Finnish finds

Is it horribly consumerist if I admit how much I love finding souvenirs? I don’t mean tat (though not pictured here is a kitschy Christmas ornament, because how could we not buy an ornament in Finland?), but beautiful & useful things that I know will remind me of special moments. For example, when we went on our honeymoon, I bought some lovely cotton yarn & made a cardigan; now every time I wear it I think of Keswick and our first trip as husband & wife.

I guess, for me, getting souvenirs is okay as long as they do serve a purpose and capture the spirit of a place. We got lucky in Helsinki. Like I said, it’s a city that loves its secondhand goods which made for fun shopping! As always, all of our purchases were secondhand (apart from 2 skeins of yarn and a few buttons I found).


To be honest, I don’t know quite what this children’s book is about, but aren’t the illustrations amazing?! We couldn’t resist. I always think it’s nice to have children’s books in foreign languages, as you never know what it might inspire kids to get interested in. While we don’t have kids yet, we have nieces and godchildren and hope to have our own someday.


My crafty purchases were these buttons and this 3-ply hand-dyed Finnish yarn by Riihivilla. It’s gorgeous yarn, a bit redder than it appears in the picture, dyed with cochineal. I think it’s lovely that it was dyed with natural ingredients, though it is perhaps not suitable for vegans. I bought the snowflake buttons in Hakaniemi Market, and found those gorgeous red buttons in a charity shop across the street from the flat we rented. They’re a very lightweight metal and, while I’m not sure exactly how old they are, I think they are from the 1940s or before based on the paper (which has a gold border similar to some 1930s buttons I have). I really like that the buttons somehow capture the Russian side of Helsinki’s history.



Also found in Hakaniemi Market were these two vintage pieces. The dark vase was designed in the 1970s by famous Finnish designer Erkkitapio Siiroinen. I think it was a bit of a bargain, and we do think it’s lovely, though I have to admit it we haven’t quite found the right place for it in our flat yet.


This coffee cup is basically my new obsession. I spotted it looking lonely on a back shelf and was instantly reminded of a couple of pieces I saw in the Design Museum. Surprisingly, it did turn out to be by the same designer, Friedl Kjellberg. Now I can say for the first time ever that I have a favourite designer. The cup is rice porcelain, which is just very thin porcelain with portions carefully cut out with a razor; the item is then glazed to make it translucent yet solid. This particular pattern was made between the 1950s and the 1990s, so I have no idea how old it is. I assumed it would be out of our budget, but (un)fortunately it was cracked so the dealer gave it to us for free!  I was unreasonably thrilled about this, because I have to say I love everything about this cup (apart from the crack). It is light, simple, elegant and delicate — all my favourite things. I haven’t collected anything for years, but I really think I might start collecting pieces by Kjellberg. Is that weird?

That’s enough about me. Where do you stand on souvenirs? Do you still get them, and how do you choose them?

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