Monday 20 December 2010

And peace on earth...

This is not an explicitly Christmas-related tradition, but it's connected, as you will see.

Once upon a time (most probably in 2001), my sister asked for a story for her birthday. "So that it is beautiful."
I used an idea that'd been lurking in my head for some time and started writing that story on the remaining empty pages in an old school notebook. (And that's from where I deduce it was in 2001, because the notebook was for the schoolterm 1999/2000).
I filled eight more notebooks with the story. And I finished it about three years after that particular birthday.
But every time I wrote a considerably long part, we sat down on one of our beds in the evening, and I read to her what I had written.
It is her story. Written by me, and very much mine; but written for her, and five of the characters in it are her own.
I missed writing it after I had finished. A lot. I still miss it. There are many silly parts and many mistakes now that I read it after the years, but overall it's a very good story, filled with things I like and would like others to know and like. The characters are very important to me, too.

Reading it as I was writing it was one of the traditions connected to it, but soon another one was born - as I did not finish the story for the birthday, or for the Christmas afterwards, not even for other birthdays and Christmases, I started giving my sister illustrations to the story instead.
The first two were made, I guess, before we had scanner. So I cannot show you, and given the quality of the pictures (compared to the latter ones), I guess that's a good thing.

This is, I believe, the third illustration I've made for my sister. Showcasing two of my favourite characters - the main character, Vladyka, a 15-year-old boy who's discovering there's more to the world than he thought, in the front, and his new adult friend and advisor Joshua in the back. Admiring the pure blue skies and musing about purity.

(I kind of want Vladyka's t-shirt.)

This is the last one so far. "Smelling the Spring". Vladyka and a number of his friends on a spring hike, enjoying the pleasant weather.

I actually started this whole post because of a part of the story I re-read last night...

Vladyka comes back from the pre-Christmas celebration with his new Christian friends and finds only his elder sister at home.They lead a more serious conversation than usual, which leads to them sealing a peace of arms - they had been fighting and teasing each other a lot before.

"...You're going back to the religion of your ancestros, bro."
"Parents are not at home, are they?"
"You wouldn't be talking like this otherwise."
"No, they're not."


"Hey, what's that you're wearing on your neck?"
"I got that from Kněžna."
"Isn't it? It's a fish. The symbol of the first Christians, and Christians on the whole."
"I thought that was the cross."
"Well, that too. This was kind of a camouflage. It's ICHTHYS or something in Greek - like an abbreviation for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. Kind of a confession of faith."
"Yours, too?"
"Mine, too."
"Bro, we've always been arguing and fighting, haven't we?"
Vladyka graciously remained silent.
"We've been stupid. Do you want peace?"
They shaked hands, thoroughly and earnestly.
"Wait, we have to drink to that," sister had an idea - oh, wait, sister Kateřina had an idea. She has a name, too. "There's some wine left."
"Hey, I'm not of age yet!"
"Doesn't matter. It's just a little bit, look."
Vladyka admitted he can't get drunk by that amount. He got another idea and cut a slice of bread.
"Bread and wine..." Katka said. "That reminds me of something."
"That's the Communion," Vladyka explained.
Katka's brow frowned in thought. Then it finally clicked into place.
"Well, but I'm not Christian."
"And I'm not baptised yet. I don't mean it as seriously as in church anyway. More like a symbol." He broke the slice of bread into two and gave her one half. She didvided the wine into two glasses.
"So - to our peace. Let it last," she said. "Until death."
"Even further," Vladyka dared.
"You Christians are crazy," she concluded.

A full table

Every year before Christmas, children from a congregation in Prague play their Christmas pageant in my congregation.
This year, there were really many of them.

After the play, we went to the adjoining tower where there's always something to drink or even eat.
It was foggy and very beautiful. (Unfortunately, for a reason my camera's been making rather fuzzy and grainy photos recently.)

There was a lot to eat this time.

"It seems Protestants all over the world are the same," said my sister who's spent considerable part of the year in Latvia. "They're always eating."

Saturday 18 December 2010

Good pair of woolen mittens

Few things are better in winter than a good pair of woolen mittens/gloves.

This pretty pair I got from my sister a week ago (I had birthday last week). She had bought them on a market in Riga, Latvia.

They're probably knitted on a machine, but otherwise this type of mittens is apparently traditional in Latvia (and other northern countries). Although maybe usually in more earthy colours. My sister picked these blue ones for me, because blue suits me better.

I love how bright they are - they pop out among the blacks most people wear in winter around these parts! Plus they have two layers and are really just luxurious...

These are handmade by my grandma. I got them... years ago. Which would explain why they wore through at one thumb:

I bought woolen yarn in the same colour and carefully strengthened the worn-through thumb and sewed the hole together. So hopefully they'll last for many more years.

I personally haven't got to this level of knitting yet - although I'm already able to make fingerless mittens, even with the thumb. On the five sock needles.
But if you cannot knit on five sock needles, you can quite easily cheat around that:

I wanted to make a pair for a lady I occasionally buy magazines from in the street. I had noticed she didn't have any gloves. But last time I got a glimpse of her, she had already been provided with a good pair of gloves, so this joyful aqua pair of fingerless mittens will go to somebody else.

Friday 10 December 2010

The Grace Kelly book arrived!

Just a quick happy note. I don't have time for a detailled post. And won't have for some time. Busy weekend!
The dresses are pretty pretty.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

What's this "Farmgirl" stuff?

I did not manage to participate in Atlanta's Historical Costume Inspiration Festival, so I'll participate in Margery's Yuletide Farmgirl Festival. This one does not require having anything finished by a date. Just a blog post or more of them. That is much more manageable.

I've actually always lived in a town. So technically and practically I'm not a farmgirl; but deep down inside, in my roots, there is a bit of one. As T.G. Masaryk said in 1920s or 1930s, all Czech people have farmer blood. I'm a bit more removed in time from it, but it still is there. I'm still a bit of a Wallachian sheep herder - I have more tolerance for milk than is usual in adults; I actually need it - or Western-Bohemian fruit-grower. I'd definitely be hapless on a farm at first (I'm awfully impractical), but I'd get into it. I think.

It would be nice if I could finish the unfinished workdress by the time of the festival, but I doubt I'd manage that. It would be nice, because it's a workdress, even rural in inspiration, and it has wintry colours. But to be finished, it still requires several steps, including a high amount of handsewn eyelets. So no, I don't think I'll manage it. But I hope I'll manage it till Christmas. We'll see.

I bought a wide tape for underlining the openings that will be laced. (I hope this makes sense...) That thread/thin yarn is meant for sewing it there, because I cannot get proper thread in the light blue colour. Not cotton thread, at least, and polyester is not allowed anywhere near this dress! I know cotton is not very period either, but at least it's natural fibre - and because I'm working with a cotton fabric in the first place, the whole thing will be cotton. Except for the eyelets. I already have buttonhole silk in the perfect colour! I bought it some time ago on sale, just because I knew it was my kind of colour - even before I got the fabric. Stashing has its advantages.

I bought six meters of that tape, far more than I need for the dress. Because it's my kind of colour and I might need it again.