A birthday in April/Edvina the elephant…

The 27th April marked by 38th year and I had a lovely, sunny, spring weekend.  On the Saturday I played clarinet in my orchestra, the very fine “Postorkestern”, and we played a selection of music from computer games.  It was a surprising mix of exciting, virtuosic music alternating with romantic, lyrical passages.  Who knew playing such games could be so musically fulfilling? Certainly an experience to play these pieces. 🙂  We played two performances after an afternoon rehearsal, so my musician friends were very happy that I baked and brought along two early birthday Tosca cakes for the interval.  It gave us all a well-needed sugar kick in the break and it is a Swedish classic sponge cake topped with crunchy, sweet almonds.

The Sunday was a birthday where my Swede treated me to a cup of real English breakfast tea in bed, brought in on a tray with a card, a lovely fresh rose and his dolcet tones singing me a “Happy Birthday”, except in Swedish, of course.  He also knows his girl very well and bought two large books on both knitting and weaving in Swedish.  Weaving is something I have long talked about wanting to learn so, with the inspiration from receiving the book, I decided to search online for a course.  I found an intensive two week course during the school summer holidays.  Perfect!  I am waiting to hear back as to whether I am on the course, places are limited to only 8.

This week Edvina the elephant came to life from small knitted bits and bobs sewn together with fabric applique to finish.  My first attempt to make a toy and to try a bit of sewing.  She isn’t perfect, but it is a noble first effort and I have learned a lot along the way.  I found cotton to be a strong, soft material but it is hard to knit as tightly as required to keep the stuffing from showing underneath.  Also I have to probably use more stuffing in general and keep things tighter overall.  I will keep practising my sewing skills, but I was pleased that I cut the fabric to fit, by eye, rather than with a template and overall Edvina is a rather cute elephant!

The designer and creator of many inspirational patterns is Laura Long.  I happened to come across her book in the local library, “Knitted Toy Tales”, which is a collection of hand-made toys presented beautifully with the patterns, guidelines on techniques and some lovely poems and illustrations: http://www.lauralong.co.uk/index.html

I went to a fabric shop near the Skanstull underground I was passing and found that the lady there was very helpful and gave me lots of advice as a novice at sewing.  Also she had some remnants for sale very cheaply, perfect for the small pieces needed for making toys.  And, when I wanted some fabric on one of the larger rolls, she was happy to cut a very small amount and charge me the minimal amount.  I invested in some rather expensive scissors but it was worth it as they made for sharp, accurate cutting on the small scale required in this project.  I will definitely be popping by again to this shop: http://karmosin.se/

A very nice parcel arrived in the post: an amazing present from my talented friend, Anna!  Anna, who still lives in my hometown of Bristol is a talented artist and we have known each other since we started in the class at school aged five.  Plus both of our mothers are Swedish and are equally good friends.  Anna has captured the characters and colours of my two cats, Tiger and Mina, beautifully in this watercolour.  My cats live up north in Jämtland with my parents so it is great to have a reminder of them here in Stockholm – though of course I miss them terribly!  The other cat pictured is actually a “piggy bank” that I spotted when I happened to pop by a church spring fayre yesterday and of course I had to take her home!

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