Friday, March 28, 2008

Small thoughts

Dear, this is a long one…

I never imagined that what I told you the last time would generate so many friendly comments! But now when I think about it, of course it did, because you all are very thoughtful. Even though I said that please don’t write any nice comments, I must admit that receiving them did good to me and I thank you for each one of them. (Ellen, I don’t know what happened to your comment, but I did not remove it, so please post it again. I have never removed any comments from my blog, probably it is easy, but there has never been any need to do it.) I myself said that words should be used with great care and somehow I today think that I should myself have been more careful. So yes, I have regretted for writing that. I think I just learnt a lesson but that is what life is all about. I want to update the blog soonest so that we can move on…

I know I take all my tasks a bit too seriously. If I am making a humble pair of socks to wear inside Wellingtons in the garden, around the sock my mind will start building a garden where I shall plant roses or a whole wardrobe. If I am making hot oatmeal in the morning, my mind will immediately start seeing rows of hot cereal bowls in the weeks to come and will start planning healthy menus and kitchen textiles, like place mats or potholders or whatever. My mind goes so much faster than my hands and that is exhausting and it really diminishes the joy of making little pieces and the joy of stopping at the process.

I know life is lived with one day at a time (are you really able to do so?) so maybe creative life is supposed to be lived with one little project at the time. No need to build a universe, one little piece should suffice. And I really should trust that after each little piece there is going to be another one for sure.

My father, a good man, of whom I have talked here many times, admired Tapio Wirkkala. Wirkkala was a brilliant Finnish designer. I have read few articles of him that my father pointed out in various publications and one sentence that has stuck with me all these years is an interview that appeared in a magazine, I think it must have been in 70’s or 80’s, where the interviewer asked Wirkkala what made him so productive. He simply said “hunger”. Maybe someone else has said it also, but I read this long ago when I was young and had not yet seen/read very much.

My friend and I are often discussing about the amount of stuff we have and that we are in no need of anything really any more. She does beautiful weaving, she knows all the difficult structures and knows how to build beautiful fabrics, but she does not weave much. I almost wrote any more, but she does occasional pieces and the reason why she does not weave much, is the fact, that nobody really needs anything in her close family and she does not want to sell her work because she feels a bit unethical to push more stuff into the world and weaving is not her livelihood when things of course would be different. We have discussed about this a lot and from various viewpoints, again it is something to think about at times but something that I find extremely difficult to follow.

I often say that this old dog does not learn new tricks but honestly this old dog is constantly seeking new things to learn to craft. Next summer I will be taking a bookbinding course in southern Finland and am looking forward to it. I would like to take a drawing or painting course as well but so far haven’t found anything that would fit my schedule.

Why am I rambling about all these things that I haven’t really carefully thought trough but are yet just almost irrational sentences rattling in my head. I need to shake them out because I think these are the small fibers that make this yarn today.

Lately I have been lacking “the huge overwhelming desire that buries everything under and takes hold of my life and burns my candle from both ends”- kind of urge to knit or weave or embroider or draw or quilt. Is the reason really so simple that I don’t need anything? I could do various things for my children but then they would want to dictate what I would be making and I want to keep my creative freedom. It is the only area where I am the boss.

Yesterday I was again doing laundry (I am not kidding, I had more than 20 loads of wash to be done and I have been dutifully doing it every day for the whole week – I iron most of the stuff…) and while walking around the house putting everything into the right closets I walked by my (the girls' really) doll house that has been on the making for ages. It has been ripped down from all my real girls' play things. I looked at it and what did I see… Nothing really. Amanda and Martta were sitting on a bare wooden couch with their underwear on. Otherwise the house is empty, it is a bit spooky and scary as it is now. Do you read me, the house is empty, the girls have nothing to wear, they have nothing to eat; they have nothing to play with. They have almost nothing at all.
I am not sure if my interest will last but my eyes are only looking at the poor girls and their wardrobe and house and story at the moment. This thought has crossed my path few times but I have never really done much. I hope that now this time will be different.

This is what I know of the girls so far. Their story will reveal itself to me by one chapter and one character and one little project at a time…

“Amanda and Martta are twins.

They are not identical, thank goodness, their mother always tells to herself. She would not be able to decide which one’s character to pick for identical twins if she had a choice. Would she prefer both of them to be like Martta, who is very forward, down to earth, as a matter of fact, a little bit too honest little girl with full of mischief. Martta is not afraid to pick a frog or a spider and bring it into her bed, she can easily put a worm on a hook for fishing and for everyone’s surprise she also has the determination needed to sit on the pier for long periods of time staring at the hook. She plays with words and chooses, sometimes even invents, them with great care. She doesn’t compromise. When she enters a room, she shines and she could not go unnoticed for a second. She knows how to make a grand entrance and that sometimes can be a bit weary in a little girl.

Or would she prefer both of them to be like Amanda, who is shy quiet dreamer, who can forget herself totally when chasing a rabbit until she finds herself in a spot from where she can no longer find home, even though her home is just a steps away. She walks about in her mind through different forests and kingdoms. Her talk is little more than a whisper and she can stay hours in a room without anyone noticing, minding her own business wandering in her own tracks. Sometimes it is almost as if she is invisible. But she can be stubborn, and yet in a way that you really have to use all your creativity to find out what she wants. She is very easy to guide along until she reaches a spot, where everything easy becomes impossible. One like Amanda is plenty for the house.

Their mother named them the blue and the red baby in her mind for weeks after they were born. Martta was the red, or the pink baby while Amanda’s pacifiers and clothes were light sky blue. Martta has remained red. She does not care for clothes at all but if she needs to have something, it has to be red. Her mother has quit the colour discussions with her and just lets her be red. Amanda wears any colour that suits her mood.

They could not be any different from each other, they are like night and day, as the saying goes.”

This is what I know of them so far. I have been trying to find a way to draw the girls but the best sketch is something like this. I have not yet decided if this is how I see them but this is the starting point. I will keep on drawing and trying to find the figures.

I have been digging my stash for thin yarn again and there is something on the needles for Amanda, something that Elizabeth Zimmerman has knit in various sizes but maybe not in a doll size. I will show you the process and tell you more about it next time. I will say only that it is their Grandma M that does all the knitting for the girls and that M is short for Margaret. They will have more people in their lives but so far you know only Grandma M and the girls - and their mother.

I know, it must be the age or then again, maybe something else. Let’s see now when I get to build my own world, if I am able to avoid conflicts. Or do I even want to? And you, dear critic, I think you really did push me and for that I thank you because without you I don’t think I would be starting on – I sincerely hope – a new journey or a new sidetrack. I am not sure if you find this interesting at all, but if you don't please don’t tell me that, at least, not yet.

And now the laundry and the weekend shopping and all the rest but hopefully when it gets dark and quiet and when nobody is looking, I will get to spend some time with the little girls…

This Friday is all about the tiny treasures in the world,



  1. i just want to say thank you.

    my days are chock full of noise, chaos, demands, crises, loud sorrows and almost silent successes. i come to this space, read your missives and find myself both soothed and envigorated.

    this is a space where i can hear my own contemplative thoughts, give audience to my own philosophical challenges, and then just breathe for a little.

    in short, the peace of your mindful space and musings is infective and inspiring.

    enjoy your new focus! i know i will.

  2. quinn13:21

    Such a jewel-box of a world coming to life. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Your view into the girls world is breathtaking. Sometimes small things change the world or so 'they' say. I choose to believe it works the same in handmade things.
    Small things are good things.

  4. Such a delight seeing the girls again. Granddaughter Gracie will ask about them quite frequently and want to see them, she'll be very happy to see this post and listen to what you've written...
    I know it brings out the little girl in me.

  5. elizabeth15:47

    What a wonderful story! I felt as though I were reading about my sister and myself - thank you!

    (P.S. I would be Amanda)

  6. Thank you Lene! I was just like 'Amanda' when I was little. It was not appreciated in my home but I love being me and your little story has made me feel special.
    Glad to see the doll house again. I have always dreamed of having one, and in this way I feel as though you are blessing me.
    Wool and Spring be with you.

  7. Even mischief from Martta cannot disturb the peaceful, serene, artful oasis your blog is to me.

    I look forward to seeing how you bring them to life.

    I love the way you photographed the doll house!

    My little Artist inherited a furnished doll house from my grandmother-in-law. For decades she collected such luxurious little furnishings. I'm glad my m-i-l has a place to display it, because we don't at our house.

  8. Anonymous18:25

    Morning Lene, I just have to respond immediately to your last post and I really don't know what to say! I was mesmerized by the twins story.....this is another wonderful facet of your creativeness and you MUST persue it! Now, I too, am actually glad your creating was compromised by criticism because it seems to have put your talent with words in the forefront. Have a joyful weekend. Jeanie in Msla

  9. Anonymous19:31

    oh Lene, I love to read your thoughts so much! Thank you! Luisa

  10. Lene, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us all so openly. I eagerly await every new post you write, and you always make me smile.

    A bit off topic, but I was just listening to one of our senators on the radio talking about how Finland could be an example for my country (US) in terms of health care and managing our economy, etc. His glowing comments about your country made me want to move there!

  11. beth in maryland20:23

    Lene, here are three things the world never has enough of: a picture, a story, a person to create them. And so I never get enough of you!

  12. Renee23:43

    It was amazing to see 107 comments yesterday on your site and to see such a lovely long post today. I think it is hard on a beautiful spirit to be criticized. Think of some loving mother who finds her cherished son blown to bits in Iraq for his unwise decisions and the passion of uncurbed youth. What a criticism of one whom she loved and raised. The world needs more creative ideas to solve all its problems. How beautiful of women in this day and age to blog, sending wonderous thoughts into cyberspace, to offer a short few moments of peace to others, and just generally fill the world with good thoughts. The critical and downers are from sad people who need to reassess their purpose on this earth. You, Lene, are a wonderful person....private, creative, and immensely entertaining. You are the penny I spend on hyacinths for my soul each day.

  13. Stephanie23:45

    Thank you. I am now sitting with joyful feelings and smiles reading about the twins. Very much am I looking forward to more.

  14. Ellen in Conn23:45

    I like their little wooden couch, and the carving in the back of it. Who made it?

  15. I think there is a little "Martta" and a little "Amanda" inside each one of us...
    Your article make me think about my childhood and my teddys bears. Then now, I am going to sleep and think about all this nice memoty!

  16. Lene...... I feel like you reside in my spirit universe that is on the other side of Alaska. Your quiet is at times like my quiet, it makes me feel more content and sister like when I read your musings.

    I'm not quite ready to let go of winter here, the light is already so bright! Thank you for sharing all your goodness with us....... jo

  17. Oooh, I think I'm going to enjoy this!

    I totally agree with you, I'm much more inspired to be creative about making things when they have a purpose. The only problem is that once I decide I need something I don't really want to wait until I can finish making it. Rather frustrating, but knitting baby clothes is pretty useful...and I imagine putting together a doll's house would work even better!

  18. I love dolls-houses! My dad and grandparents together made mine (and my sister's; it is ours, but she never played with it), and my mum helped me to redecorate it when I was a little older, and make fimo food and little clothes.

    Enjoy your journey! - I'm sure we, your readers, will.

  19. Like you (and many of your readers), I have many creative passions and yet there are times when I just hit a dry spell. I've learned to think of these as "quiet spells" rather than dry... they are important because something new generally emerges from them, even though they can be hard to tolerate. And I never know what that something will be.

    You have a rhythm and a breath in your writing that help me through those quiet spells, so I am grateful for that, and a delight which I can celebrate with in my more passionate creative bursts. I think that's part of why you've drawn so many of us around your little corner of blogdom.

    I hope you'll keep sharing your explorations. We are ready to join you on the journey, wherever it goes!

  20. I would love to highlight your blog on my podcast if you would be up for it.

    I absolutely love the stockings you have designed. Stunning. Beautiful.

    Best wishes,
    belleoftheballpodcast at yahoo dot com

  21. Jacqui said what I wanted to say.

    But I also want Amanda and Martta to invite me over. It looks peaceful there.

  22. As I read I found that I BELIEVE in Martta and Amanda. Thank you, dear Lene, for another beautiful post.

  23. A hauntingly beautiful post ... I hope it is just a beginning!

  24. Linda03:06

    Dear Lene,

    I truly love reading your blog. I live in Canada so I can relate to some of the things you say regarding your surroundings. We have had so much snow this winter
    and unfortunately spring does not appear to be on the horizon. I do have, however, some snowdrops which have bravely bloomed despite
    being covered several times with a carpet of snow.

    I truly love your drawings. They are so original and so lovely. Even if you have not posted a new entry I look at your blog daily just to look at your drawings.

  25. Someone once commented on my blog that I must be a very boring person because I was admiring a skein of yarn that I had received. Even though I told myself it didn't matter, in some small way it did. I took in the criticism and kept on doing what I was doing before. I write because I like to. I am not that fascinating and I know that everyone is not interested in my life. That's ok. I can live with that. What I enjoy is peeking into other lives that are different from my own. It opens my world to other possibilities. For that, I thank you.

  26. Your post is fantastic. I'm in your camp: right now, in order to find something, and put some things back, I have torn up my sewing room/office and one closet and have piles and am sorting papers and projects and patterns into their proper places -- strewn out in three rooms. But when it's done it's done for a while.

    I forget what language I heard this in (but it makes sense): you (we) have too many "tastes" (interests).

    Bookbinding -- books are things of beauty, and you will enjoy yourself. Just get a short manicure -- I've seen friends' hands and they do get beat up.

    I would actually like to take a weaving class someday though.