Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This and that

Italy was beautiful: the scenery, the food, the wines and the culture and art that was present everywhere. We stayed in Lago di Como in northern Italy for a few short – too short – days. My DH spent his days in meetings while I got to do some sightseeing. One day I visited the Educational Silk Museum of Como, which was very interesting and educational. Another day I took a sightseeing trip on a boat around the lake and saw a grand old villa called Villa Carlotta what had absolutely fantastic garden. One morning I went to see the works of Renoir, Corot, Toulouse-Lautrec and Sisley – to mention just a few – in Villa Olmo. My soul is now filled with beauty and my spirit is freshened with being away from the normal surroundings. While away the summer had come to my part of the world. It is warm, the birds never seem to shut up and the sun is up in the sky for almost 24 hours a day.

I have been very busy ever since homecoming; have been working outside long hours and all the outside work just can wear off all the extra energy. I have not knit much once inside late at nights. I bought some embroidery silk from Italy and just few bits of silk fabric and I have had to fight against the suction from my work studio; I guess I should not call it a studio; it is so messy at the moment that it is more like a pig house. I go in and drop off stuff where there is free space and then just close the door and I’m running out, or really have run out of free space some time ago so the stuff is just piling up towards the ceiling… Yarns are calling me as well. I did not buy any from Italy. I surprisingly did not hunt for yarn shops and sort of wanted to be away from the knitting to build the desire to knit again. The little bit of energy that has been left after a day’s work outside has been spent knitting Monkeys. And I managed to finish these Tangerine ones (my third pair!). I love them. I love the colour to no end. And I have cast on for a new pair. I’m afraid that this summer is going to be a Monkey one.

Other than Monkeys I have been working with the Rovaniemi mittens a bit. The Nordic Knitting Symposium is held in Finland in Joensuu in the beginning of July and I’m teaching three workshops there on the mitten, so there is quite a bit of work to do on that front.

On the way back home from Italy we had a long wait in Helsinki and we took a small break from the airport waiting and went for shopping in a near by big mall. DH was shopping for canoeing stuff while I went into a bookstore and found a book on soap making. So far I have only been reading the recipes and trying to build up the courage to try one recipe with olive oil. But really I have been too tired to try it yet. I will though, the craft seems very appealing. Today I gathered a big bucket of birch leaves and have them simmering in a kettle. Hopefully tomorrow I have time to dye some wool or yarn with the outcome dye. And while DH was cutting down few trees I collected the lichen from them.

So there is little bit of this and that to keep me entertained in the fiber front. But what I desire right now most is just to go to bed and rest. Tomorrow will be another hard working day outside. The cut down trees need to be cleaned off branches and need to be chop into firewood and then to be taken into shed to dry... Country life at its best. Or at its worst.


  1. I'll join the crowd and admire your orange Monkeys. I may have to try a pair, too, since they are such a good project to knit.

  2. caroline22:33

    Hi, Lene - I've been stalking the site for awhile and just wanted to tell you that seeing the pictures of a Finnish lake is like a cool breeze on a hot day for me. And knitting plus weaving plus lake equals a constant reader! I spent one midsummer in a friend's cabin (in Varkaus??) long ago but I left a part of my heart there, probably in the sauna but maybe in a tree...sigh. (I've been longing for the summer to come for you - glad it's here.) Thanks for your writing, pictures, and fascinating projects.

    The Italian lake is pretty great too!

  3. marjorie23:08

    Oh, you are so lucky that you could fill your eyes and soul with all that beautiful culture! When you mentioned soap, I remembered that when my children were small I tried my hand at making soap. It worked quite well but I couldn't let them help me because there was lye in it and even a tiny drop on your skin would burn you. I tried some different recipes and natural colours, like paprika and cinnamon, to colour it. Then it had to "age" for about 6 weeks before use. The best soap I made had a little shampoo added to the mix, just to boost the bubbling action.

  4. What a wonderful trip. I am so glad that you were able to go. A number of years ago I was fortunate to go to Florence. The art moved me to tears!
    There is a saying about cutting wood and I am not sure that this is entirely correct, but it goes something like this: "He who cuts wood is twice warmed." Those who do it like you and my family understand the meaning of that!

  5. Thank you for the pictures. I miss our trips to Europe but college fees have to be paid!

    Sounds like you'll have a busy summer! I would love to take a Rovaniemi mitten class one day.

  6. Como sounds wonderful! We spent the night once in Lagano and on our drive to Milan managed to stop briefly (VERY briefly) in Como. What a gorgeous area! I'm glad you had such a relaxing time.

    The Summer of the Monkeys. I'm on board with that! I just finished my third pair as well, with half a fourth done. I see at least a few more in the future.

    I can't imagine what it must be like to have sun 24 hrs a day. I'd love to hear what you can tell us about that. Does it make you a bit crazy? How does your body adapt - or can you sleep just fine - you're used to it. ENJOY!

  7. Welcome home! Your photos are giving me a tease. I would love to visit Italy to see the scenery and the art works you mentioned.

    I have a friend who enjoys making her own soaps, lotions and shampoos.

    I am looking forward to seeing how the dyes you are planning work out.

  8. Lene, what a wonderful holiday! I can only imagine the richness of visiting and seeing all that you did.
    Summer of Monkeys...I like that, and I love the tangerine Monkeys! busy, must attend to all that it requires for the long winter ahead,eh?

  9. Malena (

    A lovely holiday for you - but I envy your country life and your climate! I remember the midnight sun from Alaska when I was a child, and the dark hours as well. I would wish for that now rather than 90 degrees in Texas! By the way, what do you do with those wooden clogs . . .?

  10. So happy you had a nice vacation. I have gone on vacation with my DH and really it worked out well too. We both did our own thing (he meetings, me just like you - visiting) and then in the evening we had a nice meal out! I am so happy you are having lots of fresh air and working outside. The studio will not run away, but the fresh air is meant to be enjoyed!
    Happy soap making.
    You mentioned Episode 6 of Knit Picks, which I enjoyed, but have you listened to Episode 4? That is a good one on wool - which many people are not allergic to (although some are) but they are made itchy by the barbs on the wool! It was interesting to learn how superwash wool is made.
    Welcome back, Lene, I missed you and your life!

  11. Beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  12. sharon05:15

    Your pictures of Italy are beautiful. Definitely the place to go to be inspired!

  13. Love the pictures of Italy and love the orange socks. I have a bunch of spun orange wool that has been begging to be knit into socks, but no time to work on them with a new grandbaby and another one on the way

  14. Welcome back! I'm glad your time in Italy was refreshing and inspiring. We all need times like that.

  15. Elizabeth D16:22

    Welcome home, Lena!

  16. Elizabeth D16:22

    Oops -- I do know how to spell your name, Lene! Where'd that a come from?

  17. Anonymous16:51

    Your pictures of Italy are gorgeous!

    I think I may be having a Monkey summer too.

  18. Welcome home! I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. I hope you are relaxed and refreshed. :-)

    How did you do with the no-knitting-on-holiday plan? :-)

    Did you ever read The Enchanted April, by Elisabeth von Arnim? (I can't remember if you posted about that.) Having experienced the magic of Italy yourself, I think you would really love this book. :-)

  19. Debby01:53

    Love your Monkey socks. Tangerine is a fabulous color. Your shoes are just great also. I'm doing the Monkey socks right now myself, in a light yellowish-green Koigu. But the orange rocks!

  20. Ahh… Italy… it calls my heart. Alas, it's not getting me to call it back anytime soon. So thank you for sharing your photos.

    I don't know about you, but no matter how great the trip, home is always the best comfort. Even if there is a lot of hard work involved.

    Welcome back.

  21. carlarey05:55

    I am off very soon to spend two weeks in Como. If I weren't already excited enough, your photos made me even more so. I am packing some Malabrigo lace weight for my Como knitting. It's shades of blue, just like clouds on the water.

  22. Lago Como--how magical! We woke up very early one morning and walked along the lake and didn't see a soul, it was like walking through a picture...

    And I'm SO excited--I'm signed up for the Rovaniemi mitten class at WEBS in September! My grandparents came from Finland and my grandmother was a wonderful knitter. I only wish I could have learned from her.

  23. Oh what a nice read early this morning in Colorado. You know, the soap making sounds good too. Hmm. And I bet my yarn room is a whole lot more like a pig sty mess than yours! Love the socks and the wooden shoes.

  24. your studio sounds just like mine at the moment; a drop-off spot in between other things. i can knit in another room and not have to look at it. but for spinning, i will have to clean it up. SOON.

  25. That's so funny, I just came back from Italy (Milan and Como) too! But your pictures of the place are much nicer. I love that overcast sky. Wasn't the constant rain a disappointment? I had to cancel a planned trip to Liguria because of it.

  26. Italy... sigh. Haven't been to Como, I lived in Florence (of all places the best) and I miss it badly. Oddly enough, maybe I'll have to go there in the full summer which will kill me.
    Your socks are beautiful.