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


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!

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.

The Cult Of Done

Let’s start with some confession and self-deprecation: I’m bad at completing things I start.

With that out of the way, what I want to talk about is how to get more things done. This is going to be a chat, not a how-to tutorial. It’s a long post – bear with me.. or click away now.

I usually worry too much, look too closely at details and stop short of getting to the end. Overthink?

On one of the occasions in which I reflected on the possible causes, I came across a cool “manifesto” : The Cult of Done Manifesto. I paste it here below.


In time these words have motived me to “get on with it” instead of wandering endlessly around the edges. Sometimes less-than-perfect-done is better than not-done, not-finished, half-done. Ok, the mantra doesn’t always work, but it helps. It’s a nudge.

“Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done. There is no editing stage.”

“Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.”

“Failure counts as done. So do mistakes. Destruction is a variant of done.”

“Banish procrastination. Done is the engine of more.”

Today it was a rather dull and annoying day, drizzly and cold weather, average work day with various little annoyance episodes.

I stood up and started looking at some things around. I wanted some of them to change. I had just read Kate Davies’ blogpost on on-screen knits, then checked related links, saw some great knitting patterns, one such made me think of some UFO of mine. I fetched it and also took a look at the bunch of unfinished projects closely located.

I don’t do New-Year’s resolutions. I find them demotivating and plainly depressing. It feels like I’m setting myself up for failure by listing stuff. I have countless lists.

But today I’m annoyed enough to make a statement: get your unfinished projects done or get rid of them. You can hold me accountable. Feel free, no grudge.

I need a clean slate. No more thinking about them. Other things will follow. Perhaps some books will go. Or something. Finish, be done with it, move on, let it go.

Today I present the first project that I will complete.

It’s a vest that has long languished in various corners. I knitted it, making up the pattern as I went. Average pure wool, simple pattern, nothing impressive. I quite like its V neck.

It languished because I couldn’t decide whether to knit sleeves or make it a vest. Jumpers are usually more useful in my wardrobe. But what sleeves to knit? how to make up the pattern? Roadblock. Overthink.

These days of working-from-home have changed my viewpoint – extra layers are a nice thing to have and reduce the fuel consumption, preserving the environment and one’s pocket. So a vest is nice to have. I don’t need to make the sleeves. Forget about them.

Today’s the day a decision is made. Get that bloody thing done!

Ravelry kindly reminds me that I started it back in.. 2014. It’s the Holiday Vest because it was started while on holiday visiting family. Project notes here. I pledge to finish it.

First thing: try it on. It fits well over my own-vintage tartan shirt. Win #1.

The fit is good if a bit comfy, but goes well with said warm shirt. And sitting at home. Win #2

When done, it will be out of my mind, in my wardrobe rotation and in Ravelry Finished Projects. Win #3

So 3 wins with little work. Only ribbed sleeve borders are needed.

If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.

Don’t forget to hold me accountable.