Rubens’ landscapes exhibition and The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection museum in London, in cooperation with The National Gallery, organised a temporary exhibition with two Rubens’ landscape paintings from his mature period: Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes(Wallace Collection’s webpage on the exhibition).

For the first time in over two centuries, this exhibition reunited The Rainbow Landscape and A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning. Both companion paintings depict the slightly idealised landscape around Het Steen, Ruben’s countryside manor, where he retired in his later years with his young family.

A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning
The Rainbow Landscape

The countryside depicted is rich and warm, projecting an impression of abundance and happiness. I believe this was a reflection of his inner happiness, in a time where he was free to paint for his own enjoyment rather than for commission, living the good life together with his young wife and newly-born children. On the contrary, his homeland itself was going through a period of conflict and war.

The Wallace Collection is a national museum which displays the art collections brought together by the first four marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the likely illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess. These outstanding collections were bequeathed to the British nation by Lady Wallace, Sir Richard’s widow, in 1897. The museum hosts 18th century French art, many important 17th and 19th century paintings, medieval and Renaissance works of art and one of the finest collections of princely arms and armour in Britain.

We booked the entrance for the opening time and walked from home to the museum, then leisurely visited the rooms, including a nice break at their cafeteria where I enjoyed an exquisite green tea.

We started with Rubens’ exhibition, which was closing today, and then proceeded to the rooms hosting the permanent collections.

There is a lot to see, with many masterpieces and collections of various interests, as well as the house itself with many of its original interiors. We enjoyed it very much and will visit again to learn more about the artefacts.

If you happen to be in London, I warmly recommend a visit to The Wallace Collection, and a break at their cafeteria to enjoy some good food or a drink.

(disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post)

Frantisek Vizner’s whirlpool vases

Some time ago I acquired two vintage paintings depicting studies of blue vases.

Blue vase studies

The varied shades of blue, teal, green and browns in the pictures were attractive, and so were the blue shell in one and the blue swirly glass in the other. Their different shapes and perspectives were intriguing.

I had no background history about the artwork and online there were sparse details about the artist. Nevertheless, I thought they would look great in modern or contemporary interiors.

Some months passed and I posted them on Facebook. One evening a collector of art glass vases kindly offered a lead to the objects depicted in the painting shown on the right. They were the sought-after “whirlpool” vases, the work of famous Czech artist Frantisek Vizner, from around 1968.

It’s likely that the other painting also portraits a well known piece. I’d be grateful for any information or thoughts you could share.

František Vízner and the whirlpool vase

Vizner trained at famous glassmaking schools and subsequently graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. He then went on to work as glass designer for the Czechoslovak glass industry, until 1975, when he made his own steps as independent artist. Vizner’s studio glass works are represented in museums such as the Museum of Applied Art and Craft in Prague, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, among others.

Czechoslovakia has had a long tradition of creating glass artefacts and hosted some of European major centres of glass works.

Below are some examples of the “whirlpool” design (source: Pinterest).

These paintings are now available in my Etsy shop, or can be acquired directly.

Whirlpool vase study by Don Micklethwaite

My collection of art from 18th, 19th and 20th century is ever growing. I’m sharing some of it, to find new appreciative homes for the artworks.

I have more exciting pieces of fine art, of which I’m still researching the background history, including a painting of a famous Swiss artist and a mystery set of WWI portraits.

Should you have knowledge of WWI uniforms, please do get in touch.

Warm greetings, until next time

Done

After a long radio silence, today I’ll share a few knitting projects that I completed.

I would also like to talk about art that I bought, but that’ll be for another time.

In my last posts I talked about getting things done, so this one is a follow up.

Nurmilintu (Little Bird Lullaby) shawl

After a long debating, the shawl was completed with the border as per pattern. The funny thing when I got down to work I discovered that all it needed was the last lace rows and bind off. So all the mulling over what yarn to use in case I ran out was for nothing! In fact, there is some left over. There you go…

I don’t have a blocking board to stretch the shawl so it’s not blocked. In my usual freestyle, it went straight to wearing when I needed something lightweight to add some warmth recently. I’m wearing it today too, and here are some crappy photos to prove it:

If you’re very impressed by my shawl (yawn), you can find the project notes here….

Leg warmers (Flashdance?)

Working from home in winter required added layers to keep warm, and this pair of 1980s style leg warmers were the result.

Made from stash yarn of pure wool tweed with a funky wool/mohair/nylon mix yarn. Flashdance leg warmers project notes.

Rib cashmere scarf

This one is another of those projects that had been in the making forever.

Made from vintage stash yarn (I purchased the yarn in another life, when I was still living in Italy), some pure cashmere that was reduced to clear. The yarn has been through a few reincarnations, until it became this scarf.

The scarf is deliciously light and warm, a delight to wear! As a bonus, it perfectly pairs with my brown tartan coat. Life is wonderful!

I created a project in ravelry but am not sharing as there’s really not much there yet. Let me see if I can unearth some image of it. (don’t hold your breath) I had none – so I just snapped a few..

Let There Be Peace (In Stillness) jumper

The sweater has finally come back from the limbo and the first sleeve has seen some progress. To be honest, it mostly stalled as I needed to order DPNS in the right size, then life got in the way, as it happens.

I’m now working through the decreases and am half way down the section. Enjoy some awful night pictures:

On a totally unrelated note, we bought a beautiful vintage wardrobe!

Time to go out for a walk… talk soon!

Impasse

I found myself at a stalling point as I’ve been overthinking how to knit the lace border for my Nurmilintu (Little Bird Lullaby) shawl. Finally I have a plan.

Nurmilintu (Little Bird Lullaby) shawl

In the grand scheme of things, the way I finish a shawl is of infinitesimal importance, so I decided to just get on and finish it, one way or another (remember, “the cult of done”). I allow myself one more week to get this done, which should be more than enough. Not sure whether I’ll block it or when, as I don’t have a suitably large mat for it.

The original yarn, the fabulous Dragonfly shade of Dazzle by The Natural Dye Studio, is surely not enough to complete the three repeats in the lace section and that wool is sadly no longer produced. Shame because:

“Dazzle is an unbelievably soft wool, with an amazing sheen and really is “the Best of British”! This gorgeous yarn comes from pedigree British Blue faced Leicester sheep which is spun and then dyed by us here in the UK.”

One option would have been to use another yarn in three similar shades, but they are quite less intense and the texture is more sheepy, so they might not work well together. You can see the details in this post. What do you think?

Another option was to knit a different border.

Finally, I decided to call it a day: proceed with the original border, using the original yarn by making only one repeat in the section. Hopefully I will just have enough and I’ve not just put myself into more trouble! Living dangerously.

So finished object #2 is going to be the Nurmilintu shawl. Hold me accountable.

Leg warmers

On the background I’ve been working on a pair of leg warmers, perfect for the cold season and working from home: more layering, warmer, less heating used. I’m currently using some leg warmers I knit ages ago, but it’ll be nice to have another pair.

I just realised I never blogged them when finished.. these are the old ones:

and these are the new in-the-making ones:

While ago I made knee warmers for my elder father in alpaca yarn. The yarn is really warm, soft and nice, but it has very little “memory” (it will not bounce back as alpaca has little elastic properties), ending up not staying properly in place. I just had the idea to repurpose them as leg warmers too!

It’s nice to have woolly, own-made accessories to keep warm – a relatively green option to reduce heating costs.

“relatively green” because it depends on the materials used (natural wool vs synthetic yarn), their sourcing (local vs produced across the globe with huge mileage footprint) and producing techniques (more or less environmentally friendly).

I often buy vintage wool yarn (you can find plenty of unused vintage yarn on sale), so the yarn is from already used resources rather than using up new resources. Or vintage fabrics. Do you use vintage or upcycled supplies? What projects you made with them?

Today’s the day

Finished object #1

One down, let me present the next in line – you might remember from old posts: Little Bird Lullaby (the pattern is Nurmilintu by Heidi Alander). 

I want it done before this month moves on. It only misses the border, which is where I stalled because I wanted to make a different one from the pattern.

I’m not into lacy, pointy edges and found some more-me alternatives in one of the many knitting books in my library: The Complete Book of Knitting by Barbara Abbey. I want a knitted border, not too frilly but with a nice motif, perhaps something like a leaf or so (I love plants), that can be knitted on without sewing and follows the skewed shape of the shawl. Easy, she said.