Sunday, 29 December 2013

My (Craft) Year in Instagram Pictures

Looking back on this year in my Instagram pictures I discover that I have not done quite as much craft projects as I would have liked it. I have been busy with other types of life endeavours so it is not that surprising. Nevertheless, I'd like to get better with that in the coming year. I've been looking at some scheduling and life-hacking techniques that will hopefully help me take better control over the way I spend my time. Stay tuned for more on that.

Meanwhile have a look at the craft projects I did work on (and documented):

In this little retrospective exercise, I have also discovered, this time with a smile, that I cooked and baked a nice deal this year. I started baking bread and I do it once a week almost every week. I grew a bit of herbs and I now have frozen oregano ice-cubes in my freezer. And most of all, I've been happily going through the Scandalicious Baking book, which I can wholeheartedly recommend to any baking-fans. Here are some of my more successful experiments:

Sourdough bread with mixed seeds
Scandalicious Baking: Orange Butter Biscuits 

Scandalicious Baking: Finish Baked Pancake
Scandalicious Baking: Passion Fruit and Lime Custard Birthday Cake 
Polish Easter Cake: Mazurek
This year's batch of Honey Vodka
The herbs, we've been growing. Chili grown by my husband and my oregano, harvested and ready to be chopped and frozen.

Home-grown oregano harvest
Young chili

Apart from cooking and crafting I have also had a lot of good relaxing moments with my husband, furry beasts and in the nature.

Mushroom picking in Poland
Eddie in his private heaven 

And how about you? Did you have a good, crafting year?

and meanwhile

Happy New Year

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Celebrating craftmen and women from the UK

I found this beautiful collection of photos celebrating craftpeople using their talent to produce "made not manufactured" items, still relevant today. The photos were taken by Steve Kenward and I am totally in love. Wouldn't it be lovely to have some of these hanging on your workshop's walls?

Anwyay, I just wanted to share it with you. Btw. did you know that a bowyer is someone who makes bows? I did not know that.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Other crafts: lace making

Just look at this beauty. And it is all mine! Can you imagine? A friend of mine found this mint-condition lace making pillow in a second-hand store for...wait for it...100DKK! =18.50USD! = 13.40 EURO! = 11.50 GBP! = 56PLN! Crazy!

And then, when my lovely neighbour (a tailor), saw my new toy, she immediately handed me a '50s book with lace making instructions (and tones of really funny old-school images).

So now I only need to learn how to make lace...khm, khm...

But meanwhile, I'm collecting inspirations:


Friday, 11 October 2013

One small step at a time, one small change a month

Change is difficult. It is so for me and I think it is so for many people. Big lifestyle changes are flat out impossible for me.

In the past I've struggled with making huge decisions of the New-Years-Resolutions type and failing miserably within weeks or even days of the said decision. I guess we all know this evil circle of huge lifestyle change decision - failure - frustration - worse lifestyle than before. I still get depressed if I think too hard about all the times I decided to eat healthy or get fit, failed miserably and proceeded to eat my to frustration away or crawl in a ball on a sofa and watch TV all weekend.

It has not been a funny experience but I've felt for a long time now that things need to change. Simply put: I was making myself unhappy and that just wasn't acceptable any longer.

And so in my quest to improve my life, I stumbled upon The Small Change Project blog and took to trying the ideas that Katie writes about. They gave me some insight into what was going wrong with my resolutions and how to do it better. I have actually made some lasting changes. Who would have known ?!

One small change a month

I now realize that my previous resolutions were flawed in several ways:
  1. They lacked actionable steps
  2. They were too general and therefore lacked focus
  3. They were too big and therefore overwhelming
  4. They lacked a "fallback" option
For example the resolution to get fit doesn't describe how to do it (1 and 2), is a huge job and when you start thinking about it or planning it you might easily get buried under a pile of changes you need to make (3) and does not provide you with a solution to a "bad day" where you don't go to the gym but instead eat a pizza (4). 

But what if instead of deciding to get fit, you make a decision that this month you will go to the gym twice a week? 
  1. Each Monday and Wednesday I'll go to the gym (actionable step)
  2. The decision focuses on one activity (focus)
  3. The decision to visit gym is not made up of many previously undefined decisions. There is only one thing I need to keep in mind: going to the gym (simple decision)
  4. A failure to go to the gym one time, does not influence my ability to make good on the resolution next day or next week

My experience so far

For the past 3 months, I've been making lasting decisions about my lifestyle and the experience was good, although not perfect.

In August, I have decided to start running 3 times a week. I found a slow-start running plan and it went great. Throughout the entire August I run very regularly and saw a major improvement in my general fitness and a few centimeters went away. The situation got a little worse in September and October, partly due to a bit worse weather, a bout of flu and also slight lowering of motivation. But I am still running and slowly building on what I achieved in August.

In September, my decision was to quit sugar in my coffee.

You might not realize how big a deal that was for me but if you consider that I used 2 teaspoons of sugar in each cup of coffee and drunk up to 4 cups on a week day you might start seeing the problem. American Heart Association seems to recommend up to 5 teaspoons of sugar...yup, by any standard I used way too much.

This decision proved to be an unmitigated success. I have not had a single teaspoon of sugar in my coffee since 1.09.2013! It took some getting used to but by now I almost don't miss it. And not adding sugar to my coffee made me less happy about sugar in sweets. Many things that I used to love are now way too sweet for me. So it's definitely a win-win situation.

In October, my decision is to read a book for at least an hour a day. I love reading and have a large collection of books. But my backlog has been growing in the recent years because I take less and less time to read. And fair enough, I have been getting more busy with full time job and other regular life duties. But when I started thinking about this, I realized how much time a day I waste checking my Facebook for the 20th time in as many minutes, watching silly videos online or browsing through pinterest. So instead, I decided to carve out an hour of daily time to read.

That has been a struggle. I certainly read more but only on a handful of days it has in fact been an hour. It's hard to switch off my computer, my phone and my tablet and just sit down for an hour of reading. But the good part is that with a decision structured like this, the failure today doesn't prevent me from succeeding tomorrow. After all the whole point is to make a lasting change to my life and simply read more.

I will keep you up to date with how this whole experiment has been going so stay tuned.  

Monday, 19 August 2013

Latvian Beading Patterns

Do you remember the Latvian knitting patterns I brought home last summer, after a visit in Riga? My knitting skills are still rather basic so I haven't gotten that far with them. I have however put the patterns to great use by reinterpreting them as bead weaving patterns.

So far I have done 2 patterns and I have gotten half-way with the first bracelet. I am totally charmed by the dark yet colorful style. The second one I am planning will also have a black background, together with some strong green and pink palette (see : below). I'll make sure to post pictures, once the bracelets are done.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Homemade sourdough bread

A couple of weeks ago I started my first ever sourdough. I had been planning it for a long while but I was always a bit afraid having never done it or seen it done before. Luckily, I found this great set of recipes for sourdough and for sourdough bread. And voila! I've been baking ever since. 

Dark sourdough bread is a staple of Danish cuisine and so husband is exceptionally happy to have fresh, seed-packed loaf twice a week. And the best part is, every time I bake, I can change the recipe, add something new, try new tastes. You can never get bored.

I strongly encourage you to try it at home. Home-baked bread tastes great, is healthier and makes your house a home. And it is much easier than it seems. Now, the recipes above are of course in Danish so check my quick translation below. But in case you are in need of more information there are many available recipes all over. For example check this one here. The ready sourdough should smell somewhat like beer or yoghurt. Not the most pleasant smell. 

Pumpkin seed and honey sourdough bread

Sunflower and sesame seed sourdough bread


  1. In a glass or ceramic jar with a lid  mix 1 dl rye flour, 1 dl wheat flour and 2 dl lukewarm water. You'll do best with organic and fresh ingredients. Leave it open for a couple of hours so that all the necessary  microorganisms can find their way into the mix. Close the lid and let it stand on the kitchen top overnight.

    This recipe doesn't use any helpers but some others suggest you add honey, beer, apples or yeast to speed up the process. 

  2. Until the sourdough is done, you will have to feed it once a day. Throw out half of the dough and add 0.5 dl rye flour, 0.5 wheat flour and 1 dl lukewarm water.  

    In about 3-4 days the dough will start smelling sour (like beer, yogurt and/or vinegar) and bubble on the surface. In my case it was actually much faster. Once it does that you can start throwing out even more of the dough so that only a few spoons are left at the bottom (and of course feeding it as before). 

    When the dough is entirely bubbly and smells really sour, it is ready. It will take about a week, maybe slightly longer. Now you can start baking. 

    If you are not planning to use the dough for a while, you can put it in a fridge. This way you will not have to feed it regularly.  Once you need to use it again, take it out of the fridge, feed it as per usual and give it 6-8 hours to ferment again. Then it is ready to use.


  1. This takes a bit of planning. In the evening mix:

    1,5 dl sourdough

    2 dl chopped rye grains
    2 dl chopped wheat grains
    4 dl water
    2 dl rye flour

    Leave the mixture overnight on the kitchen top. I always cover mine with a cloth to make sure no insects (or my cats) get inside. I know that rye and wheat grains can be hard to get in some countries, but you can always replace them with seeds of your choosing. I usually replace wheat grains with flax seed. But just in case you want to try rye and wheat grains, you can usually find it in health stores or online. In UK the grains are for example available here.
  2. The next morning add the following to the mixture:

    1 spsk malt syrup (I usually add soft, half-liquid honey instead)
    0,75-1 spoon of coarse salt
    1,5 dl wheat flour
    0,5 dl rye flour

    And put the mixture into the fridge for about 7-8h.
  3. After you come back from work or school take the dough out of the fridge and transfer it to a buttered form. Leave it on the kitchen board for about 3h so that it can rise.

    Warm up the oven to 200C (hot air) and bake the bread for about 1h 15m. Once it is done, take the bread out of the form and put on a rack so that it can cool down without getting soggy. 
And there you go. Your bread is all ready. Remember to add a lot of seeds, the hard ones in the first phase so that they can soak overnight, the soft once in the morning or just before putting it into the form. Enjoy!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Beading weekend

I'm spending this weekend giving in to my heart's desires and beading away. It's partly due to a sale in the local craft store (khem, khem) and partly to a slight cold that makes it too hard to do anything else.

This first ocean-colored bracelet is now pretty much finished. It misses findings but other than that...

The blue necklace is thought as a mixed media piece. The white chain serves as a basis and the blue beads are the body. I am thinking of adding more white lace crochet to make the piece more airy and light. However, it is work in progress and I am not working of any pattern so I can't say what it will end up being.

Are you having a good weekend?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Viking Crafts

This past weekend we went to Vikingetræf, the Viking moot, at our local anthropological museum. For me the reenactment of the battle itself was interesting but not nearly as much as the arts and crafts presented at the market. So, of course, I went ahead and got myself inspired. Ehh...yet another craft I will spend my spare time on :)

In particular I am looking at two techniques: Nålebinding (a.k.a naalbinding, nålbinding, or naalebinding) or needle binding. This technique is simply a primitive version of knitting with one short needle. It was used to produce woolen hats, mittens and socks. I will show you my own work once I produce some, but for now have a look at this YouTube instruction video:

You will easily find more videos on the topic, though some will be in Finnish, Danish or Swedish.

The other, more challenging technique, is tablet (or card) weaving. This is a belt or ornamented garment trim weaving techniques and it looks like in one form or another it's been used in many different parts of the world (although do correct me on that one if you know better). It looks truly great, just have a look at any of the google images that come up with this search term. And here is a small presentation:

I will look into these two techniques soon and report back. In the long run I would also like to have a look at yarn spinning and natural ways to color yarn and fabric. So much stuff, so little time...

Monday, 21 January 2013

Knitting in Circles: Purple Mittens

I got a new knitting book for Christmas. It's pretty thorough in explanations of the basic techniques and I love it because I need that a lot. Once you get to projects...well, I find it slightly confusing but maybe I just need to get used to it the way it is written. 

I have only just started with knitting in general and circular knitting is totally new to me. Whenever I tried it so far, I always had problems with huge whole at the joining spot. Thanks to the book above, I've learned how to solve that problem with knitting a few stitches when joining with both the working yarn and the cast-on tail. 

And this new knowledge gave me a chance to try and make my first project. YAY! Here are a few shots of purple mittens I made. They have ribbing at the top and bottom. And have no fingers (that is too advanced for now).

I did not work from any pattern and the first mitten came out pretty good without any problems (beginners luck, I guess). The second mitten took 4 tries (!) and the help from lovely Anne from The Mitten Project. But now, as I write this, both hands are staying warm and happy in my new finger-less mittens.