In December 1997, Tait and I celebrated the holidays with a European trip. We took the Eurostar Chunnel train to Brussels, Belgium; we tried Printen Lebkuchen at a Christmas market in Aachen, Germany; and we reveled in being in our beloved London, England at Christmastime.
In London, we took the train to Windsor to see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. We made a pilgrimage to the Charles Dickens Museum. We made brass rubbings at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. We bought needlework kits at Liberty of London. We saw the “Cartier 1900-1939” exhibit at the British Museum. We spent our evenings watching “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Barbican Centre and “An Ideal Husband” at the Gielgud Theatre.
With Tait as your traveling companion, everything on your itinerary is fun, but my favorite memory of our trip is a late-afternoon stop we made at the Victoria & Albert Museum. When we left the museum a few hours later, Carl Larsson had gained two new admirers.
Although we had come to the V&A to see the William Morris Room, it was our good fortune to discover “Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style,” the first major exhibition ever held outside Sweden on the work of Carl Larsson, the Swedish painter who was one of the leading figures of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The exhibition focused on the famous house that the painter and his wife created in the village of Sundborn in the Swedish province of Dalarna and the impact that the Larsson home has had on interior design ever since.
To complement the exhibition, IKEA produced a brochure suggesting ways that visitors could create the Larsson look in their own homes. That brochure, and a companion book to the exhibition by Michael Snodin and Elisabeth Hidemark, are two treasured souvenirs from our trip.
As Tait and I walked through five sets of rooms containing original furnishings that had been lent from the Larsson home for the first time, we decided that we had to travel to Sweden and see this house for ourselves. We haven’t made the trip to Sweden yet, but we’re still determined to do it. Carl Larsson postcards and calendars travel back and forth between Virginia and Ohio. Tait sent me a copy of Swedish Interiors, by Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems, for Valentine’s Day. And my parents gave me a very special Royal Copenhagen figurine called “Kersti & Suzanne Making Cheese,” based on a painting Carl Larsson painted of his two daughters.
I was close to making plans to visit Sweden this fall, but then I read “Scandinavia on $125 a Day,” posted to The New York Times’s “Frugal Traveler” blog on August 24, 2012. Until this frugal traveler has saved enough money in a food fund, I think I’ll admire the Larssons from afar.
That’s what I did today, as I finished “Til Karin – 4 Elements,” a cross stitch project designed by Cynthia Wasner that was inspired by “The Four Elements,” a tapestry that Karin Larsson wove and hung in the dining room of her home.
Visit Cynthia Wasner’s website, Norsk Needlework, to see some spectacular Scandinavian-inspired knitting patterns that she has designed.