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Monday, 14 December 2009

Summit to write home about

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an event in Copenhagen, centred around climate change. When did I become a political player you ask? Well, actually it was the Nordic Fashion Industry's 'Fashion Summit', so more fashionistas than politicians around.

It was however, very interesting and I had a great time learning how to be 'NICE' (Nordic Institute for Clean and Ethical fashion), listening to prominent fashion bods, taking in a 'sustainable' fashion show and erm, *trying* to network.

The fashion folk converge on the Copenhagen Opera House:

I shan't bore you with all the details, but there were some very interesting presentations indeed. My favourites included:

- Laurent Claquin, SVP of CSR for PPR Group
PPR group includes Gucci, Puma, Stella McCartney, Valencia, YSL so Laurent gave an interesting view on how luxury and eco does not have to mutually exclusive - indeed luxury should 'lead the way' according to him.

- Christian Kemp-Griffin, CEO of Edun Group
Edun was started by Bono and his wife as an attempt to create a viable and commercially sound sustainable clothing line, created exclusively in Africa.

- Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Editor for the Financial Times
A sharp-tongued lady who no-one in their right frame of mind would like to get on the wrong side of! Made a very interesting point that fashion needs to be consistent with the wording they use. Does 'eco' mean the same as 'organic'? Is 'sustainable' the same as 'green'?

- Julie Gilhart, SVP & Fashion Director of Barney's New York
A very sweet lady, showcasing past, present and future sustainable initiatives of Barney's - all in her captivating southern drawl.

After a couple of breaks (during which I attempted to launch into conversation with anyone unattended) we were also treated to a little opera music which was delightful!

Here are some pics from the fashion show at the end of the day to give a taste of how 'eco fashion' actually can be fashionable.

Lovely and floaty (on a comical note, notice how the commentator on the left of the picture is frantically trying to retrieve her notes which somehow ended up all over the floor):

Power shoulders - part 1:

Power shoulders - part 2:

Something for the fashionable eco-gent:

*Love* this dress!

More floatyness:

The cupcake fascinator I can't help but want:

Yes, not sure about the bunched up knitted trousers look:

Lovely dress again:

A rather far-away shot of the contributing speakers. If I've managed to pique your interest, you can listen to the speeches here:

Is it me, or does the Opera House look more like a pumpkin wedged in a ventilation shaft?

Anyhow, I left feeling very much inspired and pleased to have been given the opportunity for an insight into the challenges currently facing the fashion industry.

Happy Lucia!

The 13th December marks the celebration of the 'return of the light' in Sweden. This involves ladies dressing in white gowns, holding candles and singing the traditional Santa Lucia song. The one lady chosen to be Lucia herself, wears a red sash and a crown of candles in her hair in addition to the white gown and gets to lead the procession.

Usually this ceremony happens in most schools and/or churches and is one that I have always liked (any excuse to dress up). Indeed, I think we still have a small gown and plastic wreath with electric candles which I used to wear when I was little - real candles are a bit hardcore, as I can only imagine that picking wax out of your hair afterward cannot be fun.

Anyway, to the most interesting part - the baking! Lussekatter (saffron buns) are very traditional and below is the most commonly shaped version which gets handed out after the Lucia ceremony.



They weren't as hard to make as I remember, so perhaps I am getting more patient with the years. You do need to leave them to rise twice for 30 mins each, but it's rather satisfying seeing the little backwards 'S's slowly becoming more and more bold.

As with most of my Swedish cooking, the recipe comes from the good old Rutiga Kokboken. I got this from a friend at my graduation in Sweden and it became indispensable pretty much straight away. It tells you how to cook *anything*, and has something of a cult following. I am relying on it for next week when I need to tackle my first vat of rice pudding ever..gulp.

Friday, 11 December 2009


Oh yes, The Beret is now complete. This is one of the first things I've made for myself and worn (in public) more than about once. I'm rather pleased with the resulting symmetry of the thing, although it did take *much* ripping back and unknitting to make sure it was just right.

Oh and there was rather a lot of swearing and being grumpy too. Still, I think it was worth it in the end.

Not sure if I'm really a hat person in general, but I think I can just about pull it off. Here's a moody pic for you to decide

Monday, 7 December 2009

The making of..

Now that L & P are happily married, it's getting harder and harder to remember all the work and preparation that went with making their wedding day so perfect. Obviously the lion's share was done by the lovely couple themselves, but we tried to help out where we could too.

As a rather belated wedding present I therefore decided to collect all the photos I had taken during the course of the 'wedding build-up' and collate them in an album. It was rather fun to sit and reminisce about that marathon wedding experience which was The Wedding Show, recall the creation of the sparkly bouquet and relive the hen night extravaganza - one afro at a time!

In order to personalise the album, I decided that who better to adorn the front of it than L & P themselves. But no cheesy couply photo here. No it should be Victorian silhouette style, I had decided.
Thankfully I took so many pictures at the wedding that I found a good profile of each of them fairly quickly... and set to work.

I used bits of metallic-coloured leather from Spitalfields market which worked out well in the end thankfully.

May they carry on living happily ever after, with their wonderfully unconventional way!

Friday, 4 December 2009

What's in Secret Santa's sack?

It's a Yeti made of yak!
This is Mr Abominable. He has existential issues - hence the sad face. I fell in love with him nonetheless, so felt a small twinge of sadness when I had to let him go the other day, during our Wednesday Night Knitting (WNK) group secret santa Christmas party. But it quickly passed when I realised that he would have a good home with P. Despite the anatomically suggestive arms. He is made from super soft Shokay Orient Collection - 75% yak/25% bamboo.

I got some very pretty silicone cupcake cases as well as a piping bag with a whole myriad of nozzels. Will I be taking up the tip we learned at our cupcake decorating class and practice piping with instant mash? I think not.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Man hat

After suffering frost-nipped ears last year, I promised M that I would make him a suitably 'manly' hat to keep him toasty. This seemed the obvious choice to me, recommended strongly by P who I believe made a rather cute purple version last year.

Have started the creation early this year, it was bumped by various other projects until recently when I rediscovered the sad little project bag at the back of the cupboard. Thankfully it knitted up pretty quickly (mainly because it was a bit dull) and M seems pleased, although initially a bit hesitant about the 'relaxed' fit. We will see what happens when it starts to get really cold...

Here is M, looking ready to rob a bank. Perhaps online.

Creative cupcakes

Anyone who knows me will be aware of my affinity for the dear old cupcake. Oreo cupcakes, buttercream-topped cupcakes, cupcakes with iced cacti and chili peppers - I have done it all. Not exactly with a professional hand, but with just enough enthusiasm to make up for any fudging.

So when offered a chance to learn some more advanced decorating skills, well it was a no-brainer really. We met with the lovely Arianna of Bittersweet Bakers at her cosy flat and were promptly given a small bowl (to call it a 'cup' would be an insult) of tea and cheesecake brownies to get us in the mood - it was hard to imagine a more promising start.

After a quick intro, we sat down at the table and tried not to ogle the array of decorating paraphernalia which was spread before us. Edible glitter! In over 10 different shades! Sprinkles in the shape of red lips, hearts, gingerbread men, butterflies and flowers danced before our dazzled eyes. There were even edible *pearls*! Ok ladies, breathe..

We managed to contain our excitement and concentrated on piping royal icing, which we created in eye-popping colours. We were never much for subtlety.

This was followed by tips of how to colour and spread buttercream icing - the vanilla scent of it was most enticing. We also resisted to urge to stick our fingers into the soft, shiny chocolate ganache.

Finally it was time to try some piping. Piping was good. In fact it was hard to stop. But then I remembered the edible glitter. Here are some of my decoration-encrusted creations.

I have a feeling that we will be back for more very soon. Thanks to Arianna for a gorgeous afternoon!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sew pretty

It was another very relaxing weekend, spent with my parents in the country, but this time there was a crafting bonus. My dear granny has recently moved out of her old house in Sweden and into a nearby care home. She seems to have settled in well, and only occasionally moans about being made to go for walks with 'oldies' and being served new fangled food like lasagna.

In any case, my granny was known for creating an old crochet bathrobe or two in her youth (my sisters were the lucky recipients) and hence had a trove of crafty bits and bobs in her basement. My mother very kindly gathered some of them together for me and brought them back to the UK. Apparently there was also a considerable fabric stash, so it was probably lucky that I was not there for the clean-out or I might have ended up exploding the already burgeoning sideboard in my flat.

More pretty-coloured threads to add to my sewing box, as well as some interesting woolen tapestry (?) thread:

Even more thread!

Some rather cool trimming which I'm scheming what to do with..

Lots of BUTTONS! I have now managed to fill my recycled gherkin jar to the top!

These tiny frames originally hung on a little tree made of similar material and showed pictures of my sisters, brother, cousin and myself. Maybe I can think of something Victoriana to make with them..

As a bit of a thank-you I have sent her a pair of cabled cashmere wristwarmers which I finished over the weekend (and of course forgot to photograph).
From one crafty soul to another.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


For M's sister's new arrival I thought it nice to create something a bit different. Seeing as I'd never cabled before, this appeared to be a good place to start.

Rowan Purelife Cotton was the obvious choice for this very environment-conscious mother, and it was surprisingly soft and pleasant to work with. Cabling was also thankfully easy one I got my head around it, and have now developed a rather unorthodox cabling-without-cable-needle technique after having left a certain key item at home when visiting my parents one weekend..
Hm, picking up stitches to do the edging is certainly not my forte, but I managed to fudge through and it looks acceptable.

Pearly buttons from the growing button stash:

And for comic effect:

Anyhow, it has now been sent off with M who is in Germany this weekend. Much more reliable than the current postal service I think.


I've wanted an excuse to make a fascinator for some time. The fact that I had no previous experience or skills to speak of was certainly secondary - I mean have I ever let that get in the way of previous craft projects? Certainly not.

L's wedding seemed the perfect opportunity to create something pretty, although the pressure was certainly on to make something wearable and suitable for such a sumptuous occasion on my first go.

So I sat down and surrounded myself with feathers, beads and glue to see what would evolve. After much ado, this happened:

I was keen to involve the birdy in some way, and in the end it obliged by hiding a glue splodge for me. Definitely need more co-ordination and care when it comes to attaching feathers in the future..

In the end I did wear my creation, and it managed to last through the day AND even survived the bouncy castle!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Bootie update!

M kindly sent some images of Lovisa kindly modeling the little booties, which I thought I should share.

Red is sooo her colour!

May they fit her for, oh, at least another week..

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Can't beat the beige-sics

After my flirtation with mad multicolour combos, variegated colourways and funny textures I'm suddenly hankering for solids and neutrals. Basically, when it comes to yarn, bring on your finest grays and creams! Of course other solid colours are most welcome - that pink baby alpaca lurking in the stash is looovely - but I think variegated beauties are in the past for now (although I still love my very first Koigu socks).

I think it's just so that I'll have an excuse to cover the FO with buttons, ribbons, embroidery, beads etc etc and hence have more reason to purchase these type of lovelies. I think I may ask for this book for Christmas.

That of course does not stop me from pawing colorful yarn pretties, but it is a step in the right direction..

Here is my neutral-tastic haul from iKnit day:

It was lovely to meet up with the ladies, although it was harder than expected to stick with my neutrals policy. Especially with candyfloss-like roving on offer:

Is it just me, or does it remind you of My Little Ponies?

I managed to take a snap of someone trying on a 'funky' knitted dress. Hm. Looks like someone has been knitting with with neon pink intestines.

I guess the hat on the left is quite cool though.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Lovisa's booties

Heard the happy news that my Swedish friend M has finally had her baby! The baby was almost 3 weeks overdue and she was getting rather fed up of our 'tips' as to how to get things going e.g. walking up and down stairs and trampolining. She was not impressed.
Anyhow, any excuse for some booties, so little Lovisa is getting a pair of Saartje's super cute ones:

Hope they fit :)

Rather random

I rather enjoy carrying my camera with me everywhere nowadays. Even though my poor camera is looking more battered than ever..

Couldn't resist taking this pic on the way to M&S the other day. The dramatic light makes even my poor photographic skills seem ok.

Hoping for some scraps from Pont de la Tour.

M's 'installation' trying to make up for breaking one of our plates..

So prepare to have more randomness inflicted upon you at even more random intervals!

Friday, 28 August 2009

All in the mind

I had the pleasure of the company of M and S while pootling around the 'Walking in my Mind' exhibition at the Hayward Gallery last weekend. One of the more interesting installations I've been to in a long time, although I can't pretend to comprehend it fully.
Although I also appreciate 'traditional' art, there is something particularly exciting about truly immersing yourself in someone's ideas and physically having to explore 'novel' (read as 'crazy') environments.

Thomas Hirschhorn says: "To me, the cave is in your brain, the cave is in your mind... You have to build this cave in your mind and to struggle with what happens in this cave, in confronting it with the world."
This is 'the cave':

I'm not sure I understand his comments completely, but slipping around in the tape-covered den, taking in disembodied human forms, pages of text, heaps of drinks cans and explicit images of busty ladies stuck to the walls, it's actually quite easy to imagine that you are actually inside someone's cerebellum.

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's polka dot room has more or less become the face of this exhibition, and her floating red and white blobs are indeed intriguing. Unfortunately this room was closely monitored so I had to restrain myself from taking photos and suppress the urge to rugby tackle the spotty inflatables. The more solid dotty forms outside could be touched, but it was still prohibited to demean them by parking your bum on one.

Looks a bit like an alien invasion.

I really liked this 'Enternity Chamber' by Charles Avery:

Poke your head inside, like so..

..and you are faced with a seemingly endless number of reflections. Possibly not the most profound element of the exhibition, but I'm easily pleased.

Possibly my love of anything yarn-shaped, drew me to Chiharu Shiota's woven a web of black wool.

The overall feeling was of being trapped in the lair of some fashion-loving spider.

A very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon!