I rarely buy new books but this gorgeous hot pink book of Estonian needlework of all kinds from Muhu Island was irresistible. There are many inspiring stories of the remarkable women who kept the farms running throughout the busy summers while their husbands worked on the mainland, and who at the same time managed to adorn themselves and their families with clothing of beauty, skill and imagination. I was impressed by the description of them wiping the farm muck off their hands in order to do a few more fine embroidery stitches before having to get covered in muck again.
I used a rough sketch of one of the flower patterns in the book for a little bit of embroidery work of my own - something I haven't done for a very long time.
This book gave me the idea and the pattern for a joddakai - a gypsy apron:
It's a lovely little book, written, I imagine, for children, with very simple concise language and clear illustrations.
Here's the page for the joddakai:
I haven't been able to find photos of anything similar online or in books, so I have no idea of how authentic it is but I happened to have a length of Italian cloth as specified and so I made one.
There are lots of other things to try. Making chrysanthemums from willow or birch sticks using a cut down kitchen knife:
And there are instructions for fortune telling and making some very sticky looking sweets.
Here's the joddakai with some of the brightly dyed Blue Faced Leicester wool from Renaissance Dyeing. More of this later.