Saturday, 24 June 2017

The ugliest corner and its flowers

Those of you who have followed my blog for some years already may remember the many unusual flower arrangements in this corner of Järvenpää, sometimes called the ugliest in town? The first year the flowers were planted in rubber boots, then in handbags and shopping bags, then they used bicycles, last year it was chairs and now old Finnish rag rugs:

This time there are normal planting boxes hiding inside the rugs.

Again, the big flower shop Järvenpään Kukkatalo has donated one flower plant for each special bouquet bought at their shop during the year, and volunteers planted the flowers and take turns in watering them during the summer.

In August, before the flowers start wilting, they are donated to anyone who wants one or some, and the rugs are cleared away.

Some boxes were without rugs

and some rugs were cut in small pieces and were just hanging there, without flowers. I think these were the good parts saved around holes in old rugs. These rugs are typical for Finland and at least Sweden too: used garments were reused not in quilts but cut or torn to strips and woven into rag rugs.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Green things

Our rhododendrons are blooming, even the little one in the back row. We bought it just a few weeks ago to replace the Physocarpus that was growing too big for the space.

The Alchemilla, Lady's mantle, always keeps the raindrops on its leaves longer than any other plant.

Two new pairs of socks finished, a father and son set.

Then I needed to do some unusual sewing again. This chest of drawers originally belonged to my mother's grandmother, and my mother wanted it to go to her own granddaughter, my daughter Kaija. As this is a very large piece of furniture, she has nowhere to put it at the moment, so I'm keeping it in storage for her. To keep it safe, it needs some protection,

and so I sewed a green hood for it with batting on top and some corrugated cardboard in the front as a shield against hits.

This biggish willow has grown around a street lamp at the corner where our driveway begins, and the men who changed street lamps a couple of years ago could not get to this lamp at all. We told them it was not our tree but the town's, and we would be pleased to see the tree gone.

Finally, after only two or three years, they came with professionals and machines.

The tree trunk is being moved away under the electric lines.

Only a stump is left, they cleared all the branches away. Hurrah, so much less raking of leaves in the autumn for Mr K. from now on, and maybe less moss in the lawn when the sun can reach the grass better.

Silver and green in the flower box.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Our KIP Day

On Saturday knitters world wide gathered in public places to knit. By the time it all began in 2005 it may have been a little like coming out of the closet, admitting that yes, I'm a knitter and I'm proud of it. Or it was just like now: sitting together with old and new friends, sharing experiences and having a good time. This year there were 1122 events in 54 countries!

Our Knit in Public event took place in a new park in Järvenpää. Almost 20 people attended, which is several persons more than we had the last time some years ago. The day was full of choices for our potential visitors, as it was the first weekend after the schools closed for the Summer, but luckily there were so many who chose us. I taught some people the magic looping, where both socks are knitted side by side on the same circular needle.

The guided tour in the park with interesting stories about the history of that area and the house renovation adventure were a cultural addition to our afternoon. Kirsi's blog is here, it is in Finnish but you can just scroll down and look at the pictures, they will give you some idea of how huge the project is.

Today it is raining again, so we were very lucky to have a sunny but not too hot a day on Saturday. It was a positive experience, and I think I could be tempted to try again next year.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Knitting, next week in public too

New pair of green socks on the needles, just a darker green and a men's size this time.

I have been busy planning something for next Saturday, the World Wide Knit in Public Day. Some years ago we had an event at the Villa Cooper, but very few knitters attended. This year we are giving it a try again, in a more public place. Near our Villa Cooper a new park has been built in the middle of a new housing area. It is named after an earlier owner, Bjarne Westermarck, who was a trendsetter and visionary in agriculture a hundred years ago. He had the Villa Cooper building moved to the present location and it was used as a canteen for his farm workers. The secretary of the newly founded Bjarne Westermarck heritage society is coming to our event to tell us about the local history and the renovation work of Westermarck's old office building, now her home. We will meet in the park, and there will be a short guided tour for those interested in the old buildings still left.

Next weekend I will be able to tell you if we had any luck this year. The weather has been chilly almost all the time, at freezing point during the nights, so our best hope is that the day will be sunny and less windy. We are going to have hot coffee and tea! I will be showing how to knit two socks at a time, and if anyone has problems with their knitting, all our members present will be willing to help.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Green socks

Here they are, my new long bedsocks:

The colour is right in the top photo. I used the pattern on the cover photo of Melissa Morgan-Oakes' book Toe-Up 2-At-A-Time Socks for the shaping and measurements but simplified the lace pattern and made it my own.  I think the heel is very pretty here.

It was hard to estimate how far my yarn would go so I started the ribbing early. Binding off looks a bit curly but it mustn't be too tight.

I have been cutting more strips for the log cabin quilt. Still a lot to cut, but it means that I will use up many of my fabrics. and that is the point. Use up fabric, have fun sewing, get a quilt. Win-win-win.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Almost Summer

Suddenly, on Wednesday or so, it was warm again. After a little rain shower the nature just burst into greenness and growth. My green socks are slowly growing too. I'm going to knit them as long as the yarn allows.

Today I made a test block for a new quilt. I have what feels like tons of light blue fabrics, and some brown ones left over from the Shadow Plaid. I have never made a Log Cabin quilt, just single blocks, so I thought it was time to give it a chance. I have always liked brown and light blue together.

I have a fair amount of 2" strips cut already but need more. I'm also going to cut them to the required length before sewing to keep my squares square.

Scilla Sibirica in our garden. I would love to have more but they seem to take their time to spread.

Today I had tea in the garden, in my short sleeves, and really enjoyed the +21 C temperature. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Chilly Spring Knittings

This isn't funny any more:

On Thursday we got hails and snow several times during the day, and the top temperature was somewhere between 3 and 5C. Every night there are minus degrees. This was not the first snow of the week. No wonder my rhubarbs are only three inches tall.

The chilly weather has been perfect for knitting. First I knitted the most basic men's wool socks I could imagine, with heavy sock yarn and big needles:

And then a fancy pair with hand dyed yarn from Handu. The pattern is my own version of the honeycomb I used for all those honey coloured socks a while ago.

On the needles is a pair of bed socks for myself. Again, a modified version of a published pattern. I'm knitting from toe to top so I can maximize the length of the socks. Cashmere and merino yarn from Handu, feels like a dream. As you can see from the shadows, we are having a bright sunny day today for a change.

I hope you are enjoying the season as well!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The new plaid quilt

Here it is, my new plaid quilt.

It is a mixture of very different shirts which have come to the end of their career in the clothing business or, in one case, never even made it so far but spent some 50 years or probably more as a UFO, cut parts carefully folded with some of the paper patterns pinned to the smallest parts. It could have been meant for me, the pale yellow and grey. A blouse with short sleeves for a girl of maybe 9-10 years of age. Some of this fabric is still left for smaller blocks in another quilt. The obviously female fabrics were my mother's blouses, too small for me to wear so I finally decided to give them a new life. The rest of the plaids are from my usual stash of old men's old shirts. As the previous quilt top only had blue shirts mixed with solid white, here I used all other colours but blue.
It is always fun to plan a new quilt and watch it grow from piles of squares to piles of blocks, then rows and finally a quilt top. The next step is less fun but vital, building the quilt sandwich and pinning or basting it. I have hand quilted only one large quilt in my life, the Grandmother's Garden quilt for my daughter Kaija, and some preemie quilts. I can manage machine quilting on my sewing machine if the quilt is not too big. Maybe I need to start considering these next steps, because this top is already the fourth waiting to be quilted!

Liverworts, Anemone Hepatica, have opened their flowers. I moved these to our garden from "back home" on my last visit there.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sneak peek of the new quilt

Now that  the blue and white baby socks are all knitted, I came back to my colourful yarns. I found four balls of this lovely yellow in a shop and knitted a pair of socks in adult size, and went on in a smaller adult size. Because there was still yarn left, I knitted a third pair in a child size. Each pair has a slightly different heel. After having knitted three pairs I still had those two tiny balls left. I thought they will make a nice stripe in a new pair of socks in a different colour.

I was putting the rest yarn in my storage box where I keep this type of yarn, and guess what? I found two more balls of the same yarn I had bought last year because I really liked this colour, and the rest from the first pair I had knitted. That means I can knit two more pairs in a child size!

When I arranged the blocks for the blue and white quilt of my previous post, I played with them a little and came up with an idea. I really liked working with big blocks for a change, and the plaids look better in them too. So I took this lovely grey flannel I have been hoarding for many years, and a pile of other than blue shirts, and made these blocks:

Next time I will show what became of them.

We had some sunny days and migrating birds started coming. This small thrush, redwing, is a welcome guest we have not seen in many years.

Yesterday's weather brought new snow. We had already decided to keep filling the bird feeder until the weather gets warmer, and now with the snow it is essential to take care of our little friends.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Luxury scarf

The messy little knitting was like the ugly duckling who grew up to be a beautiful swan. After damp stretching my scarf grew in all directions, shows now an almost perfect lace pattern and will be proudly worn in the cool April weather.

The free pattern Nurmilintu by Heidi Alander can be found here at Ravelry, also in English and in several other languages.

My blue and white quilt top is finished. The herringbone pattern looks a little like knitted stitches too.

Here is an Easter Bunny for you. I don't like the little brown eggs he leaves behind so I bought us some Mignon eggs from the shop.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Half Square Triangles

Completing the Paper Lantern quilt top in a short time made me think I could keep on piecing simple quilt tops that don't take a year. While I was suffering from a nasty cold. I thought of all the shirts I have waiting in cardboard boxes, cut apart and ironed, sorted according to colour. Blocks have been cut from them, but there are large bits left. The blue box is full, especially because I didn't use any blues in the big Shadow Plaid quilt. Dolores is making a red and white quilt to celebrate Canada's 150 years of independence, so I thought I could do the same in blue and white for our 100 years.

I cut the fabrics in 7" squares and made them into HSTs. Ironed and trimmed to 6½".

Much time and 107 squares later:

The 8" Bias Square ruler is perfect for trimming any HSTs. I place the diagonal line on my diagonal seam, and the squares will be not only the correct size but also look correct.

The trimmed squares waiting for the next step.

After the baby sock project I needed something different, so I dug out the scarf I have started maybe two years ago. The yarn is lovely and very fine, 800 metres for 100 grams, alpaca and silk.  The lace pattern is very difficult to follow when the knitting looks like this:

I laid the project aside all those months ago after I had to unravel a whole lace repeat of 18 rows. Now I tried again and I think it went right this time. I didn't want to take the risk of running out of yarn in the middle of the last lace repeat so I knitted less garter stitch between the lace rows. Naturally there was some yarn left. I need to get some kind of urethane board so I can stretch my fine scarf into shape. I'm back to sock knitting again!

Yesterday we saw the first robin of the spring, and today came the first finch. I don't have new pictures of the newcomers so I will show you the treecreeper hiding on our oak in February:

Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

New quilt top, last socks and this and that

Today I finished this Paper Lanterns quilt top, just ten days after starting it. It has 100 blocks like my previous one, but half of them are just plain solid squares and the others are not too complicated either.

The pattern is Stephanie's Paper Lanterns, and you can buy it here. Her version is smaller and very feminine. I wanted to make bigger blocks and a bigger quilt, so I enlarged the blocks, and I made my lanterns shine in a dark August night. - I think I can manage to quilt this one on my sewing machine.

I used all my "impossible" fabrics, large prints, almost no colour in some, and fuzzy cut some big flowers from an odd shaped leftover piece. Some of the fabrics are from my mother, corner pieces left over when she made a round tablecloth. Some are my own curtain or cushion cover rests, and many come from my sister P. The fabric in the bottom row center is from a summer frock of my dear great auntie Saima. So once again I have sewn memories of the family into my quilt.

The blue and white sock challenge for babies born in Finland this year is doing really well. Of the 56,556 pairs of sock estimated to be needed, 55,706 pairs have been delivered to maternity wards throughout the country. A few hundred pairs are still missing from the big hospitals in the metropolitan area, and it is only March. I used up all my blue and white wool yarns and finished this lot last week:

I took them to the Flying Mitten on Monday, and once again they had a basket full of socks waiting to be collected and delivered. I reached my goal of 60 pairs, and even exceeded it by one pair. This has been a fun challenge, but it is over now and I have gone back to other colours and larger socks.

Little grandson has been busy painting and drawing, and his apron needs to be washed a lot. Therefore I was asked to make another one, and as there was some material left, and the pattern was there, it only took a little while to put this together for him:

It is time to clean the bird houses again for new residents. One house had fallen down in the strong wind, and another one had a big hole after an attack by a woodpecker. Mr K. made six brand new houses, with some variation in the opening diameter so the blue tits can take the smallest ones and others can choose between the larger entrances. Our trees have their birdhouses, so the new ones were placed in the woods around us.

We can see almost all of them from the kitchen window or from the places where we drink our afternoon tea in the garden. Not yet, but when the birds are nesting.