Saturday, 23 May 2015

Change of view, new hexagons and tiny hats

This used to be the view from our kitchen door until mid May.

 And this is the same view some days later.

The young trees were growing so close to another that it was not easy to walk among them.

The trunks were left lying there, so a walk will be even more difficult, but we have much more light in our yard now.

For my daughter's quilt I made six new flowerbeds to replace the frayed ones. I saved some of the middle hexagons. These blocks are in place now, but when sewing them I found two blue hexagons that needed replacing too. Luckily I found a hexagon in the exact same fabric among the leftovers of this quilt, and one fabric that will do. I'm doing the hand quilting over the new blocks now.

The Giro d'Italia cycling tour has reached stage 14 today. I have been knitting these hats for newborns to be donated to the maternity ward of our local hospital, and it seems I have finished one hat per stage. We don't watch the whole race, but even a couple of hours in front of the TV doesn't feel so wasted when I can show the bag filling with hats. The Giro has 21 stages, and so does the Tour de France in July, and the Vuelta d'Espagna in August. 63 little hats sounds like a nice goal!

On Thursday night we had the first little thunder of the season, and after it a perfect rainbow.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Learning the hard way

For the quilt show at Villa Cooper in April I borrowed some quilts from their new owners, and one of them was my greatest effort in quilting, the Grandmother's Garden quilt for my daughter Kaija. It was also the beginning of this blog in 2008. The quilt was started in 1993 when I didn't know very much about quilting. One of the important things I didn't know back them was that it is not wise to use very old and very worn fabrics, however lovely and filled with sweet childhood memories they might be.

I picked the fabrics in my mother's attic where she had boxes of old clothes and fabric rests to be used for rag rugs, like old clothes usually were recycled in my country. Frayed fabrics were cut wider so they would last, no problem there. But if you find a lovely pair of doll's long trousers in the sweetest fabric with apples and green leaves and little red stripes, you are tempted to use that fabric for as many hexagons as you can, aren't you?  And look what happens:

The other fabrics are all nice and without any holes, but the apple pants just didn't make it. Six whole blocks, all with damages in so many hexagons that it it not worth it to try to save the best of them to make even one new block with them. I'm going to repair this quilt before returning it to my daughter.

At the moment Kaija's quilt has six gaping hopes like this:

I still had the paper templates I used to make the quilt, and some leftover hexagons too. 

I found some matching fabrics, and spent yesterday's Giro d'Italia TV time basting them on my papers.

Today is stage 5 of the Giro, and my plan is to finish the blocks, and maybe do some knitting.

P.S. I checked all the fabrics for the new blocks, and they are either unused or in good condition.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Knitting and Tatting - well, I haven't done anything else lately

That's how it is when you are learning a new skill. Keep starting new little projects, some are finished and some end in the bin because your knots were too tight to be undone. This heart is almost fine, I still have to learn how to hide the last ends of my thread.

While in Germany, I finished the light green bed socks. Our trip was to the same event and same places as in earlier years so I will not bore you with the same photos again. The trip was fine, the fair was excellent and the weather could have been a lot warmer.

They are very comfortable, and I like the longer legs for a change.

Some yarn was left, so I knitted a tiny baby hat. I think I will make some more, and when I have knitted enough, I can take them to a local hospital for their newborns as a gift.

I have started working on a new old quilt, something I cut up years ago and my squared for HST blocks were cut too small so I put it all in a box. Now I'm saving all the blocks I can and cutting the rest to a smaller size. I have material for new larger squares so I think it can be finished almost to the original plan, and then I have all those smaller HSTs for another project.

OK, just one photo from the Fly Fishing Event. The Finnish casting demonstrator Antti Guttorm was wearing his traditional Sami outfit after having seen the Scots in their kilts and the Germans in their leather pants:

Monday, 13 April 2015

Tatting and Knitting, and a Squirrel Story

After some weeks of hard work with the quilt show I have concentrated on smaller projects. Now I feel that I have finally really understood the idea of tatting, when I finished the open college course of 4 evenings. This is my first own project, I still need to improve my skills with the thread ends!

I thought  I understood the idea five years ago, but the success with the first ring was just more a coincidence, and my enthusiasm died soon. This time I'm using heavier threads and crocheting yarns so I can see my knots, and I have learned enough tricks to make a bookmark or a little coaster.

I have finished my cable socks

with a perfect fit

and started a new pair, this time bed socks in the lightest green you can imagine. They will be my travel project too. On Thursday we are flying to Germany for a week to stay with Mr K.'s sister.

I want to finish with a story of a squirrel who learned some tricks. In February he did some stretching exercises and reached from the oat bundle to the fat and seeds sausage:

Squirrels understand the perfect timing of swinging branches. He made the oat bundle swing the right way, holding on the wooden stick before even reaching out. Then he held the fat with both fore paws and ate very fast, for a long time.

At the end of March the birds and this one squirrel had almost finished the treat. On a windy day the squirrel reached again for the fat, held it tight and sat on the oats to eat. Then he thought of climbing higher with his prey, and in no time he was up on the oak branch sitting  comfortably and enjoying a nourishing meal:

The string had come off the hook where it was hanging (under his bum in the photo), so the squirrel considered it a restaurant doggie bag and took it all home to eat later.

At home his mama or his wife said: "Let this be the last time you go and eat fast food! Squirrels should eat seeds from cones, and berries and mushrooms. You will not learn to fly by eating bird food, you'll just be fat!"

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Quilt Show at the Villa Cooper

There it is, my polka dot peppermint candy quilt with a border and binding.

Kaija brought me the solid red binding fabric on Sunday and helped with the hand sewing at the other end of the quilt. I needed the quilt for my quilt show we were scheduled to put up on Monday.

Welcome to Villa Cooper! On the wall, hanging with the generous help of Mr K. is my pride, the Grandmother's Garden quilt for Kaija. Hand pieced during 1993-2003, hand quilted in 2008.

The show's title says something about many shirts making a quilt, and these quilts have many shirts in common. The Bear Paw is from this year, the Maverick Stars is older, and the 9-patch was made for Anne Marie's challenge in 2011.

On the chair is the String Quilt, on the other chair the polka dots and a light blue Friendship Star quilt from 2008.

This closet is usually reserved for small exhibitions but as my quilts are so big, I was allowed more space. On the double doors are my two quilts that combine embroidery with a quilt, the Raggedy & Friends on the left and Scandinavian Snowball Fun on the right. These quilts go around the door so you can see the other side too. The Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls are a gift from Eileen many years ago. Further on the left is the Granny Square quilt from 2012.

Inside the closet is the tumbler quilt I made for Mr K. in our Summer Stash Challenge in 2008 when my blog was very new, and next to it my own After Work quilt. On the upper shelves are some table runners, place mats and such, and on the walls some bags, almost all of them made with Stephanie's patterns. 

On the little table is a folder with photos of other quilts I have already given away but wanted to show too. Kaija was playing a computer wizard and made everything look good, and edited and printed my photos.

Now you have seen why I have been so busy and finished three quilts this year! Luckily there were also many old quilts I could borrow from their owners.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

From Head to Toe - a gift to a fellow knitter

In February 2014 Dolores  mentioned a new BOM From Head to Toe - A Knitter's Gifts by Denise Russart, and it sounded interesting. Each block was only available until the next one was published, so I collected the patterns just in case. At the end of January I decided to start sewing the quilt. Only two sock blocks were pieced, all the ones with round shapes were appliqued, and the long scarf and six mittens were paper pieced.

I used my bright fabrics for a change to cheer up the dark Winter days, and because this was going to be a gift for a rainbow colour loving girl. Most of the blocks don't look like knitted items but I didn't have very many striped fabrics. I used mostly small print florals and solids.

At this stage I decided the quilt was large enough so I left out the final, wider border. I was happy to use Mr K.'s knee pads again, and about 200 safety pins.

I used two pink bed sheets for the backing and the lavender fabric from the scarf for the binding. The fringes and the mitten strings I made with a  1/4" bias maker. For the applique I used a heat and bond material and my machine's blanket stitch, so it went pretty quickly.

I managed to quilt along the sashings and around some of the shapes in the biggest blocks, but this huge quilt and my not very long arm machine didn't work together too well. The batting is polyester so it will stay in place with less quilting.

I had some very exciting days when I waited for the parcel to arrive at its destination, because a smaller package mailed at the same time reached England several days earlier. Luckily it finally arrived, and still on time for Melanie's birthday. The quilt will keep her warm when she sits knitting next winter.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Solar eclipse and museum visit

Yesterday was a special day, it was my birthday - thank you all who remembered me! -

and a 84% solar eclipse at noon.This photo is taken during the eclipse with light clouds in the sky but the light was like at dusk. Mr K. quickly made a camera obscura (without the 'camera') by piercing a piece of paper with a fishing fly hook, and we could see the upside down reflection of the eclipse on another piece of paper. The sun was only a crescent like a boat, or actually like a hat in our reflection. We were on our way to this museum, Erkkola, the home of the poet and playwright J.H. Erkko (1849-1906).

The house was built in 1902 in national romantic style as a part of the artists' colony on the East side of the Tuusulanjärvi lake. At the same time Erkko's friend, the painter Pekka Halonen, was building his atelier house Halosenniemi.

Here you can see some interior pictures from Erkkola, as taking photos was not allowed inside the house.

The exhibition I wanted to see was children's book illustrations by Maija Karma (1914-1999. Her pictures belonged to my childhood. Here is a link to pictures, so you can see with your own eyes her style. She made book covers but many of the books had also lots of black and white drawings inside, and naturally there were real picture books as well.

On our way to Erkkola we passed this shabby little building, the hut where the Finnish national writer Aleksis Kivi (1834-1872) lived for the ten last months of his life in his brother's family. Erkko wanted to build his house near this place because he admired Kivi's work.

I'm taking a course in tatting at the local open college, just four Thursday evenings. Some years ago I tried to learn it by myself and with a DVD, but my knots just didn't turn the right way. At the moment I'm half way through the course and finally learned to make a flower, with picots, and the petals are joined with picots. Next week we will learn to make arches, whatever that means.

I'm also taking baby steps to the world of cables: these socks have cables that are two stitches wide. You just can't make them with less than two! I have just turned the heels, and the soles will be plain but on the top side the cables will go all the way to the toes.

I'll leave you with this picture of two little ones who enjoy the sunflower seeds the birds have dropped from their feeder. If you can't see the mouse, click to make the picture larger.