twine tawashis

i'm a bit tired of buying kitchen sponges. i gave up buying the cheap coloured ones long ago but even the re-washable ones aren't proving to be the best deal either, especially when it's so hit and miss if they're even stocked at our local shop when it comes time to replace them. so to the internet i went to find a simple alternative i could whip up at home.

left: acrylic tawashi / right: scrubbie

4 balls of garden twine: 99p
knitting needles: already had them
wool batting: £2.50 (enough filling for 6 or so)

introducing the tawashi (japanese for scrubbing brush)

the garden twine is brilliant for this type of thing. it's rough on the dirt and very durable. i've made a flat one which works great for scrubbing at the tough grime and a padded one (with wool inside) to get the suds up. they both dry relatively quick and the little loops on the end make them easy to hang up on the balcony to dry after dish-washing time.

twine is tricky to knit with as it has zero stretch but after i got the hang of it, these knitted up quite quick.


the story of a succulent

i've not had good luck with succulents in the past. some say they're the easiest plants to take care of yet until now i've successfully managed to down a few to death. last year at ikea we were choosing plants for our new flat and i picked up another succulent. david asked, "are you sure?" i love how they look and i thought, this time i can do it.

people, i've had a breakthrough.

but, first this happened...

one year later and the succulent was growing so tall i had to prop it up with a stick so it wouldn't break under its own weight but one day, snap. my succulent was in two pieces on my desk. i was devastated. another epic succulent growing fail. 

there is good news however. 

after a bit of quick research i broke off a few leaves to save for propagation (i know), and the other bit i simply replanted and it worked! not only have i revived my original plant but i've made succulent babies from it!!

a few weeks later the succulent is happy and small again in its pot and i have many new succulents just starting to get roots. this weekend's project is to pick up some more cactus soil and drill holes into some spare jars for planters, like this.

succulent success at last!

(look at the tiny succulent roots growing! an honest miracle.)

not like i'm an expert but if you have a bad track record for keeping succulents alive here's my advice:

- when you feel inclined to water it, hold yourself back (unless you live in a very hot, sunny place [ie. not england] then it only needs water once a month or even less)
- give it as much direct sun as possible
- when replanting or transplanting, make sure your soil is specifically for cactus/succulents

don't be shy, tell me if you've ever killed a succulent (i can't be the only one!).


knits for little ones

you know when you reach that age and it feels like every single on of your friends is either getting married or having a baby. me right now. so i've been knitting up little knits for soon-to-be-born babes. this pair in cream white because one friend decided not to find out the sex until the birth.

it's ready for the post in a package addresses to canada in hand-stamped arrow kraft paper. remember those stamps i made a few weeks ago? i have a feeling they're going to be stamping a lot of gift paper in the future. 

the pattern used is from a debbie bliss book i took out from the east sheen library called simply baby, two-toned socks (although i kept them single-toned) made to fit a 3-6 month old (i heard babies grow really quick so i figured to go a bit bigger than the smallest ones).


stamp making

i'm quite bad at hoarding craft materials until i find the perfect thing to do with them. hence why i've carried around a speeball rubber pad from canada to hungary (twice) and to england for the past three years hoping that one day i would decide what to carve into it and finally make some use out of it. that day came this week after i saw this pin from poppytalk.

the simple shapes were a definitely draw, so i decided to finally cut up my pink pad and gouge into it with my carver. i skipped the striped one and embellished the house. lessons learnt: take your time. even the slightest knick can screw up the shape. patience, patience, patience.

the process.


knitting at the speed of stars

i've got a lot on the go right now. i'm a couple weeks away from moving into a new flat (although i'm secretly sad to leave this little studio... it's been my little den for the last half year and despite its small kitchen, it's actually perfect for us). our new place is closer to the city which is more convenient on all fronts. there will be a post on my new haunts as soon as i move. otherwise, i've been knitting my dear little heart out as much as i have time for.

we're getting into the "knitting off-season" if there's such a thing. i don't particularly enjoy knitting in summer or at least i haven't done it too much in summers past but i've been eyeing these pieces and patterns, and well, there's just too many knits to knit to have an off-season.

plus, world knitting day is coming up next month!

tuques with pom poms, neutrals with a bold kiss of colour, bows and ascot neck ties, cabled cowls and socks. i'd even like to attempt the teddy.

from top left: wool / ascot / giant pom pom hat / bow scarf / white tuque / stripe tee / florence sweater / bow headband / cable cowl



ONE // london weather has been the pits lately. non-stop rain. but it's spring, right? couldn't resist this classically london shot while walking across the waterloo bridge between rain showers. hello, big ben! this city never ceases to impress me.

TWO // the rain and wind has stripped all the trees of their spring-time blooms. when the wind gets blowing, they look like pink snow or baby pink wedding confetti.

THREE // when you're on house arrest because of the foul weather, there's nothing to do except watch back episodes of gossip girl, paint your nails and knit. at least that's what a few of my days looked like last week.

FOUR // rainy days call for outings to museums. i won a ticket to the cecil beaton photography exhibition at the v&a on twitter and took advantage of the chance to see other corners of the museum i haven't see before. this is one of the most beautiful rooms there, golden and gilded.

what have you been up to lately?


double explosions

...otherwise known as double exposures.

after seeing a tutorial on how to do this in photoshop, i can't stop. i'm not that great in photoshop yet but i'm trying to learn a new trick every day or so. what i love about lomography cameras is that you can do multiple exposures on one frame, that's what hooked me on the holga when i was a teenage. of course, doing it digitally does feel a bit like cheating but there is the plus of not wasting film on potentially bad shots. 

fitting room katie meets old door near old street station in london.

nude on a spanish beach meets craggy early spring gardens in richmond park.

what do you think? 
are there any good photoshop tutorial sites i should check out?


rainy nights mean craft nights

i am totally enchanted by the incredible things you can make out of paper. one of the ladies i work for at the artyard is a master of this medium. the entire studio is filled with papier-mache creations from life-sized deer heads, dainty designer shoes to paper roses and cakes. last night i ducked down to the studio for an evening of craft and all i have to say is wow!

when the weather has been such a muck lately, i can think of few things better to do than tuck into and evening of crafting with a glass of wine. 

love this herringbone navy and white fabric, perfect for the outside of this clasp purse with a touch of pink for the liner. it's a bit lop-sided but for my first purse attempt, i think it's pretty alright!

i was surprised how much i got into the paper crafts last night. there is no limit to the things you can make. here is my trio of tarts and cakes i made out of various bits of papers and cardboard.


pretty in pink

there is a lot of hot neon pink going on lately. i can't get enough of it. i even painted my nails pink today, not something i would normally do on a tuesday morning but it was raining and i finished my work early. bring on the blush, i've very tempted to buy a spray can of my own and touch up a few things around this flat, just not sure if pink is really davey's colour. don't want to scare him!

digging the pink?


self portrait

i always feel bad to leave this place empty when not too much is going on. so i leave you with this drawing for a rainy thursday night. it's my attempt to draw more which really means not that often at all. but i'd like it to be more often.

that cup of coffee in the drawing is steaming, you just can't see it. 


kew gardens

when you live so close to a place it's hard to make it a priority to go there. kew gardens will always be there, i thought. we'll go, one day. it's still there but finally some friends pinned down a date and rain or shine we'd go. luckily there was more shine than rain and it was a gorgeous day for touring the gardens.

here are a few shots from the day. i mostly used by diana mini that day but these iphone photos will have to tie you over until my film gets back from the lab. 


cooking french

i have to admit, i'm a bit obsessed with this new cooking show on bbc2, little paris kitchen. think julia&julia in the form of a cooking show. introducing rachel khoo.

synopsis: south-london girl moves to paris with €800, enrols at le cordon bleu cooking school and opens an underground restaurant in her 21 square metre flat. her kitchen? 2 gas rings and a small cooker. the food? amazing!

i went to a similar restaurant in budapest, no name on the door just an apartment with an open plan kitchen. we were seated around the dining room table, our place settings of mis-matched china and silverware, a menu of gourmet yet traditional hungarian dishes (with palinka of course). there was even a piano in the flat, which proved entertaining after a few glasses of wine. i love the idea of an underground restaurant, inviting people into your home for some good cooking! have you been to a restaurant like this? if you know any in london, please let me know.

Source: google.com via Carolyn on Pinterest

Source: bbc.co.uk via Melanie on Pinterest

i picked up her cook book at whsmith the other day for £15 and it's half romantic paris look-book/food porn and half recipes. nicely bound in blue canvas. so far, so good but there isn't much i can cook without an oven (thank goodness we're moving next month!). look this girl up!


simple handwarmers

finally the afternoons are warm enough to venture to the park without a jacket but when the sun hides or you catch a shadow it's still fresh and chilly, even more so at night. these hand warmers are perfect for cycling home from the city after it gets dark.


-any dk wool
-one pair 4mm knitting needles
-darning needle


cast on 42 sts (approx 7 inches wide), leaving a long tail for sewing up later
knit 14 rows of (k2, p2) ribbing

row 1: knit
row 2: purl
row 3: *(p1, slip 1 pwise to last 2 sts), p2
row 4: purl

repeat until there are 9 ridges in total (or more depending how long you want your handwarmers)

knit 4 rows of (k2, p2) ribbing
cast off loosely

finishing up
using tail from top, sew edges together 1.5cm down.
using the tail from the bottom, sew edges together, leaving around 3cm hole for your thumb
weave in ends


fly me away, someplace warm

we had one day of pure sunshine, yesterday.
it was heavenly and a big tease. grey/gloom/fog/rain/clouds are in the forecast for the next few days. why, london, why must you be so grey when spring is practically here?

few things make me feel better on days like these than looking at bright and cheery photographs of places i'd die to be right now.

happy friday friends!

Source: flickr.com via Teodorik on Pinterest


simple #knitting

simple can mean a lot of things.

easy to perform
plain in looks
honest in nature
naturally ordinary
classic, timeless

simple, in terms of knitting, is so beautiful. this garter stitch scarf for example. it's the first stitch everyone learns when they first pick up the needles. simple. but so lovely.

Source: purlbee.com via katie on Pinterest

this simple scarf somehow looks so chic with a badass leather jacket.

and jenny's handknit dishcloths over in her wiksten shop.

there is a certain charm to simple knits and simple stitches. new washing up cloths have been long overdue in our flat and this week i had some extra time for knitting up a few in moss stitch. it's a small project, but a good one for practising the basic stitches, even nicer when knit in 100% natural cotton. the project is taken from a book (very lovely) appropriately named simple knitting by erika knight. 

i've got another pair of hand warmers on my needles now, a mock-up for my knitting class at the end of the week. this is the first time i'm teaching a knitting class and i have to say, i'm a bit nervous! 


london coffee culture

tea may be the most iconic drink in britain, but in london coffee is definitely king. i can't imagine london without its independent coffee shops but turns out the coffee bandwagon didn't arrive until 1952, when the first espresso machine arrived from italy to a small bar in soho. (is it just me, or did everything great come from soho?)

cool to think that what we enjoy at typical cafe culture was really trial and error in desperation to break even. for every three cafes that opened, two would close. i love the narrator's subtle humour as he walks us through london's main coffee houses. neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

get a load of the clothing and style!

i wonder if any of the coffee shops featured here are actually still around. 


catching dreams

dream catchers are so magical. so whimsy. some nights i sleep so soundly, knowing the catcher in the window by my pillow will catch the bad dreams. other nights, i'm not so sure. i think my dream catcher may be flawed, or at least it doesn't know that freakishly strange dreams are also bad. i've been having a lot of those lately. return of the repressed is an understatement.

loving these images of dream catchers.

Source: flickr.com via katie on Pinterest


wes anderson: from above

it's just as if everything wes anderson does is brilliantly aesthetic, a bit coy and a lot charming! take this, a short featuring his hands. like it would be right out of a, well, wes anderson film.


community kite project


they're gorgeous fragile things that fly so mighty in the sky. there's nothing like the feeling of freedom when your kite picks up the wind and takes off, slicing in and out of the clouds.

the community kite project just finished in london, a week-long exhibition at SpaceFiftyFour in shoreditch and free kite making workshops. yes. free. i joined the guys there yesterday afternoon to make my own tissue kite. i've been giddy all week at the prospect. they even called me out on having planned my kite's design beforehand.

i love what they write about the project,

Community Kite Project is a week-long festival of kite making and decorating workshops, for everyone, for free. No cost, no catch, just a chance to explore your inner child, get imaginative and make yourself a fully functioning kite to keep and of course, fly. CKP believe fun and imagination are precious commodities and we would like to share them with as many people as possible.
my kite has already found itself a place on the wall. a nice touch to brighten up the flat during these gloomy and rainy days.


tea shelf // an ikea hack

i bookmarked this idea from design*sponge years ago but it never left my mind. we face a major storage situation here in our flat. it's essentially a small cube, so to speak except for the two skylights that are godsends for light and giving the studio and airy feel. we work with a kitchen the size of a wardrobe and the teeniest stall of a bathroom.

we have to make do with every inch of space we can get. so: shelves.

we managed to clear out a whole shelf in our "wardrobe" kitchen by putting up this tea shelf near our kitchen table/desk/stuff holder. tea boxes take up a lot of room! and we scored some more dishes space by putting hooks under the shelf for our tea and coffee cups (we only have four, so problem solved).

materials used: 
-ribba art display shelf from ikea (55cm long x 9.5cm wide) 
-four cup hooks 
-two wall screws

total cost: £7.20  (shelf: £5.20, hooks: £2)

time to assemble: 10 minutes

well, when you have a handy boyfriend, you don't have to spend any time assembling it. you just chat and keep him company while he pulls out his important screwdrivers and gets to work. well done, davey!


keep calm and carry on

the history of these five words explained in such a charming video.
next stop for me: barter books in the north-east.


avery cowl in twig

complete: the avery cowl from quince&co in a twig coloured wool.

this is the first pattern i've actually purchased and couldn't have been happier with how it turned out. next time though, i'm going to print out the pattern so that at least i can knit and watch movies at the same time instead of having to check the .pdf every thirty seconds to see if i'm on the right track.

alas it's done and just in time as the weather warms up a bit and i can get away with going outside in a light jacket and sweater. with the weekend ahead of me, i can start on the next knitting project: a pair of simple handwarmers to use as a demo for a knitting course i'm teaching this week and next at the artyard.


note to local londoners: if you know someone or you want to pick up some knitting needles for the first time, i am teaching a two-part course next week and again later in march. basics in knitting! tea, wine, good tunes, nice company! find more info here.


saint valentines

i haven't had even a moment to think about tomorrow.

d's birthday also falls on valentine's day so we always celebrate with cake and champagne. as it so happens my parents planned to have a valentine's baby as well, i just wasn't ready to come out yet when the day arrived. with my birthday just a few days after d's, we almost always take a trip together instead of exchanging big gifts. 

last year finland, this year will be budapest.
we're taking off on friday for a week of thermal spas, museums, ruin bars and catching up with friends.


post-siberian syndrome

pss //

the trouble with blog posts after such incredible trips is that i never know where to start.
the beginning? how cliché.
the end? everyone who wants to avoid the beginning does that.

enfin on y se trouve au milieu // saltando por un lado al otro

i can say three things for certain after travelling across siberia, through russia and recuperating in st. petersburg for almost a week.

one - russia is not at all what i expected (duh). what i do expect is that you cannot even get a glimpse at this country unless you've been there. soviet architecture is big enough to make anyone feel small. the enchanting wooden houses of siberia feel like a world away from the dominating concrete blocks of moscow. find your way into a bar and you'll meet (very quickly) some of the most open and kind hearted people in the world. i think the only reason that russians have a cold exterior is because their face is frozen into a frown. get a couple of drinks in them and you'll be hearing life stories in both your ears.

two - i thought canada was big, until i travelled by train all the way across russia. we boarded the first train in vladivostok, a short jump away from north korea on the japanese sea. the last train i took was from moscow to st. petersburg. whichever way you look at it, that's more than 10,000km. while i have travelled across canada by car, it didn't feel nearly as expansive as russia did. endless birch forests, endless fields of snow, mountains, frozen rivers, scattered small villages of wooden houses, chimneys smoking.

three - cognac can keep you alive. this is far different from you can live on cognac. the day we trekked out to lake baikal i was over-exhausted, cold and hadn't eaten much that morning. we were standing outside, many of our group were jumping into the lake. at some point, all i could see where white sparkles in my vision and i totally "blacked" out (more like whited out) and i woke up in a snowbank a second later. a few minutes in a warm bus and a few swigs of cognac did the trick.