Sunday, December 28, 2008

Living is creating

I do not know the verb "relax". I often wonder if that is a verb at all. My verbs include working, crafting, designing, knitting ...

Am I crazy? Probably so but I am having too much fun to really realize that I miss all the time that people usually spend doing nothing or socializing.

So I had some ideas for the new folk bags a couple of days ago and there they are.

You must wonder what is that beautiful, most ornamental pot ever seen! It is my newly purchased treasure from Etsy. It is made by Constance Finn from Past Embraces. I could buy all their painted stuff, can there be anything more ornamental?

The more I make things myself, the more I want to spend my money on hand made items. And regarding to my studies - after learning how to design plastic, mass-produced items, everything hand made has even more value. I hope that the recession contains the possibility for all of us to think more seriously where we put our money to.

Yesterday I read about a wonderful Finnish artist Anni Rapinoja, who uses natural elements in her art. I am astonished by her creativity, I love her willow shoes especially. She is a real proof of the fact that living is creating but it does not all have to be cheap plastic.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kalevala rocks

Forgive me not to post any Christmas photos, I just have to dedicate this post to the folk bag I have made just before Christmas. It was ordered by a person who did not want her bag to have flowery style. Instead, she gave me two themes: Finnish rock music and Akseli Gallen-Kallela's painting Lemminkainen's Mother.

I found the design process very challenging but also wondefrully interesting.

Lemminkainen and his mother are characters from Kalevala, the finnish national epic.

Finnish rock music is often very hard and earthy, trying to reach somewhat heroic atmosphere.

I ended up creating very melancholic look. The bag is called October as it is one of the saddest month in Finland, very dark despite of the firsts snowfalls of the coming winter.

I do not know how the bag would be received in other countries. For me, it is very touching in its honest melancholy.

I painted the fabric myself as I was unable to find anything appropriate in my stash. I find it more and more appealing to try to design my own fabrics. I have lately joined Spoonflower and might try that soon. They offer fabric printing on JPEG image which is a brilliant idea for business I think!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bumblebees and glass

Some people hate primitive country style. You know those pictures of enormous bodied cows and bigs, dolls that have long legs and flowered cotton dresses and kitchens filled with towels and shelves for plates.

My husband is one of those people who think it is just too childish and represents bad style.

I probably should think the similar way - studying design and all.

But I think primitive country has something so feminine, so relaxing and fun. I just had to make a folk bag from Debbie Mumm fabric and think about naive country things like bumblebees and homemade honey!

Talking about design - another new folk bag has a theme that has been on my mind for months. One day at the library I was browsing books of designer glass. Finland has a lot to offer regarding to glass vases, we have great designers like Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala and many more.

Seeing a picture of Oiva Toikka's Bambo inspired me to try to create a textile that takes it's concept from glass.

I used only mild contrasts and complementary colors to great a light and brisk feel. The result is very different than most of my bags but I am very happy with it!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Decos and flowers

I have a hobby that I have discovered just few years ago. I swap small booklets called decos. Each deco has a theme - like "birds". Each person decorates one page of a booklet according to the theme. When a page has been decorated the person sends it to one of their swapping pals. When each page has been decorated, the last person sends the deco to the address marked on it.

It is so much fun to decorate the pages and see the pages others have been filled. I have learned a lot about different countries (a very popular theme), styles and history. It is also very creative to make these little collages. I find it very relaxing too.

Making collages and knitting are surprisingly close. At least when I am tempted to combine materials in my textile work. This happens pretty often!

These pictures show them again: flowers. I know that flowers are so old school. But what can I do about it. I just love filling spaces and there's not much better than flowers.

I am attending to a course where we design a mobile phone holder for a car. Oh my!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Arts, crafts and hedgehogs

I have just been at art history lectures. Most interesting!

Although I have always knew the arts and crafts period in the change of the 20th century I have never really realized how close to that my own style is.

Our small home is filled with arts and crafts styled details like these William Morris curtains in my workroom.

I have been knitting little bags as usual. I have to introduce this hedgehog themed one as it is a bit different from those very romantic ones I usually make. This one is something made by order and there had to be hedgehogs.

I was lucky to find the fabric from a small quilt shop in Tapiola, Espoo. The service in the shop is excellent and being a former quilter I could buy all the fabrics there.

Today's modern style is not for me.
I just love to show all the little details and ornamental borders. I wish we could move on from modern thinking to decorative thinking, giving full power to shapes and colors.

You, who live outside scandinavia may not fully understand what I am talking about. But if you visit Scandinavia you will know. It is all about white, white and plain here. Most think it is about harmony.

I find my little home nothing but plain and still the best place to live at.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New books

I have been very picky with the new knitting books lately. For the experienced knitter it seems that they publish the same books again and again. But you do not always need to look books under knitting to find inspire for your knits.

I love this book: Art Deco Fashion by the Pepin Press. First I borrowed it from the library. Then I just could not be without and I had to buy it! The book is filled with fashion drawings of the 1920s and 1930s. Some are colored, most are not. Every single outfit is so conceptual that you can just take the design - proportions, details, shape and such - and do what ever you want from it. I use this book by just opening it randomly and whoo - I get so inspired! It is my design bible. If I am feeling low, all I have to do is to open the book.

Another recent addition to my library is Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia. I love Nancy Bush and I love lace, so no question I had to get this book. I find it a bit odd though that we need an american woman to write the book about estonian lace. There are so many talented people in Estonia, also many in Finland - why do we need an american to appreciate what we have.

The answer is that we just do need one. All that skill and beauty is too close to us. We really do not fully understand its' uniqueness and value.

The book is wonderful. I am definitely going to knit many of its projects.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


When I knitted these clover leaves I just had to add the flowers as well!

I have had a collector's mindset all my life. One approach to ornaments is that they can be viewed and designed as collections, grouping items that are some way similar to each other.

When I bought a stained class ornament for my batchroom window, I just had to have more of those grass greens and other bold colors and forms. I painted the bathroom walls bright green and changed the style to go along with the single ornament. It just looked so lonely that I had to do something!

Many of my collections have been carefully defined. Like my doll collection which is something I cherish the most. Some collections found at the house are more loose, just a group of items that seem to go fairly well with each other.

I like to combine pricy items with cheap ones like in the little collection of souvenirs around the world that are connected by their ethnic style more than their monetary value.

The best collections in the world are those that are filled with stories. In Finland, a great collection is found in Hyvinkaa. If you visit the town you have to go to the teddy bear museum and talk with the owner, Armi. She is a great collector with a great sense of humor. Soon you will find out that every little toy of the museum has its' own incredible story. Someone should make a book about Armi and her teddy bears!

I want to tell stories with my knitting. This approach makes knitting so exciting! (I will reveal the whole story around clovers when the bag they belong to is finished.)

Sometimes a material can be the one that adds the story to the form.

Triangles in the scarf can be the plainest ornaments of all but the colors and texture of the yarn makes them look like something old, wooden, carved and valued. Here the yarn is the element that takes us to the ancient Japan where we drink tea with harmony and look over the hills cherishing the view.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New old

One of my current knitting projects is now finished. It's a new folk bag called Country Holiday.

It reminds me of oriental carpets in a big log cabin, some sort of american luxurious country style shown in interior design magazines.

I took few photos in my own living room which is decorated with violet blue, red and pine. It is not difficult to imagine that I have sat on that sofa and knitted the bag. I am easily influenced by the surroundings!

As I study industrial design, I am very interested in shapes. In this bag I wanted to add a three-dimensional ornament, the dark green border which adds lightness and works as a reminder of historical decor.

Unlike many modern designers, I just love history and old things. It is so much fun to go to the antique show and look around, buy some old letters or postcards, if nothing else, and enjoy the ornaments in their element. Luckily my husband thinks the same way, it's such great time together. We have also watched Lovejoy over and over! Sometimes, especially in the summer, I can imagine being one of the characters in the series, going through all that is presented, hoping to find a precious bargain.

If only today we could produce objects that future generations cherish and fight over!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ornamental home

Here's a sample of one of the pouches I am working on at the moment. It shows so well how color freak I am. One shade of yellow just is not enough! And I have always loved the combination of pink and red even if some find it disturbing.

I read two interesting articles today. First was: Kenzo is opening a store in Helsinki! I am excited! I love Kenzo's products, especially jewellery which has been available in Finland for few years, but I also like Kenzo's textiles and porcelain. I find Kenzo so inspiring because the products combine east and west, old and modern and they never give a dull picture of life.

If you are not familiar wih Kenzo, read a short summary of the founder Kenzo Takada from Wikipedia or go to see Kenzo's products on their web site.

The second article that I read today was about a finnish architect called Jan-Erik Andersson. He is not only a refreshingly different than architects in general but also a big fan of ornaments. "Symbols are needed to remind that people are dependent on the nature" he says in the article. He is currently building his own dream house called Life on a Leaf, which is filled with details and ornaments.

I live in an ordinary finnish row house and dream of a home that would have details and character. But even if I cannot change the way our home looks outside, the interiors of my home are lovingly designed by me and my husband. As you could probably imagine, my home is filled with ornaments of all kinds and I am planning to add pictures of them to my blog posts.

Here's one, a lamp bought from an antique store many years ago. This lamp is located in a corner of our bedroom. It is not only an ornamental object itself but also creates ornaments on the wall when turned on. Needless to say, I adore it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

About free form

I started making these pouches last month. I call them folk bags as they remind me of the small bags women used to have in the past. I think that most of the countries have their own versions of drawstring pouches like these. In Finland they were mostly crocheted.

My design combines crocheting, knitting and fabric. They are fun to make. I have finished 11 by now and have few on the needles. Every pouch tells a story and I think they really reveal the romantic side of me.

You see, I have started to love stories. I do not mean fairy tales but small stories told everyday everywhere. They can be straight forward, often boring, sometimes funny, but in general I find them very inspiring. In the same way than the form can vary from geometric and controlled to free and organic, I think the existence has its own variations.

People can try to present everything in a formal and organized way. Still, we will never loose stories. They will never die. We can develop data systems but what is stored in them. Stories! Blogs are a great example of the power of the storytelling.

The pouches have a clear design concept. The bottom part represents a form, the center part represents an ornament and the top part represents a free form. All these together are telling the story.

Have you ever thought of how organized you need your knitting to be? Sometimes it is difficult to analyze one's own work but look at this decorative wooden distaff, made by my father. You can see that my father liked his world be in order!

I still find this object endearing. The three windows are like three generations - me, my father and my grandfather. The story would be perfect if only one window would be open, letting air in and out. That free flow would made the object a part of the real world, true stories and great design.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Building blocks

Have you ever been deciding what is the most important building in your life?

For me it is difficult to name one. Home is the first thing that comes to mind. But the exact building is less important. More than its physical surroundings, home seems to relate to feelings.

But thinking of actual buildings, the first that has really affected me was a wooden orthodox church. It was located in Nothern Karelia, Finland, where I lived my childhood.

The church located near my childhood home. Just up a small hill and there it was. I was not orthodox but little did I know as a small child, how strongly I would be influenced by its decorative shapes and the activities that took place there.

I have always loved drawing and painting. In the age of 8 I was yearning to have guidance for making art. In the little town where I lived, there was nothing as such for young children. Nevertheless, I heard from my classmate that I would be able to attend the course held in the church ground floor. It was about painting icons.

I happily joined the group of adults and learned the skills needed with the patient guidance of the skillfull teacher Irke and other adults. My parents were very supportive in my hobby too. They weren't orthodox either but they enjoyed the beauty of icons and their meanings.

My first guided tour to art was a powerful experience. The colors of the icons and ornamental shapes of the old wooden church have never left me. The world of ornaments has a special appeal that never fades.

My parents died when I was a young adult. I have moved to the southern Finland and it is a long time since I saw the church.

During the years, it has been hard for me to go to my deepest thoughts, up to the hill and see the things that have influenced most of my actions.

Speaking of building blocks, the old church has to be one of mine.