Linen Love

An inherent quality of linen is the endless design stories it creates for living spaces and wardrobe alike. I am especially drawn to the fiber due to it's cool, fresh quality that is in stark contrast to the extreme hot weather climates I call home. This past summer stood out as one of the most brutal recorded in the Middle East, no doubt the driving force behind my continued obsession with natural fibers.  Linen is notoriously laborious to manufacture, but an affair with this ancient fiber, dating back thousands of years, is a lovestory for life! Linen is going through a revival stage with bloggers such as Beth from LocalMilk honouring the integrity, showcasing the beauty of the fiber in their daily narratives. 

The pincushion above and the broach below is by the uber talented Namolio. I was doing the happy dance when I opened my parcel to see that she has gifted me with no less than 3 skeins of 5 ply linen yarn in  3 colourways. What a wonderful gift, thank you so much! The fragrance of lavendar emanating from the pincushion transported me straight back to our summer vacation in Croatia. Ah bliss.
Find Namolio on Etsy for exquisite gifts, Flickr for incredible photography, and Instagram for daily snapshots into her life.

My fingers itched to give the linen yarn a whirl and the result is this textural piece hooked from a pattern by another very talented woman, Sandra, the driving force behind the Mobiusgirl label. She has just started her own blog on which you will find the pattern for this beautiful mandala. I have yet to decide what to do with my mandala, but see some of the options below! 

Have a great weekend, we are off to enjoy bistro style dining in a hip, relaxed atmosphere at Opal, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant where we will be celebrating my birthday that took place earlier this week. 


Norwegian Woods

The Project
~ a breathtakingly beautiful lacy blanket titled Norwegian Woods. 

The Pattern
~ tutorial on YouTube by Jachelle Stephanie. I am hoping to receive feedback from her soon confirming whether she was also the designer of the pattern. A chart is available on Jachelle's Instagram, but beware that the corners differ slightly to the YouTube tutorial I followed.

The Inspiration
~ the mood captured by @camillalboe from Norway and the beautiful black exterior houses of Scandinavia. Photo credits: Camilla 

The edge
~ improvised!

Fiber Meditations
~ I have been searching for the perfect black fiber for close to two years and was about to order black hemp string online, when my eye spotted a few sample balls produced by my friend Hester, the force behind MoYa Yarn. It was instant love and without a doubt the most suitable yarn for the project. MoYa is a high twist hand dyed organic cotton with the added benefit that it does not split, the ends do not fray and once woven in, also do not unravel. Perfect!

Black Tweed has the potential to become my signature yarn if I ever decide to take the leap and do what I really should and want to do, i.e. hook in stark non-colours. I am the bearer of bad news though, this yarn is not (yet) available for sale.    


Pretty Pieces and my dear Katja

Tinctory- I fell in Love with Eva's creations many years ago when it first started making an appearance in my Pinterest feed and finally got around to take the plunge and buy myself something from her Tinctory shop.  Czech born and British based designer, Eva, uses cues from geometry in nature and created several pleating studies over the years which she later translate into wearable jewellery. I love expats artists, you can see the depth of their lifestyle experiences in the works of art and craft they produce. Her pieces are etherial, intriguing, unique and if you page through her Flickr and Blog, you will also fall in love with her photography.  Eva hand dyes repurposed silk and then applies various techniques in her work, among others batik and shibori, knitting and smocking. She scanvenges natural organic materials from the forest floor and her colours represent the forest fodder and seasons. The jewelery exhudes space, stillness and calm. I am completely in love with the Feather I chose and love wearing it. Thank you Eva!

Swoon Lounge is a gorgeous new online shop by Susan Cropper, owner of bespoke yarn shop, Loop London in Islington, London. I had such a great time selecting yarns from the shop during a business trip to London earlier this year, that I knew Swoon Lounge would be a great choice to order a few linen dresses from.  I bought the Bud Dress and Fan dress by Manuelle Guibal  and it quickly became weekend wardrobe staples. Each piece is individually garment dyed and processed by hostoric mills in the French countryside and tailored in pure and simple shapes with sculptural volumes.

I took this picture in the Medieval Mediterranean garden of St Lawrence Monastery high up in the old town of Sibenik, Croatia during the summer holiday. These flowers remind me of delicate tutu wearing ballerinas.

Have a nice weekend, I will be posting more about my latest crochet project that I started making during a trip to Istanbul soon!  I am making a blanket titled "Sprinkles" in the gorgeous Moya, hand dyed organic cotton with a hight twist in a stunning palette of colours. I am in love!

Oh no, I just read the sad news of Katja's passing away on 13 October. RIP Katja, your Versponnenes blog has been a constant favourite of mine over the years and I will miss our bantering over "Visiting Sweden" (Ikea shopping) and me buying "Katja Colours" during one of my King Cole Cotton Bamboo shopping trips.  A recent blanket of mine has been inspired solely by one you made (photo below), I will most definitely be blogging about that next. I am so damn sorry, cancer is a bitch!


When something should but does not go right

One of my favourite restaurants in Doha is a Japanese fusion restaurant offering an eclectic choice of the world's best cuisines, taking one's tastebuds on a delivious trip of a satisfying feast! The interior is beautiful. It is all NYC industrial loft style with warm undertones and exposed brick walls; powdered coated distressed black steel frames, softened with beautiful lantern style light fittings. What I really love about the restaurant, is the tiled floor suprise in the cloakrooms. It is stunning, the Teen and I always take a few spins of happiness in this very small space whenever we lunch here.  

After hooking the fabulous #rusticlacesquare blanket that is still sweeping through IG like a storm  (see all the hashtags by various posters on IG), my eye was drawn to another similar, oversized lacy square design and I womdered whther that would be another great pattern to enjoy.  

I noticed the floor, I noticed the pattern, I gave it a go, I failed. Urghh!!! I really struggled to get the gauge right, in creasing and decresing stitches, started over a few different times and concluded that it simply was not working. As rerwarding as the first pattern was, as frustrating this one turned out to be. Idea: shelved!!

Susan named the unnamed square #rusticlacesquare after my own IG account, rawrustic (I wish I could ditch the "pigtails" moniker you see, hence a differet account name on IG)   
 Just look at this!  Mirrored wall, tiled floor, simply gorgeous.

I enjoyed playing with my failure on a photo app though!  

Teen Fashion
The Pattern - feel free to give it a go!!

 The restaurant as seen moments before it got silly busy,just after opening time

Have a nice week, cheers!


Bryce Crochet Bag

Pattern: Bryce Bag by Lakeside Loops 
Hello!  I just want to show you the lovely bag that I finished early this morning!  Yes, it is hot of the hooks and I am already putting good use to it by wearing it today! 
I used a 5mm crochet hook and two strands of yarn to hook this sturdy bag and lined it in plain black linen. This is the child sized bag, but I added a few extra rounds to make it a little longer. Once I lay my hands on a 10+ ply cotton, I will also make a striped version in the Adult size.

The Yarn
I used MoYa Yarn, a hand dyed organic cotton in a hight twist from South Africa. The excellent news is that this one of a kind yarn is available from stockists in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Russia, Namibia and Australia! If you enjoy texture, this yarn is a must try.
For contrast, the rope was hooked in a silver grey King Cole Bamboo Cotton. I also used 2 strands DK, but downsized to a 4mm hook.

The Outfit
The bag looks fantastic styled with a pure linen Kaftan style dress from Nu, Oxfords from Uterque, and neckpiece from Laardesign.  I love the simplicity of the look and the natural fabrics are most suited to the hot and humid climate of the Middle East. No doubt I enjoy fashion! I keep my wardrobe small and minimalist though and can confess that I only have a grand total of 4 lipsticks in my make up bag.  Can't make the same statement regarding my shoe obessession . . .  

Have a great week!


Living the slow life

Hello!  I have been enjoying living The Slow Movement so much over the past few months that one could almost say that with regard to blogging it temporarily became The Stopped Movement! But fear not, I am baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!  I have been around all the time actually, creating new projects and making draft postings, but never took that final step to add text, to publish; and in academia we all know the phrase "Publish or Perish"!

I already shared the final result of this gorgeous The Garden afghan on my @rawrustic Instagram account, but here are a few more photos that did not make it onto IG. A great number of IG Hookers, were indeed inspired by this vintage looking (and it might very well be an original vintage design) lacy square and you can trace all the beautiful projects under the #rusticlacesquare hashtag.

You might also want to head over to Marianne Dekker's awesome blog maRRose to read more about how this pattern took the IG community by storm. Marianne's version is to die for, her joining simply superb and I want to dig my head in the sand when I compare the clever, neat way she joined her squares with my wonky result.  Mind you, the slip stitches on the back of my afghan looks neat, it just does not translate to the front! The very first #rusticlacesquare project can be traced back to the wonderfully talented Cornel Strydom, one of a trio creative souls who are behind Hello Hart, the best crochet blog in the Southern Hemisphere and perhaps the Northern one too!

I blogged about this project on two separate occasions for those interested in yarn, hook size and pattern details - Flower Power and The Garden

Back to the topic of The Slow Movement in case you are wondering what this is all about! Slow is the opposite of “fast” - fast food, fast money, fast living - and all of the negative consequences “fast” has had for the environment and for the health of people and societies. “Slow” embodies cooperation, respect, sustainability, gratitude, grit and resilience. It is about leaning to savor and fully engage with life.

In another week we are departing for a month of Slow Travelling - destination Croatia. One of the defining elements of Slow Travel is the opportunity to become part of local life and to connect to a place and people. Slow travel is also about connection to culture. We will be connecting with local artists (in Dubrovnik we will spend a week living in a converted art studio) and will indulge with people belonging to slow food movements.  Ah bliss, from Zagreb to Istria to Dalmatia, we are looking forward to an incredible time in what looks like one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

Enjoy your weekend! 


The Crusaders are wearing Crochet!


Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades (2010-2015)

4000 years after their first use in Egypt, Alexandria based artist Wael Shawky has made marionettes a central part of his art practice. His work currently on exhibition at Mathaf, Doha, is presented as a spectacular film series that recounts the history of The Crusades from an Arab perspective. The films are based on literature and historical narratives, using a visual language that mixes fictional storytelling and documentary styles. 

More than 100 hand-blown glass marionettes in period dress (i.e. crochet!!!!) were made by the maestros in Venice, a city with its own minor role in the crusades. The marionettes who range from ethnic caricature to alien xenomorph is equally spooky and mesmerizing to look at. I struggled to peel myself away from the large vitrine of about 50 of these glass marionettes and drawings from Cabaret Crusades that set the stage for the six films screened across the ground floor galleries. This process of telling stories and fictionalizing history through these layers creates a new story of the fight for power that is still present today!

A quick search on the internet has left me empty handed in my quest to find out more about the crocheted items used in creating the marionettes. Today I will be taking a deep dive and see whether I am lucky enough to strike gold and hunt down the crochet artists who clothed the puppets.

According to Mathaf, the Arab museum for modern and comtemporary art: "His practice spanning video, drawing, and performance are in-depth productions about the way history and mythology are written, offering crucial perspectives on contemporary narratives of uncertainty and change. Shawky is a major artist of his generation, developing an original art vocabulary dealing with global aesthetic and political issues. His work is exhibited internationally, most recently in solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York (2015); K20, Düsseldorf (2014); Serpentine Gallery, London (2013); KW Berlin (2012); and large scale group exhibitions including Sharjah Biennial (2013); and dOCUMENTA (13) (2012). His work is collected by public institutions such as MoMA, New York, MACBA, Barcelona, and Qatar Museums, Doha."

We are literally living in Art heaven here in Doha. Qatar not only established as the Arts hub of the Middle East, but the tiny country with massive pockets is regarded as the world's leading modern art collector. For more than twenty years, the Al-Thani family had been buying a large collection of art works, from traditional Islamic artifacts to famous pieces of modern and contemporary art and has spent at least $1 billion on Western painting and sculpture. Previous Head of International Modern Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art at Christie's, William Lawrie, said of the Al Thani's: “Qatar’s royal family are very much like modern-day equivalents of the Medicis in 16th-century Florence”.

Forbes describes the Emir's daughter, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani “arguably the most powerful woman in the art world today” and ranked her one of the 100 most powerful women of the world in 2012. Art and Auction magazine ranked her number one for the art world’s most influential people.
Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani                                                                                                 Photo credit

The Qatar Museums authority is the lead body for museums in Qatar and in addition to providing a comprehensive organization for museum development, also aligned art museum programmes with the new Supreme Education Council Art Curriculum Standards. Art is a prominent topic in both international as well as local schools and as a parent i am not complaining!

Mathaf, Doha's museum for modern and contemporary art plays a special role in the creative life of Qatar. It is much more than a museum. It is a platform where contemporary artistic production and debate takes place, a showcase for new movements in the art world and a creative community where emerging talent can experiment, create and share projects with one another. 

One of the programmes is The Mathaf Voices a year-long internship program for university students from various academic majors where interns have the opportunity to learn about modern and contemporary art, build their research and communication skills, and lead exhibition tours for the public. 

Another annual programme that celebrates the creativity of students from kindergarten to secondary levels is the Mathaf Student Art Competition and Exhibition organized in partnership with University College London Qatar, Museum and Gallery Practice masters program students. The Teen submitted a winning entry and her work is currently on display until the end of May!!!  

What are you up to? I am nursing a (hell it is painful!) shoulder injury, so not much crocheting is happening here at the Pigtails Palace at the moment.