Monday 23 August 2010

My summer vacation: Helsinki

Finally awake enough to blog about our trip to Helsinki. I do feel a bit guilty about flying- all that carbon dioxide, and other pollution as well. And I also feel guilty that I didn’t recycle my drinks bottles while I was there. Yes, I should have just asked how to do it, but I feel very awkward talking to people. My bad.

We didn't see any moose or flying squirrels, but I did have a neat wildlife encounter. While trying to photograph dragonflies at Nuuksio national park, an especially large dragonfly landed on my chest, on the left side of my cardigan, exactly where a broach would be worn, like those big Art Nuevo dragonfly broaches. It was big enough to notice the weight of it. No photo because it flew away too quickly, perhaps because I was covered in insect repellent.

Nuuksio is beautiful and very quiet. My initial impression was that it was like the Lake District. But the walking is very different. The ground is bouncy, maybe because it's thin dirt over granite, or possibly something to do with the hot summer.

Helsinki is packed with cute buildings, and loads of low relief decoration. I noticed several bears with flowers, especially big ball roses. Despite having a translation of the Kalevala on my bookshelf, I’m not familiar with Finnish iconography, so I have no idea if bears have a particular symbolic meaning or not. Yes, I know bears will eat you, but they do look cute with flowers.

The ball roses in those reliefs triggered an idea to try some fabric manipulation. I’m curious about how a strip of fabric would work up if used to make a spider's web rose. I’m also inspired by some pastries and cinnamon rolls, to try to copy the shapes of the pastry in fabric, not to make a toy pastry (fabric fake food is just wrong, cruel even) but just a 3D fabric manipulation as part of a quilt or embroidery. If anything, I've been a bit over inspired by the architecture and food. It makes me want to randomly start new projects at a time when what I meant to do is concentrate on finishing stuff. What I ought to do is capture the enthusiasm in a journal, and let the ideas mature into something that I feel would work in fabric. (That's what I learned from Sharron B's course!)

holiday goodies

Helsinki has a higher craft shop per capita ratio than Manchester. I didn't find any nylon embroidery ribbon, but I did buy some thin organza ribbon instead, some cotton lace (one of my favourite things) and a foam kumihimo loom. The conversation on Craftster is still relevant. There's also Punainen Lanka, upstairs in Hakaniementori covered market, for laces and ribbons, plus other haberdashery, including petticoats! The pastries downstairs and the fruit stalls outside at the market are worth seeing, too.

To keep my crafting needs satisfied while on holiday, I had packed an old shirt with a worn out collar (the stripy background fabric in the picture here)and some embroidery thread. Careful unpicking of the collar and re-seaming with a bit of running stitch should have given me a grandfather shirt. I was feeling quite pleased with it, but then noticed another hole worn through the front of the shirt, just above the buttons. How had I missed that? Now, I don’t want to have just wasted my mending efforts, but I am a bit flummoxed about how to salvage the shirt. Maybe I should put some of that lace over it.

And today on the bus, I was back to reading Moby Dick. It's a classic but very slow read.

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