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lauantai 11. marraskuuta 2017

Weaving in the ends

There has been a long pause here on the blog again while I have been weaving in the old ends and trying to find a new pattern as I wrote before. I think I also wrote here in July that: “Än gör det inte ont nog”, it doesn’t hurt enough yet. One evening shortly afterwards I went for a long walk in order to think if I should find a new home and when I came back,I knew that I wouldn’t be living here anymore for a long time. So now it is coming to reality, a new city and a new creative environment are waiting for me, and while washing the curtains, packing and melting the freezer I thought to write a few lines here.

I am really excited, but also sad to leave this village like neighborhood near everything – the airport, Haltiala farm, some splendid old buildings and surroundings and also one of the biggest shopping centers in Finland. And I think I have had the best view in town from my apartment which has partly kept me here. How often have I been looking at planes leaving and landing in the horizon, ducks floating on the pond and children skating there in the winter time. In the mornings after 7 am an old man has been walking the most beautiful dog, while I have been sipping my coffee and how I got worried when he suddenly disappeared, but luckily later came back apparently after an operation. Little observations of the daily life I find to be meaningful. 

When I moved to this apartment in 2009 my aim was to make a lot myself and dedicate time for crafting. I guess I have certainly done that, started this blog later the same year and I have kept on making and changing things around constantly. I remember the joy when I crocheted my first basket and the satisfaction I must admit I rarely get nowadays when it comes to crochet. This has also been a home where I have so often been on my knees in front of life, wondering what it is that I need to learn, unlearn from and see better and also in a more gentle way in myself. And already because of that a new beginning is good. Luckily this home also found the perfect new inhabitant who appreciates the same small pleasures in life. And a piece of me will also stay here, linen curtains I have made and the sofa with the perfect spot for relaxing, crocheting and looking outside life in the village.

When it comes to how to go forward with making I have also started a new education in product development and it will force me to think in a different way. It feels good to be a student for a change and not the teacher even though I am a bit afraid of what I have put my head into this time and will I manage to grow into that direction. We’ll try and see. I have also been thinking long and hard for a new name for the blog and my micro company, but as U2 has sung it: “I still haven’t found what I am looking for”. I am certain though that it will come when the time is right. And because this is a passion project, not that much of a work project, it needs to feel right. 

I’ve done some travelling these last months, weaving in the ends of the past that way as well and finding new inspiration, and above in the pictures you find a couple of places in Copenhagen, the city which gave me the idea for the crocheted diamonds. I’ve also had a bigger creative project in the making for a longer time which I will show when getting everything in place in the new apartment. And new critters are waiting for assembling, I have been adjusting the teddy bear pattern in order to make it quicker to crochet and to find different kind of animal species and facial expressions as you see a hint of in the first picture. Now those are carefully packed in the boxes and hope to show them later this month all finished. 

Pirjo :-)

lauantai 11. marraskuuta 2017

Mange & Monique

I think November is such a good month for storytelling. Days are getting shorter and evenings longer day by day here in Finland. Since I don't have any new stories to tell at the moment, here is a little story I told a year ago in November on Instagram and which I now have taken a bit further. This is a story which started to tell itself when I picked the cold colors of blue and grey from my yarn basket in summer 2016, blackbirds were giving their concert on the background on a warm and sunny day, and a little fellow called Mange introduced himself while I was crocheting him. This is also a story which makes my inner critic to say that please don’t publish anything this ridiculous, absurd and not thought through. And therefore I guess it is exactly why it is good for me to do so (in this case). So here we go in case there is something for anyone, with a story about Mange and Monique, told with  😉 and of course with ❤.

Mange is a seasoned sailor, or “a sea bear”, merikarhu as we also say in Finnish. He knows the cold winds and the ice-covered waters of the Northern seas very well. And how in the winter time everything looks like to be almost upside down in North. The scarce glimmering light comes from the snow and the sky remains dark throughout the days. However, without this generosity from the sky to donate the background, the stars and Northern lights wouldn’t be able to share their beauty for us. There is an interdependence, co-operation and generosity in everything, between the sailor and the sea as well which Mange knows very well.

During one of his journeys, in one of the ports near the equator, Mange's eyes caught a pair of beautiful teddy bear eyes shining like two stars while he was loading cargo on his ship. He realized that from there onward, there would be two new stars shining bright in the sky and together with the Northern star those would always guide him home should he sometimes get lost.

This pair of eyes later introduced herself with the name Monique, an experienced sailor as well, who had sailed the Southern seas for many years. Since I have never been to the Southern hemisphere, I have struggled to describe her journeys. I know though that there are vast seas Monique has had to cross as there is more sea to sail in the Southern hemisphere. And whenever El Nino gains force, nothing is sure anymore and it has given her a certain appreciation and gratitude for what is here and now since future seas are unpredictable. I am also sure that Monique, when seeing Mange, blushed all the way up to the first stitch of her crocheted teddy bear ears (yes, I ran out of brown yarn), and she didn’t know in which direction the compass of her teddy bear heart was beating any more. North or South, East or West. I guess she knew though that it was time to trust Mange’s compass together with her own - just as you need a different compass to find the right direction and your way home in the Southern and the Northern hemisphere.

When looking at the original story now, a year later, it occurred to me that perhaps it is a different kind of navigation that the Southern and Northern seas have teached these two bears, based on what is now and what lies ahead. Monique has learned to adjust the sails and rebuild the boat itself over and over again in order to be able to cope and face the outer circumstances, waves and storms whenever she has encountered them. And it has taken time for Monique to find more serene waters and gentler winds guided by her intuition and trust that it is the right way, even though not always the easy one. Perhaps Mange, on the other hand, has learned to sail based on logic, calculations and predictions to avoid the many ice bergs causing danger in the Northern seas and how every journey has needed a careful planning because of the ice situation in winter time. 

To open up the story a bit more, Mange means “many” in Danish and Monique “only one, alone” and comes from the Greek word monos. And inside the names are vowels A and O, Alpha and Omega, from the beginning to the end, a symbol for wholeness as well. As I mentioned in the beginning, I don’t see the story clearly yet, only that it I am playing with the mutual interdependence of the opposites, North and South. Perhaps this is just one of those stories that keep on developing before becoming a clear history from Mange to Monique, whole. And there may be too much stereotypical thinking here – the feminine being the intuitive and the masculine the logical. And of course the names could be for example Mange and Mo or Mary and Monique, there is only love and teddy bears. 

The real crocheted critters I have been planning to give to charity, but it is just one of those things that somehow don’t get done. Other teddy bears I have given every now and then and I am always happy if someone asks. These two deserve someone who loves them and comes up with new and better adventures for them, more real. So let us hope though that the seas and the stories are kind to Mange and Monique and they don’t meet any pirates or sea monsters on their way. 

And as I wished on Instagram last year, I think it is a proper wish now as well: Wishing you a lovely continuation on November, hope the winds of the world are benign for all of us! 

Pirjo ;-)

torstai 24. elokuuta 2017

Learning a new language

Just a note from my journal, something a friend made me to think about when it comes to personal growth. I am just finishing summer courses in Swedish so perhaps therefore I also came to think about the following: 

“I wonder if it is possible to draw a parallel between personal growth and learning a new language - or learning a new word in a foreign language. I think there is something similar in them. Both processes are more complex than we would think, more than just a definition in a dictionary we need to memorize - and we need to be merciful towards ourselves and others. 

First you learn to understand a word, you hear it and you read it, look it up and memorize it. Then you can start using it step by step, but it can take a lot of time to get it right, to really own a word, to grow. The different meanings and how a word is used in different contexts compared to your mother tongue, what you have learned as a child, can sometimes be tricky to learn and there is a different way of seeing behind (each language) which you need to start understanding. I guess the only thing you can do is to have the courage to make enough many mistakes before you start owning a word. And perhaps therefore it takes time to any of the life’s wisdom's to reach from the mind into heart and personal growth is so demanding. 

Sometimes we also face tremendous words in life which make us fear and to feel insecure. Many times have I asked myself that do I have the capacity to handle something or shall I just give up. Like the Finnish-Swedish word barnträdgårdslärare, kindergarten teacher, which many of my adult students have had to face this summer in order to be able to tell about their profession. I tell them to tackle it step by step: barn – trädgårds – lärare and it is okay to use words like dagislärare or the Swedish-Swedish word förskolelärare instead when learning. You can always find a way around and does it really matter if you pronounce/write a word incorrectly, if some letters are missing. You’ll still be understood and get the confidence to try again and again and master it later. And just a side note. I have always been very fond of this word, kindergarten teacher, and seeing children as flowers we need to nourish the best way so that they can then bloom, all different and together make a garden.  

And of course, some words you never seem to learn. Or you easily mix them with other words like the Swedish words ganska and kanske, just like it can be easy to mix for example pleasing and giving from the heart. We learn with time and some words we just simply forget. Exactly as our psyche has its limitations when it comes to growth. I also tend to say to students at the end of each course that remember to be proud of every word you have learned. You have worked for it, it is your capital. Obviously it is then a task in itself to put the new words together and use in the sentences you master from before and to make the sentences fuller - and whole - with time. And both in learning a language and personal growth, we need others, as mirrors. And when it is time for one of the many exams in life, I hope we always try to look at what we have learned and what we can, not what we can’t. We are always enough with our imperfect vocabularies." 

Perhaps I tried to explain personal growth, and the hardships co-dependencies and other issues some of us have to go through in life through another phenomenon, more common for all of us. Metaphors are used to explain more complicated matters with something we all can relate to. For example in politics we often see metaphorical language, negotiations are seen as a war or as a game, EU and other international organizations are seen as a family and so on. If you are more of an analytical mind perhaps you think that whatever it is in life, just deal with it. In my own experience I haven't found it to be such a straight forward way though. I haven’t thought this text through in every point, but perhaps the thinking behind holds well enough so I put it out here just in case there is something useful for anyone. 

I also have body parts for a new crocheted critter on my work table waiting for assembling, so crochet coming as well :-). 


maanantai 31. heinäkuuta 2017

Good luck symbols and a few words to live by

The other day I happened to click a following title on one of the Finnish radio stations websites: “What is your horoscope sign obsessed about?” According the article, my sign has a serious obsession with number 7. Touché. It is my lucky number and I had just finished this second knitted bag and as you look at the pattern and the amount of stitches below, well ... Here is a short pattern description as well for my "Lucky Number Seven -bag", in case someone would be interested.

2 kg = about 540 meters Lilli Ribbon Yarn from Filatex (or for example some other ribbon yarn/yarn)

Circular needle, 12 mm with 80 cm cable

approximately 50 cm x 60 cm

Cast on 70 stitches. Work in round.  K = knit. This bag is knitted from the bottom up. There are many instructions on YouTube to make the stripes even when changing color if needed.

*K 7 rounds with blue, K 7 rounds with white*, repeat *-* 3 more time (7 stripes + 7 rounds white = 50 rounds).

During the 8th round of the upper part (with white) make handles. K 12 stitches, end 11 stitches, K 24 stitches, end 11 stitches, K 12 stitches. During the 9th round, cast on 11 stitches x 2 to replace the stitches ended during the previous round. Knit 5 more rounds, or as much yarn you have left and end all stitches and weave in the ends during the 6th round (=58 rounds).

Crochet the bottom seam together with slip stitches and weave in the ends.  

Couch has got and extra mattress as well, made of two old mattresses. Have to work with the cover yet though. Perhaps I will take the other mattress away, but this is the very first version I show here and a work in progress. This couch is over 10 years old and I have already talked with a charity organisation to take it when they were picking up some other old furniture from my home. Now with this new cover I think I will be happy with the couch for a while and the color code seems to be good for autumn time. At least it is cozy for some crochet time and there is a splendid view outside when sitting in the other corner with a cup of coffee or tea in hand.

I also stitched a tiny semamori in one of the corners of the mattress. Semamori is a Japanese good luck symbol, these were stitched on the back of children’s kimonos to protect them from harm. I guess this is now protecting the derrières of the people sitting on this couch, just some everyday silliness. Of course there is also a rich history behind these symbols and it is not to joke about.

Here are two fragments from my journals, to end up this month with. A couple of words I find to be central for us makers, creatives and humans. I try to cultivate these words in my profession as well. The words are childlike and creativity. These are also words I think we adults don’t always understand. And it is the language teacher in me that likes to think about the meaning of the words. These are not ready thoughts, just me wondering and pondering and here we go: 

“I try to be childLIKE as often as possible. And there is nothing childISH in that (I guess I learned this from Liz Gilbert). There is a big difference here, and I guess we often mix and misunderstand them. I like people who are childlike, you usually recognize them in their eyes. There is a curiosity and playfulness in them, and it can disappear if you don’t take care of it. I think word childlike must be the word which will always keep us alive inside.”

I Also remember from my teacher studies the following famous quote by Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen: 

“There are lots of people who give their all and have that inner glow on. It's a shame that majority of them are under seven years old.” 

And then there is the word creativity I have also been thinking about. 

“They say it is devious pact - when you struggle, you usually have your most creative periods in life. I rather think it is the opposite. Creativity is a force given to us, a force which will always take us to the other side, no matter what we have going on in our lives. And so often you hear the following sentence: “You have that creativity in you”. We all have that force waiting for us inside. Creativity is about surrendering to the process, never about the outcome, which all the wonderful wips in the closet prove as well ;-). Unfinished creative projects serve an important purpose even though not being useful or used. They tell about moments spent well, when you feel excited about a new project, those childlike moments – even though you just then didn’t have the patience to work your way through the creative U-curve you need to tackle with in every project. Skill is then a different thing, it develops with time if you keep on practicing and develop your resilience. There is the magical number of working with something for 10 000 hours and then your master the skill – and not always even then do we master something professionally (but it doesn't prevent us from enjoying the skill). And creativity is never about the comparison, outside expectations or our expectations towards ourselves. It exist outside time and deadlines. And here within lies the power and the therapeutic nature of creativity. It is so often the opposite to what we are told and taught to: have to do, should do and what we aim for in our busy daily lives. 

And perhaps a creative project becomes art when it touches someone else.” 

I have also been reading two books this summer, which I can recommend. Perhaps the titles already reveal some new words I have started defining in my life. The other one is Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. This book needs to be read slowly, it is full of life and wisdom. There is for example the following sentence which has been on my mind lately: “Än gör det inte ont nog”, It doesn’t hurt enough yet (I read the book in Swedish). It usually is so, our reptile brains keep us in safety and comfortable situations and the change occurs when staying in the same place hurts more than the change. Earlier this summer I also loaned a book called You are a Badass by Jen Sincero from the local library. It was uncomfortable to read, so I need to buy it for myself. And I must admit I rather hope to be “a goodass” (and also having a good ass would be nice, but let us just write the words together). 

I think I leave this text here now, a mixture of this and that. Hopefully with a hint of smile on your face and wish a lovely month of August! 


sunnuntai 16. heinäkuuta 2017

Simple knitted bag with stripes

Or perhaps we can also call this “What to make with the yarn –bag” :-). I bought ribbon yarn with a thought to crochet a rug with them in May, and of course in my case with two colors. After washing the yarn and trying to crochet with it, I noticed that I just can't work with it, too heavy for my arm and wrist. So I decided to knit this very simple bag instead. This can be used as a laundry bag or to store something, in my case probably yarn. And I must admit that I now also feel tempted to make a really large bag for decorative pillows and throws. And somehow this bag now looks smaller in the pictures than in real life, should perhaps have filled it with more yarn :-). Here below a short instruction in case someone is interested in making something similar or gets some inspiration of this little summer project.

And just to note, this is the first bag I made, I have 2 kg left so perhaps I make some adjustments to this instruction later after finishing the other two bags. And I have very basic skills in knitting and no idea how to write down a proper knitting pattern :-). Crochet is my thing so more skilled and seasoned knitters can surely make this better, but I thought I'll put this out here anyway. 

1,1 kg = about 300 meters Lilli Ribbon Yarn from Filatex (or some other ribbon yarn/yarn)

Circular needle, 12 mm with 80 cm cable

approximately 40 cm x 48 cm

Cast on 56 stitches. Work in round.  K = knit and P = purl. This bag is knitted from the bottom up and after finishing the piece I turned the wrong side outside (wanted to have purl stitches at the bottom and at the top).  

*K 9 rounds, P 9 rounds*, repeat *-* 1 more time. (4 stripes)

Last stripe: K 5 rounds, during the 6th round make handles. K 9 stitches, end 10 stitches, K 18 stitches, end 10 stitches, K 9 stitches. During the 7th round, cast on 10 stitches x 2 to replace the stitches ended during the previous round. Knit 12 rounds, or as much yarn you have left. End all stitches (round 13) and weave in the ends (= 49 rounds).

Crochet the bottom seam together with slip stitches and weave in the ends. I have also crocheted slip stitches around the handles on the wrong side. Now I wonder if it would have been better to make the handles only 8 stitches wide and leave the handles without strengthening. Oh well, I'll try that in the next bag. 

Hope this instruction is useful for someone! Have a wonderful summer week with your projects!


sunnuntai 9. heinäkuuta 2017

Patterns of Life

Two teardrops make a heart, an idea once occurred to me. Perhaps this pattern idea matches well together with the purifying nature of the text. 

Somehow energies this week have been very weird, but it has been a good time to do some creative writing. I sometimes write morning pages (Julia Cameron), sometimes I write some other time of the day. This is my creative project of the week, it is long and it has been healing to write down. I mentioned once before how I have been following Susannah Conway and her “word for the year” these last years with the theme quietness in 2015 and gentle living in 2016. The word for the year 2017 has been connection. And this is the most difficult theme so far for me who would rather hide myself and stay in the background. That is in my very core being. Therefore I thought to write this long text here, as honest as I today can, and where I am in my journey. And as a language enthusiast and teacher, words and writing seem to be my way of seeing and organizing thoughts.  

When I two years ago took the papers to Patent and registration office and started with Hilja Design I just thought: "Oh well, I start somewhere". I knew very well that there would be an inner work to be done first, but I didn’t quite know the magnitude of it. My mind was so full and so was my home that there was no space for anything new. The big questions I have been repeating to myself are what is it that I want to say as a maker and what is it this art of living. It is obvious now that the key question has rather been, who I am. When it comes to making I can try to see with my eyes and mind only - colors, proportions and patterns - but there is this deeper kind of seeing I have been practicing these last years, seeing with my heart. I have tried to see the patterns in my own life, to break free from old patterns and to try to create new ones. So inwards I have been going with curiosity, decluttering as well as my home as my mind and my heart, and wondering what is it that I am not seeing yet. Somehow home tends to be the direction I turn to when there is a need to work with myself. And whenever I create softness around me, anything is easier to tackle with and I say to myself: “Okay, I can’t figure out these things yet, but at least I can do this today.” 

There is of course also a lot of gratitude in having the possibility to turn inwards and spend time with oneself like I have done so much lately. I do believe though that it is our obligation to learn the song in our heart and then try to sing it for the benefit of others – no matter how small the song is, but it is our unique voice and the world needs more love, beauty, compassion, healing and authenticity which we all carry in our hearts. So, I try to sing my song now and here.

I am happy that the physical decluttering is quite well done now and I have released old feelings with them and created new habits. Otherwise I am not sure how far I have come so far in my pattern making, but lately some sort of new inner peace, calm and confidence have been evolving and bubbling inside and making me smile. These last couple of years have also been years of struggle and loss of direction. I have been working a lot, but I am not getting anywhere I feel, and don’t see the direction which would give me the energy to go that way. The energy levels have also physically been on the lower side as I wrote in the last post. I juggle between teaching and creative projects and haven’t been able to solve this equation in a satisfying way or how to somehow incorporate both. The struggle has been good though, perhaps during these years I have finally understood that the best way to measure success is to measure the amount of heart I manage to put into each day. Any previous success in work life has left me quite empty inside, it is different with the things I do nowadays, making, teaching and just living the everyday life. Of course I have known this wisdom, also coming from the tale of the Little Prince, but it can sometimes take a long time for the life’s wisdom's to travel from the mind into the heart, I have noticed. And one of the things I now tackle with is how much joy and happiness I can bare, so I need to adjust myself to it gradually. And if you wonder what on earth she is talking about, can’t stand happiness (?), perhaps I better explain myself what the battles of mine have been, key words being history and sensitivity.

There was this girl who believed that everything in her was wrong both on the inside and outside. That is what she was told to over and over again and no one was on her side except of a few loving eyes every now and then and acceptance she got in the outer world having a good memory and doing well at school. There were fights and too much alcohol and no space and support for her to grow and to become herself. Luckily she was curious and active. She was also very sensitive so it was all too easy for her to believe what was said about her and she took it all in, also the fears and shames of previous generations who had been wounded by the wars. Unfortunately they hadn't had much love in their lives so they didn't have much to pass on, so they are not to blame. So in order to survive, she had to hide her heart very carefully and therefore hide herself mostly in her mind and in those things in the outer world where she felt safe. Inner wisdom whispered to her ear though that one day she would break free and start finding herself if she just keeps on searching for answers. Perhaps it is the core in her, the inner child, which was luckily intact - or perhaps we just call it her heart, locked up for safety reasons. She has also been so stubborn that giving up has never been an option. The younger self looked for herself for example in history and in languages to find her voice which was silenced. Obviously the answer wasn’t in the outside world, but mastering languages gave her richness to her life and international encounters, new point of views, new things to wonder and because of that she doesn’t believe in simple truths. She gradually also found out that she was quite good at coming up with new ideas, imagination having been one of her safe places. She then used her ideas in different arenas and it felt good inside, bringing happiness to other people as well. Perhaps she can also see some of her growth here on the blog in many ways if she sometimes has the courage to take a closer look at the past and feel a bit proud of herself. So journey has been long in many ways, both at the skill level and with herself. She has every now and then been fearful to publish posts here, especially the little fairy tales told by the little girl inside in adult supervision, but a bit of fear is often good. It usually means we are opening up to life, opening up to love. 

Life teaches us all, and the lessons are not always gentle, she had to repeat the same harmful patterns she had inherited over and over again in her life. The amount of self-development she has done for years and years is huge, but it is easy to get entangled into the yarns of the old patterns still. Of course she has wondered why she has had to carry so much on her shoulders, so much need to heal and so much of it shouldn’t have been her job to tackle with. Perhaps it is exactly this she has had to learn, to carry only the things that are hers to carry in the first place, and let the others do their part. And there is a lot of love in that. We are all wandering around here with varying levels of self-awareness and ability to carry ourselves, seeking for connection, love, meaning and healing to our wounds and so often we don’t get it right. Life gets quite easy when we accept that pretty much everyone is doing their best and that we are only able to see in others what we see in ourselves. So when we talk about other people, let us be kind and wise because it always tells about us too. And it makes it easy to stop gossiping, blaming and shaming after that. Words can always build or destroy, but of course we can’t be too sensitive to every word said to us either (between adults), those often have nothing to do with us. What comes to the surface is so often different than what is inside each and one of us - and there are so many things to disturb us nowadays. Therefore her word of the year is connection. 

Perhaps she has also had to carry all this on her shoulders and just keep on looking inwards so that she can then tell about her journeys to others in different arenas and different ways, less and more direct, just like some of us make great journeys outwards during our lives. Perhaps some of us carry within us a message about humanity for humanity and some message about the world outside. Both types of people are needed and then we can come home and tell about the great adventures to each other. Or perhaps life has its different seasons and it is time for she/me to come out of this soft cocoon I’ve needed for healing and building myself again in a different way. Instead of using the pronoun “she”, go forward with the pronoun “I” in this text from now on. There is no other way to be free than by owning our stories, the opposite doesn’t work, stories owning us. 

This text is on the heavier side so it needs spaces to exhale. I didn't have any good enough pics on the camera roll than these cows taken in May. Perhaps these are just proper, cows have a good life attitude. This is also one of my places to exhale, a farm called Haltiala and the surroundings nearby. And if I someday have cows (you never know what life brings) I want the hairy Highlanders. We would match well together with our bangs.   

I guess we makers also know very well that no beautiful thing is perfect, not a handmade object nor a person. And we all start to show our beauty if and when we have had the fortune to be seen with loving and accepting eyes just as we are. For some of us this happens later in life, we can do a lot for ourselves and learn self-love and self-compassion, but we humans always need each other. Listening ears without any judgement and space to exhale, express ourselves without having to be afraid of saying or being or doing wrong. And then we can start to love others with real love and acceptance  -and the expressions, deeds and words etc. can also flow. In this point, there has been an old wound healing in me, I have of course encountered men to whom I haven’t been good enough or who think that I don’t seem to manage to do anything the right way. My childhood wound repeating itself. Perhaps I was looking for acceptance and got the other persons wounds and defenses back and there was a belief that my love was not so strong, even though it was just behind all the fear. I don’t know, that is not my story to tell. Luckily the wound is somewhere in the girl inside me, not in the woman I am today and the girl starts to be okay as well and what is left is love and acceptance. And perhaps there is someone special for whom the girl will always hold her hand open for if the boy will ever need it somehow. He has helped her to heal even though the lesson has been tough. The woman in her will only be there if there is a man to meet her. And just to explain my thinking here with a few more words, I believe that all the layers, all the years are alive inside all of us just like in trees. And if we are not aware of the layers, our story, then there is a minefield around us hurting others. 

Love also touches the parts within you where your deepest wounds are. And when they have been as deep as mine - and for my gratitude the love has been deep as well - the pain has been intolerable and I have lost my capability to act. So it is easier to look the other way. But that is also where the healing starts, gradually, and then you can break free. Step by step you start to feel yourself worthy and enough and can start standing tall and look people in the eyes just as you are. So therefore the inner journeys are also needed, to break down the barriers into authenticity and courage. Therefore it is true that mind training matters, but I think that heart training matters as well. In my case it has been the place I have needed to open up and when the heart is strong the mind starts to follow. I don't know, that is just my personal experience and way of thinking. 

Few are those people who can meet – I mean really be present – for all kinds of people, no matter where they are in their inner or outer journeys and they have that peaceful energy around them. I hope to become one. That is my aim. I have also started asking for the same kindness and treatment towards myself as I have given to others and therefore setting my boundaries right. And there I am somewhere in the middle of it all figuring out, this thing with human relationships of all kind, in a new way, with a new pattern. 

I have tried to thank people for their help, for their love and acceptance during my journey, but there are still many to thank for and it is always important to remember to thank. One being the craft community of course, this is such a warm-hearted community. One very big group are the adult students I have had the pleasure to walk together during the short journey we take with the Swedish language. This may come off as bragging, but all the little thank you notes from students during the last years have helped me in my rebuilding process, so I owe them a lot (hope to still keep my salary though if someone hears that the teaching goes the other way). Most of them work within the social sector so their words count more in my books. And perhaps it is one of life’s mysterious ways that even though I didn’t have any social workers helping me in my childhood, I have now encountered many and we encourage each other. Perhaps life always has a way to balance out everything if we have the ability to see. And seeing the students go bravely forward with the language they might not have talked for many years or even decades and all the work they put into the learning process and find stronger voices in Swedish is just such a joyful experience. I just hope I can help them the best way during their journey in learning a skill that is so nearly attached to our personalities as languages are, and therefore it can also be a delicate matter. Not learning the skill itself but the feelings behind and getting free of them so that learning can occur. There is something in here cooking inside me pedagogically, but I can’t quite reach to that part yet, and it is a matter to be discussed in another arena.

I know though that I am very much a #wip as Tif Fussell/Dottie Angel has so wonderfully said and I have no plans to graduate from the school of life for a long, long time. I still fight with self-worth, anxiety and fear every day. Luckily self-compassion, acceptance and laughter are my biggest allies and together we are powerful – and my yarn and linen storage is big too which helps of course as well. I think it is good to remember that our stories are always more about our strength than our weakness. Therefore I always try to push out a bit of joy and amusement and give that to others even though the inner feeling wouldn’t be that. And that is my biggest fault as well, not speaking when I should. I just easily get mixed up with everyone else’s feelings and thoughts that I need my time to go everything through thoroughly and find the right proportions and my thought errors in everything before I can speak. And because of my background, speaking up always takes more courage. I understand that for many more extroverted people this is weird.

When it comes to introversion and sensitivity, I find myself very much in the books and articles talking about them and they have been one source for self-knowledge and have given me tools. Bréne Brown is also one of my pick me ups if I get lost in somewhere in my thoughts. There is a sense of humor in her work which I like. I don’t much like categorizing anyone though, there are so many universes in all of us and we are free to choose to create our lives our own way. I must add though that when we talk about sensitivity, it is a serious business. Mastering the sensitivity is a skill that takes practice in order to be able to live in this world today with its needs I haven’t mastered it always very well. Finding the balance with right amount of activity and rest is sometimes challenging and it would be tempting to spend more time in the richness of the inner world and among the books etc., where the world is always more gentle and there are so often happy ends. You see, I have seen sensitive people who have been hurt too much, and not having the tools or love around them to tackle with the sensitive side in them, they have disappeared in their own world almost altogether and that is just heart-breaking. Some of them have disappeared in the deep depths of a bottle.

The other day I also had a discussion with an acquaintance over a cup of coffee which let me a bit exhausted. I was eager to change the topic to something lighter and brighter than some parts in my life and I felt diminished to only my sorrows and difficulties which are a very small part of me (oh, those boundaries!). Then it occurred to me that perhaps it was the other part that needed to see her own life through my story and there were wounds looking for healing. When we heal ourselves, others can heal too and then the world heals, one by one. There is interdependence in everything and I wonder if this is the ultimate form of beauty, ultimate form of love. Healing. Therefore also this text.

I made a pot holder pattern for a Finnish magazine a year ago. Now you can find the pattern in Finnish here. The pattern includes a chart and together with the basic pattern for crocheting diamonds (in my Ravelry store, link on Pattern-page) you can make one for yourself too if you like.  Pictures above by Kodin Kuvalehti, hope I have the right to share these here.

So, it is all this that is weaved in every stitch I crochet, in every diamond or every item I make, my maker story. It is also how the quietness, gentle living and connection all are weaved in together and I wonder what kind of pattern is in the making here. I could have made the story fuller, tie the threads better together, but I let it be like this for now. I also wonder and ponder if I should break free from the name Hilja Design, to get a clean break with the patterns of previous generations – or is it rather so that I just go forward and own my story, even though those patterns have been so broken. Perhaps writing these lines here have already revealed me that it is time to let go. I don’t know what lies ahead in the future, I know I have to look for some education in textiles, I need more co-operation and feedback. And I know I work best at the level of ideas. I have spent 20 years in figuring out the 20 first ones. Now I send a wish to the universe that I get 40 happier ones. I’ll do my part.  

Let us end this text with crocheted diamonds though, I wonder if they have also tried to give me a new pattern to live by. You see, you find the diamonds naturally in the rows of half double crochet, and with a few simple color changes they donate their shine to you. All the beauty of them is in the ease and giving yourself the time to find the right pattern among the rows. Then you just follow the stitches with trust. I guess this is what I have been doing the last years. Colors you can choose to your liking.

And then let us go and create new (crochet) patterns. Love and hugs,


sunnuntai 2. heinäkuuta 2017

Gentle living & expressions of love

My crochet hooks have been on “a summer vacation” during the last weeks. I sit a lot when working so sewing projects which include more movement and standing in front of the iron board just feel better than sitting down with a crochet hook and yarn. Therefore here you see a new bento bag I made of linen to store bread, a new market bag of two old napkins and wide linen handles which seem to be a very comfortable solution for the shoulder (four layers of thin linen made of an old sheet). I have also done some updates on the home décor with new/old white linen curtains I added to this "sidetable or something" to hide the clutter behind it. 

I also made a lovely short trip to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland when I had a break from work earlier this week and got to visit a few exhibitions at Korundi and Arktikum. Of course some new yummy yarn below found its way home as well from craft stores Taito Lappi (yarn Grosso from Borgo de´Pazzi) and Vallaton Villa (yarn Llama silk from Järbo garn). I like to buy yarn whenever traveling, since it of course adds to the story of the piece made of the fiber. I stayed at Café Hostel Koti, a new and very friendly place decorated in simple and modern Scandinavian style and always happy to support new local entrepreneurs. Taito Lappi is situated just next door, so pretty much a crafters heaven to stay in. Had some lovely chats about craft, life and got to brush up my skills in Norwegian and even got an update on current affairs in Norway. Noticed how I miss a stronger Nordic connection which I had before, pretty much just watch/listen to Norwegian and Danish TV to keep track on the languages and teach Swedish. Have to figure this out and do at least some traveling if nothing else. 

These kind of small things, adding homemade beauty to everyday life, bring a lot of joy to me. Linen as a material is very relaxing to work with and live with and just touching it makes me instantly grounded. Another thing that brings a smile on my face every day are small changes I have made in shopping groceries to make cooking and eating a more nourishing and plastic free experience. I made a couple of bento bags for veggies and fruits last summer and they are still going strong and bought a market basket as well last fall. I don’t know but somehow these tiny changes bring more gratitude towards the ingredients when shopping and cooking. Perhaps I could quote here William Morris who said that: "The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life". And let us also quote another old gentleman, Henry David Thoreau: "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts". Perhaps some aspects to keep on mind, little things matter. It is these things I go around wondering and pondering with, what is the art of living and gentle living and how to make the everyday life a bit more gentle, softer, beautiful and joyful for me and others. I believe very strongly that beauty restores soul and it makes us feel happier and can perhaps even make us act better, be softer and more gentle towards others if we stay and get to work/live in a beautiful environment.

With these tiny changes I somehow also find it easier to make better choices in the local supermarket. Or is it perhaps that like many others, I am also learning how to use more and different kind of vegetables and slowly but steadily finding a new creative outlet in cooking. There is a more serious reason for this enthusiasm though, I have been having low energy levels and issues with digestion during the last couple of years, the fatigue coming partly from work because of the air inside in many public buildings like schools is not very healthy (a big topic and trouble in Finland). Now it also seems at least according the blood tests that I’ll be on a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life. I'll get to know more of that next week, but at this point I am very chill about that. Just eager to get the body healing and also get to learn to make some sweet treats new way :-), but otherwise it is not a big change. And what comes has to be accepted and try to make the best out of it. And aren't we people very wisely designed, the body deteriorates with age, but mind and heart just keep getting stronger. There is a balance all the time. 

And when it comes to trying to reduce plastics, so many things are wrapped in it and it is difficult to avoid, but at least part of it is avoidable. And when coming home, there is the question of storing the food without plastics. I have been using for example Bee’s wraps for a year and have been very happy with them. Wraps smell really relaxing and now seem to be easier to find in Finland than a year ago. There is a lovely blog post + comments related to this theme on the blog Reading her Tea Leaves.

And then just a little evening craft project. These beauties are not yet in the season of course, but had to try and share this lovely idea of a candle holder from a book called The Art of Living with Nature by Willow Crossley.

Wishing you a lovely month of July! 


lauantai 10. kesäkuuta 2017

Crocheting accessories - small summer projects

A couple of small projects have been finished here during the last weeks. Here above a mobile pouch with diamonds for a goddaughter made with the teddy bear pattern. And also something a bit of fun, a new crocheted bracelet/cuff. I used the same pattern in these bracelets as in these makeup purses and added a touch of gold. A few details need to be solved though as you see below. The button in the other bracelet is in the middle of the triangle pattern, but when closed, it is just as it should be. I think I will change the button into press studs (or how they are called in English, a new word for me :-)) and then problem solved. 

Here you also see one of the reasons why I am so fond of tapestry crochet. You can always use one pattern for many different kind of projects.  

Happy with both of the pouch and bracelet. Hope you have/have had time for your creativity in June!


torstai 25. toukokuuta 2017

May projects so far

I guess I was 16-17 years old when I found a book about the life and art of Frida Kahlo in the local library. It was a small library in Eastern Finland with not too many books in the art section, but luckily I found that and also One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Somehow the magical realism and Latin America fascinated me, being a friend of words, metaphors and all things artsy and international back then as well. These books alongside many others where whispering of the worlds beyond to a young woman and feeding her curiosity and teaching new point of views.     

So when I saw this wonderful Frida-brooch pattern, made by @kedito, I had to try it. If you would like to hook one too, you can find the pattern on her Instagram feed. I used Schachenmayr Catania and Scheepjes Catona for these brooches and hook size 2,5. Made two for presents and one for myself to keep.

And here below a small bunny, an adjustment of my teddy bear pattern. This little fellow seems to be quite "low maintenance". Sleeps most of the time and comes with his own food supply and dental care ;-). Carrot pattern is a free pattern on the blog Croby Patterns. You can of course make many different animals with the teddy bear pattern, see for example this cute kitten @koukutettu has made.

And then I guess I just wish you a good night and sleep tight, all bunnies and bigger creatures,


sunnuntai 30. huhtikuuta 2017

Virkattuja seinäkoristeita timanteilla - Crocheted wall hangings with diamonds

Instagramin puolella meillä oli @minimyarnism:n kanssa puhetta, että nämä timantit soveltuisivat hyvin myös moderneihin seinävaatteisiin. Tässä muutama pieni kokeilu, kooltaan noin 12 cm x 14 cm. Muutaman pienen kokeilunhan olen tehnyt aiemminkin ja käytin silloinkin kirjovirkkausta yhdistettynä ryijyvirkkaukseen (loop stitch), mutta en vielä näihin timantteihin uskaltautunut yhdistämään. Näissä kummassakin projektissa olen pyöritellyt 4 kerää samalla kertaa, mutta näin pienessä projektissa ihan mukavaa vielä virkata ja tekee mieli jatkaa kuviokokeiluja paksummilla langoilla. Omaan silmään tässä ryijysilmukan tekstuurissa yhdistettynä kirjovirkkaukseen on jotain varsin mukavaa ja mielenkiintoista. Tämän ryijysilmukan tekemisenhän opin pari vuotta sitten Marrakeshin virkkausworkshopissa woodandwoodstool:n Ingridin johdolla .  

On Instagram @minimyarnism reminded me of the possibility to make wall hangings with diamonds. Here you see two first attempts in mini size, 12 cm x 14 cm. Here I have combined loop stitch/rya stitch and diamonds. A bit fiddly with 4 skeins of yarn at the same time :-), but manageable in such a tiny project. I think that there is something nice and interesting for the eye in this combination of tapestry crochet and loop stitches. Sunny colors in crochet also counterbalance the Finnish Spring weather :-) (this year Spring seems to want to wait extra long, yesterday was a snowstorm and everything, but Spring will luckily always come). These loop stitches also happily take me back to the sunny weather and cool crochet workshop in Marrakesh two years ago, learned to crochet them there.  

Mukavaa toukokuun alkua toivotellen  / Wishing you a lovely beginning of May!

Pirjo :-)

torstai 27. huhtikuuta 2017

Teddy bears with diamonds -pattern now available

Pattern for these crocheted teddy bears is now available in English on my Ravelry store and this time also on LoveCrochet. I am so thankful for all the pattern testers @koukutettu @homemadeatmyplace @crochetnaningans @mie.ite.blogi @giioyiio. Go and check out their beautiful projects and creations on Instagram! I am so humbled that these lovely ladies took the time to test the pattern and give feedback. And it warms my heart to think that there are these small critters around the world now, made with their own creative eye, and it has been so inspiring and educating for me to see.    

The pattern is easy to resize as you see. Here above I have used Schachenmayr Catania Grande and (if I remember correct) Sandnes Midi for the bigger bear. The original pattern was designed for yarns Sirdar Ella and Simply Recycled together (smaller bear above). Many yarns are suitable for these little bears, but when using Sirdar Ella the bear with its diamonds starts to shine in evening light and it adds some magic to the bear, I like to think. You can also easily make other animals instead of bears with the pattern. I am currently making a bunny and see the lovely cat on Instagram which @koukutettu has made with the pattern.


Näiden timanttisten nallejen ohje on nyt saatavilla Ravelry-kaupassani ja tällä kertaa myös sivustolla LoveCrochet, linkit yllä englannikielisessä tekstissä ja kannattaa myös käydä katsomassa ohjeen testaajien kauniita ja taidokkaita käsityöprojekteja Instagramissa! Ohje on tällä kertaa saatavilla ainoastaan englanniksi, mutta jos ohje kiinnostaa ja virkkauskieli englanniksi mietityttää niin autan toki erittäin mielelläni sähköpostitse. Ohjeessa on paljon kuvia mukana ja kirjovirkkaustekniikan olen selittänyt täällä timanttien virkkauksen perusohjeessa myös.

Nallen kokoa on helppo muokata. Yllä olen virkannut isomman nallen Schachenmayr Catania Grandella ja muistaakseni Sandnesin Midiä olen siihen yhdistänyt (sininen väri). Ohjeella voi myös helposti tehdä erilaisia eläimiä, itsellä on pupu tekeillä ja kannattaa käydä katsomassa Jaanan @koukutettu tekemä kissa Instagramissa. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend! / Mukavaa vappuviikonloppua toivotellen,


keskiviikko 29. maaliskuuta 2017

Work in progress - Työn alla

There is something wonderful in Japanese textiles, the simplicity and attention to detail. Inspired by them and Sashiko stitching I made this simple little pouch with left over linens and linen yarn combined to hemp yarn. This is also continuation of my "project" to find new ways to combine tapestry crochet with other materials and other crochet stitches - and also my project to create more meaning into each piece I make. For some reason this piece makes me want to jump out of joy (and I may have jumped a few times, better admit the truth ;-)). There is just something wonderful in linen and combining it with some hand stitching. Perhaps it is also the way decorative stitching shows where the hand has left its trace, or is it just my sometimes poetic soul that likes to explain the attraction that way ;-).  

Olen pitkään ihaillut japanilaisia tekstiilejä, yksinkertaista kauneutta niissä ja mietittyjä yksityiskohtia. Niistä inspiroituneena olen viimeistelemässä tällaista pientä pussukkaa, joka on tehty jämäpellavista ja pellavalangan ja hamppulangan yhdistelmästä. Pussukan kumpikin puoli on samanlainen. Tämä on myös jatkoa "projektille", jota parhaillaan työstän, eli yritän löytää uusia tapoja yhdistää kirjovirkkausta muihin materiaaleihin tai virkkaussilmukoihin - ja samalla haluan luoda lisää merkitystä sekä mietittyjä yksityiskohtia jokaiseen työhön, jonka teen. Jostain syystä tässä on omaan silmään jotain niin kaunista, että tekee mieli pomppia ilosta (ja voi olla, että olen muutaman kerran pomppinutkin, parempi olla vaan rehellinen ;-)). Ehkäpä se on tämä pellavan ja kirjonnan yhdistelmä ja tapa, miten kirjonta selkeästi näyttää käden jäljen, vai onko se vain oma välillä runollinen sieluni, joka haluaa selittää tämän tämän hetkisen ihastukseni siten ;-). Silmiin sattui sopivasti myös tämä aamuna teemaan hyvin liittyen tämä artikkeli kauneudesta Hidasta elämää -sivustolta.

Here is also the rug called Havu/Twig which I have shown on Instagram but not here on the blog, made with Kaupunkilanka t-shirt yarn. Last weekend the light was just so good that I took this shot of my work space - and I think the pattern on the rug looks really nice from this angle. I am now finally in the process of writing down this crochet pattern as soon as the teddy bear project below is ready for publishing.

Viikonloppuna valo oli myös niin hyvä, että nappasin kuvan omasta työtilastani ja eritoten tästä matosta nimeltä Havu, jonka viime syksynä näytinkin Instagramissa, mutta en täällä. Matto on virkattu Kaupunkilangan trikookuteesta. Kuvio oli ollut mielessä itämässä jo pidempään ja sitten onnekseni Prismassa kerran asioidessa sattui silmään tämä eläväpintainen koivunkaarnaa muistuttava kude ja tuntui, että nyt on kuvio löytänyt kuteensa ;-). Olen vihdoin myös tekemässä tästä matosta ohjetta toisen kuvion kanssa samaan ohjeeseen laitettavaksi, ja pääsen toivottavasti ohjeen viimeistelemään kun alla olevan nallen ohje on tarkistusten jälkeen valmis julkaistavaksi. 

Teddy bear family has also got a new member, needed to check the pattern and take photos for the instruction and here is the result. I also tested some other yarns than before - Sandnes Mandarin Petit (dark brown), Schachenmayr Catania (dark purple) and Rowan Purelife. Pattern for crocheting these creatures, called "Coco and Hugo", is now ready for in English for testing if someone is interested. I will put a post on Instagram about the pattern today in the evening so you can leave a comment there in case you are interested to give this project a try. 

Nalleperhe on myös ohjeen teon myötä saanut uuden jäsenen. Testasin tässä myös eri lankoja kuin aiemmissa, eli käytin tällä kertaa Sandnes Mandarin Petit -lankaa (tumman ruskea) ja Schachenmayrin Cataniaa sekä Rowanin Purelife -lankaa kirjovirkattuun kehoon. Ohje näiden virkkaamiseen on nyt valmis englanniksi ja kaipaa vain halukkaita testaajia, laitan tänään illalla tästä Instagramiin postauksen, ja sinnekin voi jättää kommenttia, jos ohje sattuisi kiinnostamaan. 

Have a great rest of the week! / Mukavaa viikon jatkoa toivotellen,