me Made May (the annual handmade wardrobe wearing challenge organised by So, Zo…What do you know?) so far – seeing everyone’s outfit pictures each day on Instagram is so inspiring! I’ve pledged to wear all of my handmade things at least once before the month is out. I’m hoping to get a better idea of where the gaps in my handmade wardrobe are and (thanks to everyone else’s brilliant outfit pics) get some ideas for how to fill them! It’s so easy to always be thinking of the next project and getting excited about that so I’m looking forward to focussing on the things I’ve already made and showing them some love.
I’ll be posting the odd outfit photo over on Instagram – come and say hello! At the end of the month I’ll share my roundup of the highs and lows of my handmade wardrobe journey so far.
Are you taking part in Me Made May? Say hello🙂 The pic above is an oldie but a goodie – my much beloved (and now somewhat careworn) Tilly & The Buttons ‘Coco’ as photographed by the beautiful Hannah – go take a peek at her gorgeous photo blog!