Today my pupil and I were hard at work making a plasticine town. We’re not finished yet, but have got the basic infrastructure sorted: hospital, roads, bakery, grandma’s house, slide, sandpit, golden bread statue, roundabout, hotel, fountain and squirrels.









my personal supply to take back to London


Thanks to some new friends I am becoming properly educated in Ukrainian culture. Meet Чебура́шка (Cheburashka), an unknown species of cute furry creature who turns up in a box of oranges and his friend Крокодил Гена (Krokodil Gena), a bow-tie-wearing, accordian-playing reptile.

Here’s the first episode: Gena the Crocodile, made in 1969 by Roman Kachanov.

Christmas come early

As I forgot to mention earlier, I’m now back in Ukraine teaching for a couple of weeks. My pupil’s mum is a fantastic cook and on my last visit she very kindly promised a masterclass in Ukrainian cuisine. True to her word, vareniki (a type of dumpling), borscht (beetroot soup) and uzvar (a dried fruit drink) have all been on the menu, and for purely selfish reasons I’ve incorporated recipe writing into our lesson plan.

So here’s how to make uzvar – an aromatic drink which is traditionally served hot on Christmas Eve but is also delicious cold in the heat of summer. I plan to make it at home with the gift of sun-dried fruit I was enormously happy to be presented with; this mixture is probably hard, if not impossible, to get hold of in England, but Russian and Ukrainian delis would be the best bet. As I write this in my hotel room, a powerful fruity smokey bonfire aroma is embedding itself in the curtains and wallpaper, not to mention my hair and clothes. Yum.


UZVAR (amended recipe)


  •  300g mixture of sun-dried fruit: pears, green and red apples, hawthorn berries, rosehips, cranberries, prunes.
  • water
  • honey

Add the dried fruit to a large pan of boiling water. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 5 to 6 hours 15 minutes, then leave, covered, for 5 to 6 hours. Strain the liquid into a jug, add honey to taste and serve hot or cold.

I have a strong suspicion the leftover fruit will make incredible pie filling or fruit salad.


Last week a new textile exhibition called Softer opened at the Mill. A follow-up to last year’s Soft show, Softer  showcases the variety of textile talent in E17 and includes a crocheted reindeer head, an applique wall-hanging, a patchwork piece and a book of children’s stitches, to name a few. Oh, and our knitting group’s piece, Softer Light is proudly on display in the window!

Take a look at the Mill’s website for more info, or, better still, come and see the show in the flesh fabric.softeropening1 softeropening4softeropening5softeropening2softeropening3 softeropening6 softeropening7

At the Cluny museum

Paris, day 2. Conversation over a breakfast of bread, jam, croissants, tea and espressos centers on visiting the Cluny Museum and especially seeing the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. On arrival, we discover that the tapestries are currently on tour in Japan while their room gets a make-over.


As it happenened, this omittance turned out to be not such a bad thing; instead of sitting and staring in awe at the said tapestries before lunch cravings power us round the rest of the museum at high speed, we wander at a leisurely pace prudently admiring all the exhibits.

As you can see from my photos, my camera has a particular liking for uncanny/ headless statues, unconventional representations of Jesus (pulling his step-dad’s beard and riding a donkey on a skateboard) and tapestries depicting unusual gestures of love.





Fragment de “nappe de Pérouse”: licornes / Fragment of a tablecloth “from Perugia”: unicorns
Italy (Pérouse?), 15th century
Linen and cotton dyed with indigo


Retable / Altarpiece depicting the Visitation
Ile-de-France, 2nd part of the 14th century



Groupe sculpté: la Sainte Famille / The Holy Family
Alsace(?), c. 1500. Wood, polychrome


St Margaret
Master of Pacully (?), End of the 15th century



The Virgin Mary and St John from a group of the descent from the cross.
Tuscany, 1220-1230, Wood, polychrome.



The animals disdaining to eat St Stephen.
Brussels, c. 1500. Wool and silk tapestry.


Church pews
Eastern France(?), 15th century (modern assembly), wood.


Fox preaching to chickens



Christ des Rameaux / Palm Sunday Statue of Christ
Southern Germany, last quarter of the 15th century. Wood, polychrome


Le Retour de la Chasse / Return from the Hunt
Southern Netherlands, c. 1500-20. Wool and silk tapestry.

Dad and Harrietparis11Finally, here’s a picture of my Dad and sister, who made the beautiful dress she’s wearing – and when I say made I mean she made a lino cut, printed the fabric and sewed it together largely by hand. I hope it survives to be admired in a hundred, five hundred, a thousand years time.. but just in case it doesn’t, I’ve got it on camera.

Thursday’s Paradigm Knit

Sion relic purse

Here’s a page from Reverend Rutt’s A History of Knitting, a book mentioned previously in this post. Along with information on a fourteenth-century knitted purse found in a Swiss cathedral, Rutt has helpfully included a pattern of the purse’s design, so I tried it out in Rowan fine tweed. HoKtweed1tweed3tweed2

Kenoujak Ashevak (and me) in Paris

On Tuesday I got back from a short family trip to Paris. We revisited old favorites (Cluny Museum, crème brûlée) and savoured some new (chocolate soup, Rodin Museum). I’ll share those later, but first, a highlight:

Fantastic Kenojuak Ashevak at the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris.

This exhibition showcased 40 works by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013), an artist from Ikirasaq, near Baffin Island in the Northwest territories of Canada. Ashevak transferred her skills in traditional inuit textile designs to drawing and printmaking and became one of the first artists from the area to attract international attention.

Her images often depict birds and animals, sometimes alone, sometimes in symmetrical groupings. Some are drawn cleanly and straightforwardly, others are surrounded by blobby protrusions, as if appearing from the patterns of ice floes, like images discovered in cloud formations.

Fantastic Kenojuak Ashevak is on show at the Canadian Cultural Centre, 5 rue de constantine, Paris 7ème until 6th September 2013.

Ashevak was also the subject of this short film Eskimo Artist: Kenojuak made in 1963 by John Feeney, available to see for free on the National Film Board of Canada website.