Sunbonnet Sue is looking quite lovely in her brightly colored outfit! It certainly lends a bit of color to the dreary, long winters that she finds in Finland! She’s holding a glittery snowflake that represents Finland’s cold climate, where it snows from December to April. And when I think of snow and Finland, Santa Claus and his reindeer also come to mind. In fact, reindeer are natural inhabitants of Finland, surviving on lichens and tundra in winter. Of course if there are reindeer, Santa must not be far behind….
When I think of Finland, I think of Marimekko. Established in 1951, Marimekko is a Finnish textile and clothing design company renowned for its original prints and colors manufactured into fabulous clothing, home decorating fabrics, bags, and more. Marimekko’s fabrics are boldly colored with striking, large graphics with a bit of retro feel. My favorites are the large flower prints – they look wonderfully interesting in quilts and the cotton fabric is great quality (although the fabrics are pricey!). But if you’re interested, check out http://usstore.marimekko.com for an online store selling Marimekko fabrics. I have seen some fabrics at IKEA that are reminiscent of Marimekko designs, but at a much lower price tag.
I have great memories of Helsinki itself. It’s a lovely, clean city, quite safe, and filled with lots to see, especially if you like the art nouveau style of architecture. Helsinki considers itself the Design Capital of the World, and after you’ve seen some of the architecture, furniture, and home decorating designs (not to mention the textiles), you’ll agree that Helsinki might own the title. For me, most Finnish designs are marked by their clean look and simplicity, which ends up looking serenely sophisticated. Helsinki boasts a Design District, which includes design shops, galleries, workshops, museums, restaurants, hotels, and more. And of course, you should also take time to visit one of Helsinki’s most important department stores, Stockmann’s. When I lived in Moscow in the early 1990’s, I frequently ordered household goods (and even groceries) from Stockmann’s on a weekly basis — Stockmann’s was a lifesaver. Helsinki was the first time that I paid more than $100 for a meal — it’s an expensive city. But the food was delicious — the Finnish cuisine relies heavily on fish, but also mushrooms and all kinds of berries.
Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to embroider, to quilt, to applique, and to think about design in the Finnish way! I’m leaving you with a picture of a strawberry plant and several kinds of strawberry preserves — fresh wild strawberries were part of that $100 meal that I mentioned above. I never knew strawberries could be so flavorful and so delicious. Have a great week ahead!