Hello and happy May everyone! To kick start the beginning of Spring I'm finding out all about the fabulous Sarah who runs the beautiful blog, Mitenska.
Hello there Sarah, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I started my blog, Mitenska, three years ago. It was mainly a creative outlet but I also wanted to document the little details of my everyday life and to use my photos (I'm a keen snapper). Since then I've rediscovered my love of drawing, painting and more recently, printmaking. I live in a cottage in the Pennines with my partner and three-year-old son. I'm a keen reader, a wayside wanderer and a lover of beautiful things.
What is your creative space like?
We only moved into the house six months ago, and my upstairs workroom remains unfinished. I write my blog and edit photos at a little cafe-style table. The room's small, painted white and gets the early evening sun. I store all my art materials in here along with lots of notebooks (I love stationery), vintage nature books, which I use for reference and all the other stuff a creative type needs: my sewing machine, piles of fabric, pinboard, camera equipment, old typewriters (another weakness), jars of feathers and shells... There's also a bureau which belonged to my mum and has great sentimental value. I'm currently deciding on a colour to repaint it. She'd approve of me making it my own, I think, although the photos and quotes she stuck inside will definitely stay.
For printmaking and painting, I head downstairs and use the dining table. When Joe's not around. I really need a studio (and to start doing the lottery!)
If you could only take one craft tool to a desert island, what would it be?
Would my camera count? With some sort of solar-powered charging device? If not, a sketchbook for doodling and jotting down thoughts and ideas.
How do you work and get inspired?
Nature's my inspiration. The seasons, the little things you spot when out and about (taking a camera everywhere has a way of training you to seek them out): berries, fungi, buds, lichen. So I walk. We're lucky to live in a village with lots of countryside quite literally on the doorstep - our garden gate leads into a field with a footpath up to the moors.
I'm also a sucker for pretty magazines, particularly the autumn and winter issues of Country Living. Not the coolest perhaps, compared to some of the edgier mags around, but the styling and photography's always spot-on. And Pinterest. I LOVE Pinterest.
What top tips would you give anyone starting a blog?
Be yourself. It sounds a cliche, but it's true - don't try and emulate other blogs you admire or which are massively successful. Write about what interests you, using your own voice. That way you'll start to link up with other like-minded bloggers and readers, and that's great. Don't compare yourself to others. We all start somewhere (for quite a while, my only reader was my mum) and if you enjoy writing, you'll keep doing it regardless.
Also: think about what you like in a blog. I personally like lots of beautiful pictures with not a great deal of text, so that's what I try to do with Mitenska.
Is there a story behind the name Mitenska?
I get asked this quite often and yes, there is. I worked for a long time in a museum. It was a listed building with huge, draughty sash windows, so I knitted myself some wrist warmers to keep my hands a bit warmer whilst typing. Janusz, our lovely Polish cleaner, spotted them and informed me that in his language they'd be called 'mitenska' (Janusz and I became firm friends when he learned my mum's side of the family are Polish). Whether it is the Polish term for wrist warmers or not I don't know, but it seemed as good a name as any to use for my new blog.
If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any five people (dead or alive) and/or fictional characters, who would you choose?
This is such a tough question! I've come up with quite an eclectic mix of people, and will probably think of loads more at a later date, but here's my 'right now' choice:
Julia Davis (her humour, that watch-through-your-fingers kind, I just love it)
David Lynch (I was addicted to Twin Peaks when I watched it for the first time last year)
Margot Leadbetter (one of my favourite TV characters, and those kaftans!!)
David Suchet as Hercule Poirot (you can't beat watching Poirot under a blanket on a cold evening, and he'd be fascinating company)
Roald Dahl (for his wonderful imagination and storytelling).
And if possible, Ma Larkin to do the cooking and Pop Larkin to keep the glasses topped up with blow-your-head-off cocktails.
And finally... If you had to choose one song to represent Mitenska, what would it be and why?
'Happy Alone' by Kings of Leon (from their first album, 'Youth and Young Manhood'). I'd always listen to it on my long commute by bus in the summer, wishing I could stay home and follow my dreams instead of riding into the city to be chained to a desk. It's also a bit hillbilly, just like me :)
Thank you so much, Sarah. It's been absolutely wonderful hearing all about your blog and creative world. Your space sounds like a very inspiring place to work. I love your comment about how a camera trains you to seek beautiful things when you're out and about, so true. And your blogging tips are spot on!
I hope you've all enjoyed this Blog Gem interview! You can catch up on all my Blog Gem interviews here and don't forget to sign up to my newsletter too, which will be landing on your email doormat very soon!
All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Sarah at Mitenska. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.