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Friday, July 14, 2017

Finished Object :: Neon Pink Needle Book

It seems like Thursday is turning into "ignoring my to do list" day. Last week it was that quick tidying that turned into an all day project. This week I just *had to* make a new needle book. So I did. ;-)

That's the outside of it up there. I love that fabric. It's neon pink, what more can you want? (It's Ellen Luckett Baker Rough Cut - Botanica in neon pink, in case you're wondering.)

The button is a vintage one I had in my stash. Actually, the whole thing is made from my stash, so that's good!

There are two felt 'pages' for the needles. Luckily, I had some felt in exactly the same colour as the internal fabric.

The internal fabric (Scruffy Daisy in Ice Frappe from Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis if that takes your fancy), I love the subtle colour of this fabric. I usually pick colours that are much more in your face, but I like it toned down sometimes.

And look, the inside is quilted AND there are two pockets in the needle book. I need that. Somewhere to keep thread and scissors. Maybe even a few bits of fabric and EPP templates. You never know when you might find yourself with a bit of time that need to be filled with some needle work.

I have to point out this scallop edging, which I made with my scallop pinking scissors*. Isn't it cute? :-)

*I bought it from Cloud Craft (not an affiliate link or nuthin') - they actually have three different sizes of scallop scissors!

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Studio

Blake on my desk!
Come visit my little studio/craft room? I thought I'd posted pictures of it already, but it doesn't look like it. Atleast not since I moved back into it last summer.

I did move into the studio when we first moved in (this is what it looked like on the very first day), but in December that year, 2013, there was one heck of a storm and it became apparent that something was really wrong because water was coming up through the floor. Not good.

I kept using the studio for a while, but then white mould started to form on the floors and then I refused to use it anymore. Also the floors were squishy every time it rained. But the mould..gross. And not healthy.

So we moved my desk into the conservatory. When we removed the floor, it turned out that there was carpet underneath! What a delicious place for mould to grow, huh? And not only was there carpet, there were also two layers of lino!

After eliminating a bunch of possible reasons, we figured out that the water would come in through a hole which had been made to pull cables through the wall. But the holes hadn't been done properly (which is the story of this house!) so water would come in. We closed up the hole and had a guy come put a coating on the external wall, and we've not had any water since. Huzzah!

Last August we were finally able to fix the internal wall where we'd had to remove a 'fake' wall and a book case. And then I could finally move in!

Messy studio, tidying in progress!
Last week, I was tidying up after a quilt project, "I'm just going to clear the desk". But that turned into an all-day project. And the studio was an absolute mess! Just look at it!

Furniture was moved around, drawer contents were streamlined and stuff was put in the bin. And for a few days it was all nice and tidy. So I took some pictures to mark the occasion! ;-)

Tidy studio!
See? Nice and tidy. I did not last long, I can tell you. ;-)

But let's just carry on with the fantasy of the tidy studio.

Watercolour. Studio corner.
A watercolour I made when I was in 10th grade. A teacher actually offered to buy it back then, but I'm glad I kept it. It reminds me of very happy times. :-)

Porcelain doll
A porcelain doll my grandmother gave me. I may have been ten years old or so. She told me that she had always wanted a porcelain doll when she was a little girl, but she never had one. But she bought one for herself when she like 70. I think that is pretty great.

Fabrics. Some of my favourites, Liberty Lifestyle (why did they stop making those?!) and Leah Duncan.

Denyse Schmidt fabrics...
My all time favourite: Denyse Schmidt. Love!

Unused sketchbooks
Sketchbooks waiting to be filled. I love a brand new sketchbook! I do not have any kind of 'fear of the blank page'. :-)

Hoops on the wall
The studio is very small. This wall is maybe half a metre (at most) from the end of the white desk. I guess you can call it compact or 'bijoux'. Not much floor space, but storage and table space is more important for me. It's not like I'm going to start break dancing in the studio!

Hoops hooks
I love these hooks with the flowers. I bought them before we even moved into the house because I saw them and I knew they would be perfect for my hoops. Hoop hooks!

Blake's studio bed
Blake has his own bed in the studio, because he's spoiled like that. Sometimes I shut him in the studio with me so he can't go bark at the post lady or whoever else happens to walk past our house. He's a barky little guy.

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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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