Monday 28 January 2013

A most delightful jacket / half-robe

I found Dutch online collections today... Another great time eater. Anyway, I found this 1775-1800 cotton jacket / half-robe (property of the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum) made from monochrome chintz (?) that just screams "modern day historical reinterpretation" to me. I mean, as in a dress idea.

Feel free to steal the idea; I don't have a fabric like that.

Also, I can't help thinking the style is more modern than the dates suggest. Maybe it was an old fabric made into a newer style? A refashion?

Sunday 27 January 2013

Hostinec U Kamenného stolu ("The Stone Table Inn", 1948)

Back when I was writing my posts for the Going Through the Eras event, I wanted to write about this film; it's definitely my favourite 1940s film, and one of my favourite films of all times.
But it's quite impossible to capture its awesomeness while tellling it in English.
Based on a book by Karel Poláček, one of the great writers of the interwar era (the book was written during the war, and published under his friend's name, because Poláček was Jewish), it contains colourful characters and fantastic humour that works with language to such an extent that I can't translate it. At. All. It's not just word play; it uses every advantage you can gain from speaking Czech, using formal and functional features of Czech that do not exist in English.
So that's why I only show you pictures, a poor substitute for the real awesomeness. I tried telling some of the story back then, but soon realised that it only sounded weird when I tried to capture the fun without being able to convey its true nature...
It's the last great old comedy, with great actors old and young. It has all the perks of 1930s-1940s comedies, without being plagued by the era's somewhat weaker spots. No comedy of errors and mistaken identities (my personal pet peeve with the era). Both the way it is shot and the story seem more natural than most of the earlier films I've seen: more of it is shot on location, and the outrageous things that happen feel rather like character quirks taken to the extreme than like plot devices.

Let me just say this for the story: this film also contains what I think is the best love confession in the history of cinema. Superbly delivered by Rudolf Hrušínský, who I think was the best actor in the history of Czech cinema.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Grey Days into Glimmering

I was premature in my previous comment on the Presidential elections; in the last two weeks, between the two remaining candidates, the campaign got quite ugly.

But that's not what I want this blog to be about; I just needed to make that clear.

What I want to write about is another of Kellie's Blog parties.

1) What's your favourite thing to do when you've been feeling uninspired?
Change the scene. At least go for a walk, or pick a book you have not read in a long time...

2) Tell us about a really great movie/show that you've just discovered.
Not “just“ – but it fits the bill wonderfully. Kandukondein, Kandukondein, a Tamil reworking of Sense & Sensibility. It’s colourful as only an Indian film can be. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me laugh and cry at the same time, it made me root for the characters, it made me fall in love with the Colonel all over again.

3) What do you like to do to change your mood?
Depends. Drink. Eat. Read a book. Watch a nice film. Go to a youth meeting. Cuddle with a cat. Go to an Indian restaurant and share a meal with my sister (as I did last Tuesday). Smell a nice smell.

 I got a lavender satchet for Christmas. Now it sits next to my pillow, making my dreams smell sweet...

4) Your favourite drink is currently...
Black tea with honey and milk. And mango lassi.

5) When you hear the word exuberant, what's the first word that comes to mind?

6) What made you smile last?
A friend’s little son, who desperately wanted to call a friend on Skype and could not wait till she would get home from kindergarten. He suggested to call her “yesterday”. :D

7) What five songs would make a playlist to describe your week?
Silvertown Blues by Mark Knopfler. No bucket of gold, not even silver; but I found two potatoes in the street. With money quite stretched, it was nice.

A Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon & Garfunkel. Minus the alcohol.

You’ll Never Walk Alone. I’m familiar with a rendition by a men’s Welsh choir...
I can’t think of more. A song about meetups would be good, but I can't think of one.

8) What's at the top of your creative 'To-Do' list?
Probably my Regency stays? And to finish the projects I promised to others.

9) The last thing you crossed off the above list was...
Washing a new-ish fabric that had not been washed yet.

10) Quickly - the first movie quote from the top of your head, please!
“There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.“ – Blondie / The Man With no Name in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Just, you know, the quote that pops up in my head when you require me to give a quote from a film...

11) The best thing about January is...
Snow. And fresh Christmas gifts.

 Another gift was this tin box of Scottish shortbread. No shortbread, just the box. I love tin boxes.

12) The worst thing about January is...
Exam period. On the other hand, that means I have more time at home, and can meet with people; for today, I invited my oldest friend over for tea, something I've wanted to do for quite a while now.

13) What’s your #1 resolution for 2013?
Nothing. I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I do make some resolutions, but they’re not linked to calendar years.

14) And lastly, share a quote or verse that you’ve found especially inspiring lately.
Surprisingly enough (?), that’s the Lord’s Prayer.

If you're a Whovian (or even if you're not), you can enter her giveaway and win compact mirrors and pins.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Blog awards and Sewing with Cats

Warning: a very long post ahead! It took much longer to write than I planned...

I've been awarded a blog award; actually, two linked blog awards from two people, Lady Katza of Peanut Butter Macramé and Becky of Sew and So.  Thank you both; I hope you enjoyed yours, because you both deserve it.

The rules alternate between the two blogs, so I decided to go with this (somewhat my own) set:

  1. Thank the person / people who awarded you.
  2. Add the One Lovely Blog Award / Very Inspiring Blogger award to your post.
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Pass the award on to 7 nominees. (or 10, or 11, or how many you prefer...)
  5. Include this set of rules. (or any set you prefer...)
  6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blog.

The 7 things about me? I like Becky's approach of "crafty confessions"; but I also realised there are several things about my blog and my online personality that never got explained here. So it's a mix.

- My profile picture / avatar? That's me standing on the shore of a lake in Ignalina, Lithuania, back in 2006, as photographed by my sister.
(Yes, Ignalina's famous for the nuclear power plant, and that's what you're most likely to find if you search for it, but the plant is actually still a long way away from Ignalina, in a completely different town, Visaginas - it's just Soviet-time secrecy. And Ignalina and it's surroundings is a most pleasant place to stay if you're into lakes and nature. But I digress.)
I really liked it as an avatar picture, because it showed me without showing me. It just shows my long hair, and my ever growing penchant for wearing things on my head, and the colours are very much me. I still like it as an avatar picture, because it's not so susceptible to change: it's 2013 now, and it still works.

- My header picture? That is (was) a small piece of fabric of mysterious origins in my stash; one of those pieces I very much regretted, and still regret, not having more of. So I immortalised it as my header. It matched the colours in my profile picture nicely.

- My nickname / moniker? Marmota? That dates back to a summer camp where I was with one of my sisters; we were divided into two groups with separate programs; the older ones (where my sister ended up) were called Beavers, while we younger ones were called Marmots (or Groundhogs, depending on which part of the Marmota genus you're familiar with). We kept the nicknames afterwards. I'm using Marmota online, instead of the Czech word, because it's more internet- and international-friendly. (Try saying "svišť"! Try saying "Na cvičišti čtyři svišti piští"! :D)

My second favourite plushie (after my old panda) is Howard the Groundhog

- The first thing I've ever sewed (and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, somewhere but probably not here), was a "top" for one of our dolls when I was about 3. I took a piece of (knit) fabric and made a number of stitches in the middle that scrunched the fabric to such an extent that it somehow stayed put on the doll. I was quite proud of my achievement. And no, I'm not going to show you: I don't think it survived to this day.

- One of the things I loved most at school was making geometric bodies. You know, cubes and such. This I've mentioned before, the turning of a flat pattern into something 3-dimensional. What I did not mention was my very, very brief foray into model-making. On the trip to Austria that photo of my panda teddy was taken on, I also designed a metro unit. Don't ask me why. I only remember it was an exercise in persepective-drawing, and I suspect my father's love of all thing rail-related was also an influence. When we came back, I tried to make a paper model of my metro, and more or less failed - not on the pattern-making front, rather because the paper I chose was not sturdy enough, and I think I just glued it with sticky tape...

- Mom taught me the basics of knitting, and the basics of crocheting. The first thing I ever knitted was a blanket / sweater for a rubber weasel toy that happened to be Russian in origin and have a price tag pressed into its side (hello, centrally planned economy!). The first thing I ever crocheted must have been a plain string, which, of course, also adorned a toy. (And I find this fitting; apparently, knitting was more my thing from the start.) After mom taught me the basics, she very wisely gave me a knitting booklet and let me figure out the rest on my own. I still do that.

Meet Weasel

- The other big influence, other than mom and my Wonderful Crafty Grandma, was an art school / course teacher who is more of an artisan than artist, and thanks to whom I realised the same about myself. She did things like weaving and felting with us, and somehow taught me that no inspiration was too small and insignificant. She's one of my real-life heroes.

This clay pendant was inspired by a smudge on my worktable.

So now that's off my chest, I can nominate people. :-) People who have lovely blogs and are inspiring bloggers, hmm... If any of them have received the award already - I'm sorry for making it duplicate, and thus taking it away from someone else who could have got it... I hope not, though.