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Continuing the series of Makers' Postcards, today's contribution is from multi-craftual Louise Atkins. Over the last 7 years, she has figured out all the best places to shop for yarn and fabric in Abu Dhabi, and when it's better just to take an empty suitcase to the UK to re-stock her stash


Hello everyone and can I just say that I was delighted when Sarah asked me to do a guest post on her blog - I, like the rest of her readers, eagerly look forward to seeing what she has to say and share with her the stories of her craft! I am a crafter whose main love is knitting, but I also crochet, sew and embroider and have been known to dabble in stamping, silk painting and hand lettering.

Anyway, first things first, my name is Louise and I go by the name 'Louiseluvsyarn' pretty much all over social media and the strange world that is the internet.  I was born and raised in the UK and until 2009 had never been out of the country for more than a two week holiday and would call myself a very British sort of person, I love things like Victoria Sponge, Miss Marple, tea (buckets of the stuff), walking through the woods, spotting a Robin - you know how it is!  So when my husband came home one day and asked me if I fancied moving halfway across the world to Abu Dhabi I was a bit taken aback to say the least (and yes I had to run off to Google Maps to find out exactly where the heck Abu Dhabi was!).  I knew this was the Middle East somewhere…….and it was rich from oil…...but that was it!

Me, in my Abu Dhabi regalia

So fast forward to February 2009 and we packed up the house and shipped off the contents and boarded the plane to Abu Dhabi and here we remain for the time being.

When living in London, I have to say I was well and truly spoilt by the amount of crafting opportunities available!  I was part of a Knit and Natter group which met at the local pub, I regularly had to take my daughter to stage school in Islington which meant lots of opportunities to go into Loop and I could get to Liberty or IKnit in my lunch break.  When I arrived in the UAE there was not one proper wool shop pretty much in the entire place (I say ‘proper’ because you could get one or two balls of some very dodgy acrylic or fine white cotton to crochet the skull caps the men wear under their headdresses) although there are a LOT of fabric shops, but they do tend to have very elaborate beaded or bright fabrics - more on that later!

Very luckily for me I came across the Ravelry group UAE Amiras and it only took me a few days to hook up with them and they quickly became my crafty lifeline.  These are a bunch of fabulous ladies of many different nationalities,  happy to share and swap and quickly pass on information about new craft supplies they found!  The sad thing is that this is a very transient society so we do lose as many members each year, as join - there are just two or three of us original members left!!!

So I guess my craft was really influenced by the materials I could get.  To begin with this was mostly by ordering over the web.  Not that this was always easy because some places still do not ship to the Middle East and although I have a Shop and Ship account where I can send items to my ‘address’ in the UK or US, this can work out to be costly in postage and also has the constant element of surprise! Unless you know the brand well, you can’t ‘squish’ and often parcels have gone missing, turning up months later, or not at all.  So one way of getting round that is to go home once a year with a practically empty suitcase and fill up the shelves. I think this gives new meaning to ‘knitting from the stash’ - it’s not too often that I buy yarn for a specific project.


Another interesting conundrum in the UAE is the weather.  If you are asking…..yes its very HOT! It's a normal 'summer' day - around 45C with wind and dust - heat factor is around 54C. Between June and October, venturing outside comes with a health warning!  You will see people out at 5am or 11pm but even then the humidity is a killer - especially for an English girl with Celtic roots and freckles. But during these months the air-con has to be pretty high so, strangely, knitting or crafting indoors is reasonably comfortable.  During October to June the weather sways between about 18 and 30 degrees (slightly warmer than a British Summer) and so we don’t have the air con on - but it can be warm to knit. Mind you I knit less in the ‘winter’ because that's when I can go outside in comfort and not burn or sweat to death.

The environment also has an influence on what I knit. I tend to make shawls and socks with perhaps one warmer cardigan or sweater in the queue for ‘when I go home’ - but as I have to pack light (to fill the suitcase with yarn) I can’t ever fit that chunky cardigan in… hmmmm. Anyway rolling on the clock to 2016 - things have moved on a little bit...

Firstly we have the opportunity to buy some of the big name brands (Sirdar, Patons etc) in one of our Bookshop chains, Magrudy.  One of the Amiras originally worked with them on their ranges and we briefly saw some Malabrigo, Artesano and Dream in Color - sadly that did not last, but if you are looking for cheaper brands and especially for kids' knits, these are a welcome addition.

For an eclectic mix of things from which you can sometimes find a gem, we have Daiso.  This is a Japanese brand and pretty much our version of a £ or $ store - with the exception that 80% of their stock is actually useful!  A few of these have sprung up in Abu Dhabi and whilst they may not have exactly what you went in for …… you will always come out with something, even if its a little row counter which fits on your little finger.

IMG_0369.jpg

I said I would come back to fabric. There are A LOT of fabric shops mostly run by expat Indians who import many silks and fine chiffon type fabrics.  This is because we have very many tailors in AD and a lot of traditional Emirati ladies will wear gorgeous made to measure 'Jalabiya' under their 'Abayas'. Weddings and family celebrations are a chance for the ladies to go all out with glamour, and some of the dresses they wear for these sorts of occasions are pretty stunning.  I was lucky enough to go to an Emirati wedding in the ladies section, where of course they are not covered and could see for myself the exquisite dresses which must take many hours in the making. I have not mentioned wedding dresses - these are a work of art and can be so heavy with beading that the bride has to be helped to walk!

My favourite fabric shop is Cairo Fabrics in downtown Abu Dhabi and it’s probably the place most expats go to because it has the biggest range of fabric and you can usually find something you can work with.  However if you are looking for a quirky Cath Kidston-type printed cotton for an A line skirt - then you will probably be out of luck!

IMG_4183.jpg

Finally the only place to go for notions is Malik and Shaheed.  In this shop you can find all sorts of treasures and I noticed last time I was there, that they have a better range of yarn - not brands I know, but pretty none the less!  This is much more of an old fashioned place (ok see the photo below - VERY old fashioned) where you ask for what you need and they come and present you with many options. Their trimmings are something else! But going back to my point above, they can be on the flashy side!!  Here I get elastic, zips, buttons, cotton thread (not Gutterman but I can only buy that in one place in the city and its about £5 for a spool!!!!) and they are very cheap.  However, again if you want something a little more subtle, ordering online has to be the answer.

IMG_0368.jpg

So I hope that this post has given you a little flavour of what it’s like in probably the richest city in the world!  I can buy Gucci and Prada any day of the week (even if I had the money not sure that’s the thing for me) and we have 1,000 times more Jewellery and Watch shops than we do bookshops! The original Bedouins who founded the city created some fabulously intricate embroidery and the traditional architecture and calligraphy is truly stunning, so if you ever come to Abu Dhabi, ditch the Malls and search out what the city is really about. My eyes and my perspective have been opened, my crafting has made me new friends and I love the mix of different cultures…….. Just don’t visit in July!
PS. I have not mentioned our “Super Shiny” cousin,  Dubai - a couple of hours up the (only) road. Things are a bit more developed there - they have a LYS and their very own Indie Dyer - Dubai Knits - not to mention Satwa, the fabric district where you can probably get a fake version of that Cath Kidston print!

You can find Louise online at www.louiseluvsyarn.blogspot.com and on Instagram, Twitter, Ello and Facebook as 'Louiseluvsyarn'. Remember that you can join in with the Makers' Postcards project too by sharing images and stories of how your location or travels influence your crafts - simply use the tag #makerspostcards on social media, and tag me @craftsfromthecwtch.

Postcard from... Abu Dhabi

Continuing the series of Makers' Postcards, today's contribution is from multi-craftual Louise Atkins. Over the last 7 years, she has figured out all the best places to shop for yarn and fabric in Abu Dhabi, and when it's better just to take an empty suitcase to the UK to re-stock her stash


Hello everyone and can I just say that I was delighted when Sarah asked me to do a guest post on her blog - I, like the rest of her readers, eagerly look forward to seeing what she has to say and share with her the stories of her craft! I am a crafter whose main love is knitting, but I also crochet, sew and embroider and have been known to dabble in stamping, silk painting and hand lettering.

Anyway, first things first, my name is Louise and I go by the name 'Louiseluvsyarn' pretty much all over social media and the strange world that is the internet.  I was born and raised in the UK and until 2009 had never been out of the country for more than a two week holiday and would call myself a very British sort of person, I love things like Victoria Sponge, Miss Marple, tea (buckets of the stuff), walking through the woods, spotting a Robin - you know how it is!  So when my husband came home one day and asked me if I fancied moving halfway across the world to Abu Dhabi I was a bit taken aback to say the least (and yes I had to run off to Google Maps to find out exactly where the heck Abu Dhabi was!).  I knew this was the Middle East somewhere…….and it was rich from oil…...but that was it!

Me, in my Abu Dhabi regalia

So fast forward to February 2009 and we packed up the house and shipped off the contents and boarded the plane to Abu Dhabi and here we remain for the time being.

When living in London, I have to say I was well and truly spoilt by the amount of crafting opportunities available!  I was part of a Knit and Natter group which met at the local pub, I regularly had to take my daughter to stage school in Islington which meant lots of opportunities to go into Loop and I could get to Liberty or IKnit in my lunch break.  When I arrived in the UAE there was not one proper wool shop pretty much in the entire place (I say ‘proper’ because you could get one or two balls of some very dodgy acrylic or fine white cotton to crochet the skull caps the men wear under their headdresses) although there are a LOT of fabric shops, but they do tend to have very elaborate beaded or bright fabrics - more on that later!

Very luckily for me I came across the Ravelry group UAE Amiras and it only took me a few days to hook up with them and they quickly became my crafty lifeline.  These are a bunch of fabulous ladies of many different nationalities,  happy to share and swap and quickly pass on information about new craft supplies they found!  The sad thing is that this is a very transient society so we do lose as many members each year, as join - there are just two or three of us original members left!!!

So I guess my craft was really influenced by the materials I could get.  To begin with this was mostly by ordering over the web.  Not that this was always easy because some places still do not ship to the Middle East and although I have a Shop and Ship account where I can send items to my ‘address’ in the UK or US, this can work out to be costly in postage and also has the constant element of surprise! Unless you know the brand well, you can’t ‘squish’ and often parcels have gone missing, turning up months later, or not at all.  So one way of getting round that is to go home once a year with a practically empty suitcase and fill up the shelves. I think this gives new meaning to ‘knitting from the stash’ - it’s not too often that I buy yarn for a specific project.


Another interesting conundrum in the UAE is the weather.  If you are asking…..yes its very HOT! It's a normal 'summer' day - around 45C with wind and dust - heat factor is around 54C. Between June and October, venturing outside comes with a health warning!  You will see people out at 5am or 11pm but even then the humidity is a killer - especially for an English girl with Celtic roots and freckles. But during these months the air-con has to be pretty high so, strangely, knitting or crafting indoors is reasonably comfortable.  During October to June the weather sways between about 18 and 30 degrees (slightly warmer than a British Summer) and so we don’t have the air con on - but it can be warm to knit. Mind you I knit less in the ‘winter’ because that's when I can go outside in comfort and not burn or sweat to death.

The environment also has an influence on what I knit. I tend to make shawls and socks with perhaps one warmer cardigan or sweater in the queue for ‘when I go home’ - but as I have to pack light (to fill the suitcase with yarn) I can’t ever fit that chunky cardigan in… hmmmm. Anyway rolling on the clock to 2016 - things have moved on a little bit...

Firstly we have the opportunity to buy some of the big name brands (Sirdar, Patons etc) in one of our Bookshop chains, Magrudy.  One of the Amiras originally worked with them on their ranges and we briefly saw some Malabrigo, Artesano and Dream in Color - sadly that did not last, but if you are looking for cheaper brands and especially for kids' knits, these are a welcome addition.

For an eclectic mix of things from which you can sometimes find a gem, we have Daiso.  This is a Japanese brand and pretty much our version of a £ or $ store - with the exception that 80% of their stock is actually useful!  A few of these have sprung up in Abu Dhabi and whilst they may not have exactly what you went in for …… you will always come out with something, even if its a little row counter which fits on your little finger.

IMG_0369.jpg

I said I would come back to fabric. There are A LOT of fabric shops mostly run by expat Indians who import many silks and fine chiffon type fabrics.  This is because we have very many tailors in AD and a lot of traditional Emirati ladies will wear gorgeous made to measure 'Jalabiya' under their 'Abayas'. Weddings and family celebrations are a chance for the ladies to go all out with glamour, and some of the dresses they wear for these sorts of occasions are pretty stunning.  I was lucky enough to go to an Emirati wedding in the ladies section, where of course they are not covered and could see for myself the exquisite dresses which must take many hours in the making. I have not mentioned wedding dresses - these are a work of art and can be so heavy with beading that the bride has to be helped to walk!

My favourite fabric shop is Cairo Fabrics in downtown Abu Dhabi and it’s probably the place most expats go to because it has the biggest range of fabric and you can usually find something you can work with.  However if you are looking for a quirky Cath Kidston-type printed cotton for an A line skirt - then you will probably be out of luck!

IMG_4183.jpg

Finally the only place to go for notions is Malik and Shaheed.  In this shop you can find all sorts of treasures and I noticed last time I was there, that they have a better range of yarn - not brands I know, but pretty none the less!  This is much more of an old fashioned place (ok see the photo below - VERY old fashioned) where you ask for what you need and they come and present you with many options. Their trimmings are something else! But going back to my point above, they can be on the flashy side!!  Here I get elastic, zips, buttons, cotton thread (not Gutterman but I can only buy that in one place in the city and its about £5 for a spool!!!!) and they are very cheap.  However, again if you want something a little more subtle, ordering online has to be the answer.

IMG_0368.jpg

So I hope that this post has given you a little flavour of what it’s like in probably the richest city in the world!  I can buy Gucci and Prada any day of the week (even if I had the money not sure that’s the thing for me) and we have 1,000 times more Jewellery and Watch shops than we do bookshops! The original Bedouins who founded the city created some fabulously intricate embroidery and the traditional architecture and calligraphy is truly stunning, so if you ever come to Abu Dhabi, ditch the Malls and search out what the city is really about. My eyes and my perspective have been opened, my crafting has made me new friends and I love the mix of different cultures…….. Just don’t visit in July!
PS. I have not mentioned our “Super Shiny” cousin,  Dubai - a couple of hours up the (only) road. Things are a bit more developed there - they have a LYS and their very own Indie Dyer - Dubai Knits - not to mention Satwa, the fabric district where you can probably get a fake version of that Cath Kidston print!

You can find Louise online at www.louiseluvsyarn.blogspot.com and on Instagram, Twitter, Ello and Facebook as 'Louiseluvsyarn'. Remember that you can join in with the Makers' Postcards project too by sharing images and stories of how your location or travels influence your crafts - simply use the tag #makerspostcards on social media, and tag me @craftsfromthecwtch.
Today's postcard is from Allison and Rachel, the makers behind the Yarn in the City brand. Being a part of the London 'knitting scene' has lead to their website, podcast, book and various events (find my review here) dedicated to celebrating the yarn-crafting community within their adopted home. Here's what they have to say about it...

Is it weird for two expats from North America to write about how London inspires them? In a city where everyone is from somewhere else, it can be a rarity to meet a born-and-bred Londoner. What we love most though are the ideas that everyone brings with them and how they are shared and generate new bursts of inspiration. The result is a ‘creative cluster’ of talent and community – themes that we’ve talked about in the past on our podcast.

London icons at night
London is a ripe with places for makers to find inspiration, supplies and other like-minded individuals to collaborate with. The Great London Yarn Crawl grew out of our exploration of the city’s myriad yarn shops and was built on an idea from North America. When it can seem like most people aren’t valuing handcrafts any more, it’s reassuring to see how just how many yarn shops a large city can produce and support, and how they’ve each managed to carve out their own niche. 

These differences are what we like to show off and celebrate with each year’s GLYC. There are posh yarn shops and ethically-minded yarn shops, shops specialising in British yarns and local makers as well as yarn shops catering to the multi-craftual with fabric and haberdashery amongst their offerings. Each is a reflection of their owner, their neighbourhood and their customers. A prime example is the East London Yarn Triangle, a loose conglomeration that has evolved from the creative hub of talent in Hackney and Stoke Newington. (If ever you’ve got a small amount of time to explore London yarn shops, we suggest you start here as it’s a great way to crack off a mini yarn crawl of your own!)

GLYC 2014 - Team Shetland
With all the amazing talent and vision flowing in London, it’s hard not to feel constantly jazzed and inspired. We feel so incredibly lucky and grateful to have been able to turn that inspiration into Yarn in the City - sharing and promoting the making community through our book, the London Craft Guide, and our various events. As makers there’s something intimate about sharing our favourite places and finds, like telling a secret or whispering insider information.


It’s a good thing we’re terrible at keeping secrets! And that there are so many great shops, designers and other makers for us to explore. Unintentionally, as we’ve fallen in love with our adopted country, our enthusiasm for the yarn-world has expanded beyond London. This November we’re proud to be hosting the first ever Yarnporium in London – a marketplace featuring some of our favourite makers from across the UK. We hope it will be a good excuse for crafters to come to London in search of their own creative spark and inspiration.

See you there?

Rachel (L) and Allison (R) - photo by Helen Stewart

Yes, I'll be there!! If you’d like to keep up with Allison and Rachel and their goings-on with Yarn in the City you can visit their website (here) and sign up to their newsletter (click the blue bar at the top of the page). You can also follow them on Instagram. And if you’d like to join this year’s Great London Yarn Crawl there are still a handful of tickets available (I'm going to that too!).

You can find the rest of the posts in this series here, and join in with your own stories of location- inspired crafting, using #makerspostcards on Instagram. Be sure to tag me @craftsfromthecwtch

Postcard from... London

Today's postcard is from Allison and Rachel, the makers behind the Yarn in the City brand. Being a part of the London 'knitting scene' has lead to their website, podcast, book and various events (find my review here) dedicated to celebrating the yarn-crafting community within their adopted home. Here's what they have to say about it...

Is it weird for two expats from North America to write about how London inspires them? In a city where everyone is from somewhere else, it can be a rarity to meet a born-and-bred Londoner. What we love most though are the ideas that everyone brings with them and how they are shared and generate new bursts of inspiration. The result is a ‘creative cluster’ of talent and community – themes that we’ve talked about in the past on our podcast.

London icons at night
London is a ripe with places for makers to find inspiration, supplies and other like-minded individuals to collaborate with. The Great London Yarn Crawl grew out of our exploration of the city’s myriad yarn shops and was built on an idea from North America. When it can seem like most people aren’t valuing handcrafts any more, it’s reassuring to see how just how many yarn shops a large city can produce and support, and how they’ve each managed to carve out their own niche. 

These differences are what we like to show off and celebrate with each year’s GLYC. There are posh yarn shops and ethically-minded yarn shops, shops specialising in British yarns and local makers as well as yarn shops catering to the multi-craftual with fabric and haberdashery amongst their offerings. Each is a reflection of their owner, their neighbourhood and their customers. A prime example is the East London Yarn Triangle, a loose conglomeration that has evolved from the creative hub of talent in Hackney and Stoke Newington. (If ever you’ve got a small amount of time to explore London yarn shops, we suggest you start here as it’s a great way to crack off a mini yarn crawl of your own!)

GLYC 2014 - Team Shetland
With all the amazing talent and vision flowing in London, it’s hard not to feel constantly jazzed and inspired. We feel so incredibly lucky and grateful to have been able to turn that inspiration into Yarn in the City - sharing and promoting the making community through our book, the London Craft Guide, and our various events. As makers there’s something intimate about sharing our favourite places and finds, like telling a secret or whispering insider information.


It’s a good thing we’re terrible at keeping secrets! And that there are so many great shops, designers and other makers for us to explore. Unintentionally, as we’ve fallen in love with our adopted country, our enthusiasm for the yarn-world has expanded beyond London. This November we’re proud to be hosting the first ever Yarnporium in London – a marketplace featuring some of our favourite makers from across the UK. We hope it will be a good excuse for crafters to come to London in search of their own creative spark and inspiration.

See you there?

Rachel (L) and Allison (R) - photo by Helen Stewart

Yes, I'll be there!! If you’d like to keep up with Allison and Rachel and their goings-on with Yarn in the City you can visit their website (here) and sign up to their newsletter (click the blue bar at the top of the page). You can also follow them on Instagram. And if you’d like to join this year’s Great London Yarn Crawl there are still a handful of tickets available (I'm going to that too!).

You can find the rest of the posts in this series here, and join in with your own stories of location- inspired crafting, using #makerspostcards on Instagram. Be sure to tag me @craftsfromthecwtch
Today's postcard is one I am very excited to share with you. I have been a fan of Juliane Strittmatter's work for several years, so I was delighted when she said she could make the time to send this postcard from her home in Sweden. Everything Juliane shares on her blog, on Instagram and through her bespoke creations, speaks of a meticulous attention to detail, coupled with a truly beautiful aesthetic. Her postcard is no different. 

Photos (C): Juliane Strittmatter.
I hope these lines find you well.

This photo was taken at Björkåsa, our small farm close to Sösdala in Skåne, south of Sweden. It is my daily view, across the meadows to Store Mosse, a large bog, with Spragebjär, an extinct volcano on the horizon, towards Linderödsåsen, a ridge of hills that stretches down to the Baltic Sea. Down in the meadows, hundreds of cranes are gathering at this time of year to fly southwards.

Four years ago, I took the opposite direction and moved up north, for love. I left my hometown Berlin and the cosiness of Prenzlauer Berg, my neighbourhood, to live here in Skåne.

The first three years we rented a house until last spring when we finally found Björkåsa, a house on a hill, surrounded by old oak trees and birches, with an overgrown garden and an old barn down the meadow - and with the beautiful view you see in the photo above. It was the view and the quiet we fell for when we decided to buy the farm in May 2015 and we haven't regretted our choice, not even in the dead of winter when we got cut off from the road, snowbound for days.


I am a puppeteer by profession and studied Performing Arts/ Puppetry at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art (Hochschule für Schauspielkunst Ernst Bach) in Berlin. I worked for theatre and TV but found my professional options as a puppeteer to have become rather limited since my move to Sweden. Already in 2008, I had started making dolls for children and sold my products online, but the chances of working with a professional puppet theatre in the countryside were rather slight which is why I am now almost entirely focussing on doll-making.

In 2013, I decided to join Instagram. As an excuse for using yet another social media channel (helping me to be connected from the seclusion of our life in the countryside), I came up with the idea to challenge myself to pick a daily bouquet from May to October, take a photo and share it on Instagram. It was a fantastic way for me to get to know our surroundings and what was growing here, on my daily walks. And to put posies on every windowsill in our house, while connecting and staying in touch with friends.


The #onebouquetperday series is a self-portrait project with focus on the flowers I pick and the stories these bouquets tell throughout the seasons. In the very beginning, my photos were taken with an iPhone, but nowadays I'm taking them with a Nikon DSLR camera, a tripod and a remote control. Since May 2013, the project has gained more and more followers. Others have started to post their daily pickings under the same hashtag and I've been interviewed about the idea in magazines, blogs and have contributed to books. Soon I will have my first exhibition with a selection of my #onebouquetperday photos.

In the meantime, my daily walks have turned into a routine that has become very natural to me. I need these moments every day to clean my mental windshield, to nurture my creativity and to boost my mood. Picking flowers on a daily basis helps me to stay focussed. It reminds me of the essentials and brings me back to the basics, even if a day has been busy and stressful. I have my 'power trails', certain paths and routes I take several times a week, spots where I can recalibrate my ideas and  my senses. To me it feels like pressing the 'reset' button, even if it is only during a very brief walk through our own overgrown garden to pick a few flowers. I need these moments that allow my thoughts to wander, to rest and recover.


We are currently renovating and rebuilding our house and turning a shed into a workspace for me. If you would have asked me two or three years ago about my dream studio (and if I wouldn't have had to think about storage solutions for material and about large cutting tables) I would have answered that I'd dream of a white box, sparsely furnished. A studio with nothing but a chair, pen and paper waiting for my thoughts. A room for creative solitude, for inspiration and productivity with as little distraction as possible, like a monastic cell with white-washed walls. A place where I could isolate myself from the rest of the world (even if 'rest of the world' only means the dirty dishes in our kitchen or the chicken coop that needs to be cleaned).

But since I have begun with my #onebouquetperday project, spending time outside, picking flowers, the idea of the inside has slowly changed. I began to understand that the perfect workspace is not about that table and that chair and not about those blank pages that I would hunch over with a pen in my hand. All this is not what would turn a room into my creative space. What I need is an open door and large windows that would allow me to connect with the surroundings, let my eyes wander through the landscape, through different shades of greens, browns and blues, through the seasons.


Challenging myself with the #onebouquetperday project, I've learned to maintain a healthier relationship with nature and what surrounds me. I have less time for rumination while picking flowers and can root myself in the landscape. I feel part of the creative flow that surrounds me. The meadows and fields around Björkåsa are like a large studio for me and I love the change of light and colour, of sounds and scents that allow me a more physical and visceral approach to my creativity. The lines between inner and outer space start to blur and I can be in the landscape and at the same time I can have the landscape within me.


Through my #onebouquetperday series I have learned that all I need is to find a place where I can feel my imagination and memories don't get trapped between four walls, a floor and a ceiling. The view across the meadows, to the bog, to the ridge of hills and the extinct volcanoes on the horizon is what I have here at Björkåsa. I have no idea when we have turned the shed into a proper workspace (renovating Björkåsa will be a life-long project), but I have found my studio already; all I need is to put on my wellies and a warm cardigan and watch the cranes gather in the meadows.

Sending you an August breeze from Sweden,
Juliane

If you would like to see more of Juliane's posts, be sure to follow her blog. You will also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and of course you can leave a comment here too, if you wish. 

There are a few more postcards to come before the end of the month, and you can catch up with all the others in this series here. If you'd like to share your images and the story of how your location influences your own crafting, please feel free to use the Instagram hashtag #makerspostcards and to tag @craftsformthecwtch so I will be sure to see the post. 

Postcard from... Björkåsa

Today's postcard is one I am very excited to share with you. I have been a fan of Juliane Strittmatter's work for several years, so I was delighted when she said she could make the time to send this postcard from her home in Sweden. Everything Juliane shares on her blog, on Instagram and through her bespoke creations, speaks of a meticulous attention to detail, coupled with a truly beautiful aesthetic. Her postcard is no different. 

Photos (C): Juliane Strittmatter.
I hope these lines find you well.

This photo was taken at Björkåsa, our small farm close to Sösdala in Skåne, south of Sweden. It is my daily view, across the meadows to Store Mosse, a large bog, with Spragebjär, an extinct volcano on the horizon, towards Linderödsåsen, a ridge of hills that stretches down to the Baltic Sea. Down in the meadows, hundreds of cranes are gathering at this time of year to fly southwards.

Four years ago, I took the opposite direction and moved up north, for love. I left my hometown Berlin and the cosiness of Prenzlauer Berg, my neighbourhood, to live here in Skåne.

The first three years we rented a house until last spring when we finally found Björkåsa, a house on a hill, surrounded by old oak trees and birches, with an overgrown garden and an old barn down the meadow - and with the beautiful view you see in the photo above. It was the view and the quiet we fell for when we decided to buy the farm in May 2015 and we haven't regretted our choice, not even in the dead of winter when we got cut off from the road, snowbound for days.


I am a puppeteer by profession and studied Performing Arts/ Puppetry at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art (Hochschule für Schauspielkunst Ernst Bach) in Berlin. I worked for theatre and TV but found my professional options as a puppeteer to have become rather limited since my move to Sweden. Already in 2008, I had started making dolls for children and sold my products online, but the chances of working with a professional puppet theatre in the countryside were rather slight which is why I am now almost entirely focussing on doll-making.

In 2013, I decided to join Instagram. As an excuse for using yet another social media channel (helping me to be connected from the seclusion of our life in the countryside), I came up with the idea to challenge myself to pick a daily bouquet from May to October, take a photo and share it on Instagram. It was a fantastic way for me to get to know our surroundings and what was growing here, on my daily walks. And to put posies on every windowsill in our house, while connecting and staying in touch with friends.


The #onebouquetperday series is a self-portrait project with focus on the flowers I pick and the stories these bouquets tell throughout the seasons. In the very beginning, my photos were taken with an iPhone, but nowadays I'm taking them with a Nikon DSLR camera, a tripod and a remote control. Since May 2013, the project has gained more and more followers. Others have started to post their daily pickings under the same hashtag and I've been interviewed about the idea in magazines, blogs and have contributed to books. Soon I will have my first exhibition with a selection of my #onebouquetperday photos.

In the meantime, my daily walks have turned into a routine that has become very natural to me. I need these moments every day to clean my mental windshield, to nurture my creativity and to boost my mood. Picking flowers on a daily basis helps me to stay focussed. It reminds me of the essentials and brings me back to the basics, even if a day has been busy and stressful. I have my 'power trails', certain paths and routes I take several times a week, spots where I can recalibrate my ideas and  my senses. To me it feels like pressing the 'reset' button, even if it is only during a very brief walk through our own overgrown garden to pick a few flowers. I need these moments that allow my thoughts to wander, to rest and recover.


We are currently renovating and rebuilding our house and turning a shed into a workspace for me. If you would have asked me two or three years ago about my dream studio (and if I wouldn't have had to think about storage solutions for material and about large cutting tables) I would have answered that I'd dream of a white box, sparsely furnished. A studio with nothing but a chair, pen and paper waiting for my thoughts. A room for creative solitude, for inspiration and productivity with as little distraction as possible, like a monastic cell with white-washed walls. A place where I could isolate myself from the rest of the world (even if 'rest of the world' only means the dirty dishes in our kitchen or the chicken coop that needs to be cleaned).

But since I have begun with my #onebouquetperday project, spending time outside, picking flowers, the idea of the inside has slowly changed. I began to understand that the perfect workspace is not about that table and that chair and not about those blank pages that I would hunch over with a pen in my hand. All this is not what would turn a room into my creative space. What I need is an open door and large windows that would allow me to connect with the surroundings, let my eyes wander through the landscape, through different shades of greens, browns and blues, through the seasons.


Challenging myself with the #onebouquetperday project, I've learned to maintain a healthier relationship with nature and what surrounds me. I have less time for rumination while picking flowers and can root myself in the landscape. I feel part of the creative flow that surrounds me. The meadows and fields around Björkåsa are like a large studio for me and I love the change of light and colour, of sounds and scents that allow me a more physical and visceral approach to my creativity. The lines between inner and outer space start to blur and I can be in the landscape and at the same time I can have the landscape within me.


Through my #onebouquetperday series I have learned that all I need is to find a place where I can feel my imagination and memories don't get trapped between four walls, a floor and a ceiling. The view across the meadows, to the bog, to the ridge of hills and the extinct volcanoes on the horizon is what I have here at Björkåsa. I have no idea when we have turned the shed into a proper workspace (renovating Björkåsa will be a life-long project), but I have found my studio already; all I need is to put on my wellies and a warm cardigan and watch the cranes gather in the meadows.

Sending you an August breeze from Sweden,
Juliane

If you would like to see more of Juliane's posts, be sure to follow her blog. You will also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and of course you can leave a comment here too, if you wish. 

There are a few more postcards to come before the end of the month, and you can catch up with all the others in this series here. If you'd like to share your images and the story of how your location influences your own crafting, please feel free to use the Instagram hashtag #makerspostcards and to tag @craftsformthecwtch so I will be sure to see the post. 
Ever wished you could leave the city behind and head for the sea? Today's postcard is from someone who did just that! Nikki Poulton's postcard comes from Portsmouth on the south coast of England. 

Photos all taken by Richard Pizey 
The sea, the sea…

Earlier this year, I moved from London to Portsmouth, to be with my partner who had relocated late last year for work. 

I had always dreamed, even when I was tiny, of moving away from London to be near the sea and the countryside. But actually doing it, leaving the city you were born in, raised in, and lived in for nearly 30 years, is actually a lot harder than the dream would have you believe.

I eased the move – as I ease all bad times – with yarn.

I cast on a thick woolly Weasley Jumper in London and was halfway through the back of it when I finally climbed into the car, with my suitcase and my new work wardrobe packed in the back. We took the scenic route and I sat with my hand tucked into the bag of knitting on my lap, fingers curled on the smooth expanse of stockinette. I couldn’t knit; this one-way trip felt like a journey where I ought to keep my eyes on the road. But it was comforting to have it there as Rich pointed out the woods we could walk in and the sea as it swept along beside us.

I finally finished that winter jumper one muggy Portsmouth evening, when we still had all the windows open before the rain came lashing down. I cast it on at home in London and, by the time I cast it off in Southsea, I felt like I was at home again. My next cast on felt so appropriate – a Lilli Pilli inspired by the seaside – blue lace lapping against sandy garter stripes.


I had spent a lot of time in Portsmouth before moving here – we have friends here and I was visiting my partner regularly before I moved – but it wasn’t until I moved here that I found the yarn shops. 

Walking home from work I came across the Ann Louise and Thistle Yarn Shop. It’s never open by time I get there, but it’s right by my bus stop, so I can wait with my nose pressed to the window. 

Around the corner from my house is Mells & Whimsey, a small knitting, fabric and haberdashery shop that makes my heart light up when I go in to squish things and sigh over fabric on a Saturday morning.

Just along the road, there’s a glorious yarn stash in John Lewis, which I discovered, rounding the corner with a gasp in the hunt for a butter dish. 

And finally, for this budding sewist, a rainbow rippling extravaganza of fabric in Fabric Land, another short walk from my flat.

These little pockets of familiarity soothed me in those first days and weeks in a new place. 

And then there is the sea.

We are about five minutes walk away from the sea, twenty minutes from a quiet stretch where we can take our weekend lunches or our weekday dinners. We have watched a huge thunderstorm gather over the Isle of Wight and dashed back to the car as it fell across the beach like a giant hand drawing a curtain. 

We’re also only a short drive from the woods on Portsdown Hill, a long walk in the cool quiet shadows when the beach is full on a blazing day. There is such a wonderful view of the city from up there.


There is something soothing about being able to get off the pavement and into the woods or down to the sea – especially the sea. No matter the stresses of the day, you can sit on the pebbled beach or stand in the waves and know… That what you love is the most important thing. Not something to be bumped for ‘more important’ things or squeezed in wherever you can. The things you love need room to breathe, to grow, you need space to explore, to be curious. 

So many things have changed for me since living here – the understanding that I can find ‘home’ through the things I love to make and do; the realisation – finally! – of what I want to do in my life and career; the knowledge that I don’t want a lot, just enough.

They say that sometimes a change is as good as a rest and I have found that to be so true. Here I have found out that the things I do – knit, crochet, write my blog – are so much more than just hobbies. They are the things that ground me, no matter where I am. They are what makes me different, talking points when I meet new people. I’ve also discovered how restorative the real world can be – away from screens and noise and hot hard concrete. The sea around my ankles, up to my hips in long grass – all these things ease my soul, in much the same way as natural fibres running through my fingers.

While we don’t intend to settle down forever here in Portsmouth, I think wherever we go next I want to be by the sea. To be curled in my seaside Lilli Pilli with the sea at my feet.

Read more from Nikki on her blog, and Twitter. You can see more of her photos on Instagram and her projects on Ravelry. Catch up with the other posts in this series, and join in on Instagram with your own story, using the tag #makerspostcards.

Postcard from... Portsmouth

Ever wished you could leave the city behind and head for the sea? Today's postcard is from someone who did just that! Nikki Poulton's postcard comes from Portsmouth on the south coast of England. 

Photos all taken by Richard Pizey 
The sea, the sea…

Earlier this year, I moved from London to Portsmouth, to be with my partner who had relocated late last year for work. 

I had always dreamed, even when I was tiny, of moving away from London to be near the sea and the countryside. But actually doing it, leaving the city you were born in, raised in, and lived in for nearly 30 years, is actually a lot harder than the dream would have you believe.

I eased the move – as I ease all bad times – with yarn.

I cast on a thick woolly Weasley Jumper in London and was halfway through the back of it when I finally climbed into the car, with my suitcase and my new work wardrobe packed in the back. We took the scenic route and I sat with my hand tucked into the bag of knitting on my lap, fingers curled on the smooth expanse of stockinette. I couldn’t knit; this one-way trip felt like a journey where I ought to keep my eyes on the road. But it was comforting to have it there as Rich pointed out the woods we could walk in and the sea as it swept along beside us.

I finally finished that winter jumper one muggy Portsmouth evening, when we still had all the windows open before the rain came lashing down. I cast it on at home in London and, by the time I cast it off in Southsea, I felt like I was at home again. My next cast on felt so appropriate – a Lilli Pilli inspired by the seaside – blue lace lapping against sandy garter stripes.


I had spent a lot of time in Portsmouth before moving here – we have friends here and I was visiting my partner regularly before I moved – but it wasn’t until I moved here that I found the yarn shops. 

Walking home from work I came across the Ann Louise and Thistle Yarn Shop. It’s never open by time I get there, but it’s right by my bus stop, so I can wait with my nose pressed to the window. 

Around the corner from my house is Mells & Whimsey, a small knitting, fabric and haberdashery shop that makes my heart light up when I go in to squish things and sigh over fabric on a Saturday morning.

Just along the road, there’s a glorious yarn stash in John Lewis, which I discovered, rounding the corner with a gasp in the hunt for a butter dish. 

And finally, for this budding sewist, a rainbow rippling extravaganza of fabric in Fabric Land, another short walk from my flat.

These little pockets of familiarity soothed me in those first days and weeks in a new place. 

And then there is the sea.

We are about five minutes walk away from the sea, twenty minutes from a quiet stretch where we can take our weekend lunches or our weekday dinners. We have watched a huge thunderstorm gather over the Isle of Wight and dashed back to the car as it fell across the beach like a giant hand drawing a curtain. 

We’re also only a short drive from the woods on Portsdown Hill, a long walk in the cool quiet shadows when the beach is full on a blazing day. There is such a wonderful view of the city from up there.


There is something soothing about being able to get off the pavement and into the woods or down to the sea – especially the sea. No matter the stresses of the day, you can sit on the pebbled beach or stand in the waves and know… That what you love is the most important thing. Not something to be bumped for ‘more important’ things or squeezed in wherever you can. The things you love need room to breathe, to grow, you need space to explore, to be curious. 

So many things have changed for me since living here – the understanding that I can find ‘home’ through the things I love to make and do; the realisation – finally! – of what I want to do in my life and career; the knowledge that I don’t want a lot, just enough.

They say that sometimes a change is as good as a rest and I have found that to be so true. Here I have found out that the things I do – knit, crochet, write my blog – are so much more than just hobbies. They are the things that ground me, no matter where I am. They are what makes me different, talking points when I meet new people. I’ve also discovered how restorative the real world can be – away from screens and noise and hot hard concrete. The sea around my ankles, up to my hips in long grass – all these things ease my soul, in much the same way as natural fibres running through my fingers.

While we don’t intend to settle down forever here in Portsmouth, I think wherever we go next I want to be by the sea. To be curled in my seaside Lilli Pilli with the sea at my feet.

Read more from Nikki on her blog, and Twitter. You can see more of her photos on Instagram and her projects on Ravelry. Catch up with the other posts in this series, and join in on Instagram with your own story, using the tag #makerspostcards.

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