Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles: Sanna Annukka

For this first edition of Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles, I'd like to introduce you to my favorite contemporary print and textile artist, Sanna Annukka. I'll try not to gush too much, but I adore just about everything she creates:

Soul Birds (wooden blocks)

Sanna is a Finnish/English illustrator and print maker who has received quite a lot of attention over the last few years.  (Here's a link to a short article about her in Vogue).   I discovered her work a couple of years ago, but I'm at a loss to tell you just how that happened. Anyway, I was instantly smitten with her artwork.  At the time, she had done the album artwork for Keane's Under the Iron Sea and some really wonderful lithographs, and was in the process of creating her initial textile line for Marimekko.

Sanna says that she is very influenced by The Kalevala, a collection of folklore poetry that is considered the national epic of Finland. She also says that she is heavily influenced by the "forests, lakes and wildlife" around the Finnish village where she spent her childhood summers. I like the bright, funky 70s iconic feel that most of her work has:

The Maidens

This is one of my favorites.  Unfortunately her limited edition screenprints are priced out of my reach and I currently do not have any of them.  Perhaps someday! I'd like to hang a print of hers on my wall.

As for my personal collection, I just happened to get really lucky around Christmastime last year:


The dishtowel will remain unwashed and
unpressed for preservation purposes. 

This set is from her Christmas 2009 Kalevala range for Marimekko.  The tin and dishtowel were available here in the U.S., but the entire set with the cookie cutters were only available overseas. I emailed the New York Kiitos Marimekko concept store for help in obtaining the European version.  It just so happened that one of the salespeople had received a set from Finland as a gift and was willing to sell to it to me.  How nice!

 I also have two of her tiny Marimekko pill boxes

Over the past two years Sanna's work has really grown in popularity and her art is very collectible, and I believe it will remain highly sought after.  If you're like me, you may not be able to collect the high end of her work, but many of her textiles and prints for Marimekko are moderately priced.  If you're interested, you can check retailers such as Always Mod, FinnStyle, and stores that carry Marimekko products for the fabric, paper goods, kitchen ware, and accesories.   Of course, you can also look through the shop on Sanna's own website.  If you live overseas, you'll have a much easier time finding her print work and special packaging that she does for various companies, such as the design for this Marks and Spencer biscuit tin.   

Sanna says that she is working on a children's picture book.  You can probably guess that I'm going to be one of the first in line for a copy when it is published!

Edit 2016 -  Sanna Annukka has illustrated TWO children's books: The Fir Tree and The Snow Queen.

Unless otherwise marked, all images copyright Sanna Annukka courtesy of .

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review: Jane Austen's Sewing Box + a lovely bracelet

As my birthday is nigh I bought myself a couple of little treats to celebrate the passing of another year, and I want to share them with you.  First, I acquired this lovely bracelet from Allie's Adornments on Etsy, made with antique Victorian buttons:

 Halley's Comet Bracelet

The buttons are so intricate and stunning!  (Why can't I find buttons like these at estate sales?).  Allie patiently answered my questions about the buttons and her work.  She's very nice and gave excellent customer service.  I could spend hours in Allie's shop, which is pretty dangerous considering that there was not a piece in her shop that I didn't like!

I also purchased a copy of the lovely Jane Austen's Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen's Novels. You may have seen a review or two on other craft blogs.  As I am a Austen aficionado I could not pass it up:
It is a beautiful book, filled with gorgeous color fashion plates of the time that are worth a look.  I read it cover-to-cover and enjoyed every moment.  However, I would recommend purchasing it only if you enjoy historical Regency costume and /or are a die-hard Regency or Jane Austen fan.

As for the crafts themselves, some are probably of more interest to the costume enthusiast (like the cravat, the bonnet, or the tippet).  There is only one photo of each project and even one more photograph of each project would have enhanced this book. Yet one whole page might be devoted to one short quote from one of Austen's novels, or to a lovely painting from the time period:

The actual instructions for each project were also quite succinct and limited to only one page.  If you've ever read any of the antique craft books from the early-to-mid 19th century you know that project instructions were usually all text and that diagrams were sparse.  The actual descriptions of the the projects were very reminiscent of the actual books of the time.  Still, I would like to make this case for embroidery thread:

If you were living during the Regency era you would have
stored your embroidery thread on a bone or wood thread winder 

Austen mentioned each craft project in one of her novels, and it is fascinating to read the excerpts from the novels and then read Forest's commentary about the craft as it was practiced at the time. 

If you are interested in historical craft and want to know more about the role of crafts in the lives of Regency women you will love the historical detail in Jane Austen's Sewing Box.  It's definitely an informative and charming read!

Halley's Comet bracelet photograph from Allie's Adornments, used by permission. All other photographs from Jane Austen's Sewing Box, Murdoch Books, or in the public domain..

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Keepers: Vintage Sewing Patterns That Are Mine, All Mine

I mentioned a while back that I would show you some of the sewing patterns that I just won't part from. Sometimes I'm in love with the clothing design, the illustration, or both. There are a number of reasons that I might keep a pattern. So, here are a few of those patterns in my collection that I consider gems:

I am going to make the sun hat one day. 
Perhaps this coming summer....

Fishing?! On a sewing pattern?  This is one of the
most uniquely illustrated patterns in my collection.


This one is so 70s Boho.  I have fantasies that I'm going to wear
that midi coat and those hip-huggers in stretch lace someday. 
For Halloween.

I am so, so in love with this dress. View two with the draped bodice is
gorgeous inexactly that color red. Doesn't view two look like something
Betty Draper
would wear? The illustration even looks like her.... 

This is the prom dress I never had but desperately wanted!  The bubble mini
is near and dear to my heart, and I'm glad to see it making a comeback. 
I love the poofy sleeves on view four in purple !

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Finnish Tampella "Valmu" Linen Napkins by Dora Jung

I picked up this rather unassuming bag of vintage linen napkins at the estate sale where I found the other vintage linens a couple of weeks ago:

I took them out of the bag, and found the most gorgeous and amazing set of golden flax-colored napkins.  My photographs do not do them justice:

They were never used and are in absolute mint condition.  I could not help but take them home, and that was before I knew anything about the designer.  I knew that they were napkins ("servetter" is similar to the French "serviette") but I could not fully translate the Finnish label with Google's language tools.  So I turned to my bloggy friend Ulla for help (by the way, she showcases some fabulous stuff for Vintage Thingies Thursday). She kindly translated the label for me, and pointed me in the right direction regarding the designer and manufacturer.

The design is of a poppy before the flower blooms, and Ulla shared that the napkins are called "Valmu" after an antiquated Finnish word for poppy, and also after the Swedish word for poppy, "vallmo." There are over a hundred different species of poppies, and I wish I knew exactly which one that is featured in this pattern. Those pictured are lovely nonetheless. 

Valmu was designed by Dora Jung, a famous and important Finnish textile designer who worked for the manufacturer Tampella from 1936-1941 and from 1956 to 1972.  This lovely set was made between 1970-1973.  She designed textiles for home use, but also designed and weaved linens for churches and made artistic displays for public works projects.  You can see more examples of her textile design work here, including the pink version of Valmu and an incredibly wonderful peacock napkin that she designed a little earlier.

Ulla assures me that no tablecloth was designed to match this set of napkins, and if there had been, I would surely want one. I also love her "100 Roses" tablecloth and napkin set, as many of the items I collect feature tea roses:

This black and white photo is the only photo I could find;
this tablecloth is probably a pale blue.

However, I have the sneaking suspicion that her tablecloths are fairly rare and are probably out of my reach. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston recently acquired three of her tablecloths. Of course, her large commissioned tapestries fetch thousands of dollars.  Several were sold by Christie's a few years ago.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Vintage Thingies Thursday.  All in all, this was truly a fortunate find!  Readers, I'd love to hear what you think about Dora Jung's work!

100 Roses and Dora Jung photos courtesy of Finnishdesign.fl.

Monday, February 15, 2010

One World One Heart Winner!

Hello everyone! It's been wonderful to visit so many blogs through the One World One Heart giveaway these past few weeks! It has been my pleasure to make the acquaintance of so many new and fabulous bloggists out there, and find that some of you are kindred (vintage) spirits as well! I am also very glad that some of you decided to stay and follow my blog as well. This has been a delight, and I am so happy that Lisa organized this event and I can't wait to participate again next year.

So without further ado, the winner of the scalloped-edge merino wool scarf is:

Congratulations Nic!

I am still astounded by the interest in the scarf and I want to say THANK YOU again for all of your compliments and kind words.  So I decided to make two more of this lovely scarf, in the colors Leaf and Midnight.  They are available in my Etsy shop:

If you mention that you were part of the OWOH giveaway, I'll ship them to you for free AND include a matching crocheted beanie made from the same beautiful yarn!  I would love to make another one of these scarves just for you, so as many of you liked the color pictured above just convo me through Etsy or send me an email for details.

I only made through half or so of the 1,000 or so blogs before the end of the giveaway, so m still visiting new blogs.  Again, it was a pleasure to "meet" you and I'm very glad that you visited!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Vintage Valentine Party!

Happy Valentine's Day! Here are some sweet little Valentines for you to enjoy, circa the 1950s:



This one is my favorite!
Join the party!  Visit Anything Goes Here for links to more vintage valentines. And have a lovely day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hand-Stitched Valentine

Do you still need a Valentine's Day card for someone special in your life?  I was inspired to make this card after looking at some of the different handmade Valentines out there on the Web, such as this one at

I had some white stationery on hand that is fairly heavy, as is cardstock.  I used red embroidery thread to sew a traditional Valentine message on the other side.

To do this, I traced my message on one side of the card lightly in pencil, and poked somewhat evenly-spaced holes in each letter with a sewing needle.  I wanted the finished effect to look like a dotted line so I left space between each stitch. 

I then cut a heart out of felt, sewed on some buttons, and glued it on the other side.  This decorates the other side and hides the wrong side of your stitching.

There are so many creative variations on this project.  You can sew your message in ribbon or yarn.  You can use paper doilies, vintage buttons, lace, etc., to decorate the front.  The hand sewing is time-consuming, so this card should be intended for someone you really love (*wink*).

And don't worry about making everything look perfect -- it's the effort and thought that counts.  I'm sure that your sweetie will appreciate it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: "Love is Like a Song" Sheet Music

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, enjoy some of the popular love songs from years past out of my vintage sheet music collection:






I think early 20th century sheet music cover illustrations tend to be much more visually interesting than those from mid-century onward.  Anyway, I'll bet that there are some other love-themed Vintage Thingies Thursday posts today that you might enjoy, so you may want to stop by Coloradolady's blog and check them out.

This weekend the love theme will continue with a Vintage Valentine Card Party on February 14th.  Don't miss it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Red Scarf

This is just a quick post to say that I finally finished my scarf for the Red Scarf Project: 

I made mine from an acrylic-wool blend, Lion's Brand Wool-Ease.  This is the first time that I used this yarn and I don't recommend it because it is plied poorly. Basically, the fibers don't stick together well and they often split when I inserted my hook into a stitch. VERY frustrating. However, I bought this yarn because it can be thrown in the washing machine, as what college student has time to hand-wash a scarf?  The attached paper tag has the washing instructions.

The deadline for this project is Valentine's Day, so get your scarves in the mail!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: the book What to Do, When--and Why...

...or the "beauty" book that started it all!

We will be looking at the first etiquette/beauty book that began my collection for Vintage Thingies Thursday today.  When I was a pre-teen, I used to visit the three books below at my local library on a regular basis:

As you can probably tell by the covers, each book is very different from one another.  The theme that connects all three books is the subject of "behaving and looking your best" as a child and in the teen years.  I just couldn't get enough of them, and  I would check them out from the library over and over again.  My mother also had no idea why I was so fascinated by the books, and I couldn't explain it to her at the time.  Luckily, she decided to surprise me one day with my own copy of What to do When -- and Why.  And thus my beauty book collection was born!  (My mother also found a copy of the authors' etiquette book for children, White Gloves and Party Manners, many years later and I now have that in my collection as well).

Today we'll look at What to do When -- and Why, by Marjabelle Young Stewart and Ann Buchwald, published in 1975. Technically, this is an etiquette book and is only secondarily about personal beauty, as it is focused on personal conduct. However, there are five chapters about deportment that cross over into beauty book territory.  The authors discussed finding a becoming hair style, how to dress to flatter your figure, how important it is to monitor the volume of your voice, and how to walk like a fashion model.  I love the lacy and feminine illustrations in this book:

The last chapter, Manners for Boys Only, begins with a lament that "many of the old formalities concerning ladies and gentlemen have either disappeard completely or become easy-going personal choices...but some manners don't change because they're still useful and helpful when girls and boys start going places together."  Well, thifty-five years after the publication of this book I am assured that many of the manners that "haven't changed" are long gone. I find these expectations to be an interesting starting point for discussions about the  the evolution of courtesy and manners in the 21st century.  Here are some excerpts of the things that a well-mannered boy was expected to do in 1975, according to Stewart and Buchwald:

1.  Boys walk on the curb side of the street, whether its with one girl, two, or three.  If a girl stops to talk with a friend on the street, the boy walks on slowly -- the girl will call him back quickly if she knows the person well enough to make an introduction.

2.  Boys let women and girls go first whenever it's physically possible.

3.  Boys open doors for women. 

4.  Boys help women and girls put on their coats.

5.  Boys remove their hats the moment they step into a house, restaurant, an elevator, when the American flag goes by, when the National Anthem is being sung or played, and when standing on the street talking to a girl or woman.  He holds his hat, puts it down or checks it, but doesn't put it back on until he leaves.

6.  A boy always asks his party hostess for a dance during the evening; and at a dinner-dance the two women between whom he sat during dinner.

7.  A boy calls for a girl at her home by ringing the doorbell, entering the house, and greeting some member of the girl's family if only to say, "How do you do?" and shake hands.  Usually the girl's parents will make it clear to the boy when the girl is expected home -- a decision that has probably been discussed before he arrives so there is very little he can do to change it.

8.  A boy lets a girl go ahead of him when they go down the receiving line at a big party or dance.

Dear readers, what do you think about this list of manners for boys in this day and age?  Do you find many of these gestures antiquated and outmoded, or would you support a renaissance of courteous behavior from the opposite sex? 


Excerpts and and illustrations from What to Do When -- and Why by Marjabelle Young Stewart and Ann Buchwald.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fortunate Finds: Estate Sale Linens, Books, and More

I've been good about several months of destashing, so I gave myself permission to go to a humongous estate sale over the weekend.  I found some really great vintage stuff, and I need it all, truly!  Ok, I don't need it all, but I was really circumspect about what I bought. I couldn't resist hot pink grosgrain ribbon, and this charming embroidered ribbon that dates to September 1978 whispered "please take me home":

I also found the most gorgeous handmade embroidered linens I have ever seen:

A preview of linens needing a bit of restoration

Those I've pictured above are stained in places, or need some crochet restoration work, such as in the photo below:

This picture does not do this sweet crochet trim justice.  It was hand sewn onto the edge of the fabric with tiny, nearly invisible stitches.

Isn't this stitching amazing?

All of the embroidery is nearly perfect, and I am in awe of the skills the woman who did this.  I actually turned the green doily over to look for joins (knots), as the stitching is so even it appears to be machine-made.  I know that I may not be able to get the stains out, but as I bought these pieces for my enjoyment and have a good idea what I'll be using them for, I'm not worrying about.   I also found a few darling, perfect, unstained pieces.  I will put those in the Etsy shop sometime soon.  A find like this is too good not to share!

I also found some things that I was not looking for at all.  I bought a small bag of loose buttons, and apparently I now have a small collection of vintage and antique wooden spools of thread that I probably shouldn't keep.  They might encourage further collecting.  Check out my Flickr photostream if you'd like to see them and a couple of other interesting vintage items.

Finally, I found the strangest button that I've ever seen, molded in plastic with a pretty design,  and a metal corkscrew "shank".  This is a first for me.  Is it an upholstery tack of some kind?  Can anyone help me identify the button below?

What is this?