Purple or burgundy

I’ve been working on this crochet sleeveless top since the beginning of the year. I like how the two matching patterns at top and bottom complementing each other, and I use a light cotton yarn so that it’d be comfortable to wear when spring comes. Now the garment is almost finished, though, it’s a shame that I’m not too happy about it – it looks purpler than I thought and I’m not a big fan of purple. Silly enough of me, when I picked the yarn I thought the colour was closer to red, more like burgundy, perhaps it was the lighting. Does that happen to other crocheters too?

Well, I have to find a way to like this top and wear it, do I? And that indeed happened. Since the Chinese New Year is just around the corner, I bought an orchid from the market earlier to decorate my home. The orchid started to bloom in the last few days as the weather is getting warmer, and the flowers are absolutely beautiful. So, yesterday when I was working at the desk on this crochet project that I didn’t like so much, I lifted my head to this blooming plant and realised, “hey, my project has the same colour with the orchid!” What a lovely discovery! And believe it or not, that magically helps me love my garment from a new perspective. Now I look at my nearly-done garment, I love that it has the elegance and feminine qualities of orchid and cannot wait to put it on.

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Bleak February

I don’t know how everybody manages to get through the short yet dreadful winter days. Even though I am in Hong Kong where the winter is mild, I am so overwhelmed by the loneliness and bleakness winter brought. The feeling gets even strong as I’m reading – Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro.

Every time I read a Munro, I couldn’t help giving a sigh when I finish, not because of the stories themselves, but because they tell what life is so frankly, sometimes even cruelly. This book gives me even more thoughts as it themes on relationships at different ages, stages and circumstances that may happen to anyone around us: some struggle through their youth trying to be different, some have relatives that they want to shake off or on the contrary stick to, some had teenage romance that haunt them forever, and so on. One may try, one may succeed, for most of the time one just quietly flows with the tide. But these all matter because they shape who we are.

To be honest I put the stories behind me after I have finished reading, but that is somehow alright – because the feeling stays. I might forget how the characters end up that way, but I would remember a scene, a smell, or even a toy. Isn’t it also how our brain works? One or two little details in life are captured without our noticing and are kept in the bottom of our hearts, for life.

Things change, people change, people die. I don’t think the author meant for us to feel sad, but it’s hard not to feel a little down, especially when lately I have a strong desire to disconnect with the world, to just hide at home. To get away from people I took a short walk after lunch today. I am lucky enough to have a park near my office, and a little more walk away is the seaside. I just went there to look at the sea. I still feel bleak, or even lonely, but I also feel that it is ok to have such feelings, because that is life.

Yarn shopping

Last November I and my husband treated ourselves a trip to Europe after a busy and work-packed year. We were lucky enough to catch the start of the Christmas markets, and were so impressed by all the beautiful crafts by the local artists, and of course the delicious local cuisine (and couldn’t avoid putting on some holiday weight!). With a little snow, every thing looked just magical to us. I’m not exaggerating because since we have been back to Hong Kong, the temperature rarely drops below 10 Celsius degrees and it makes our trip (and winter) feel so far away. I’m not gonna bore you with every detail of the trip, but I do want to share with you some beautiful yarn/ needlework shops we visited as that’s clearly my new love.

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Munchen

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Our first stop was in Munchen (Munich). I visited the city some years ago and I found it even more lovely than I remembered. The people we met in markets and shops were all very friendly and helpful, and they were kind enough to pretend to understand me when I tried to speak in my rustic German which I learnt a bit some years ago and have forgotten most.

Munchen is obviously a handcraft-loving city as I could easily spot some nice shops in  the city centre during my very short stay there. One of them is shown in the photos above (sorry I forgot the name). It was such a neat and cool place with plenty of brands and variety, definitely heaven to any crochet/ knitting/ needlework lovers. In Hong Kong, the yarn shops are mostly cramped into a very small place. Customers don’t get to take their time to choose pleasantly, and mostly of the time they could just grab and go.  So it was quite a surprise to me that yarn-shopping can be done in such a relaxing and elegant style. It may be common in other cities, at least it is not in mine.

 

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Wien

After leaving Munchen, we moved on to Salzburg and Wien (Vienna) which were both amazing in their own ways. In Wien I passed by this shop called WolleWien, which was located in a gorgeous alley as seen in the photo above. I later found that it has a Facebook page and copied here in case you would like to visit. Unlike the neatness of the shop in Munchen, WolleWien was a lovely and cozy place with an air that was so welcoming. Who wouldn’t want a place like that in their own cities?

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Wien

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Petit Point is a gorgeous little shop located near the Hofburg ( I can’t be certain if it is in the palace as the palace is as big as a little town itself). As you can see the shop boasts accessories, purses and decorations featuring petit point embroidery, hand crafted stitch by stitch! I’m sure everyone will be wowed by the extreme delicacy of these art pieces and everyone will want to bring one or two pieces home as a little treasure. Sadly to say I couldn’t afford it though, as I had already spending too much in the trip. What I got was a new respect for craftsmanship and some inspirations which hopefully can help me design my own works later.

 

Bottleneck

Bottleneck. I know it isn’t the most cheerful or optimistic word to describe my hopes for the new year, but this is how I feel as the year turned a new page. 2017 was not a bad year for me at all, in fact I can’t be more grateful to have a a rather peaceful life while the world is in chaos. I even had a trip to Europe last month, so I really shouldn’t complain. I’m sure some of you have been there though. There’s a feeling in my heart telling that I have been in the same place for too long, getting too comfortable, and that I want more.

This feeling got very strong when I worked on this drawing last week, the first sketching lesson in 2018. Somehow I got really upset, starting to ask what I am doing. I’ve been taking drawing lessons for six years, and this is what I got? I feel stuck. I feel that with all the time I spent here, a three-hour lesson after work every week, I should have achieved more, but I don’t know how. One of the things I can think of is that I am too bound by what I learnt in class. I need to break free and draw more of what I like. To show more ‘me’ in my art.

Forgive me for spreading such negativity especially in this cold and wet season. To me it’s not negative, in fact it can be looked at as a motivation to change. I look around my friends and realise that they have started to have children, have achieved something in their career, or have their dreams fulfilled. I believe God has a plan for everyone, and I hope I can get pass this stagnant stage and find my thing too in the new year.

A Farewell Gift

The chance of having a good boss is almost like winning the lottery, so it’s especially sad when I was blessed enough to meet one and now she is leaving. Since I came to my current position a year ago, my boss has been most considerate and giving me the best guidance, and she has become a friend to me. To say thanks to her, of course I have to prepare a special gift for her.

This is a crochet scarf that I made. It is made of fine merino wool yarn, with mainly chain stitch and single stitch. Tassels are added on the two ends to give it extra style. What I like most about the scarf is that it is petite and lightweight scarf so it can be kept in the purse, perfect for this season. I hope she likes this gift and wish her all the best in her new position.

Make Your Own Gifts

For those who have been reading my blog, you may remember my frustrating post on tangled yarn. Today I’m delighted to tell you that the crochet bag is finally finished and is ready to be given out as a gift to my sister! I love how the layers of brush add fun to this bag and I think this bag is great to add pops of color in a winter look. To make it more practical, I even added a lining in a matching color (sewn by hand!).

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Here is another crochet bag that will be a gift to my other sister! The colors are in a softer tone, should be perfect for her character. I can’t be more pleased to be able to make gifts for my beloved with my hands. To be honest, having an office job in the city isn’t really my type and lately I have been so drowned in work that I can’t help wondering what I am doing and dreaming of having another way of living. So I escape by doing what I love after work, no matter how little time there is.  And you see, the time is really well spent! Being able to do some crafts makes me feel a little less common despite of my repetitive day job.

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On Composition: Fill the Gap

Here’s a before-and-after of my recent sketch. Can you spot a difference between them?IMG_2518_2

Lately I am so inspired by Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit. He said, “An interest in the subject; something you want to say definitely about the subject; this is the first condition of a portrait. The processes of painting spring from this interest, this definite thing to be said. Completion does not depend on material representation. The work is done when that special thing has been said.” Even for sketching, an artist must have something to say.

After some years of training in sketching, I’ve built up a sense of accuracy. I want my works to be close to the real objects as much as possible, even if they don’t look as pretty in reality. This new sketch of mine is a good example. It was a fake plant, with a stick at the centre and a big hole that looked almost embarrassing. To make it my own art, to show beauty in my own eyes, I know I have to make some alternations.

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Pencil on paper, 297 x 420mm

In the finished work here, I created some leaves to narrow down the big hole at the bottom. I chose not to fill it completely because it would then look too heavy; I wanted to leave it some “breathing space” (though now i look at it again, maybe the hole can be smaller).  Also, I know I wouldn’t be happy if the stick wasn’t gone, so I made some efforts to hide it.

To decide what to stay and what to keep, I think, it takes some imagination and it is what it means to be an artist: to picture in our head what we want to show and be able to show it. In a world where technology can help us create pictures looking as realistic as they can be, what else can an artist do if not to beautify things, to make things look even better than themselves?