Thursday 27 February 2014

The Literary Heroine Blog Party 2014

It's that time of the year again and Kellie is holding the Literary Heroine Blog Party again. I participated only half-heartedly last year, so this year I want to be better about it.

But before I do that, I want to share yet another American Duchess giveaway, because it concides nicely with it - her shoes are definitely worthy of literary heroines (some are even named after literary places, after all).

The usual statement still applies - is she ever making shoes I don't like?! Well, okay, I don't like the Pompadours so much, they're too something for me... and since I don't like buttons, I'm not that mad about the buttoned boots either... but still, oh, I love her overall modern-historical aesthetics so much and wish all shoes were like that.

And now, finally, to the questionnaire! I tried to do a mostly new version this time, though it hearkens back to the previous ones.

Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!
I am, I think, something called “an eternal student”. I love learning things... I love language(s). I would like to be – already am, in one sense – a translator. And an interpreter, even though that’s really hard work. (By the way, it seems I really made it to the interpreting course, yay!) I like learning about different cultures and sharing tidbits about my own.
I like reading, and books, and this means physical books, too; and I have more books than I can fit on my shelves and still can think of books I would like to have.
I like writing, too. And I have this strong editorial streak, noticing typos and stuff, so I guess that’s why I ended up volunteering as an editor for my church’s youth magazine.
And I love creating, all kinds of things. Writing falls in there, too, but there is of course sewing; and I'm doing at least little bits of drawing once more (I had a years long artist's block in that area and am glad that I'm finally able to draw again, if only little sketches).

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?
As I said the first time, being good / doing good things, and the ability to learn if she happens to be not that good.

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.
Beside those I’ve mentioned before, there was the heroine from Silver Rose / Green Brigade, who happens to be the only (not historical) character in the book whose name I remember – Leslie. She was more of the kind of heroine I wished I were more like. She was brave, even bold at times, she was also loyal, and clever and thinking on her feet. Bravery and thinking on my feet seemed, and still seem, like things I could use more of.
Out of those already mentioned, I think I’ve always related most to Dorothea Callum / Dot, from her writing and making up of stories down to her braids (and now that I’m older, also to her imperfect attempts at housekeeping in Picts and Martyrs).

Five of your favourite historical novels?
Beside those shared before:
The book by Gerd Theissen that was apparently published as The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form in English – I love how it combines the story with the research and reasoning behind it; I always start out reading it rather unimpressed and end up really moved.
Speaking of combining story and research, I love probably all the Cadfael books (certainly those I’ve read so far). Ellis Peters / Edith Pargeter knows a lot about England and Wales in the 12th century, so even though these are detective stories, you get a good idea of the times and places, too.
Speaking of medieval and detective stories, I’ve also enjoyed a Czech one, Zločin na Zlenicích hradě L.P. 1318 (The Crime at the Zlenice Castle 1318 A.D.), by Radovan Šimáček. I have to throw at least one Czech book here! And I’m always surprised just how good this one is. (I think a proof of the cleverness of the crime part might be the fact that I can’t remember whodunnit and howdunnit, yet I perfectly remember being enthralled by the story.)
The Czar’s Madman by Jaan Kross – that’s a rather tragic story, all in all, which I tend not to enjoy, but it’s so well-written... and deserves even more recognition in the world than it seems to be getting, I think, because it manages to cover so many grounds with its story, as excellent literary works do.
I can't think of a fifth one. I'm sure there's something yet that I'm forgetting, but that's how it goes. There are many of the Cadfael books, so I guess that balances it out. :P

Out of those five books who is your favourite major character and why?
Probably Cadfael; but I’m not sure if it’s not cheating when there are actually many books with him as the main character. :-)
I like that he's caring and understanding, I like that he's Welsh (ha!); and knowledgeable and using his knowledge for good. I like that, similarly to Father Brown, he is a detective who cares for the culprits' souls, too. 
(I also like the portrayal by Derek Jacobi a lot!)

Out of those five books who is your favourite secondary character and why?
Absolutely, without question, Hugh Beringar. :D I always like good, strong friendships in the stories I read, and Hugh is a good friend to Cadfael, a good husband to Aline (though she does not appear that often), a good (deputy) sheriff for Shropshire, and a very good character to read about!
I love how he's clever, even cunning; yet honourable. His cunningness makes him consider unconventional approaches, which is a good thing for a detective (and he seems to be more of a detective than sheriffs tended to be at the time, at least that's the picture painted by Peters).
(I also like the portrayal by Sean Pertwee in the first season of the series a lot. Aside from the tiny detail that Hugh is supposed to be a dark-haired Norman, Sean Pertwee is perfect in the role.)

Yeah. A Literary Heroine Blog Party, and I pick heroes, and post a picture of heroes. Bear with me, please. I think Eeva in The Czar's Madman is a really admirable woman as well, they way she tries hard to rise above both her peasant background without losing contact with it, and the little minds surrounding her in her new station in life, and the way she sticks to her husband through thick and thin; but I don't have a picture of her. :D

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?
I think, at the moment, I would love to go back to Estonia and explore more of it. Go to Saaremaa and the coast, and to Peipsi järv (the large lake in the east)...

The beautiful botanical gardens in Tartu - a place where surely a heroine could find herself...

... and while I’d be there, I’d like to revisit the places I’ve been to before in the Baltics, and also see more of Riga because despite being in Latvia several times, I’ve only seen a small part of its largest city.

A little manor house or something, at a lake near Trakai, Lithuania, where we were in 2006 (as you can see, it was boarded up); photo by my father

Plus Wales. Always Wales. I’m even liking Welsh accents now.

Because how can you not love this landscape?! Again, photo by my father, who's been to Wales four or how many times, while I've never been. I don't know when this photo was taken, but I hear when father's friends visited later, the old church / chapel was already in ruins...

What is your favourite time period and culture to read about?
I honestly don’t know now. I just lap up nearly anything that is connected to my English studies...? And in my free time, beside that, I just read what I’ve always enjoyed, and that has always been somewhat eclectic, too...

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of?
Singing in a choir, or maybe acting with other people – probably not comedy, because I always kill my jokes by laughing first. :-)

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?
Phew! I’m out of ideas. Or maybe I have too many ideas...
With the sewing ideas and plans I have, maybe I’d be Lenka from Filosofská historie, to make use of the planned 1848 costume. I do not exactly relate to her in my life situation, but I guess I have similar interests to what I know she does (reading and sewing and enjoying the nature and, well, the Czech language, too), so that would be easier to imitate.

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate?
Dark chocolate is delicious. And cocoa. Milk chocolate tends to be too sweet for me, but dark chocolate, also with various flavours, is one of the most fantastic things ever invented.
Hot chocolate, too. Aah, hot chocolate!

Favourite author(s)?
C. S. Lewis
J. R. R. Tolkien
Ellis Peters :-)
G. K. Chesterton
I guess I can safely say Jane Austen now, too...
And I’m enjoying Shakespeare more and more, although more often in film form than any other for some reason. :D

Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land?
My camera. Probably a sketchbook and pencils, too. If I travelled by train, maybe even some sewing.

The old teddy no longer travels with me, because he’s so worn he could fall apart soon, and I don't want that. But I might take the newest one, this Canadian teddy I got from my sister for last Christmas. He’s called George, after Constable George Crabtree from Murdoch Mysteries – that’s a Canadian detective series that takes place in Toronto at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (apparently originally based on some books, too); and George looks a bit like the Constable (who's played by Jonny Harris and is both hilarious and absolutely adorable).

In which century were most of the books you read written?
Still the 20th, despite my attempts to learn more of authors from other centuries...
... I've also been reading quite a lot of medieval literature recently, but that covers many centuries.

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is…
Weeell, beside those already mentioned here and elsewhere...
... I’m also getting to appreciate Peter Pevensie; I think because he’s so far removed from me in the sibling constellation, it took appreciating the more “developed” John Walker to appreciate Peter. (They have a lot in common.)
And in the area of Austenian heroes, I’m always in love with Mr Knightley and Mr Tilney, both – I think my ideal is somewhere in between them. Mr Knightley, as Natasha Marie rightly commented on a Pin, is the perfect gentleman, and not afraid to speak his mind, which I greatly admire; but sometimes he could use more of Mr Tilney’s simple joy in life, I think. And Mr Tilney is definitely fun to be around, and he acts on his principles instead of (just) talking about them like some others, which I also greatly admire; but sometimes, he should talk about them more, like Mr Knightley. So I guess in that way they’re not exactly my candidates for “the ultimate hero”, but in the realm of flawed human heroes, they are definitely worth mentioning.
PLUS I love Faramir. I love that he’s tempted and resists the temptation, and I love the patient relationship he forms with Éowyn.
And someone else also mentioned Sam Gamgee (sorry I don't remember which of the many participants that was!), and while I tend not to think of him because I tend not to like the parts of The Lord of the Rings where he gets to shine, I like him when he gets to shine. :-) And I also just like him at the beginning where he is the wide-eyed novice to travelling, and at the end of the book when he comes back to his family. I very, very much like that the book ends with that.

Describe your ideal dwelling place.
Here I go back to my old description, because that's what it is:
A house. With a garden. At the outskirts of a town, with a forest nearby. In the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, because that’s my favourite part of my country (and I cannot imagine living anywhere else than the Czech Republic).
It’s probably from the turn of the 20th century. It has big windows and lots of light, but still rather thick walls that keep the warmth inside in winter.
It has bedrooms in the attic, with walls lined with wood.
It has a roomy kitchen equipped in light wood. (So that I am forced to clean it regularly.)
It has a cool pantry.
It has a room dedicated only to my sewing.
It has a big library.

And I have a Pinterest board of pictures that cover some aspects of it, too, for those of you who are more visual. (I'm both.)

Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.
It is historically and vintage inspired - or outdated, depending on your point of view; and very eclectic with occasional classy peaks.
(I guess that's a bit longer than short. I can't do short.)

The coat and the hat are definitely the vintage-y classy peaks. The lace-up boots and barely visible corduroy trousers underneath are the eclectic part.

Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name?
As I said, naming a semi-villain in a Sherlock Holmes story A. Dvorak was a really bad and lazy choice on A. C. Doyle’s part.
(And, outside of names, I’m also a bit allergic to Prague being used as the mysterious city where dubious chemical-related things happen at that time in history. There were probably some dubious things happening, like in other cities, but as far as I know, the days of alchemists in Prague happened in the 16th or 17th century, not at the end of the 19th century... I suppose I can’t expect better from the man who ignored the political situation of the time and made up the King of Bohemia as well.)
So in my mind, his name is actually F. Lischka and he lives in Vienna.

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...
Hmm... after the previous rant I’m tempted to say “Professor Moriarty”, but the thing is, he is not as much of an archvillain as the adaptations make him out to be, even though he is definitely very dangerous and very clever and very bad.
I’m still sticking to Iago, because I cannot think of any other character that undermines the other characters’ (ahem) characters in such a way.

Three favourite Non-fiction books? 
(If the question were “least favourite”, I just may have to say the MLA handbook. Because I always forget about some part of the MLA formatting; and after the years of struggling to keep up with it, I will probably have to use a different format for my thesis anyway.)

I enjoy most of C. S. Lewis’ non-fiction in general; my favourite is probably The Four Loves – I even used that one for school two times, years apart. :D
As mentioned previously, Das Traumcafé einer Pragerin by Lenka Reinerová is a really delightful slim book of memories about various interesting people. I can read it in about an hour and a half, so it makes for a really nice mood-making read, if you know what I mean. :-)
And on a completely different note, I’m very fond of An Illustrated History of Britain. It’s also a slim volume that somehow manages to give a really good overview of British history (though with a definite bias for England).

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 
Reading somewhere outdoors out of the sun but with light... or writing there... or walking in a forest, picking blueberries... visiting a chateau with family and friends... with a campfire and singing in the evening... all of the above.

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. 
Once more, words shared before:
My hat is a wide-brimmed straw hat. It shades me from the sun, so that I keep cool in summer heats. It is also fun and pretty to look at, because the brim is embroidered with small flowers. They are ordinary but colourful flowers, daisies, poppies and cornflowers, entwined with ears of grain. It’s a summer hat, and brings summer back into shadier days.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
Well, I already have those covered in the 2013 in review posts. :D Namely, Part 3.

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.
I'm not sure this qualifies as "most inspiring", but I was once more struck by the unusual connections in the passage on killing in the Sermon on the Mountain - this time suddenly noticing that it goes straight from saying that whoever, you know, speaks badly of someone will end up badly, to the idea that if you realise someone's got something against you, you should sort it out first... and I suddenly wondered, does that mean we have to think about their spiritual health as well? It ends with a suggestion we have to sort out our guilt in the quarrel to save ourselves, but now I think that does not quite cover everything that preceeds it...

Sunday 16 February 2014

2013 in Review, Part 3

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
26... I can’t remember what I did on the day itself, but the day after I celebrated with my family in our favourite café.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
More of the classic, more of the historically influenced eclecticism, more of what I enjoy.

What kept you sane?
Being with my family and friends and being alone, in good proportion.
Seeing new places, and visiting Chotěboř and going through the breathtaking Doubrava River Valley like every year. Being in a forest from time to time.

And writing stories (because the pressure of my ideas would drive me insane otherwise).
And good music.
And jumping around the house the way I’ve always done, with music, or because I have too much energy, or too many ideas.
And the occasional Bible verse. :-)

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
In December, I fell victim to the Tom Hiddleston craze (he's both funny and considerate, which is a rare combination). And I've watched a lot of Ian McKellen interviews, too. I guess I have a thing for thoughtful British Shakespearean actors now.
And Peter Capaldi, obviously. This documentary about Scottish art is the best thing I've seen in quite a while.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I'd actually managed to keep up with the Historical Sew Fortnightly.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I’m not very politically-focused, but the first direct presidential election would capture anyone’s attention.
And the death of Natalya Gorbanevskaya, which is a private event in itself, but what she stood for was not.
Who did you miss?
No one I want to mention here...

Who was the best new person you met?
The new members of our youth magazine group.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Mentioned in some of the previous posts. More lessons, actually. And they're a kind of thing I've known before, but now I know them better.
Just because plans fall through does not mean the world falls down.
And I have to watch out what kind of mindset I surround myself with or take for granted or some such. It's so easy to stop noticing that I've gone somewhere I had not intended to be.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I can't think of anything. Because I tend to listen to songs that do not have very vague lyrics. And if you want to sum up a whole year, you have to be somewhat vague.
So maybe Don't Forget Your Hat from Privateering; I'm not sure why. Hat, and rain (there was a lot of rain in 2013, though maybe not more than in some other years), and travelling by train, and maybe something else, too.

Well, look out the window
Never saw so much rain
You better get down to the station
If you want to catch that train
So long, I guess that's that
Hey, hey, don't forget your hat

Well, you don't call the action
You don't make the rules
You don't pay the piper
You don't even pay the fuel
So long, I guess that's that
Hey, hey, don't forget your hat

Well, it's a big old world out there
Go get it if you can
You got a ways to go
Before you get to be a man
So long, I guess that's that
Hey, hey, don't forget your hat

That's the hat of the year 2013.

Five personally significant events of 2013:
Two photos from this blog were published in a book. (Daniel E. Freeman: Mozart in Prague, Bearclaw Publishers. It's the suits of Count Černín.) So that goes to show me that my efforts to document "Czech Republic not-so-well-known" do have some sort of significance somewhere.
The editorial board meeting and workshop in Mnichovo Hradiště - already mentioned a lot.
Not exactly an "event", but I did some of my first official translations.
The Bombino concert, because it's definitely not every day I meet a Nigerian musician (although I really, really, really hope he will come again...)
A certain private online conversation concerning one of my stories - that had a very personal significance, so I will not say what exactly it was, but it is connected to one of those two lessons I've learned.

Five things I want to do in 2014:
Post more.
Sew more.
Keep working on the youth magazine.
Finally make myself a Regency dress...
... and visit a certain chateau while wearing it.

Five people I’d like to know better in 2014:
... real life people. All real life people, I guess.

Friday 14 February 2014

HSF '14 #1: Make Do and Mend & #2: Innovations - Dark blue coat refashion

I'm sooo late with this. It was actually meant to be the first challange, Make Do and Mend, because that's mostly what this is, a refashion. But, basically, instead of adding the finishing touches and taking photos, I kept just wearing it. It's so precious and useful.

The photos I've finally got are nothing special. It is, father remarked, the worst possible weather for photography. It's lovely to be outside - it's practically spring weather - but the low sun, shining so brightly, makes for - well, see for yourself:

Contrast! Whole areas of face washed out in light!
(Also, I honestly have no idea why the photo looks so red. It doesn't when I view it on its own!)

This coat started life as a coat I got for free on a clothes exchange, and it looked like this:

It maybe does not look like that much of a difference on the photo, but the difference is huge. It was about four sizes too big. Single-breasted. I've turned it into sort of double-breasted, by moving the buttons: that took care of the width. Length was eventually taken care of by chopping off about 8 cm from the shoulders and collar (in the back). I also narrowed the sleeves. I also took it in a little bit in the back around the shoulders.

That was the first level, which I already did last year - this coat's first outing was when I went to the National Theatre. And on that outing, with my Little Black Dress underneath, and a fierce wind blowing, I realised I needed another layer in the back and in the sleeves to keep warm in similar weather. So that was the second level.

For the back, I used the back of one of my medieval muslins, which started out as an old sheet... more Make Do!

I turned and stitched down the edges - I did not bother changing the thread, so you can see easily - and then just tacked that to the back of the coat (with the lining removed from the top part of the coat for the process, of course).
I already had a pattern for the sleeves from resizing them, so I used that to make an interlining layer from another old sheet. I whipstitched those inside the sleeves.

So that's for the Make Do part.

The innovation part is this:

And it's what I'm so excited to share! (Even though I'm excited about the coat itself, too. It's a wonderful soft wool, in my colour, in my style, fun to wear, warm to wear, it's got pocketses, perfect.)

It became apparent, in the resizing process (and actually even before it, from the state of their attachment), that the three buttons were hardly enough to carry the whole weight of this gloriously long woolen coat. So I added press studs / snaps in between them, and one on the inside of the "double-breasted", too, for that to hold in place better.

So yes, press studs / snaps. (Thank you very much to Ricky for clarifying the use of the terms below.) They are an important innovation in the clothes-making and clothes-wearing area. Infinitely more important for people like me who are not fond of buttons. (I like fabric-covered buttons, so I'm fine with those on this coat.) And they make everything easier for everyone, children in particular.

Apparently, press studs / snap fasteners of some kind were invented in the second half of the 19th century, and for the reasons above and more, they became quite popular. Most sewists today probably know from experience that they make for more discreet fasteners, too, sometimes.
But it wasn't until 1903 when a Czech inventor named Hynek Puc, in a company of a certain Mr Waldes in Prague, invented a machine that made putting press studs / snap fasteners together much faster and easier - and much more economically feasible, too. These new ones were named Koh-i-noor, became even more wildly popular worldwide, and they are produced and sold under this name to this day. (You can read more about it in the link.)

So you can imagine how tickled I was to be able to use a Czech innovation for this challenge!

Obviously, because my coat is just a refashioned modern coat, the historical accuracy is rather hazy. I was aiming for a vaguely 1930s style (I like my beige cloche), and I think the style is there, because my friend's mother remarked on it, without me saying it first, when I wore it to church on Christmas (turns out she used to have a very similar coat that had belonged to her grandma). :-)
But it's longer then the 1930s coats I've seen. I liked the length, too (it's very useful for when I wear shorter skirts in winter!), so it's actually stylistically closer to the actual era of the invention, I think.

I wanted to take another of those photos with a cat, but the cat had other ideas for what to do with her time. I tried to hold her the whole time the self-timer was preparing, and then she slipped away from my arms and ran away just as the photo was being taken.

Aah, I can't get over how wonderfully snuggly this coat is.

Just the facts, ma'am:

The Challenge: # 1 Make Do and Mend & # 2 Innovation
The innovation: Koh-i-noor press studs / snap fasteners

Fabric: A 100% woolen coat (with modern polyester lining) + old cotton sheets for the interlining layer
Pattern: none
Year: Let's say 1905-ish and/or 1930s-ish
Notions: Black thread, Koh-i-noor press studs / snap fasteners, a piece of anachronistic but needed fusible interfacing for a spot in the collar where the original interfacing was damaged
How historically accurate is it? Not much, because it's a refashion of a modern coat, including fusible interfacing. But most of the things I did to it are historically plausible, I think; and the innovation I used definitely is.
Hours to complete: I've worked on it on and off for over a year, so I truly have no idea whatsoever
First worn: Um... let's say today?
Total cost: This is another of my favourite things about it - coat was free, interlining and fasteners were ancient stash, so all it cost was a bit of thread and a bit of interfacing: somewhere in the area of singles or tens of crowns. Not bad at all for a 100% woolen coat that's perfect for me! :D

Monday 10 February 2014

The world is full of beautiful things

Last year, while searching for historical depictions of kathak dancers to try and figure out if the costume I was making for my sister had any sort of historical background, I did not find much by way of that, but instead, I found this.

The "origin" part is a bit dubious (there are many origins); ignore that and watch from 0:53 - it is, both me and my sister have agreed, one of the most fantastic dance numbers we have ever seen.

And Ennio Morricone. Yesterday. 22th row. I had to crane my neck to see, but I did see; I saw various instruments playing at various times in the music, and I love that.

There are few musical pieces more breathtaking than this. In fact, there are few musical pieces as breathtaking as this; I do not think "more" applies anywhere.

There was standing ovation, always, and it was a bit difficult with my large coat, but I did stand up, because everyone did, and how can you not? There were three encores, and this was one of them. Another was The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti, which my father has a certain fondness for (I have not been able to tell him yet, because he was already asleep yesterday and now he's at work), and the third and last was On Earth as It Is In Heaven from The Mission, and there's that, too:

I nearly missed the station on the way there, reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller on the train. It's not the sort of book that blows my mind exactly (the style of sharing stories about himself and his friends gets a bit repetitive and somewhat simplified after a while; and now that I think about it, there might be something else yet again to the Bible being so diverse, genre-wise), but it's the sort of book I keep laughing while I read, because so much of it is so true.
Then I read it before the concert started. There was a bit of a blend in with the music later on, even though Morricone in the document they showed in the beginning said there was no "meaning" to the music except the same that is in the film, and what the audience finds in it is of no concern to the composer who only has to be true to the music, or something along those lines. But the book got me wondering, so I wondered, about a large orchestra and choir playing and singing On Earth As It Is In Heaven, with the composer conducting.

So there's that.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

The beautiful and the useful: Teacup / Coffee cup

I got bored with the 2013 in review (there's still one more post to go, but I just did not feel like finishing up those answers...), and then got busy studying and sewing (still nothing to show, but things to come!), and well, I just want to share something nice with you.

I got inspired by the Hope Chest series Jessica Boyer's been doing, and decided to share more of those beautiful and useful household items with you. I've actually already taken some of those photos earlier, so it's easier.

So here's a cup from a set that I've appropriated for my virtual hope chest, because it's always been sitting in the back of the cupboard, never used, presumably because mom preferred the simpler, gold-rimmed set more, and I actually love the colours and floral pattern of this one! The combination of aqua and orange and green is a bit awkward in our current home, so yes, I can understand why they never got used. But it fits into the colour schemes for my dream home beautifully...

I photographed it on a pillowcase that never got used, either. It's vintage, inherited I believe from an old lady that my grandma used to take care of. We have several of similar bedding pieces, with a sad story attached to them - they were for the hope chest of the daughter of said lady, who however died young. So they went to my family instead. These particular ones never got used because they do not fit any of our pillows (and there are some stains). But they make for a nice vintage linen backdrop. :-)

Aside from the colour scheme, I like how precious the shape of these cups is. They are fairly small (so probably coffee cups rather than teacups) and look like a flimsy china affair (you know the type, don't you?), what with their tiny handles, but they are actually nice and quite sturdy in the hand. (I would not risk dropping them on the floor, though. :D)

They're made in China; the pattern is just printed, not painted, so it's not a super special set, but it's special for me.