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Friday, June 23, 2017

A Year of Cruel Uncertainty

Lavender plants
The EU referendum was a year ago today. How different life was then.

I still can not fathom the stupidity of it. I get that a lot of people feel/felt like the government don't care about them, but still to vote to leave the EU is just insanity. Why would you believe that politicians would give the 'EU billions' to the NHS? Of course they wouldn't. Especially not the Tories, they only care about rich people. And the whole Leave campaign was based on lies and xenophobia.

The lies are just one of many things I find it hard to forgive.

Children and young people won't have the same opportunities and freedoms as my generation. Freedom to live, study and work in another EU country. Maybe fall in love. Start a family. These things, which so greatly benefit a whole country, a whole continent!, will be a lot harder.

I find it hard to forgive that grievances with 'London politics' is a reason to vote to leave the EU. But I guess the Leave campaign did their job properly, making people believe that the EU was the root of all the problems in the country.

The economic fall out has already begun. Big financial companies are leaving, or preparing to leave. EU applications to UK universities are down. Nurses and doctors are leaving or not coming here. I guess that's one way to reduce immigration!

But that has real life economic repercussions. And those who will be most affected are the most vulnerable. Young people, old people, poor people.

Lavender plants
I find it hard to forgive the xenophobia of the Leave campaign. People who seem to think that being in the EU causes a massive influx of terrorists from so-called Islamic State. The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester have shown very clearly that the terrorists we need to fear are masquerading as neighbours in this country. So another lie.

I find it hard to forgive how hate crimes against EU citizens have risen, emboldened by the result of the referendum. People ask Europeans "when are you going home?" like it is a given that all Europeans must leave.

I find it hard to forgive that little children are afraid that they, or one/both of their parents will be sent 'home'.

I find it very hard to forgive that we are being used as bargaining chips. I find it hard to forgive that to obtain proof of our legal right to permanent residence in the UK, we must fill in a 85 page long document, along with numerous types of documentation. A document which even solicitors have trouble understanding.

It is hard to forgive that a third of those applications are turned down on technicalities and people are then sent what must be terrifying letters telling them to 'prepare to leave the country' (although apparently that wording has been changed, but still).

I haven't submitted the application yet. I was waiting to see what would happen once the Brexit negotiations started. Yesterday Theresa may told the other EU leaders of her 'generous offer' for EU citizens. You can read about it here, and read why it is not good enough, and frankly a bit worrying.

Lavender plants
On a personal level, I will probably never forgive the sleepless nights and the panic attacks, worrying about my future. I can't forgive how I feel like I have no control over my own future. We are not able to move to Denmark because their immigration policies penalize people who aren't flush with cash or have a job on arrival. And of course, that's only made more difficult because I have lived abroad for so long.

And even if we were able to move there, if Tony weren't an EU citizen that would make it even more complicated.

It is so cruel to keep 3.2 million people in limbo like this. Even Amnesty International are speaking up on our behalf!

The thing I find hardest to forgive is that, for the first time in my life, in some very dark moments I have thought "this is too much. It would be easier if I didn't existed." Because in those dark lonely moments, I can't see how I can stay in the UK without being a second rate citizen, or be allowed to stay at all. But I can't imagine having to live apart from Tony.

I have no plans on acting on those suicidal thoughts (it's crossing a big mental line, even using that word!) but I know I'm not alone in feeling like that. I will never forgive the Leave voters for bringing me to such a dark place.

It may seem like life is carrying on as usual, and in some ways it is. I take Blake for walks, plant lavender in the garden, we do the shopping and go to the gym. All normal things. But underneath the day to day, there is a lot of worrying about the future.

The worrying doesn't stop. The tears are never far away. Nor is the fear that someone is going to attack me, verbally or physically, just because they hear me speaking with an accent or speaking Danish with Tony.

The government could easily have done away with all this, but instead cruelly chose to use us a bargaining chips in their political games.

I am so exhausted by this subtle mental torment that I can't escape. I wonder if I ever will...

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Friday, June 16, 2017

New Pattern :: Wild Rose Warbler

Wild Rose Warbler
I have a new pattern, Wild Rose Warbler, in the shop and usually that is very exciting. But this week there is a bit of a dampener on that excitement. You have probably heard of the awful fire in a high rise apartment block in London. So sad and awful and terrifying.

When I was a little girl, around six years old, I was playing at a friend's house. Her little brother had wet the bed in the night and they had put the mattress in front of an electric heater to dry it. The mattress caught fire and then the rest of the house was on fire too.

I was so scared and I remember standing on a bed not knowing what to do. Luckily, a fireman came and got me. It was such a long time ago, but the memory of that experience is still so vivid in my mind. I can still see the flames all over the linoleum floor in their kitchen.

No one was hurt on that day, but when something like the fire in London happens, the memory bubbles up again. If that day has made such a strong impression on me, I can only imagine how the survivors of the Grenfell fire will be affected, now and long term.

It makes me feel quite helpless, but it warms my heart that so many people in the community and the country are giving resources and time and hugs to the people affected.

Usually, I'd give you a discount for a new pattern, but instead I am going to donate 50% of every sale of the new pattern until Tuesday to the victims of the fire. I am also going to donate 50% of any order that includes the new pattern.

So please go buy some of my stuff so we can hopefully make a small contribution to rebuilding their lives. And please, please hug your loved ones.

Wild Rose Warbler

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Rekindling A Special Friendship

Things to sort
Three weeks ago I went to Denmark for a very short visit. But what it lacked in actual time, it more than made up for in good times. It was a bit of a whirlwind to say the least.

There was lunch with a friend at a vegan place, a wander through my home town, Århus, and popping into a few favourite shops. Lunch with another friend and there was a bit of fabric shopping. As well as going through some of my belongings that were still in my parents' loft.

I crammed in a lot of good times, which was sorely needed, the past year hasn't been the most jolly. To say the least.

But the best time, the main reason I went to Denmark, was to see an old friend whom I hadn't seen in 18 years. Eighteen. That's a long time. My friend got married when she was quite young and then she moved to Lebanon. And it was back in the day when communicating via the internet wasn't as straightforward as it is now. So we lost touch for many years. But I never forgot my friend, I thought of her often.

Although her parents lived in Denmark, and still do, once I moved to England 12 years ago, there was even less chance of us seeing each other.

But a few years ago we got back into contact and when I found out earlier this year that she was in Denmark, but would be going back to Lebanon soon, I had to try and see her. And we made it happen and I am SO happy that we did.

For reasons I won't bore you with, we met in a local shopping centre on a Sunday morning and when we saw each other we both started sobbing and had the longest hug in history. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. It is a moment I will never forget.

Although it had been so long since we last saw each other, it was like no time had passed. We talked and laughed like we'd seen each other the week before. I don't know when we'll see each other again, but the knowledge that our friendship has survived all this time being dormant, that makes me so happy.

It was a wonderful, busy, jam packed, glorious weekend in Denmark. A concentrated dose of fun times and happy new memories. This past year I have gained a new appreciation for grabbing, and holding on tightly, all the good times you can lay your hands on. Big or small.

Writing about it makes me relive it and it fills me with joy.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends. xo

Old art
Old work from art classes.


Vegan burger at Mikuna
Best burger I've ever had.

Taking pictures of a quilt I made recently.

Rapeseed field and cumulus clouds
The colour of early summer in Denmark.


Atomkraft? Nej tak!


Århus Domkirke
Århus cathedral.

Old art
Old paintings. Including a very intense self portrait! :-)

Hares - early morning
Big hares I spotted in my parents' neighbours' garden early Sunday morning. I've never seen hares that close before!

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Classes at The Village Haberdashery

Summer Mason Jar wip
Happy Monday, friends!

I am very excited that I will be teaching classes at The Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead in London.

The first class is Beginner Embroidery, where I'll show you everything you need to get started with embroidery and teach a bunch of pretty stitches. We will use the embroidery at the top of this post as a sampler. It is an adapted version of my Mason Jar Bouquet pattern, in case it looks familiar. :-)

There are two dates for beginner embroidery: June 18 and July 16. Both dates 10:30am - 1:30pm.

Giant blackwork coaster
On July 2, I will teach Modern Blackwork Embroidery. Also 10:30am - 1:30pm. This is super fun to do and you can make it as colourful as you like. Suitable for beginners! If you've been following this blog for a while you may just have seen a few posts about giant blackwork as I usually refer to it. I'm a little bit obsessed with it, I wish I had time to do it more!

Calystegia Improv Stitching
The last class is Stitch Improv, on July 15, 1pm-5pm. This is one of my other obsessions. Using fabric, embroidery, patchwork, appliqué and embellishments to create a narrative piece. A little story, or maybe using a favourite quote. It really lets you use your creativity and imagination. You do not need to be an experienced embroiderer to take this class, it's not about knowing a gazillion stitches. Most of the time I use simple stitches like back stitch and French knot.

I hope to see you in one of the classes! If you have questions about any of them, feel free to email me: carina@polkaandbloom.com. If you want a handy overview of all the classes on the Village Haberdashery website, here's a link for ya. :-)

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

California :: Part Two

Silverado Trail - February 13
Come with me back to California - I can barely believe that it was over three months ago!

On the fourth day of the visit, we drove up the Silverado Trail to Calistoga. It was a beautiful drive, with all the vineyards and the rapeseed flowers.

Old Faithful Geyser Calistoga - February 13
We went to Calistoga to see the Old Faithful Geyser. I'd never seen a geyser before so that was pretty cool. Because it had been a wet winter, the geyser was more active than usual, so we got to see it a few times.

Old Faithful Geyser - Calistoga - February 13.
My photo does not do it justice at all!

At Old Faithful Geyser Calistoga - February 13There were animals at the geyser. The kids were very interested in this guy. They had llamas too.

Silverado Trail - February 13
Driving back from Calistoga. I wouldn't mind living in that house up there on the hill on the right. ;-)

Hanging at the playground. Napa - February 13
Having fun at the playground in Napa.

On the way to Sonoma - February 14
Day five. on the way to Sonoma. This photo isn't really that interesting, but it's the only photo I have of this yellow tree/bush - any idea what it's called? My sister didn't know, she only knows about birds. ;-)

Sonoma Mission - February 14
Sonoma Mission.

Sonoma Mission - February 14
I loved the simplicity of this building. Very beautiful. It felt very peaceful.

Sonoma Mission - February 14

Sonoma Mission - February 14
The chapel in the Mission. My sister and the kiddos. :-)

Sonoma Mission - February 14

Sweet Scoops Ice Cream, Sonoma - February 14
After exploring Sonoma, we had ice cream at Sweet Scoops. They even had a couple of vegan flavours. The one I had was delicious, I think it was a chocolate and mint. Yum. :-)

Sonoma - February 14
Random building in the main square in Sonoma.

Downtown Napa - February 14
Downtown Napa.

In my sister's garden - February 14
Just an old truck in my sister's garden. :-)

Napa post office Trancas Street - February 15
Day six. My sister and I did some errands. I liked these post boxes at the post office (Trancas Street).

Random Napa building downtown - February 15
Random building downtown in Napa.

Random Napa house - February 15
This photo and the two below: random houses in Napa. I mainly took a picture of this one because of the peace sign with fairy lights. :-)

Random Napa house - February 15

Random Napa house - February 15

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Days Out :: Hockney Exhibition

Tate Britain
On Monday I went to see the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain. I highly recommend it. If you can get tickets for it, that is. It is a very popular exhibition. It ends on Monday, so get your skates on if you want a chance to see it. Make sure you're well feed and hydrated because it takes a while to get through the exhibition and it's hot in there. ;-)

It's a retrospective to obviously there is stuff from way back up until very recent.  I'm not so keen on the stuff from the 60s, but the paintings from the 90s onward, I really dig. Lots of colour.

But the thing that really struck me were a group of charcoal sketches of spring in Yorkshire. So beautiful. Seeing those up close was really inspiring. A good reminder that drawing is an important corner stone, if not a key stone, to great art.

Tate Britain - light installation
Light installation at Tate Britain.

Tate Britain - floor
Floor at Tate Britain. Quilt inspiration is everywhere. ;-)

Victoria gardens
Victoria Tower seen through Victoria Gardens.

Victoria tower
Victoria Tower.


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Colour Coded Pincushion

Pincushion for sewing machine needles
Doing different things with your sewing machine means using different sewing machine needles. But if you've been using a universal needle for a small project, you wouldn't throw it away just because you change the needle to a quilting one, for example. So what do you do with the first needle in the meantime? And how do you keep track of which is which if you don't happen to put it back in the pack?

These questions go through my head every time I put a different needle in the machine. Usually I just put the other one next to the machine. Not a great system!

I've been thinking that I should make a pincushion for the machine needles, but that still didn't solve my problem with telling them apart. Until when I had a flash of inspiration the other day: use the colour coding of the packs! So simple!

Pincushion for sewing machine needles
So I had a look at the needles I have and picked some solid scraps of those colours and made this pincushion. They're just small rectangles, 2" x 1½" each, because the pincushion doesn't need to be big. It really only needs room for one of each needle type plus a hand sewing needle.

This is really one of those "why didn't I think of that before?!" moments. But now I don't have to worry about dropping the needles and I'll know which is which just by looking at it's place in the pincushion. I just have to memorize the colours for each one! :-)

Pincushion for sewing machine needles

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