Just a quick post to point you in the direction of Surrender to Chance, a perfume samples shop which I discovered recently. It stocks CB I Hate Perfume which I was keen to try and which is hard to get here so I ordered one or two things which were despatched very promptly and arrived about a week later. Black March appealed on paper as it's described as "a fresh clean scent composed of Rain Drops, Leaf Buds, Wet Twigs, Tree Sap, Bark, Mossy Earth and the faintest hint of Spring", and I'd say that's exactly what it is. I understand that Christopher Brosius (the eponymous CB) used to be the nose behind Demeter, and I have a bottle of their famous Dirt; Black March is very much along those lines but more subtle and more authentic - for lovers of rain and wet earth, like me, it's quite delectable.
Karie Westermann (designer of the Vedbaek shawl*, among many other lovely things) has just this morning launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a most interesting-sounding project. This Thing of Paper is, in summary, "a knitting book with ten patterns and accompanying essays – all inspired by the age of Johan Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press."
A few years ago many of us were fascinated by the BBC documentary series Perfume. It's no longer available on iPlayer, but I've just discovered it on Youtube, so for anyone who wants to see it again, or for those who couldn't watch due to geographical restrictions, you can find it there.
Following the series I read and loved The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena, the "philosopher-nose" who is featured in programme 2 (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4); there's an introductory post on the book here and a short extract from it here. In the documentary, M. Ellena is described as "making fragrance inspired by fantasy", and I am currently much taken with one of his "olfactory masterpieces" for Frederic Malle, L'Eau d'Hiver. Luca Turin classifies it, in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, as "pale almonds", and begins its entry thus:
"One of the dangers of the new French school of perfumery typified by Jean-Claude Ellena is the lure of bloodless overrefinement, what I would describe as Ravel's* disease: wonderfully crafted, elegantly orchestrated pieces drenched in pale sunlight." He goes on to talk about Ellena's treatment of the fragrance's mimosa note of heliotropin and says, "the result is stunning: an elegiac, powdery, almonds-and-water accord that takes its place [...] among the fragrance Ophelias of this world."
To me it seems understated and effortlessly, seamlessly beautiful, simultaneously warm and cool, serene.
If you want an in-depth look at the chemistry and neuroscience of olfaction and the art and culture of perfume, how about this Secret of Scent course with Luca Turin and Bois de Jasmin's Victoria Frolova? Sounds wonderful.
And one more thing, The Perfume Society has a 'Fragrance Editor', an online search device which helps you find scents based on your perfume preferences. I've no idea how accurate it is, but testing it could be fun.
In Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum on Saturday I saw a display of ceramics (owned by Friends and staff of the museum, and of sentimental value to them) repaired using the kintsugi technique during a residency by visiting artist-craftsmen Muneaki Shimode and Takahiko Sato from Kyoto.
Unlike western methods of ceramic mending which aim to be as invisible as possible, kintsugi uses lacquer and gold powder to highlight joins and chips and to make things whole again while 'celebrating', in a way, their inherent fragility and imperfections.
Each piece was accompanied by a very personal caption - as you see above.
Having recently discovered Illyria Pottery via Instagram, I made a point of visiting the physical shop when I was in Oxford at the weekend and I'm so glad I did.
Katie has lots of lovely things for sale, but having to allow for the constraints of flying home, I contented myself with buying just three small ones:
an Oxford Blue-speckled mug that feels just right in the hand, a tiny jug for pouring cream on porridge, say, and a soap dish for our favourite pine tar soap (we'd already stocked up in Objects of Use). The Christmas star was free - a generous gesture to customers on Small Business Saturday.
If you can't get to Illyria in person, you can always shop online, but if you are in the area do stop by - the welcome is warm, and the wares very tempting.
"Do you have any tendencies when it comes to selecting fabrics? Are there any colours you find yourself buying all the time, even though your stash is overflowing with them? Do you gravitate to striped fabrics, or tiny checks, or florals? Do you seem to always have more solids than prints in your stash?
It's very helpful to know what your preferences are, so you can do a little 'corrective shopping' once in a while. Since my tendency is to load up on bright, saturated colours and prints, every few months I go on a fabric-shopping trip where I only allow myself to buy subtle prints and neutrals. That way, my stash stays more balanced, and I can build more effective palettes for my EPP projects."
That's Diane Gilleland writing in All Points Patchwork - English Paper Piecing Beyond the Hexagon for Quilts and Small Projects, but the 'corrective shopping' idea could equally well be applied to wool-buying: creative justification for a few acquisitions, don't you think?
As a supplement to this post and this one, here's another source of wool for you, and 'source' is the right word because this 100% Poll Dorset DK comes from the Isle Yarns family flocks on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset.
The picture here captures the colour pretty well for it is the most lovely moss green (though I have my eye on the lavender and grey too); the wool is destined to be a hat for Mr. C.
Following on from yesterday's post, I drew 'painting' from the Advent hat today so I spent 20 minutes with my watercolours* - something I would not have done otherwise - and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Advent calendars containing chocolate seem commonplace these days compared to the exotic versions going around. You can get ones which hold beauty products from Liberty, tea from Harrods, candles from Diptyque, colognes and creams from Jo Malone, and even ... wool!
I know lots of knitters are making sock yarn blankets and similar and are going to use their advent mini skeins - whether from a calendar or other purposely acquired set - to knit a square a day from now until the 24th. The idea of it - a small, different, daily act of making - appealed to me, but I thought I'd approach it in a slightly different way. I haven't bought anything new, instead I've nominated a range of projects, some neglected, some long-term, some yet to be begun; each day I'll draw one at random*, and work on it for a short while. This could be 20 minutes on some embroidery or needlepoint (canvases-in-progress, but ones which tend not to see the light of day for long periods), a little bit of sewing, a Granny square, or something that's not textile-related at all.
Where the crochet is concerned, I have several Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails which I bought for the purpose a few months ago, so they will feature on six or seven days, but as I've assigned each colour a number they will be used when that number comes up. Today's was Mandala (as you see above), and the square has been finished, washed and blocked.
I'm keen to see not only which project is drawn from the hat each day, but what I'll manage to accomplish in terms of diversification in my 24 'creative breaks' by the time Christmas arrives. It should be fun.
*I've put corresponding pieces of paper into a hat.