Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

Tiny Easter chicks

Even tinier bunnies

Tete-à-tete daffodils

First Brambling of the year. We usually see one or two in the Winter months, and in the Spring they come with common chaffinches.

Allergics, stop looking! Pussy willows:

Birches full of pollen this morning.
Yesterday was warm up to 16C/60F and it was all the nature was waiting for. It feels like Spring is really here!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Silver Darlings

You'd never guess what I have been sewing this week. I needed this self-painted polka dot polyester satin.

I used the shiniest silver lame I could find at the local fabric shop with my sister P. My mother's fabric saving pattern placement advice came in handy:

They are herrings, nick-named silver darlings in Scotland and Ireland, and my niece needed them for her stall instead of a bunting. She is Ireland's only herring pickler, and her company's name is Silver Darlings. Look here: @silverdarlings1.

I copied her logo herring, enlarged it, did my sewing tricks, Mr K. made a 16 mm punching tool for the eye fabric (and cut the eyes for me),

and now the 14 jolly herrings are on their way to Ireland. My niece Kirsti has her stall in Limerick's Milk Market every Saturday, and she will take part in a special event in May. Imagine a tall young pretty Finnish blonde with her pickled herring jars, and these silver darlings dancing above her head at the stall. They must put a smile on everyone's face, and people will come and taste some of her almost exotic Nordic style pickled herrings and buy a jar to take home.

This year the Winter was almost non-existent, and so the season between snow and green grass seems endlessly long. This coltsfoot is the first wild spring flower, photographed in our yard yesterday.

Ages ago our crocuses were showing, and now they are showing half an inch more, but they are not green yet, or showing buds.

The tulips I planted last year are about two inches tall. This morning we had -4C/27F, but it will be a sunny day and get a bit warmer.

What has been the strangest thing you have sewn?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Strings in the wind

Earlier this year Stephanie of Loft Creations challenged her readers to use up their strings and make string block projects without a deadline or any other rules. Finally I have started my own new quilt, using the free String-X pattern from Quiltville. As it was a sunny day, I arranged my 15 first blocks outdoors on the terrace floor. I snapped this photo and was just going to turn the last block the other way...
...when the wind came and scattered all my blocks around! I have my strings assorted according to colour in 6 boxes, and tomorrow I'm going to add one or two colours to my sewing table and maybe put the blue box aside for a while.

At last I got a picture of my favourite little friend, the robin. They come to eat at the bird feeder now that we have peeled sunflower seeds there. Their tiny beaks are not meant for hard food, and as insects are still hiding from the cold(ish) weather, the seeds will do them good. Our feeder is like a building site canteen for most of our little birds who are busy trying to find a place and building their nest and charming their partner. Fast food is a time-saving option!

The swans are back too, I saw them from the school window last week when I was having my last Tunisian crochet class and they were having an evening flight to the pond by the school. I will share my crochet project when it's finished.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Spring or not

The weather has been changing from unusually warm to normal for this time of the year.

Just over a week ago we had some new snow and properly cold nights, but the snowdrops keep raising their heads to the sun.

Now the snow is all gone again , and I have seen little pale shoots of crocuses and daffodils in our garden.
When I took the Happy Scrappy Spring quilt to Villa Cooper, I took some pictures of the shop's spring look. Here is a potholder tree.

Easter colours on the old stove.

The exhibition closet is showing dolls handmade by one of the members..

I'm participating in a secret swap hosted by the Flying Mitten. I'm sure my secret friend is not reading my blog so I can tell about the swap here safely. I have sent her a holder for double ended knitting needles and a ball of baby yarn with a challenge to knit a pair of the Train Socks for the new babies in her town. Here are my newest versions, one more pair with the yarn I used for the to-be-baby-twins across the street (socks on the left), and one pair in a spring green yarn that was lighter so these socks will be for a very tiny baby:
 Yesterday I knitted some little dishcloths in bamboo yarn.
Spring or not - I think we can call it Spring as the first migrating birds have arrived. On Friday I saw the first robin, and since Saturday there have been finches in our garden too.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Happy Scrappy Spring finished

Last Spring I started the Happy Scrappy Spring quilt Kaaren of The Painted Quilt designed and offered as a free BOM. Actually it was the whole Row of the Month, with pieced blocks and some stitcheries. I made the stitcheries in red, and used, as usual, mostly recycled fabrics for the blocks.

For the wool appliqué I had to buy some wonderful wool felt, and that kept me from finishing this quilt right the way.

I really enjoyed the new(ish) for me experience of wool appliqué. It feels great when you notice you can easily make it look good!

The third row was the most work, five stitcheries including this big one for the centre.

Spring is also Easter, so the quilt has lots of bunnies, eggs and egg baskets.
Wool felt appliqué flowers, carrots and birds.

The little bunny with a kite is one of my favourites.

So is this little chick in her wellies and umbrella. Notice the tiny Easter eggs on the left.

I left out a dozen or so leaping bunnies on the checkerboard rows between the stitched blocks. In February I finally sandwiched the quilt, in March I machine quilted it and just this last week hand sewed the binding and a hanging sleeve.

Here the finished quilt is hanging in Villa Cooper, waiting for buyers. With Kaaren's  kind consent, my Happy Scrappy Spring quilt will be (hopefully) sold to raise money for the New Children's Hospital 2017 project.
It says so on the label here too:
In the Summer the Villa Cooper people will have an exhibition with the theme "Birds", also for the New Children's Hospital 2017 project. Our members are invited to make their own projects under the theme, using their favourite technique, and to donate the products to be sold at Villa Cooper. 100 % of the money raised will go to the hospital project.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Lovely Wool

Last week I had a chance to go to a class at Lentävä Lapanen, The Flying Mitten knitting café. The class was about knitting in multiple colours, and we all learned many tricks about tension and avoiding holes. Tangling yarns is just something we have to learn to live with, I think, and naturally it is good to have a pause and untangle one's yarns after a few rows. The sales representative of Rowan yarns was there all day before the class, and their yarns were 20 % off the normal price.

I knew I had seen a cardigan pattern I wanted for myself, but we just couldn't find it, not at home and not in the knitting café. The staff kindly promised me the yarns at the reduced price later, when I knew what I needed. At home I found the pattern: it had been hiding in plain sight in the shop, on the previous page in a magazine displayed for our class! On Monday I went to the Flying Mitten with my wish list.

Here is the pattern and my colours on a little stone wall in our back yard. Three kinds of granny squares in different colour combinations. The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK.

Close-up of the colours. I changed some of the blue for green and a pink for the fox red. The cardigan is mostly granny squares, and my preliminary plan is to knit the parts that are in plain crochet in the original pattern. This is a huge project for me and it may take years to finish. I look at it like years of fun. Also, as the main body of the cardigan is made with granny squares, I can always add a row of them on each side if I happen to be bigger by the time it is getting finished.
March is the perfect time to clean the birdhouses for new takers. Last year we put up some new houses so there were 11 units to clean. We knew only 10 were used last Summer, but found that one of them had been used twice as there was a new nest on top of the first one. Only one birdhouse was from a shop, and it was the only one no birds had wanted. Naturally we thought that Mr K.'s houses were more beautiful, with roofing felt and protective plate around the door opening.

It turned out that there was a simple reason why no bird wanted that factory made house: it came with a "nesting contraceptive copper device":
There was this piece of plastic coated copper wire inside the house, meant to be used to hang it in a tree without nails. Mr K. used his own wire and didn't think of looking inside the house when installing it last year. (Explanation  why we thought about contraception immediately when we saw what was in the birdhouse: All IUD are called "spirals" in Finnish, and this was obviously a copper spiral, and a very large one too.)  Now the house is made clean and safe for a new couple, and we wish them a large family and happy nesting!

Monday, 10 March 2014

March is between Winter and Spring

This morning the sun was up before 7 for the first time. The night had been clear so the temperature dropped just below freezing point and tiny diamonds of ice sparkled on the ground. New snowdrops are showing their buds.
My crafty mood has still been enjoying the warmth of wool yarns. The red train socks are my this month's socks for the babies in Järvenpää, but the two multi coloured pairs (yarn design Kaffe Fasset!) are going to the young couple across the street: their two little boys will be big brothers to new twins at the beginning of the Summer!
I chose the yarn carefully after the new maternity package colours were published some weeks ago. Here you can read about it in English and see this year's contents, fashion and colour choices. This package is highly valued and  all the items are of good quality. At the time when my three babies had their packages, almost everything was made in Finland. Unfortunately the textile industry has moved after cheaper labour  to other countries, but the designs are still of Finnish origin and the quality requirements are strict.
This is a more wintery picture of our great tits and a blue tit on the right, taken at the beginning of March. This morning, when taking pictures of the socks and snowdrops outdoors, I heard the beautiful song of the blackbird for the first time. It is an early sign of Spring too.