Sunday, July 31, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011


I visited a Viking Museum while in Stockholm. We had a guide that took us through the exhibits--I was surprised that they let us take photos. This picture shows a recreation of a Viking dress.

This stone is a Celtish pict stone-found along a roadway showing directions. Sweden has an interesting program to help preserve items of historical interest such as these. If you find something like this on your property and report it, they allow you to deduct the appraised value from your taxes. Even items as small as the bracelets in the next photo.

This skeleton is believed to be a 6 year old girl.

This bracelet and ring are reproductions of Viking jewelry. I bought them in the Museum gift shop. They are heavy silver.

This painting depicts the burial grave of a Viking king. He is buried with items that he used (weapons) and things that are considered his prize possessions (see the horses, dogs) Our guide told us that the VIkings are always depicted with horns fixed onto their helmets, but that this is acutally not how they were used. The horns, according to her, were actually used for drinking and when these people were buried the drinking horns were set on either side of the head next to the helmet. She also said that they had been misrepresented in history as being berserkers but they were not at all like that. Interesting.

This is Anna's in Gamlastan---the old part of Stockholm. Bought some interesting locally spun lace weight.

Sweden is an archipelago with many, many islands. Cruising into and out of the port you pass many islands like these with summer homes. They were beautiful--if they are home they have banners flying--

I was waiting for the bus to go back to the cruise ship and ate at this hot dog stand. Check out the hanging bags of mustard and ketchup.
This is part of the Royal Family's residence. Stockholm itself is built on many islands connected by bridges. It was very clean, very beautiful.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Helsinki 14July2010

The moon at Helsinki. This photo was taken as we arrived in port in Helsinki. Beautiful. And the city turned out to be one of my favorite port.

The Farmer's Market near the city center is unbelievable. You could dive into these strawberries and eat yourself silly.

Like wise with the greens.

This cobblestone was on the pier when we exited the ship. Mesmerizing pattern, very inspirational
Menita was one of the yarn shops on our itinerary. They had a whole 12 foot high wall of mohair in every color imaginable. Alas, no air conditioning though:(
This couple are regular merchants selling at the open air Farmer's Market. They grow the wool and do all of the processing in between. I bought a couple of mitten kits from them and some single skeins of yarn.

The Design Museum was just up the street from Menita. It was very interesting. The exhibitions covered all things Finnish from furniture to textiles to glassware to clothing. I bought this bag in their shop. I love it!

Monkey-Cat-Rabbit were joined by some new friends-finger puppets that I found in the Design Museum Gift shop. They are knitted, crocheted, and felted. Pretty cute!

Next: a day at sea and then Stockholm!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

St. Petersburg, Russia 13July2010

Ahhh. St. Petersburg. I signed up for an excursion to The Hermitage, considered the largest museum in the world. With no AC and very few open windows. If I had it all to do over again, I would have taken one of those bus tours or a riverboat tour, where you drive by the historical buildings and you get a sense of the whole city. We had been cautioned about striking out on our own, as it is just not a good idea in this city. Also, as you will see later, the cruise boat terminal is new and on a reclaimed delta of the river Neva that runs through the city.
Our tour guide was a fountain of knowledge, this guy must have had a master's in Renaissance Art. However, he did not know much about the architectural history, which would have been kind of interesting because it took about 30 minutes to get to the Hermitage.
Now, I failed to mention earlier that on the day we actually boarded the ship I started to have problems with my feet. The day we went to Berlin, for some reason, my feet started to swell. REALLY swell. I have no idea why. They got so bad that I bought some Birkenstocks-the Arizona style with the two straps. My feet were so swollen that the pooched out between the straps.
Keeping that in mind, think of wandering around a huge museum with a guy who is uber-art-articulate, especially inregards to the Dutch and Flemish Baroque artists of the 17th century. Mind you, there was a Picasso exhibition that he did not comment on and did not stop for us to see. He started by showing us this exhibit hall. I think this is Czar Nicholas. The smaller paintings around him in the second photo are his Generals--the ones who won their battles. Apparently if you didn't win, you couldn't hang with him, literally. The best part about this part of the museum was that these were interlocking gi-normous rooms with a few benches and seats.

I was proud to recognize this painting as the Grand Canal in Venice and the Rialto Bridge. The second one is of St. Mark's Basilica and Piazza.
Most of the paintings that he wanted us to see were dark, 17h century Flemish and Dutch painters. Rubens, Rembrandt, etc. And lots of them portrayed Baby Jesus and Mary. Naked Baby Jesus, I might add, in all of them. After about 12 of these I kind of got numb and silly. The last one that I remember showed a Naked Baby Jesus at about 5 years of age with one of his home boys who was also naked. Mary was sitting on a chair. Naked Baby Jesus was holding a tablet with some kind of scribe and he looked like he was writing. I thought to myself that if he has the fine motor control to hold a pen of some type and write, why can't they get him to wear some britches?
About this time, we got to what really make the museum trip for me, which was a tour of the "Gold Room" in the basement. It is temperature (yes!) and humidity and light controlled because these peices date from the 4th millennium BC to the early 20th century AD. And there were a lot of Viking and Celtic influences in these pieces. Shortly after this, when some of the others on our tour rebelled by going to the restroom, the tour guide stopped, although he was kind of miffed at us for having to go potty. I ditched out along with another person. We had had enough.

This is our ship--
This photo shows the reclaimed delta and the buildings in it are apartment buildings. Very severe and austere looking. Reminds me of the apartment buildings I saw in East Berlin when Carson and I were there in Spring 2005. Very stark and no color, very depressing.

There were a lot inspirational patterns and motifs within the Hermitage, as these photos demonstrate.

At the cruise terminal, on the Russia side of Customs were a series of little gift shops. I texted these hats to Carson to see which one he liked best. We were in port for 2 days, but day 2 for me was a spa day (loved it!).
And here is the one he chose.

Up next: Helsinki Finland!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tallin, Estonia, 12July2010, Part 1

We visited the medieval, walled city of Tallin. For some reason, I love the contrast of the "old" Pontiac parked on the cobblestone street.

I loved the doors along this road. Lots of design ideas.

Cobblestone repairs. Probably no stone masons around to cut the square stones.

Estonian lace is characterized by the presence of nupps. Beautiful work, rectangular shawls with a very different method of construction. Usually in white or cream. I wasn't able to find any, but some of the other knitters located some, and they were beautiful!

Tallin, Estonia 12 July 2010, Part 2

This is one of the entrances to the walled city of Tallin. It is amazing to see structures like these that were built in the Middle Ages and are still standing today. They have a lot of architectural interest that I can imagine translated into textural features in knitting.

The Estonian women have an organized handcrafter's guild. They work to preserve their national heritage in textiles and all types of hand crafts. There are different levels of proficiency in each craft, whether it is sewing, embroidery, knitting, or any type of handcraft. We attended a presentation at one of these Cooperatives. Not only do the women make all of the items there, they actually run the business and work there selling their goods. The coat in the photo here demonstrates a great deal of detail in the braiding. I used this detail as the inspiration for one of the classes onboard- check out the slipper on my left foot .

The blouse, skirt and vest in this photo comprise the National Uniform for a young woman. These are worn by all people at national holidays or other days of national importance. The close up shows the detail of the embroidery on this blouse. There was a young woman there embroidering as we attended our presentation. She said that it would take her about a week to embroider a blouse like this. We watched her, she was very fast.

There were two different stores operated by this Cooperative. The pink creature below, creatively named "Rabbit", joined up with Cat and Monkey.

They became fast friends for the rest of the trip. Rabbit is felted and he is quite a work of art. His limbs are all articulated and his detail is amazing. He hangs out amongst my yarn to this very day.
Tomorrow--St. Petersburg, Russia!