Monday, 25 February 2013


via AlleycaT

During a research in Finnish I have come across this site of photos of old abandoned buildings and other apocalyptic sights.

This particular stream of images of a 70s tavern in total disrepair tugged on the heart strings especially...I'm yet to analyse why, but those soviet flocked figurines might be a big part of it.

It's hard not to feel anything when looking at places which have been ruined, or fallen victim to the corroding teeth of time and oblivion.

They always make me wonder about what had happened, and I wish I could rescue those probably unrescuable objects of gone times and way of living... And since reading Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake, scenes like these always bring to memory those conjured up in my mind's eye about nature re-occupying houses, streets and whole cities in the absence of man.

Friday, 22 February 2013

flea friday: thrift therapy

Do you ever go to the thrifts because you feel down? I don't, for the same reason I don't go grocery shopping when hungry: I might end up with impulse buys that I regret when my mood recovers....

Having said that, most of this little batch I'm sharing here today are a result of me taking a sharp right turn on my way home from a disappointingly difficult day. I can't remember exactly what was the matter - but knowing myself it was probably a combination of tough grammar, impatient perfectionism, grey brooding skies and a sugar-down from too much espresso.

Before you start thinking that I'm going to show you some regretful items, I'm not! I still like all of them today. Plus they did the trick. I felt better afterwards, my indulgently just-for-fun finds burning my side through the totebag with a slightly guilty glow. If I have a vice, it is definitely thrifting. I do get a kick out of it, spending tiny money on nice, interesting or quirky things with a bit of history and dust attached to them.

So what was in the tote?

The find that shone the most sunny rays into my moody little heart must have been this chain of small pennants. They are souvenirs from Finnish towns and holiday spots, dating from the 70s and early 80s.

I've been wanting some kind of colourful garland to decorate my space with for a long time, and I think I have now found the perfect thing. Here it is hanging gloriously above my crafting table:

Then I found a new chum in the shape of this plastic giraffe. He is not terribly old, his belly informs of 1998, but I like his bashed-up looks. He's got character; he's missing an ossicorne a.k.a horn, and he's got a face of a cheeky punk with that tongue sticking out. Added to my growing plastic zoo.

On the useful side of things, I managed to get my mitts on a length of elastic with buttonholes, in a super grey colour. I think it's great, I usually see it in white which is very underwear-like.

The most guilty of the lot was this 1950's picture book about all things wonderful in the world. I love that it's last chapter is about modern wonders that technology achieved and the book finishes on the most complicated of these wonders - a vintage TV set (the one that looks like a washing machine encased in wood). Good old vintage days...

The book is in a fall-apart condition, but has beautiful illustrations with many colour plates throughout. The only way I could have passed this one up that particular day if I didn't spot it at all. As soon as I had a rifle through its pages, I knew it had to come with me.

I (don't) blame my mother for my love of beautiful books - she is the most tomboyish, unconventional, non-stereotypical librarian I've ever known and her affinity for books has always been contagious. She has a true passion for the written word, for volumes of knowledge and imagination waiting to be released. She never misses a chance to bury her nose into the pages of new books to enjoy the scent of printers' ink. I think if she'd lay hands on this one, she probably wouldn't bother smelling it but she'd just spend a day repairing it with tape the way she does in the library.

I'm sharing my thrifty loot on my usual favourite linkies hosted by Sir Thrift A Lot, by Young Heart and by A Living Space

Thursday, 21 February 2013

three-line thursday: Elzbiety Wasiuczynskiej

via Polska Ilustracja
Kooky catspressions - done in fascinating hand stitches - could study them all day long!
Wa-siu-czyn-skiej, it becomes a song after pronouncing it many-many times.
I feel compelled to stitch my own cattery.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

book love: the finnish equivalent of Golden Hands

Recently I thrifted these vintage craft books. I love an old book with a nice spine and decorative exterior, but these are also great inside. What more, the contents are just too lovely not to get inspired by.

The Finnish title translates as The Most Beautiful Handcrafts. All three volumes were published in 1975 and been translated from the original 1966 Italian Mani D'oro series. Is it anything to do with the English publication Golden Hands Library? Not sure, but the format, the image styling and presentation look suspiciously similar.

Anyways, onto the cascade of pictures showing off the books inside.

Volume number 1 is about knitting and crochet. I love the way it inspires me to try learning crochet yet again. I tried so many times, but just don't get beyond the chain stage... I think my knitting skills are standing in the way; I heard before that some who learn knitting first struggle to learn to crochet.

In general, I love how the images are styled, even though some are quite wacky - like the knitted house shoes presented on boot shaped vases... Mostly I love all those contrasting brights and muted colours, page after page.

In the knitted garments section, the styling is soooo 60's it makes my inner feminist cough a little cough. All the ladies are leaning back on something, lounging around passively, while Mr Man looks very assertive in the midst of all sorts of activities, not needing to lean on anything. Look at the Clark Kent clone trying to shoot us readers in the face... But got to love the Sophia Loren-esque templates highlighting the different stitch patterns (bottom left).

In volume 2 we have embroidery and needle lace making. I just can't help drooling over the stitch library. There is a big section on drawn thread embroidery, which is quite an overlooked form of needle craft, somewhere between cross stitch, smocking and openwork. I think I might look out for some loosely woven linens on my thrift rounds and try it out.

Volume number 3 is all about sewing garments, mending and even some weaving. Enter the close-up shots of perfect vintage manicures - I'm always a little jealous even though I don't like the obviously fake stick-on nails. This volume features a gorgeous looking vintage Borletti sewing machine, and the loveliest images I have ever seen for instructing on small detail sewing, like zippers, buttons and arrowhead tacks.

It's an added bonus that the book has an extensive section on mending. Again the pictures win me over - a hole in a sock never looked so inspiring before. As to the weaving part, I really hope one day I might get the opportunity to loom my own rug in those vintage shades of wool.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

lucky mail: owls from the UK

I'm very glad to own a little something from Suki of The Owl Club - I have been following along her crafty adventures and admiring her creativity and retro patterned cloth finds for a good while. I recommend her blog for thorough reading and idea-stalking, but if you check out just one thing from her recent creative posts, it should be this brilliant cat plushy she made!

I've signed up to the Craft It Forward 2013 challenge on her blog. She made me a little felt owl brooch which I feel like pinning to my favourite dress-down jersey. (By the way, I wonder if it's wrong to be so attached to a plain jersey and wanting to adorn it with brooches?) There was also a vintage cotton print button badge that she makes in the parcel - with my furry brooch in tow, I'm spoilt for choice!

Here's the owl brooch together with the furry brooch I thrifted recently, adorning said jersey, and also my vintage Wetherall alpaca coat. I was planning to take a picture of myself wearing the brooches with my fave tee, my hair trailing down romantically and snow all around, but while posing on the balcony I spotted a man on a balcony opposite keeping a close eye on my activities which prompted my shy self to scurry indoors quickly, with a cameraphone full of shaky blurred images... So instead, here are a couple of pictures of my modelling in front of the snow-coloured wallpaper...

I probably mentioned somewhere before that I love hand sewing. The maker's handwriting and personal touch is right there in the work, I don't believe it can get more signature-like than that in needle craft! I also received sweet retro patterned stickers and a playing card that has a very cool reverse with two owls beaming at each other wisely. This one is going on the wall in a frame!

And now a memory from many years ago:

Receiving an owly package from the UK has brought to memory the time I was gifted a day at a bird sanctuary in Kent. I had the opportunity to handle birds of prey, like this wonderful long-eared owl above called Mr. Cuddles. I also flew Harris hawks, and gazed at a fierce-looking buzzard real up close, while it was sitting on my gloved arm grabbing the thick leather with his terrifyingly huge claws. Despite the typical English weather, drizzling rain and toes freezing in wellington boots we had a super day, meeting wonderful animals and their friendly, knowledgeable handlers...

Suki, thank you ever so much for making this owl brooch for me bearing your very own hand-writing in those stitches! I will cherish it and it will surely be getting a tour of this little Finnish town while pinned onto jerseys and coats of mine!

Update on my progress with my own Craft It Forward packages - I have finally made my decision on what I'm making for each of you 5 people...! Good things come to those who wait, as they say.

Friday, 15 February 2013

flea friday: a cat-in-the-bag of mystery stamps

I've got this little pouch of mystery stamps not so long ago, just for the thrill of it. I saw it, I saw all those staples pressed into its top preventing it from being opened for a peek.

For half an euro I took a chance on this little cat-in-the-bag. My reasoning was, that out of a little fat pouch like that, even if it's full of rubbish, surely there will be one stamp in there - if not more, then just the one that will make me smile.

There were a few:

This week, it's just these to show - I feel like that huge haul from last week is ought to be balanced by a less indulgent report.... but there will be more vintage finds next week, same time!

I'm sharing with A Living Space and Young Heart.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

an old love letter in disguise

Bernath képeslap leporelló régi kárpátaljáról magyar népviselet old postcard hungarian folk attire subcarpathia leporello

I thought I'd show you this vintage novelty leporello postcard from before the 1940's on the occasion of Valetine's Day....

My sister sent it to me alongside the old cobbler family photos I blogged about before here.

At front it has a sweet folklore inspired illustration, plus a fold-out leporello of scenic photographs of the area in Transylvania called Subcarpathia. It carries on the back a couple of vintage stamps from Old Hungary, and a simple message of polite greetings. What makes me think that it might be more than just a simple greeting, is a lot of subtle details.

old hungarian transylvanian postcard handwriting Bernath leporello stamps

The first one is that it's written to an unmarried woman, as he's addressing her as 'noble miss'.

In olden times in Hungary, and I'm sure in other cultures too, patriarchal or not, were certain ways to go about courting a young lady. You'd want to appeal to the father as well as to the daughter - more than usually, the father had the last word in sealing fates and marriages, and literally did or did not give her daughter away. So sending an understated, polite message on an expensive novelty postcard showing a flood of views from your travels was sure to impress the careful parent of the special lady.

Then, another giveaway clue is the attire of the cute kitschy couple on the front of the card. They are dressed in traditional Hungarian folk wear, the celebratory type - the guy looks like the best man and the girl like a flower girl. They are carrying a huge wooden trunk (which flips up to reveal the scenic views) which cannot be anything else but the 'tulip trunk' of the traditional Hungarian folk wedding holding the bride's matrimonial heirlooms.

The little message on the back in beautiful old handwriting just says With greetings from Kőrösmező, with many hand-kisses but I think it reads more like I'm thinking of you in this far-away land, will you be my wife...

Well, however you will spend today, I hope you'll have a Happy Valentine's / Friendship / Thurs- Day, everyone!

Friday, 8 February 2013

flea friday: a curious rubber dog and his friend, the soviet devil

So you've seen a little teaser of the colourful lot I hauled in the last time I went thrifting. Let me show you the most interesting pieces in a bit more detail.

Edward Mobley rubber toy laughing dog orange 50s 1958 vintage baby squeaky

Edward Mobley Arrow Rubber Plastic Vintage dog baby toy laughing grimacing
My absolute favourite (although hard to pick such a one from this particular lot) has got to be this curious looking rubber pooch. You might have guessed that he is a squeaky toy, suitable for brave babies and loopy collectors like moi... Some of you might love it and some of you might, khm.... ask why I bought the darned thing?

Seeing its kooky grimace I thought to myself that it looked awfully 50s - or if it was later, then superbly 70s soviet. Either way it had to land in my shopping basket, for it was also priced at a meager fifty cents. After a  little research back home I managed to find out that it is an Edward Mobley toy cast in the Arrow rubber & plastic factory in Germany. There's even a faint stamp on my dog which told me that it was cast in 1958. I'm happy about that but still happier about his fab orange colour!

From grimacing dogs to a bird biscuit cutter. And a heart one also. Simple but sweet. Besides, I've been thinking about starting a cookie cutter collection for a long time. These looked like ones I wouldn't mind starting with.

vintage cookie cutters bird shape red heart

Next, a bit of vintage mink fur. I am very aware that fur items, even vintage ones are quite controversial but because I appreciate vintage design, and because they are practically old unwanted items, I sometimes buy real fur secondhand. (Never new, because I don't support the contemporary fur industry.)

vintage fur brooch mink beaded 50s 1950s

This little piece of chocolate mink fur adorns a 1950s brooch, decorated with faux pearls and plastic beads. I am tempted to wear it with my dress-down grey t-shirt even though it probably should be worn accompanying a coat, a wool jacket or a cashmere cardi. Oh, the brooch was priced twenty cents.

devil krampus nutcracker vintage soviet 70s

vintage krampus nutcracker devil societ wooden 70s
Okay, now look at this fellow... what do you think of him? I thought he looked super-weird and very nicely hand-crafted too! He is a wooden nutcracker in the shape of a Krampus-type devil. Nicely carved, wood-peg jointed, painted and varnished. He cost about an euro and had to join the furry beaded rubber dog crew in my shopping basket. I wonder what the cashier thought...

After a quick research at home, I was delighted to discover that my devil is from around the 70's and was made in soviet Bulgaria. In my research it also became obvious that he is definitely hand-crafted, because all the other examples looked recognizably similar to each other but not exactly the same.

By the way, I love how this thrifty lot has such bright, clashing colours - almost each find has some red in it! And thinking that I nearly didn't go to hunt that day because I felt the fleashop would be still in its picked-through post-Christmas state...

vintage Rosti Denmark danish ashtray red melamine 60s

I came upon this great little 1960's Danish Rosti melamine ashtray too. It was a must for fifty cents. Out of the lot, my boyfriend's favourite.

Then last but not least, some sewing-related items: the wonderful trio of turquoise 60s craft books that I've photographed all the other things on, and some big spools of cotton thread in brilliant retro colours.

vintage Kauneimmat Käsityöt kirja vanha 70 craft books
The books have a great cover design and are really nice inside too; I'm posting about them in detail in my next 'Book Love' post!

I'm sharing this week's colourful finds at my fave link-ups - with A Living Space, with Young Heart, and with Sir Thrift A Lot.

More vintage finds same time next week!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

hari-kuyo: the last job for tired needles

hari kuyo needle mass festival of broken needles pins pihlaja jelly sweet february 8th

Have you heard of this sweet Japanese tradition before?

Hari-kuyo is the Festival of Broken Needles, held on the 8th of February on which day women lay their spent needles and pins to rest at a temple in a little ceremony of gratitude.

The tired needles are given the last job of piercing into something soft like tofu or jelly, in a recognition of their hard work throughout their usable life. This way they are relieved of their duty and honoured for their faithful service.

I've been collecting some of my bent pins and blunted machine needles for a while not really caring to dispose of them... For this blogpost I've stuck them into a piece of Pihlaja, my favourite Finnish sweet which is like a turkish delight originally made of rowan berries; perfectly soft and sweetly scented for this occasion. I wonder still what to do with them - seems very undignified just to dump the whole thing in the kitchen bin... I read somewhere that they are eventually meant to be thrown into the sea. I'm undecided about it, but maybe I'll take them along on one of our spring beach combings, yet to come...

I first heard of this festival years ago in art college, when we were given a project on Japan and a classmate crafted a very interesting wall hanging based on this hari-kuyo tradition. (Elizabeth, if you are reading and have a picture of it that I can link to, let me know!)

There's another notion to this festival which appeals to me. While being used for stitching, the needles and pins take on the quiet sorrows of women who work with them, so during the ceremony the needles are relieved of any emotional burden that has been transferred to them. I like that.

I've been following the artist/crafter Susan Clarke on her halfandhalf blog for a good while now - currently she's working on a piece connected to this hari-kuyo tradition. Pay her blog a visit, and find her post on the festival here.

So even if you are not in an entirely animistic mood, but have some tiny, worse for wear sewing implements in your pincushions and needle cases, maybe it's a good time to purge your craft space of such spent supplies. And while you gather them up and remember how they got damaged, and what sort of troubles they may have stitched into cloths and craft projects, maybe find a scrap piece of soft felt to stick them into before letting them go whatever way you see fit.

Monday, 4 February 2013


Evdokia from have a ko(o)kie gave me the Liebster Award, which is a little like a cross between a bloghop and an interview.

So here we go, as a first for me, it should be fun... I'm pleased to present my lists of 11's:

Eleven random facts about me:
I am the daughter of a librarian and a fireman.
My surname - which is either Polish or Russian in origin - means 'little hedgehog'.
I can't drive - never learnt and probably never will.
When I was six years old I got bitten on the arm by a sausage dog.
As a child I wanted to be a geologist so I could collect rare minerals and rocks.
I have a green thumb and love gardening!
I wrote my diploma thesis on the wedding dress.
I am a perfectionist, a recovering one :)
Names and numbers are not my forte.
When I was eighteen I canoed down the Hungarian stretch of the Tisza river from top to bottom, in a two-week tour.
My dream 'me' is something like a fully vegan version of a cross between Björk and Mildred Pierce.

Eleven questions from Evdokia:
I am a natural born night owl, so night it is!
The song that makes me feel good is currently Cirrus from Bonobo!
I used to live in a big city, now I live in a small town.
I'm quite happy with my name, but if I changed it I'd pick something silly like....Karotta.
My favourite animal...It's a tie between a doggie and a goldfish.
I think you can fit both a square and a triangle into a circle so I'll have all three ;)
The last movie I saw was Cloud Atlas - loved it!
My favourite scent is fig.
A cup of tea or a cup of coffee?...Both!
First thing to do in the morning?...I drink a big glass of water!
First thought that comes to my head...Uhm, right now I'm wishing that weekends would be 5 days long.

Eleven blogs I'm passing the Liebster-award to:
Participation is totally optional - I'll be still friends if you prefer to ignore...
Weird Amiga
The Sheer Stories
Mini Matriarchin
The Owl Club
A Living Space
Second Time Around Finds
This is Wiss
Introverted Art
Sjoe's Blog

Eleven questions from me:
1. favourite era? (in design, film, clothes, etc - you pick)
2. favourite vegetable?
3. holiday in a campervan or a logcabin?
4. would you ever eat reindeer (like the finns)?
5. the hardest thing you've ever had to do?
6. shower or bath?
7. the perfect Sunday morning tune according to you?
8. your most memorable trip?
9. what do you collect?
10. your foolproof way to unwind?
11. a good book you've read recently?

If you feel like answering the questions without being on the Liebster list - or if you are on the list but don't feel like doing the whole shebang - just answer them in comments! I'm curious!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

firebrickred february

February is 'firebrick red' in the Colour Me Happy series.

I show you this rose that is the most velvety shade of the fiery-est brick red, and it came together with my Finnish language Certificate - I have completed my beginners' course and now am ready to start on the advanced level. No stopping here!

Friday, 1 February 2013

(not quite) flea friday: a teaser

I have been out of town for a few days on a little journey that came at a short notice and I couldn't refuse going. It was very refreshing and a much needed break from the sleepy little town I live in at the moment. However, I have not prepped any posts in advance so now I am running a bit behind with the blogging regrets though, I love travelling!

While I was waiting at the airport for the connecting flight, I tried to at least reply to the comments the yoga post received, but it proved a bit hicuppy so I'm yet to respond to most of you. I'd like to say thank you here for your kind words, I was very surprised how much you guys liked that post!

Before the trip I visited my usual thrifty stomping grounds a couple of times and been quite lucky with finds, so let me tease you with a little image below, and I will make a proper post on the individual items for the next flea Friday.


I've also received the first Craft It Forward package from Suki, and the Liebster Award from Evdokia so there's plenty to catch up on!

Have a great weekend everyone, I will see you next week with detailed posts on all of the above!
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