Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday is my day: Helmitarha

Hello and happy July to everyone! Today we will spend a day in the company of Jana in Finland. She creates very striking and unique jewelry from beads, stone and leather - go take a look at her shop for more of her beautiful work!

With this post it's time for me to say goodbye and thank you to all readers, commenters and especially the artists who have shared their day while I've been taking care of this blog. A big thank you also to Heli for giving me the opportunity to work behind the scenes here. :) Thank you all!

The blog will go on a little summer break now, but will be back in August when Heli is back at the helm. Have a very good summer, everyone!

- Maria/Morrgan

Hello! My name is Jana and I’m the artist behind Helmitarha. I live in Kotka – beautiful city by the Baltic Sea. I live with my husband and our precious little squirrel-dog Liisa.

This is one day from my life.

I get up. I need to be at the office before 8:00 and I still need to get myself ready and drive 20 km to the city.

Check the weather – nice! Warm, but a bit cloudy.

Then I get a judgmental look from our dog for getting up so early. She’s always the last one out of the bed.

Then I get myself ready and go to the living room/kitchen. While the coffee is getting ready, I have a whole bunch of hungry fishes to feed.

Then I have a short moment to check my e-mails, blog comments and my Etsy store.

Coffee is ready and it’s time to sit on the porch and enjoy the weather. :) In summer we try to have most of our meals outside.

Hmmm... Looks like grass needs some trimming.

7:30 It’s tme to leave for work.

During the day I work in a small propery management company, but I’m always waiting for that special moment, when I come home and open the door to my workroom.

18:30 Here it is – one of the greatest moments of the day. I’m home and I can go to my tiny nook and dig into all of my treasures.

This is my temporary workroom. We moved to a new house just a couple of month ago and I still have a lot of things packed in the boxes. This room can fit only my table and couple of drawer units, but I’m planning to move to a larger room once we finish the reno.
Here is the other corner of the room. You can see my antique typerwiters right by the big pile of boxes that I still need to unpack.

Today I want to start a new project. I still don’t know, what it is going to be, that’s why I look for the inspiration around me...

stone beads...

seed beads...

My cabochon folder...

and bookshelf...
Then I decide to open the jewelry box and look at some of my favorite pieces.

Very often I like to ty new things – fresh design and unusual color combinations. That’s why most of my jewelry is one-of-a-kind.

22:00 Oh, I discovered 3 new sales in my Etsy store. Yay!

I sit down at my table, get my portable packing station and start packing the sales.
I enjoy the packing process, as I always imagine the face of the person that will be unwrapping it – untying the ribbon, reading the hand-written note and then discovering the jewelry piece that they are going to enjoy for many years to come.

23:30 It’s been a long day. My hubby pours me a glass of wine and we sit in the living room and talk about the day. Then I take a book in one hand and dog in the other, and we all head towards the bedroom.

Thank you for spending this day with me! I enjoyed your company! Have a good night! ;)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday is my day: Weird&Twisted

This week brings a treat for us yarn enthusiasts - we'll spend a day with Weird&Twisted, a spinning duo in Germany. Their Etsy shop with the same name ( has more of their wonderful, imaginative yarns, so be sure to take a look there too!

Hi World, we’re Weird&Twisted, a team of two German spinners. It’s been quite a challenge to document our day since we usually don’t work together. We decided to take turns in describing our day, and to split photos, so that’s that taken care of :-) To clarify who is who and to make the whole thing more fun we’ll write in two colours: Weird is green, Twisted is red. In the split photos, you’ll find Weird on the left side, and Twisted on the right.

I usually try to get up at 7, if I didn’t work too late the night before. My husband or I make coffee, take turns in the shower and then he’s off to work. I work at home, so I usually take my coffee and cereal to the computer and start my day checking the shop for orders.

I get up when breakfast is ready. :-) I’m in the extraordinary position of having a husband who gets up before me. (Well, that’s true for working days, because I’m the one who’s got to do breakfast on saturdays and sundays.) We have breakfast, then my beloved husband leaves for work. I stay where I am - I’m self employed and work from home, both a curse and a blessing.

After breakfast I start packaging yarns a customer ordered yesterday. It was Twisted who started designing each envelope individually, Weird&Twisted style - now we always do this.

We used to send along small chocolates and pretty invoices with a personal note of thanks, but due to customs reasons that’s no longer possible. Now we only send the yarn(s), each with a banderole specifying the important information, and business cards. When someone buys many yarns at once, or keeps returning often, we sometimes send along a small thank you - such as some of our handmade stitch markers or even a small skein of yarn.

My general goal is to spin four or five yarns per week, and list as many. In preparation I usually card batts, which means I blend fibre on a drum carder. I often card all the batts for one week in one day, if I can fit that into my schedule, but today I only card one batt. I choose softest merino wool of bright greens, fine merino wool of light pink, and white bamboo flakes.

Well, as I said, I work from home. I switched to a standing desk because it’s way more healthy for my back. If I work on a desk all day, not even yoga can soothe the ache and relax the muscles, so my standing desk is where I’m happy. :)

I’m a Social Media Consultant and Coach, and I have to do lots of different things. On this day, I wrote a proposal and a new blog article. If you want to know more about what I’m doing, feel free to check out my (German) Social Media Blog!

I try to get as much done before noon, before my brain is all up and awake and wants me to do aaaaall kinds of stuff but work.

When I’m done carding, I set the batt (that’s the piece of mixed fibres I take off the drum carder) aside for later, and now it’s time for a different kind of work. I currently balance three jobs: the Etsy shop and all that’s involved, a part time job for a market research institute, and (the most important one) writing my thesis. I’ll work on the thesis later, now I have to test some software for the market reasearch institute.

After a few hours of testing, I can finally prepare for spinning! I document the ingredients on file cards, split up the batt into managable pieces, string the beads onto golden thread, fix it to the bobbin, and start spinning.

I have a light lunch, and on most days (as on this one) some rice wafers with chocolate which I’m particularly fond of. Well... and then I start working again. Did I say it’s a blessing AND a curse!?

Every so often, I stop to spin in a flower. This is a little tricky and takes some time and patience, but as with everything, it gets easier with practice :-)

While having some bread and cheese for lunch, I edit some of the photos I took last week. I usually use a photo tent, and I don’t want to set everything up for just one or two yarns, so I have established Friday as my photo day. That way, I can take pictures of all the yarns I spun during one week.

After lunch, I finish the yarn. I wind it off the bobbin using a so called niddy noddy, and then I weigh and measure it. It also needs to be washed to set the twist. It will be ready for photo shooting and shipping after a few days, when it’s completely dry.

Sometimes, we both have coffee together. We get some cake or bake waffles and have a break.

This cake was really yummy!

After our break, I make a detour to the local supermarket and buy groceries, and when I get home I work on my thesis. I study Prehistoric Archaeology, Archaeology of Ancient Near East, and Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg. My thesis is about identity and material culture in prehistory (exact time period to be defined), which is an absolutely intriguing subject.

On I’d say two days a week, I spin. So after my coffee break is over, I grab some fiber, like this wonderful batt I prepared some weeks before. As the drum carder is at Weird’s place, I tend to card a whole bunch of batts at once and stash them at home.

And then I start spinning! Yay!

I seldom finish a yarn in one day. I like to take my time, and I tend to spin a bit finer yarns that can’t be rushed. So the yarn sits on the bobbin and waits for me to finish it another day. :)

I hoped to have enough time for listing a yarn and writing a blog post, but I’m still buried in my books, and looking at the clock I think I will have to postpone anything else until tomorrow.

When I’m really, really good, I have some more time to take pictures. I carry my Ikea “Lack” table over to the window and do the drill: One picture of the whole yarn, one picture of the skein, one where you can see the yarn’s structure, one close up - and one for fun. :) I like taking yarn pics, so if anyone sees a job opening for a full time yarn fotographer, call me! (Just kidding, I like my job. :D )

Sometimes I finish the day with more work. Well, I’m self-employed, so that’s not a bad thing! ;) At about 7 pm, my husband returns from work and we spend the evening together cooking, enjoying the meal and having a good time.

I decide to keep working on the thesis until my husband gets home. Then we’ll cook dinner and enjoy it in front of the TV, watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica. We have already watched the whole series, but it’s been a while and we wanted to start again, wondering what it’s like to watch the beginning when we already know what will happen in the end. Afterwards, we might play a board game, or Lego Batman on the PS3, or he’ll play some PS3 game and I might get the chance to list a yarn, or write that blog post. When we go to bed, my husband often reads to me - what better way to finish the day? :-)