Happy holidays!

Friday, December 24, 2010Johanna / 4 kommentarer

The kids went all in with the yule pimping this year. Hope you all have a great holiday! Or a God Jul as we say in Sweden!
Fabrics Shopping

A trip to the textile kingdom

Saturday, December 18, 2010Johanna / 7 kommentarer

Not far from where I live is an area that is called Tygriket (The textile empire). It used to be the center of the Swedish garment industry, but obviously there are hardly any factories left these days. Though many clothes and home dec companies are still situated in that area. And so are many fabric stores. The lure is primarily the prices, you can get some things for nearly half the price compared to the city. Also it's situated in beautiful rural part of Sweden so it's perfect for a nice day trip. This morning I took the kids along and went to visit a couple of the stores and then ending with the obligatory fika (a word that is hard to translate literally since it has several contexts) at quaint café nearby.

Stella ended up buying "jeggings" fabric to make sweatpants and I restocked some buttons. So we didn't buy a ton. Also the fabric stores were practically empty, clearly the Christmas shopping is happening somewhere else. But a nice trip it was. 
Life of Johanna

The list maker

Thursday, December 16, 2010Johanna / 7 kommentarer

Since I was in my early teens I've been a frequent list maker. When I started writing the lists they were mostly centered around hooking up with idols, like Morrissey and Michael Stipe (clearly my gaydar was malfunctioning!) and loosing weight (I was somewhat pudgy when I was younger). Then it moved on to be less about my personal life and more about what I wanted to achieve in the future.

And when I look back at those scribbles, I am often baffled by how many of these goals I've actually achieved. 13 years ago I wrote that I wanted to support myself through writing. Which is something I've done full time for the last 7 years, and considering how cut-throat, recession sensitive and fickle this trade is, it's quite an achievement in my humble opinion. In 1999, while on materinty leave, I wrote that I wanted to do a non-fiction book. Just one year later I co-authored an internet guide that was then published in several editions. And early this fall I listed 5 things that I wanted to achieve with my Etsy shop before the New Year (being on the front page twice, reaching 50 sold items, being in more than 50 treasuries, etc). And looking at this list now I can see that I've succeeded with 4 out of 5 things. It should be noted that I don't have very lofty goals (like living in a castle or becoming a movie star), I try to keep the lists somewhat realistic. Also, as an companion to those lists, I make to-do lists on how to achieve those goals. But I don't beat myself over if I can't tick off those lists. They are a tool, not a must.

Even though list making is a recurring part of my life, I don't really talk about it with those who are close to me. I guess I'm afraid that this trait might appear somewhat self indulgent, like I'm this rigid, obsessive go-getter (and my ex-husband did in fact have some issues with me being a list maker, maybe that's why I am even more sensitive about it now?). On the other hand I think that sometimes friends doesn't quite understand how hard I work on things and how much I map my career actions. What might seem easy and by chance is in fact the result of strategic laid out plans (though just writing a word like "strategic" makes me cringe, maybe it's a Swedish mentality thing?).

Also as I mentioned above I hardly ever do lists about my personal life anymore. Partly because I'm pretty happy about my life as a whole and those things that are troublesome are usually beyond my control or at least beyond the scope of a list. And partly because I think lists about personal improvement kind of fly in the face of self-acceptance. In fact I think that a constant striving to become a better person is a sure fire way to feel more displeased about one self. So I won't write down any New Year's resolutions, but I wouldn't be surprised that when 2012 rolls around, I've filled at least one more note book with messily scribbled lists.
Life of Johanna

A video clip of my judge performance

Monday, December 13, 2010Johanna / 4 kommentarer

For those who want to see exactly how height impaired I am compared to most Swedes and also hear my voice around 1.45 min in (yuck!). I had to be the judge MC during the night  because no one else wanted to. I don't have stage fright, but am not entirely relaxed either.
Life of Johanna outfit

New kitchen, jury duty etc

Sunday, December 12, 2010Johanna / 2 kommentarer

This is how I looked like last night when I was one of the judges in a rock music competition that was held in the town where I work. It's a fairly prestigious competition, and very non-Idol like.
Music is my number one love and this was a super fun experience, and not entirely easy, we did have some disagreements, but in the end we came to very solid conclusion. 

And this is also a glimpse on how our new swanky kitchen looks like. It's not quite finished yet - I will show more photos once it's done. The star in the window is an ubiquitous Swedish Christmas decoration that comes in many materials and designs. This one is made of paper and we have one in birch bark too. 

Also some answers to the comments on my Topshop post

About the weather
When the photos was taken the temperature was okay, just a few notches below zero degrees Celsius.  However it has been incredibly cold and snowy for the season this year, I live in the south of Sweden and we usually only have snow a couple of weeks in January or February. I heard on the news that we on the east side of the Atlantic got all the cold air this year (and last year) so in North America presumably the weather is warmer than normal?

About the photo
It was taken by my very talented work mate and fellow journalist Sandra, she has taken photos for this blog twice now, so I call her my resident blog photographer :) Unfortunately she is only temping and after January I will have to find a substitute. 

About pilling
Marie-Christine left some great advice in the comment section about pilling, do check it out!

Magazine madness

Magazines on Ipad

Saturday, December 11, 2010Johanna / 5 kommentarer

Last week I was gifted the most incredibly generous present from my boyfriend - an Ipad. It still feels a bit unreal that I own such a coveted item of technology, I am a cheapskate myself when it comes to gadgets, I never buy anything fancy and only upgrade if the one I have is broken - even my sewing machine is a used one from the early 90's. My boyfriend thought that the Ipad was something I would never buy for myself, but that I would likely enjoy very much, and he was absolutely right. While there are areas that could be improved (I will never like Apple's monopoly thinge that requires that all files must go through Itunes, which makes things like transferring a movie a big hassle)  - all in all, this is a pretty excellent gadget.

Since I've been so busy with orders I have not allowed myself to spend heaps of time with the Ipad yet - I could easily procrastinate my days away with it. It's incredibly nifty and makes two of my favorite pastimes, surfing the web and watching tv-shows in bed, even more enjoyable.

However what I was mostly intrigued by is how well it could substitute another favorite past time; reading print magazines. I have dabbled with digital editions of magazines before, but on a computer it just doesn't feel as nice and cosy as when you are curled up in the sofa or sitting at a cafe browsing a printed publication.

So far I have downloaded Elle US, Vogue UK, Nylon, Vanity fair and Interview (only the big name magazines seems to have Ipad apps) and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. Especially with the Elle US edition. It is really easy to navigate and has some very clever functions that integrates the touch pad function and adds to the reader experience. Also depending if you hold it vertically or horizontally the layout will change. Vertical means reading one page at the time with some added interactivity and horizontally you see regular spreads that you browse by rolling the finger over the screen. The resolution is very crisp and it's easy to zoom in and out and reaching the content page. The experience is not quite as cosy as with a print version and I find myself browsing through the pages a bit faster, but that could be an adjustment thing. Also some of the functions can be a bit confusing at first, but I think once you get comfortable with each magazines navigation tool it will be pretty easy. You download the magazine app from the app store (just search for the magazine name) and then pay a fee for each issue (the Elle issue was free though). Another thing that I really appreciate is that there are usually back issues offered (not a heap though since most magazines got Ipad friendly this fall). So all in all this is the first time I've enjoyed reading magazines digitally, which makes the Ipad format a very promising medium for the future in my opinion.
Fashion Shopping

Topshop jacket

Thursday, December 09, 2010Johanna / 8 kommentarer

I did such an impulse buy last week - buying a Topshop jacket after deliberating for about 5 minutes. My home sewn winter jacket has a fabric that pills like crazy (I suspect it's because the wool is very loosely woven) and despite several sessions with my electric pilling shaver the jacket keeps churning out huge balls of wool on a daily basis, so I was like "I can't take this any more".

I hardly ever prowl the high street stores but after a wonderfully fun sushi and photography date with a friend, I accompanied her to a mall to check out Zara's take on herringbone wool pants, that seems be all the rage this fall. The pants ended up being not quite right for her and then I suggested that we visit Topshop where I found this swing jacket and just fell head over heels in love. It reminds me of a Swedish classic - a grey wool surplus jacket from the Swedish army that has almost an iconic status. Plus with the naval theme going on it pretty much sealed the deal. The wool fabric is a bit thin though so it won't work on really cold days, especially since the narrow sleeves doesn't allow room for big sweaters underneath.
Life of Johanna Screen printing

Ramblings and screen printing failures

Wednesday, December 08, 2010Johanna / 6 kommentarer
A bit quiet here for the last few weeks. Sometimes time seems to pass so very fast. Partly my blog silence is due to a big flux of Etsy orders which has kept me really busy and partly because I have not felt particularly up lately due to some circumstances. And being somewhat down pretty much kills my inspiration unfortunately.

Well, this too shall pass I hope, and I do have several things that I have planned to blog about. Like my screen printing disaster weekend - to keep with the theme of doom and gloom!

One thing I really hate is when I make some progress and then suddenly seem to take a step backwards. That was roughly what happened when I took a two day screen printing class a couple a weeks ago. After semi successfully printing at home with makeshift equipment I expected to do really well in a more pro environment. However everything just kept going wrong for me, I did several beginner mistakes, like not taping the holes in the screen which ended up staining the fabrics. I also picked a red colour that kept bleeding and worse I didn't trust my instincts on some parts of the process. On a good day I can think of this experience as "one step back, two step forward" kind of process. But with some other straining things going on in my life I just left the class feeling very disheartened.

What I can show you is some photos on how the screen printing with photo emulsion works.

 First you print or photocopy the design on transparent film.

Next step is to burn the frame. Which basically means that you apply the print to a frame that is covered with green photo emulsion. You use lights for this process and after a few minutes you rinse the frame in water which makes the areas with the print dissolve, hence creating a stencil. 

Then you place the frame on the fabric and use a kind of spatula to apply the colour.

I thought I had this brilliant idea to make the leaf print in black and red, but every run I did ended up with some really bad looking leaves and colour stains.

This is how I wished that everything would look like. I think there is some potential, but I wonder if I have the patience to try again.