30 April 2010

New issue uploaded!

...Not very new, actually, as it was published on 15th February 1926!
Anyway now this is online. In this issue, this is my favourite page (not the biggest one, but Page 2):

As usual, the large jpg files of all the pages can be found on my site .

25 April 2010

Remember Chernobyl

 (Photo Courtesy of Yevgen KRANZ Goncharenko, http://lplaces.com/ )

It happened 24 years ago tomorrow, on 26 April 1986.
I was 21 at the time, and still remember it clearly. The news came slowly; nothing was said from Soviet Union and the alarm spread just because a radioactive clud was spreading apparently coming from Scandinavian countries. Probably a leak from some Northern nuclear plants, it was suggested. But soon it became clear it was something immensely worse. News kept arriving slowly, day by day, together with more and more stricter safety measures for the population...
Northern Italy was hit rather badly. Winds kept the radioactive cloud rolling over our country for what seemed ages...I remember how we became familiar with concepts such as Becquerel and half-life of radiactions; how rare chemical elements hardly ever heard before became common topics of conversation...In the evening TV news would give us the level of radiations much like the same way as the weather forecasts, with the suggestion of not to spend much time out unless it was necessary. We learned to beware of a whole new category of dangers: from lettuce and spinaches, (extremely radioactive!), to milk and its derivates, who could be trusted only when produced before the accident. Fishing in Northern Italy lakes was forbidden, as well as eating fish coming from those areas.
A funny memory...I remember that at Christmas 1986 no moss could be found in shops  for making cribs, as it was all radioactive and forbidden to use.
But of course, this is nothing compared to what people in the area of the accident had to suffer. And it is nothing compared to what would have happened to Europe if firemen and volounteers hadn't managed to stop the fire in reactor no.4 and prevent it to reach the other three reactors of the nuclear plant. All those who were in the first squad died within a few weeks; most of the others in the following months. A few of them are remembered here  (the page is in Russian but Google makes miracles with translations), others are mentioned in Svetlana Alexievich's wondeful and terrible book 'Voices from Chernobyl ' ...Most of them, as usual, will remain unknown. Yet it's thanks to all of them that  for most of us living in Europe tomorrow will be just another ordinary  day, and that Chernobyl is just a fading memory of an old accident.
This video was produced  by the UN last year and made available on YouTube... I find it rather sad that only about 5000 people have watched it. It doesn't show the horrors of the accident, the helicopter crashing, the malformed children...It's about reconstruction, and  think it's the best way we have to commemorate the day.

20 April 2010

First issue, at last!

Well, at last I managed to take photos and upload one issue of "Il Ricamo Illustrato", the first of many issues I have... And obviously I noticed I've already made a mistake! I wanted to load them in chronological order, but after  uploading this, I noticed I had a previous one...Oh, well, never mind, next time!
These magazines are made with one large sheet folded once and then another time, the sheet is not cut, so that "turning the pages " the magazine becomes progressively bigger... And the central page is almost 1 m x 66 cm, it's larger that the largest newspapers here!
So one photo is probably too small to contain everything... But scanning the frail sheet without damaging it is practically impossible, so photos are the only option available.

This is much smaller than the one I uploaded on Italian Needlecrafts , but the difficulty implied is obvious...
Unfortunately the patterns are so mixed and mingled in the page that taking photos of smaller areas will  certainly break some drawings or patterns.
Well, I'll have to think about it. For the moment, the 4 pages of this issue (1st March 1926) are available at the link indicated above...Others will follow!

18 April 2010

A horse on my loom!

Today I prepared the warp for my next work...
And I decided to try a yarn that I had bought last year, made mostly of horsehair! It's very stiff and coarse, and my first thought was of making a table runner with it...But maybe the idea of a table runner made of horsehair would be rather disgunsting to some people? In any case, I decided that a wall hanging will be the best use for it.
So for the moment I put the warp on my tapestry loom (feeling guilty for not having worked at it for a long time) and tomorrow I'll warp my floor loom  and start weaving something...

17 April 2010


Yesterday I've reorganized all my sites...
Now I have three of them!
First there is Italian Needlecrafts , that is the site where I sell embroidery material (fabrics, threads, patterns, etc.)
Then there is my Etsy Shop, Elena's Loom , where I sell my handwoven items.
I decided to move my hand bound things to another site, as they don't make much sense in a textile shop... So I put them on Zibbet (that is free, unlike Etsy...), where I created another shop, Stitched pages .I'm not sure I will keep all of them, they definitely seem too many...I will see for some months how things go, then decide how to proceed.

12 April 2010

Learning to use GIMP

My poor blog has been abandoned again!
I've spent some of my time learning to use GIMP , an Open Source program for image manipulation. I'm still far from mastering it as I find it rather complicate... for easy things such as resizing, cropping or adding notes on photos I still prefer Picnik , that is of immediate use and there's no need to install anything... But GIMP is more complete and advanced.
I've also tried my first attempt of vectorial graphics... I've taken a photo of my holidays last year; it's a detail from the floor in Battistero San Giovanni, Florence, which shows zodiac signs.
I had taken a picture of Scorpio as it's my daughter's sign...Actually the floor was quite worn, so the sign is not in great conditions...
But I liked its rather absurd look; apparently the maker had never seen a real scorpion as he represented it like a sort of lizard with almost invisible pinchers and a huge pincher on the tail...

After struggling a long time with GIM (and its layers, and anchor points that appeared and diappeared, reducing my pattern to a complete mess several times), this was the best I could obtain....

I can't really say I like it... But at least I'm  learning to use the tool. And probably the pattern won't be terrible if stitched in trapunto fiorentino...