Sunday 31 July 2011

Soon to be a handicraft teacher!

This spring I decided to apply for the craft teacher program at the University of Helsinki. And I made it through! Even though I was so sure I wouldn't make it this year. The entrance exams consisted of three parts: a test based upon literature, an interview and a handicraft assignement with a report that you were supposed to make at home. I was so busy with studying the teaching program in history that I really didn't have time to even think about entrance exams until a few weeks before the first, written part. After that I had a month to work on my project when everyone else probably had been working on it for three months. And when I saw what the assignment was, I was pretty distressed. The assigment was to make a "Modern souvenir" using textiles and textile techniques. Well, I'm so not an expert in that field. I've mostly been working with yarn lately and haven't even touched a sewing machine in years - not because I don't like sewing but mostly because I don't own a sewing machine and because my mom's machine is just rubbish. But well, I set of planning and doing my best and apparently it was enough.

Well, let me just present what I did. (Remember the sneak peak a few posts back? This was what I was refering to) The choice of country was a piece of cake: of course I chose France since that's the only country except Finland where I've been spending some more time. Therefore I thought I would perhaps be able to see it more through the eyes of a frenchman than of a tourist. Further on I specified my area to Paris and the parisians. My final idea evolved around what I did a lot when I spent my spring in Paris in 2009: I had picnics. My idea was therefor to create a picnic "basket" suited for a modern citizen. An old-fashioned basket isn't perhaps the best equipment to be carrying when the metros are crowded or if you have to carry it a far way. A better choise would therefor be a bag that you can throw over your shoulder. 

Other important components where somewhere to but the essential picnic "ingredients": a bottle of wine, the cheese and a freshly baked baguette from one of the lovely boulangeries in Paris. For this I chose to knit the pieces since I wanted to have at least one texture that was compleately different from the rest of the bag. I also made them in garter stitch so that any bottle and bread in any size would fit perfectly. Then the colours of the bag also had to be kind of elegant, something that would suit the streets of Paris and not stand out too much:

I especially like the green and pink cotton fabric I used for the lining. I'll definitely be using the leftovers for something else too. But back to the bag. There was still one detail on it that I made to make it more personal, but since this post already is getting quite long, I think I save the presentation of that one to next time. In stead I'll quickly present the report:

The idea was to present and kind of sell my idea and the project. I had to describe the country or area I chose and present in detail the working process, the choices I made and the materials I used. I also had to present who or what the finished object was meant for and why. Last but not least I had to do a self-evaluation of the whole project and process.

Now afterwards I think it might have been the report that saved me because unlike sewing, this was something I felt I could do. I've written so many reports and essays during my five years at the university that I really think this was something I might have been better at than those who applied directly from college. The limit of the report was 10 pages, but I could easily have written 20. So actually it got a bit crowded and not so esthetic as I had wished for. But I think the content was ok.

Shortly I might say I liked my idea, but I wish I would have had more time and more knowledge to make the finished object more like I pictured it in my head. But since I haven't been sewing that much since high school, I think I'm still rather pleased with what I eventually managed to do.

Friday 8 July 2011

Tea time!

During the midsummer holiday, I went to my parent's and took advantage of my mother's garden. I had heard from several sourses that it isn't hard to make home made blackcurrant tea. So I went out, picked a whole lot of leaves from the blackcurrant bush and dried them in the owen at 50 °C for some 3 hours. After that they were so crispy that they broke into small, small pieces as soon as I crushed them once in my hand. Already the smell of the fresh leaves on the bush was lovely, but I was surprised to notice that the leaves kept their smell even after the drying process.

There was enough crushed leaves for filling a small metal tin my mom gave me. And now, every time I oped that tin, the lovely blackcurrant scent hits my nose and it really smells like summer. I think I'll very much look forward to opening that tin in the middle of the winter.

When I got back home, I got so inspired by my new tin and my new home made tea, that I decided to rearrange my stash of loose tea. So far they've just been inside a kitchen cupboard, losing flavour while stored inside simple paper bags. But now, I put all of my loose tea in different tins and jars, put a sticker with the name of the tea on the jar and moved them to this small shelf on the wall:

I especially like the white tin to the left. It's a souvenir a friend brought me from London with the Underground map printed on it. It used to be filled with English breakfast teabags, but now I filled it with loose Earl Grey in stead - so still remembering the origin of the tin.

I also have a lot of teabags in a wooden box made just for them, but perhaps I'll show you that another time. Maybe when I've finished my mug jacket I've been planning to make to prevent burning my fingers on the hot cup of tea.