Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas to ALL!

So Christmas is really upon us now, with its cheer and warmth and for us over here, a lovely bright sunny snowy day. I'm in such a good mood, I'm almost tempted to re-christen the blog Idle PineNeedle just for the festive period...

Without much hesitation, I'd like to thank all visitors for their visiting, all Idle Needle readers for reading and commenting, and all new and old bloggie friends for their love and support Idle Needle received from its beginning, barely over half a year ago! It's great to see my little blog growing and connecting with people in such a positive way. So thank you ALL!

I'd like to wish everyone of you lovely people a peaceful and happy Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year 2013! See you again in the new year!

Much love,

Saturday, 22 December 2012

easy last-minute Xmas: minty meringues

What's a blogger to do, if there's no good daylight, no good photos and it's almost Christmas?

Well, what I've done is I've reached out to some bloggie friends and asked to borrow from their blog to showcase their ideas that I've seen there and been inspired by.

So in this last-minute mini-series in the last week of the run-up to Christmas, I'd like to show off some brilliant ideas by some brilliant bloggers which result in quick creations very suitable for last-minuters like moi.

via Mini Matriarchin

I always see some really really good things on Steph's blog the Mini Matriarchin, be it nice photography, envy-inducing retro finds, seasonal food ideas and recipes, or inspiration for crafting projects.

I couldn't resist this recipe for little candy striped meringues, which bring back memories of childhood Christmases - mum placed the boxes of yummy meringues high on the top of the wardrobe so we kids wouldn't raid it before they can be threaded and put on the tree.

You don't need a lot of different ingredients, or a lot of time to make these and they look very impressive, with or without the chocolate dipped bottoms. So if you still have some steam to do a spot of whisking and baking, then these are pretty perfect. You will find a link to the recipe in English in Steph's post here.

By the way, the wonderful Geninne is having another giveaway of her hand drawn art and also a copy of her book on making stamps, so if you fancy yourself a surprise treat for Christmas head over to her blog and leave a comment there to enter!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End (of old projector slides)

The EndKonec Filma or Vége - you can read it after the closing scene at the end of old slide projector tales, like the ones I've been admiring for a while now. Well in the case of these they all say Vége, which means The End in Hungarian.

With 21st of December drawing near, and with all that murmur about whether it will be the end or not, I thought it'd be only fitting to share these.

You can enjoy them for their nice old hand-drawn fonts, or their aged illuminated colours, or for the scratches and scuffs the slides collected through their working years.

All images below are borrowed from the Hungarian Virtual Slide Museum's site, and most are from the 1950's, 60's and 70's.

sepia stories

I have no memories of my great-grandfather, but he does look a lot like my dad in this picture.
My dad's aunt gave me this photo.  I love that she did, not just because now I can look after this piece of my family history, but because I also like it as an object. In the age of instagram and cellphone photography - however corny that may sound - I like holding images like this and look back to where it all began and what it used to be...

Photos like this are beautiful objects really, with their pretty, decorated reverse sides, all art nouveau and now foxed with age. To me the sepia colour makes these images and people appear ancient; it's the tan and brown world of old.

These other two are not family. My sister saved a couple of old photographs for me when they cleared out the garage space in their new home. She asked around and managed to find out only that the house belonged to an old cobbler who came from a long line of shoemakers.

I like them, even though their condition is less than perfect. The muse on the reverse with her out-stretched arms is still beautiful, even in her faded condition.

Then there's the cobbler family photo; funny how it is a similar feeling to gaze into these old unfamiliar faces of strangers who I've never met and my great-grandfather's who I've never met either.
There was something very odd about that wonky matted brown cardboard frame. It is of course home-made, it's makeshift and a bit clumsy but that wasn't what made it look so odd for me.
It looks almost leather-like, and I thought, a little creepy therefore... Well, it held a pleasant little surprise as I turned it around: it'd been fashioned out of a lid from a box of Christmas chocolates.

Then I noticed that little brass eyelet hit into the top of it - isn't it just like the ones you thread your shoelaces through..? And then I realized the brown paint on the front must be leather paint that cobblers use on shoes! It's not creepy after all, it's just been made by a resourceful shoemaker who was in need of a non-costly frame for a costly and precious family photo.

It warms the cockles of my heart when I find little details like that, and with a bit of luck - like my clever sister's single piece of information - the puzzle pieces fall into place and the object's history unfolds. Or at least part of it does.

I'm sharing this post with A Favourite Thing on the Mockingbird Hill Cottage blog.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

easy last-minute Xmas: neon straw tree

What's a blogger to do, if there's no good daylight, no good photos and it's almost Christmas?

Well, what I've done is I've reached out to some bloggie friends and asked to borrow from their blog to showcase their ideas that I've seen there and been inspired by.

So in this last-minute mini-series in the last week of the run-up to Christmas, I'd like to show off some brilliant ideas by some brilliant bloggers which result in quick creations very suitable for last-minuters like moi.

via Hibiscuschica

I only just recently discovered Carol's blog Hibiscuschica but I've fallen in love with her Christmas projects straight away, especially with this neon green drinking straw tree.

I think if you have a piece of wire and some plain drinking straws at home you can easily craft one up in no time at all! I was thinking that even paper rolled up into small tubes could work - my answer to how to make away with those pretty scraps of Christmas wrapping paper which are just too nice to chuck.

Carol says that she has a big crush on neon colours at the moment, and she likes to team them up with hues of grey. I think they really work, especially the way she combines different textures, soft wools with hard materials like stone, glass and metal. Altogether they make such a fresh look which is still full of warmth for the Christmas season - peek here to see.

I've come across Carol's blog via Anja who, apart from being one of my fave reads, is also the host of a humorous ranting linkie party that makes me very much look forward to Wednesdays. So hop over to Anja's blog Cocalores too, to meet new friends while sharing a virtual cup of coffee with her.

But back to Carol's delightful projects, check out the felt slippers she made - if in need for a last-minute gift for someone and have some wool felt and a little time, I reckon these will be simple and quick to whip up too!
There's still some time left until Christmas Eve, and in all honesty, I'm quite tempted to sit and stitch away for a few hours in the comfort of my own home with some nice Christmas songs on, rather than brave the gift-hunting crowd in the busy centre of town...if needing a pattern template I found one here.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

easy last-minute Xmas: candle holder covers

What's a blogger to do, if there's no good daylight, no good photos and it's almost Christmas?

Well, what I've done is I've reached out to some bloggie friends and asked to borrow from their blog to showcase their ideas that I've seen there and got inspired by.

So in this last-minute mini-series in the last week of the run-up to Christmas, I'd like to show off some brilliant ideas by some brilliant bloggers which result in quick creations very suitable for last-minuters like moi.

via Weird Amiga

I swooned when I saw these gently glowing votives on the Weird Amiga blog.

They have such a delicious 50's modernist look about them, it made my heart tingle. Imagine my delight when I found out that I can have these very same ones for free - in exchange for a bit of time invested in cut'n'paste.

They are actually plain glass candle holders covered over with printable paper designs offered up for your DIY-ing pleasure by Anabel aka the kooky and creative lady behind Weird Amiga.

Head over to here to download the free printable. Read Anabel's instructions here - to make sure they turn out safe & correct!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

book love: Disney's White Wilderness

I'm starting a series of posts called Book Love where I'm going to write about vintage books I collected, or happened to come across in some way.

First in the series is the Finnish edition of Walt Disney's White Wilderness (1961)

I rescued this book from the fate of being taken to the recycling centre, because I liked the full page  technicolour photos of snow- and icescapes and beautiful cold-climate animals.

I did my research and found out that it's a book version of the same title film made by Disney in 1958, which has become a little infamous due to the way they handled filming lemmings... you can read about it here if you want to. A little controversy won't put me off keeping hold of this book, even though I definitely don't agree with staging lemming suicides.

Besides, my improving Finnish allows me to enjoy the text too!

You can view the lemmings footage from the 1958 feature here - which is English-speaking of course.

Friday, 14 December 2012

flea friday: red & whites

Some finds in pretty red & white from recent junk store visits. 
Lately, finding nice retro stuff for thrifty prices has been quite hard - I think a lot of people are shopping for Christmas second-hand so the good stuff gets picked up pretty fast.
But still managing to be the first to spot a few fun pieces every now and then, so can't complain!

I don't think I have ever found anything Hungarian before, so this is a first, and a very likable example too methinks.

It's a lidded butter pot - well that's what it seems to be in this part of the world - late 60-70's era.
I like the apple motives, but I'm yet to figure out what to keep in it. Definitely not butter...

I couldn't find much factual stuff on Granit and their wares in English, not even that much in Hungarian, but basically in their heyday, they are said to have rivaled the famous Arabia of Finland factory as one of the most modernly equipped and highly productive ceramics factory in Europe at the time. 
Now that's being said, this butter dish looks quite reminiscent of this style of Arabia design from the late 60's and obviously was made for the same market. I guess that's how it ended up here.

Next, the first and only Christmas-themed thing I bought this year; a little table runner with snowflakes, candles and elves. I liked the nice old cotton, the simple resist printed design and needless to say, love that wonky white hand stitching on each side.

Now, this next find is rather random and it'd be more relevant if it was the barbecue season... A pair of red plastic tongs which have a bottle opener incorporated in the top. Inventive? I guess so.

To share my finds, and to see what other people have thrifted, I'm linking up this week with Sir Thriftalot, with A Living Space, and with Apron Thrift Girl.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

how I wrap with fabric for Christmas

I first thought of wrapping presents in fabric a few years ago, after reading Björk's account of meeting with a Japanese delegate when she was making her film. She mentioned that the delegate brought her simple but beautiful gifts all artfully wrapped in textiles.

At that time I was learning dressmaking and had a heap of fabrics in my stash that didn't work out or I changed my mind about. I thought - great, I use them up for gift wrapping...! And without much research or learning techniques, I bundled all sorts of things into them when I had an occasion for it. And I still do it that way.

I really enjoy the freedom and malleability of fabrics, and the way they lend themselves just as easily to both bubbly shapes and neat little parcels which can look effortless, pleasing and exciting.

You don't need to worry much about symmetry, crisp angles or creasing down corners . You can hype up a DVD or a book into unguessable shapes, or make a lovely parcel out of one of those items that doesn't come in a box and is a nightmare to wrap traditionally. There's also no dilemma about which hand should be holding down the fold of paper while trying to cut that very sticky tape with your scissors. Because there's no need for tape or scissors.

A piece of cloth and a length of ribbon can be a very creative combo in anyone's hand, so I won't even make a proper step-by-step tutorial about how to wrap with fabrics... it's so easy. But for good measure here's how, the basic steps along with a few tips:

You will need:
- lenghts or bigger pieces of fabric
- ribbons or string
- tissue paper (optional)

  • consider the size and the weight of your object when choosing your fabric for wrapping
  • you might want to wrap your present up in tissue paper first, to protect it, or to even out an uneven shape
To make a pouchy parcel: 
Plonk your object into the middle of the fabric and pick up the corners around it then pull to the top centre, where tie it tightly with ribbon. Style the top bit as you like; you can tuck parts of the loose fabric back into the ribbon for example. You could also use two different fabrics to create a two-toned parcel.

To make a square-ish parcel:
Plonk your object in the middle of the fabric and fold the fabric up, then around, until it's neat and square-ish. Employ tucks and tugs, then tie with ribbon when happy. I used thrifted fabric swatches (blogged about before here) which have nice pinked edges and also wrapped a contrasting second fabric around my parcel before securing the ribbon, but you could do many other variations.

The possibilities are virtually endless! There are a lot of inspiring ideas online too, if you need more than just my simple guide - look here on this beautiful website for some lovely ideas.

It's also suitable for all genders and ages; the pressies in my picture are for my guy actually. Just choose the colours and patterns of your fabric and ribbon to suit the person you are giving to.

I could weave it on and on about the greatness and ingenuity of wrapping with fabrics, but let me close on a sneaky one. Isn't a fabric wrapped gift the ultimate way to keep curious kids and grownups finding out prematurely what they are getting, in case they 'happen' to come across the hiding place? I would certainly not attempt to undo fabric wrapping in fear that it will not look the same when done up again...enough said.

Happy wrapping!

Monday, 10 December 2012

is it dead or just hibernating...?

Sometimes I feel like something has been switched off in me and it comes back only sometimes, for blinks, like a pilot light, like a short eye movement between two sessions of deep sleep.

And with that switch, it seems, goes my energy, pace, inquisitiveness and the words...

I figure it could be the snow. The way it falls over everything non-selectively and makes noise into quiet with its frequency of white. A keyboard made of soft feather downs... The sound you hear in the cold side of the pillow...

Or it could be the wintry skies. Another blanket-like presence; and the jackdaws are gone from it too. I used to notice how they keep swarming religiously every morning, sometime around mid-November. They kept flying in big gloopy shapes above the market square or over the paper factory, for seemingly no reason at all.
I just noted first, then began to wonder about their strange display. I searched for a while for a good sort of an answer, but found not much satisfaction in swarm theories and the boids simulation.... My interest gave up and moved somewhere else, so did the jackdaws, and they were replaced by flurries of snow.

I feel like sleeping a lot. My mind and body wants sleep so I give it sleep. My diet changed too. I want no meat, no egg, no dairy, no complicated flavours...just rice. Or just green leaves. Or a simple soup. So I comply.

I've been feeling stuck for words. The quietness of sleep feels attractive, or just to be quietly wondering about this or that, about missing words, about movements in nature. About hibernating.

Or about this spider that I'd found in the broom cupboard the other week. I knew it was dead, but still it made me look twice. Not because it was a big one with long spindly legs; I looked because I noticed its curly feet. It struck me how it looked like a scribble, like a doodle of itself.

It also could be this small town. The tiny stretch of illuminated shopping street is like a postcard, it makes me smile inside and feel the warmth of the season's idyll, but rather like a Christmas lullaby. It's nothing like Oxford Street with its festive rush, stresses and overstimulating excesses.
It's sleepy and quiet, just like me.
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