Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A New Year's wish

As I'm writing this, there aren't many hours left of this year. Keeping up with tradition, I made the new year's eve afternoon walk to take some photos. It's the fifth year I'm doing this now. You can see the previous posts here.

As mentioned last year, the weather has been different every time I've done this. It's gone from a pink moon over a landscape slightly touched by white (2009) to snow and ice (2010) to fog and frost (2011) to dark, windy and wet (2012). This year the afternoon was a serene, snow-free day with relatively much sunshine. A pretty typical december day in Skåne, minus the fog and rain, really. Not that many clouds, which bodes well for the fireworks tonight.

And as for the result of the photo walk... Well, I'll let you be the judge of that.

 The sun went missing for awhile, but returned once I was up the hill and it made the landscape glow in the last sunlight of the year.

And with that, let's finish with a new year's wish. Before, I've shared with you some of the wishes written by Neil Gaiman. They're still good so if you haven't read them you should go to his blog and do so. But this year I also wanted to end with a wish from my own heart to you.

I wish you all a happy new year! Celebrating the new year is one of the oldest and most universal of traditions or ceremonies in the history of mankind. The big sun wheel had once again made a whole revolution. In the western world the end of one year and the beginning of the next has been associated with one of the most important days for people living this far for the equator, winter solstice -- the darkest and most ominous day of the year. While it is no longer celebrated on that date, the symbolism of the climax of darkness and dormant (but not dead) nature and the beginning of a journey towards light and rebirth can still be part of the new year magic. A new year can, if we want it to, be a new beginning. A time to review the year behind us and make goals and dreams for the year in front of us. We walk into the unknown that is the future. Perhaps scarred, perhaps confident, perhaps excited, perhaps indifferent. Regardless of which, the new days are all there in front of us -- for us to fill with meaning. Some days will be remembered for years to come, others will be forgotten. We can only do our best in filling the year with days to remember as they are the days that, in the end, make up our lives.

So my new year's wish for you is thus: May 2014 be a year filled with dreams that come true, happiness, adventure and many new opportunities. May you find your path in life, your north star to follow, and find it worth struggling for. May you grow and create and thrive.

Whether this past year has been good or bad -- or, probably, both -- for you, let the new year be a reason to turn the page so you can discover a new chapter in your life. Find the challenges that will be worth the hard work because it's through challenges you reach what you most of all want and need. Remember, you don't fail until you give up. And if you do have to give up, may it be a surrender to a new path in life: to bigger and bolder dreams and to more fulfilling goals. A giving in to a new dream rather than a giving up on an old one, a closure of an old chapter so a new one can begin. Put past disappointments and failures behind you not to forget them, but to move them out of your path to the future. Let the bad things that might have hurt or stopped you this year be nothing but memories and experiences in the year to come. One bad chapter does not define the whole book.

And while you walk along your path -- clear and easy to follow or obscured and tangled -- let the happy memories and the positive things in you life light the way. Let yourself shine and help others to find their light when they can not see it themselves. Winter nights are dark, but in that they give us a reason to kindle a light. A light of life and hope. And it is in the darkness that we see it shine the strongest, not because it is stronger than otherwise, but because it is only then we truly see its strength and beauty. It makes us remember what is always there, hidden.

There's a saying that planting a seed is to believe in tomorrow. Why not let new year's eve be a reason to plant a seed right now? Just a little seed -- a thought or idea in your head or a small action. Even if it's just something really tiny, do it now. Maybe it seems futile today or tomorrow, as days can be dark and hopeless, but the seeds will always grow if you plant them. A small step always carry you further than standing still does. Plant seeds not just as a belief in a new day, but as a belief in yourself. Sow as many seeds as you can along the path you walk and rest assure that one day -- perhaps on the day you least expect it -- you will find that they have grown into a paradise garden. 

Happy New Year!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Boxing day

While I haven't been blogging about anything I've done lately, that doesn't mean I haven't done anything. On boxing day, I took out the o beads I got for christmas (technically, I got christmas money to buy beads from so I got the beads before christmas eve) and played around with them. Really like how thin they are and how well they can be sandwiched between beads like the superduos in the pic above.

You can see some thread in some places so they aren't all perfect, those first three samples. Will play around some more with these designs and see what I can come up with. And of cause I'll embroider with them too, stitching them "face up" so to speak.

(By the way, if you need some inspiration for your new O Beads, check out this pinboard. The pinner also have a lot of other inspirational pinboards with various themes such as specific bead shapes or techniques.)

And as for this thing I also made on boxing day, can you guess what it is? If I give you another view?


It's actually a cover for my embroidery scissors. After putting all my threads and needles in an organza bag along with the scissors, I realised how much I needed some sort of protection for the sharp blades -- both to protect the scissors from being damaged and to protect the organza bag from being pierced.

The cover is made from something I just grabbed in my stash: the most ugly looking of my silk rods (aka silk carrier rods). It was already softer than most of the other rods, but was soften even more by being rubbed. I then folded it in half and stitched the edges with uneven, but luckily close to invisible stitches. Not the prettiest thing ever made and ideally the shape should follow the shape of the scissors and be tapered, but with some embroidery -- with beads or floss -- it could look pretty nice I think. Should have embroidered first, but forgot to plan ahead...

The hard edge on the end is used as a sort of clasp or clamp to hold the scissors in the cover: once it gives in it'll be replaced by a button and loop closure.

At least it's serving its purpose and that's pretty much why I made it the way I made it. It's not about looks, it was about finding a quick fix and crossing it of the to-do list. But I do kind of like the look of it as well. Very earthy/forest feel about it with the texture and colours in it. Might even keep it like this and not embroider it...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

It's that time of year again

Just a quick holiday wish to all -- religious and non-religous -- christmas celebrators out there. The kitties began their celebration already on Lillejulafton yesterday and now they're eagerly waiting to open their christmas presents and get some christmas ham leftovers in the evening. And for the rest of us it'll be the usual, quiet christmas with some nice food, chocolate and scratch tickets. Though with one person less (just as last year when dad spent christmas in hospital). But quiet holidays can be good too: no stress and no demands, just a calm day to focus on the good little things and spend time doing something you enjoy.

Except watching the snow fall -- we didn't get a white christmas this year, but then on the other hand, we rarely do here in Skåne. And it's quite ok with a christmas looking like below too.

I wish you all a God Jul, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 
May you all have a joyous and peaceful holiday with the ones you love.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Dreaming of Rosa glauca

Redleaf Rose (Rosa glauca or Rosa rubrifolia)
Photo: Distant Hill Gardens, creative commons by-nc-nd 2.0

Like many people, I've dreamed of my own garden and sadly that's exactly what I'm inheriting (or at least half a garden, my sis gets a half too). My sis and I both wanted very much to take over the farm and keep it in the family, but we thought it was still many years left before it would happen. While I haven't been much for gardening in years, it was dad that gave us and interest and know-how in gardening as kids -- when we had our own assigned plot where we were free to grow what ever we wanted -- and sowed a seed that didn't really start to blossom until the last couple of years. Perhaps it's with gardens as it is with genealogy etc, it comes with age.

Anyway, this post wasn't meant as a trip down memory lane. That's for later, not so close to everything that happened back in october.

Rosa glauca
Photo: Dale Calder, creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0

What I wanted to talk about was one of my latest flower obsessions. After bleeding hearts, columbines (aklejor), paeony poppies and pink-and-creme peonies, my dream flower is the red-leaved rose, Rosa glauca. In swedish it has a very poetic name, daggros, which literally means dew rose. It probably got the name from the dew blue colour of the foliage -- just as the latin name glauca is derived from glaucus, meaning blueish-grey and a synonym to e.g. frozen dew.

While I had heard the name daggros many times, it was just recently I realised which rose it referred to. And it was that lovely little rose bush I saw by the side of the street every day when walking from my student apartment to the uni when studying in Västerås. The rose with the gorgeous, matte dark foliage and stems and most delicate pink flowers. Even the rosehips could be a dramatic, dark colour in the autumn. The beautiful little rosebush that looked so neglected on the incline between the pavement and the football ground by the school.

hips on Rosa glauca
Photo: Malcolm Manners, creative commons by 2.0

So I've had a lingering love of this rose for many years, but it was something that happened just a few days ago when I decided to search for the rose on Pinterest (perhaps thinking of adding a pic to my Passion for Purple board) that really made me want that rose more than anything.

With my love of purple poppies, I found this pic from the blog Life in the English Cotswolds really inspiring. Three red-leaved rosebushes with an oriental poppy, 'Patty's Plum', planted inside the group. Be sure to read the blog post on why this combo is a good idea, not only for the beautiful colours. It also includes other plant combinations.

Photo: John Shortland, creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0

Isn't that just the most gorgeous garden photo? I want that too!

Many garden enthusiasts use the wintertime as an "off season" to plan for next year's gardening adventures and daydream over seed catalogues. Personally, I won't make any big plans or have any vast ideas of how to transform the garden into (partially) something that's mine, but I will dream and daydream about that photo. And hopefully I will avoid checking what such roses actually cost to keep my dream from shattering as long as possible. Besides, the best gardens are probably most often found in a person's fantasy rather than in real life. It's easier to have green thumbs and an infinite budget in dreams.


PS! If you can read swedish, you might want to check out the info on the rose at the POM website and Virtuella Floran. The former has an article on the history of the rose in swedish gardens.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Ok, just one more

I should be getting ready for bed soon as I have to get up early tomorrow, but after writing about the differences between the men's and women's Pantone palette and turning off the computer, I couldn't stop thinking about comparing not only the palettes on a whole, but some of the colour combos I made. Side by side, just to show what a difference a small or big change in hue can do.

And here's the result. Guess I should've broken it down into seperate images and kind of regret using the flower brush instead of just a simple round one, but this will have to do for now. You might find it easier to focus on each pair if you block out the rest with your hand or a piece of paper.

 Did I miss any combo you wanted to compare? Hope not. Felt it was too much to do them all, especially if only, say, the light violets changed as they're so similar. Because of that a couple of the mutual colours from the palettes (Sand, Freesia aren't represented.

As some sort of conclusion, I could perhaps say that seeing the colour combos from the men's palette post and the women's palette post paired up like this makes me compare the combos and pick favourites. Sometimes I prefer the "feminine" version and other times I prefer the "masculine" version. Paired up like this, they compete with each other and sometimes a stronger colour makes the first version I made look boring, even though I still prefer it. The Cayenne - Celosia Orange - Radiant Orchid combo in the bottom right corner is a good example of that. Cover the "masculine" version and the "feminine" version looks much better (in my opinion at least). And in the Radiant Orchid - Cayenne - Hemlock combo, you can really see how the Cayenne looks darker in the "feminine" version and pales against the stronger colours in the "masculine" version.

And that's it. I promise it'll be the last post on colour combos from the Pantone Spring/Summer 2014 palettes. Not the last mention of it, especially as I like to challenge myself with the Color of the Year every year, but I won't -- probably -- keep making posts on the same colour combos over and over and go on about the palettes themselves.

Playing with the men's palette for spring

Ok, so I had to play a little with the men's palette too now that it have such a yummy purple. And, again, not the best graphics -- if nothing else I should make more space around each colour mix -- but I hope it isn't too messy.

While I've found it fun and inspiring to keep up with Pantone's trend colour reports, it's really just the last couple of years that I discovered the men's palette. It's in many ways an appendix to the main palette, which is applied to women's fashion, make-up and interior decorating. No wonder perhaps, considering how conservative men's fashion can seem compared to women's. But since at least a few of the colours in the palettes are different, it's interesting to look at both. To compare and to get even more colour inspiration.

And this is the result of my playing with the men's palettes. I've tried to avoid combos just using the colours that are the same as in the women's palette as you can find those combos in yesterday's post, but I did include a couple -- including the yellow and blue you might have thought as swede would pick instantly (but that would be forgetting I'm a skåning and we have our own red and yellow flag -- also, I find the combo too bright for my personal taste).

As you can see above, I really like Magenta Purple this time. It was also nice to work with Comfrey, a deeper (or as Pantone calls, it "masculine") version of the women's Hemlock. The only other diffrenece between the two palettes is that this on has a hue called Purple Haze, "a deeper, stronger version of Violet Tulip", which you get in the women's palette. Your really need to put them side by side -- or preferably overlapping -- to see the difference:

Well, why not compare all three differences between the palettes side by side while I'm on Pixlr Editor anyway?

Ok, yesterday I said Magenta Purple was more of a totally different purple than just "a more robust version of Radiant Orchid" as Pantone called it, but now that I see them like this I do see the "kinship".

But do you know what the image above also illuststrates? Pantone's view on feminine and masculine colours. I'm sure there'll be many women, however, that prefer the less pastel-y "masculine" palette. As a kid, I would've been drawn to the top row, no doubt, but today I really like the more vivid, deeper colours of the second row. It's just recently I started to like pastels -- to an extent -- again so I don't hate the calm colours of the upper row, it's just that I like some more character in my colours sometimes.

The best thing is perhaps what happens when you mix the two:

Yin Yang à la Pantone?

You know, in a way that last pic might be one of the most inspiring palettes I made from the two Pantone palettes. It shows how colour combinations is just as much about different hues/shades as about different colours.

So, your turn: what do you think about the women's versus the men's palette for spring?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Playing with Pantone's spring palette

Ok, before anything else, I must point out that the mess above wasn't made with the intent of ever publishing it online. It looks chaotic and it's hard to separate one colour mix from the other, but I hope you will show forgiveness considering it wasn't made to be seen by anyone but myself. So that was that out of the way, now we can continue, starting from the beginning


I was just reading Brandi Hussey's blog post Pantone's Spring 2014 Colors, which prompted me to also play around with the trend colour palette and see what colour combos I could find and be inspired to use.

As I mentioned in a comment to her post, I agree that the palette for the coming spring season doesn't really have a huge wow factor. Some complain there's too many pastels, but with my love of nature, antiques and romantic styles, it's ok I think. The light blue is boring, but on the other hand it can be useful mixing with other, more interesting, colours. And at first, I wasn't over the moon about Radiant Orchid being the colour of the year 2014, but I think it looks very nice is smaller portions -- such as beads! -- than when first seeing the big blocks of colours Pantone put up on their website and on Pinterest.

All in all, I like that there's two purples -- warm, pinkish Radiant Orchid and cool, bluish Violet Tulip -- even if I wish we got the Magenta Purple from the men's palette too (think Swarovski's Blackberry pearl and you can picture magenta purple). Cayenne was the colour that surprised me the most as I fell for it instantly. Love it, really. Judging from the image above, Cayenne and Violet Tulip seems to be my two favourites. And an icy green is never wrong, either on it's own or to enhance a cool purple or add a pinch of foggy colour to a light grey.

There's two blues too. It was just when starting to write this I realised my total neglect of Dazzling Blue when playing with the palette. No wonder, really, seeing how blue isn't my favorite colour. Even if I'm attracted to some blues (e.g. dark indigo, foggy grey-blues) and find that many blues are great for enhancing my beloved purples, roses and greens, this particular blue felt uninspiring. But let's see. Let's actually use that too:

That's better, it needed to be included. And while I might not like to use all of these above, it does show off the colour as a useful one despite my scepticism. As you can see, I'm reluctant to mix blue and orange. That's a very strong mix of colour (and one both my almae matres -- Lunda university and Mälardalen university collage -- used). Too much for me.

Still, the two most bright colours in the palette, Dazzling Blue and Freesia, are the ones that inspire me the least. At least the bland Sand and Paloma (light grey) are useful neutrals and the low key pastels like Placid Blue and Hemlock have a nice, soft calmness that can be a nice addition in some designs.


By the way, I mentioned the men's palette. Below is a comparison between the women's (the palette you'll see most of online) and the men's palette. The women's palette is the top one.


See what I mean about Magenta Purple and Blackberry? They guys' violet is called Violet Haze and called "a deeper, stronger version of Violet Tulip" -- and Magenta Purple is called "a more robust version of Radiant Orchid". Well, hopefully we gals will get a deeper, darker purple too in autumn if Swarovski is any indication.

Anyway, my favourite colour combo from the trend report would actually be Radiant Orchid and Magenta Purple.

Told you I love purple the most...

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Frosted leaves

Some days ago I went up the hill to take a couple of photos of the afternoon light and found all these frosted oak leaves by the north side of it. Unfortunately some of the pics came out a bit blurry, but scaled down to this size it was ok.

Is there anything more beautiful than frosted leaves this time of year?

Of cause I also had to play around with the collage and make a few digital doodles, one of which you can see below.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Beaded string lights

Today is all about light in the winder darkness. I thought I could show you what I did last night in order to pruce up my plain string lights. And, yes, it's a string of blue lights and, yes, I chose the colour myself (though it was a couple of years ago when coloured christmas lights weren't that prolific so the choice of colour was limited).

Anyway, my idea -- after having seen different versions of it online -- was to embellish it with beads. Do something so that it would look nice even during daytime when the lights are off and the whole string hangs in in the window in plain sight, looking dull and out of place.

As I'm a seedbeader you might expect me to do something like this, but I really just wanted to do something quick and simple -- and in that finding a reason to use a strand of lampwork beads I've never got around to using in my jewellery as they aren't really my style (won them so nothing I picked out myself).

So what I did was simply to put the ruffled silverfoil beads on headpins, make loops and attach them onto the electric cords of the string light using rubber o-rings wrapped around the cord. The reasons for using rubber o-rings were two: 1) to make it easy to remove the beads when I want to, and 2) to make sure they won't slide back and forth.

I just made one mistake when ordering. Or, well, two but not counting how many o-rings I needed wasn't a problem as it turned out one package included 20 pieces which was just the same as the number of silverfoil beads on the strand. The mistake was choosing white rings. And this rubber is a pure, shiny white silicone rubber, not even a dull almost yellowed white rubber as you often see. My reasoning was to use white as the string is white, but I forgot that the metal of the electric wires shines through and the plastic had aged a bit and yellowed. So in the end, the rings were too bright and white to match the string as planned. And I missed that the seller had two different white rings -- of which the ones I didn't buy probably would've been a better match. Well, you live and learn...

Here's a comparison of "before" and "after". Or rather, of two parts of the string as 20 beads was about half of what was needed to embellish the whole string. Below is a couple of photos of the string lights hanging in the window.

Above unlit and below lit. From a distance you don't see that much of the beads when it's dark.

Not sure if I'll keep it like this. Not that I hate the simple embellishment, it's more that I want to do something more as the string lights themselves are so boring. Blue lights was fun at the time, but now some years later I just regret not choosing purple or plain warm white. And now I wish it was one of these instead.

Maybe I should try this idea (ping pong ball lights)? Or make one of these from reddish paper so the blue lights would create a purple glow? Maybe I could do the same with the first idea there too, paint the balls first? Either just red or purple or mixing colours.

What do you think?

A candle in the dark

Yesterday was Lucia Day. Before the gregorian calender reform that day, December 13th, actually became the date of the winter solstice because of the flaws in the old calender, something that explains the festival on the day which is a celebration of the light and a ritual to keep the dangerous darkness (filled with supernatural evils and dark magic) away.

This really is the season of light what with the outdoor christmas decorations everywhere (unless they flew away in the latest storm), advent lights on the sundays, lucia celebrations and just generally a compact darkness most of the time that make you want to light candles, lights and fires.

My sis and I love to light candles, but you can't really tell from my blog as I really don't have what it takes to get good photos in poor light (camera that can handle bad light, tripod, know-how). But yesterday I just had to take a pic of  the candle in my bedroom window. It's just a simple glass lantern from Indiska, which is also in dire need of a cleaning, but a photo of a candle against a dark background is always pretty, I think.

If I ever were to write a non-fiction book it would be about the universal ritual and love of lighting a candle.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Purple beads and tissue paper

I just had some fun with a photo of table cut flower beads, layering it with a photo of the purple tissue paper they came in. I love how tissue paper can be used to create interesting textures, both digitally as here and in painting/mixed media art. Have thought about using it in jewellery, but so far it hasn't got beyond a few random thoughts as other projects have been prioritized.

If you haven't seen the type of paintings and mixed media techniques mentioned you can find a few examples below (as seen on my pinboards):

That last one is of using tissue paper instead of a sponge to create patterns in watercolour paintings. The others are variations on gluing crumpled tissue paper on paper/cardboard and painting it.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Meowy Monday: Cat photos of the week

Took these photos of Julle through the window today. Wonder what he's looking at with such a focused gaze?

Well, just like Simone, the storm Sven -- among other things -- swerved our satellite dish so we've spent some days without the telly (which isn't that bad other than you're used to having it on while eating breakfast) as the we couldn't get up to the dish on the roof and turn it in the right direction again. The neighbours have offered to help, but the sons have been busy and today it seems like Göran thought we had waited long enough for some assistans so he came with the tractor (used instead of a ladder, much better to stand on that high up when using both hands for a job).

So that's what Julle was so fascinated about. He just kept sitting there, head tilted, watching Göran adjust the sat dish. The only times he took his eyes of him was when my sis or I opened the door or he stopped us looking at him through the window, but he only glanced at us briefly and then it was back to watching what was happening on the roof.

 He sat there the whole time. Not sure if he was sceptical of the neighbour, curious about what the humans were doing (humans are always up to weird stuff) or just wanted to make sure the job was done right so he could watch telly again. He's the one most often sleeping on top of my sis' TV (yes, the old, thick one with room for cats) so I guess he wants it to be on as much as possible so he gets a warm bed.
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