Saturday 29 March 2008

The Winner is ...

Ewa-Christine! Please e-mail me your post address so I can send the potholders to you on Monday.

My little bearded helper picked this name from a basket. With a little patience we managed to get a picture to witness the process.

Congratulations to the winner, and to the rest of you: better luck next time.

Tidying up my stash

This is what I have been doing this morning. I'm arranging and organizing my chaos with a new set of plastic boxes. Optimistically I chose five of these 30 l boxes and three 16 l boxes for small pieces. They are all rather tightly packed now, and I only emptied one big cardboard box and some plastic bags. Then I emptied one huge black carbage bin liner and filled the big box I just emptied.

I could only take detail photos like these, because this is the only visible change in the room. Even I could not tell that the fabric mountains are a little smaller. The rest of my side of the room is still a mess. Imagine a teenager sharing a room with a toddler, and a mother who couldn't care less, and you get the general idea of my sewing room. At the other end lives the tidy nerd big brother who minds his own business and keeps his desk tidy. That is my husband's side. I love him very much and he must love me at least as much, because we can work there very peacefully.

I made some interesting finds digging through the archaeological layers of plastic bags. There were leftover blocks from old quilting projects and interesting, big pieces of fabric. This will make it a lot easier for me to keep my fabric diet.

I have spent too many hours reading interesting
blogs with the words "stash" and "scraps" and many new ideas are bouncing in my head. I feel like quilting something small that will be rady in no time, but I also would like to try out more ideas from my Japanese Patchwork book, and there are so many bags just waiting to be made. The first thing I ought to do is a lightweight bag for groceries. I always carry a used plastic bag in my shoulder bag (for international readers: Finnish groceries use thicker, big plastic bags which can be used for heavy shopping many, many times if you want to), but a fabric bag would be a better message against global warming. I found many interesting fabrics suitable for this purpose. Some of them were in the depths of the bin liner, a cupboard cleaning project of my sister who moved to a new house a couple of years ago and shifted her stash to my cellar.

Today at six o'clock my time I will write down the names for the giveaway and my son will pick up one. Chances to win the potholders are very good at the moment ;) so if you are interested there is still some time to participate by commenting on the post titled Giveaway!.

Friday 28 March 2008

What happens when the country girl goes to town

This week I joined the Fabric diet 2008, like I told you before. It seems to be going as well as my other diets: Yesterday I was in Helsinki for some important shopping and I had a little time for myself as well. I went to the big fabric shop near the railway station and bought 2.5 m fabrics. Then I went to Ateneum, the art museum, to see an exhibition of the works of Pekka Halonen, who has lived in this area in the beginning of the 20th century. This is the art museum Ateneum:

And this is how Helsinki was yesterday, now that we finally did get the winter that didn't come when it was time.

Then I came to Järvenpää like every Thursday, and went to the fabric shop that is moving back to its old address further away, so I had to shop a little because next week it is too late: 3 m fabrics. And I haven't used any, because I have been busy doing real things and stitching the big quilt. I have also gained some weight, thanks to all the Mignon eggs. These are Easter eggs with 52 g nougat chocolate in a real egg shell. No little rings or toy surprises for me, I want the real thing: chocolate.

Tuesday 25 March 2008


Today my little blog has reached its first milestone, 1,000 visitors. To celebrate this I have decided to have a giveaway. On Saturday, 29th of March I will write down all the names who have commented on today's post, and my son will pick up one name. The winner will be given this set of two chenille potholders:

True to my principles the material is recycled, only the bias binding is new. Chenille, because it was fun to make. Potholders, because they are practical and necessary, and I'm a prosaic person.

You may have noticed the new badge on the right. I have found the perfect support group for me in Hanne's Quilt Corner . A fabric diet means to use more fabric than you buy. A perfect way to use the stash which threatens to cover my working area. Announcing the diet in public makes me at least consider every purchase even more closely. If I succeed, there will be many new quilts and children's books and toys, and the stash will not grow too much. I hope to emphasize the using, because it will result in finished projects. No fun in stopping to buy fabric and stopping to sew anything.

Sunday 23 March 2008

Fat little Easter hen

I just had my birthday and look what Kaija sent me:

Check it out here. And I had the Japanese book from her earlier. The flowers are from my elder son and her girlfriend and her parents who all were visiting us yesterday. I also got a chocolate Scrabble, but have not played it yet. It is a game that seems to be known all over the world but I have never even seen it before now.

And finally I have to show something I made:

This fat little easter hen is a couple of years old. I have made two, because after the first one was finished, I noticed I hadn't sewn the log cabin the right way (I had changed direction) and didn't put the wattle on.

Vintage Children's Book Illustrations, Sunday

This is the last post with vintage illustrations and I'll be back to normal again.

This is the second book on Babar the elephant, told and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff, printed by WSOY in 1949.

The war was present even in children's books. Babar paints the biggest elephants' tails red, and scary eyes on both sides of the tail. Arthur makes giant wigs. One of us has added some drawing on the elephants' behinds.

The rhinos think they see scary monsters and run away.

All is well that ends well.
Pip has made a list of links to other blogs showing vintage illustrations.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Vintage Children's Book Illustrations, Saturday

Today's illustrations are from a book from my very early childhood. It belonged to my elder sisters, I think, but it was so important to me that I could have it when I was grown up. Books in English were often cheaper or just more colourful than Finnish books at that time.

I learned to read when I was about 5 years old. Of course I read the title of this book too. It made me ask "Mouse's House, what is it, it isn't anything?" My mother had always told the story in the book in Finnish, so I couldn't understand why the text made no sense to me.

The cat looked very mean! But the special thing about this book was that some of the figures had a textile surface, like the brown dog int the cover, this black cat and the duck in the last picture.

The duck is very stylish with her handbag.
Mouse's House by Kathryn and Byron Jackson, pictures by Richard Scarry, copyright 1949 by Simon and Shuster, Inc. and Artists and Writers Guild, Inc.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Vintage children's book illustration, day 4

This beautiful picture is by Ota Janecek, copyright 1968 Artia Praha, and the book is Children's Paradise. Original poems are by Frantisek Halas and the Finnish translation by Aale Tynni. The book is full of beautiful aquarelles. Here is another one:

I always liked horses but didn't ride before i was 50. Then I had my first try safely with the teacher holding my horse by the halter strap. I tried it two more times, so now I have some riding experience!

This is one of my dearest books from my own childhood. I know almost all the verses by heart. My youngest son learnt his first words from this horse verse I kept "singing" (very poorly) to him. - My mother had a stuffed Bonzo dog just like this baby has:

This last picture is with my initial letter U and the name is Ulla, but it is not the little girl's name but the little lamb! I had this book probably at Easter 14.4.1954. The illustration is by Helga Sjöstedt, the book's name is Pikku-Marjan eläinkirja, or Little Mary's book of animals. Published by WSOY 1953.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Vintage children's book illustration week, 2

This is my second post today, just to catch up with the illustration week. This is The Tall Book of Mother Goose, traditional English nursery rhymes in Finnish by Kirsi Kunnas and including over 30 of her own poems. Illustration by Feodor Rojankovski, original copyright 1942 by Artists and Writers Guild, Inc. This is published by WSOY in 1982, I bought it for my children, but we had the exactly same book when I was little. I always liked the unusual form of this book and The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, but wasn't too keen on the illustration. I loved the rhymes and therefore bought the books later. My kids never liked them really.

This is Humpty Dumpty in English, I think. - And they want the rain to go away.

And This little piggy went ...

Vintage Childrens' Books

I have been following the Vintage childrens' books week meme started by Pip from Meet me at Mikes this week. So many books reminded me of my own books and the newer books I have been reading as the babysitting spinster aunt to my nephews and nieces that I just had to join in the play. Here it comes, my all time favourite, Tove Jansson's hole book Kuinkas sitten kävikään? or Hur gick det sen? (What happened then?):

Moomin troll comes early in the morning with fresh milk through the dark and scary forest.

And it is getting lighter. He sees something he thinks is too odd to be their chimney.

It is the knot of hair of this Mymmeli girl who is crying because she has lost her little sister Myy. They have an adventure seeking for her.

And they finally come home to Mamma.

But the milk has gone sour. Mamma solves the problem and promises they will all drink juice from now on. The last hole in the book is so small that all the characters must stay in the book.

The text is written in many different fonts to emphasize the meaning, and my mother did a wonderful job reading this to me when I was little. The text is translated from Swedish (Tove Jansson's mother tongue, although she was Finnish), and it is in modern rhyme. The illustration, naturally by Tove Jansson too, uses holes and cut pages to show what is coming and what has been left behind. I tried to take the pictures so that this can be seen. Like in the beginning you can see the sun through two holes, and then through one, with the hair knot, and finally you are on the same page as the sun. I still know the whole thext almost by heart. The book was first printed in 1952, and I got it when I was a little girl, a couple of years later.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

About Unicef rag dolls

This is just a little post on a busy sewing/housekeeping day. Since I have not finished anything for a while, I'll show you one more Unicef rag doll:

She is a typical Finnish girl with blond hair and blue eyes. She lives in Germany, like my sister, who has organized the international adoption of several of my dolls there. Yesterday I found the perfect place to give my yet to be made Unicef dolls. I was reading Kaija's blog and she had been visiting Tampere, my old home town where I was born and lived until the end of my studies. Tampere is a Unicef city 2008 (unfortunately that part of their website is not in English), and they have a big adoption event for the dolls later this year. The dolls will be auctioned, so there is more than the minimum fee of 20 euro to be expected for each doll. So now I have decided to make the final 9 dolls for that date, and celebrate being a "birth mum" for 50 dolls total.

Saturday 15 March 2008

Why do I feel guilty if I use new fabrics?

In the last couple of days I have found some new interesting blogs. I noticed how often here up in the North old clothing is reused in patchwork instead of buying new coordinated fabrics and cutting them up to pieces just to be sewn together again to a new piece of fabric. It may be our common Lutheran working moral; we mostly have to justify at least to ourselves any frivolous behavior. Earnest working is good, thriftiness is good. Vanity is bad, prodigality is bad. It is better to make it than to waste good money to buy it ready made. This goes for food and clothing and household textiles and cleaning washing and you name it. My generation was raised with these ideas, at least in the background of the thoughts of our parents who went through the war as young adults. Even I have woven some carpets. The first one I made for my little flat when I moved from home to live on my own. I dyed some old bedsheets, tore them to narrow stripes and sewed the ends together to be the weft. I used my mother's loom and her guidance. The next carpet was a very little one to be used by our kitchen door. I still like it, especially the busy stripes of his plaid shirt.

I was heavily pregnant with our first child so I didn't want to start anything time-consuming. I cut 5-6 of my young husbands old shirts to make this doormat, and my mother-in-law helped me with the technical problems. Later I have woven several more carpets, but I still have no idea of how to start the whole process. It has in fact been necessary to save all used clothes for this purpose. The largest pieces of my Grandmother's Garden quilt for Kaija come from my mother's "carpet rags" box, like the light blue background around the flowery blocks.

The hand quilting is still fun, the progress is slow but almost steady. The sewing group will meet four more times, because next week will be Easter holiday. The weekend 19th to 20th April will be the exhibition showing the work of the different groups. I'll do my best to have this quilt ready to be shown there.

P.S. I use new fabrics for the immature babies' quilts and for many things I sew for sale, but if I use recycled material, it is a good sales argument.

Friday 14 March 2008

Spring is here?

This year there has not been a thermic winter in Southern Finland at all. That would require five consecutive days with the maximal temperature of 5 degrees below freezing point. There have been colder temperatures but they never lasted for many days. The picture is from yesterday, taken from my kitchen window and showing our carage. That in the air is räntää or wet snow once again.

I had a busy day starting early with sewing, having a massage after lunch - that is my luxury part of life to keep me going, every three weeks - and in the afternoon and in the evening train trips to town. I finished the tote I started a while ago from the Japanese quilt book:

It turned out all right with a little ironing. The bumps caused by quilting went away. On the other side the buttons are white and there are six of them. In the original there were glass beads. The floral print is from the craft fair, the rest is linen from my stash.

Inside is a zippered pocket and a string with a clasp (?) for the key ring. (I don't know the correct Finnish word so it's difficult to find a translation!) The inside picture didn't show anything but red, so I won't show that.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Publishing my new book

Yesterday I had once again lovely mail: Karen sent me the pincushion I won in her giveaway. It will be my "public" pincushion I can boast with in the sewing class! Here is a group photo of all my pincushions:

The white pretty one is the one Karen made. The other round one has an elastic band to hold it on my wrist, but I never learnt to use it. My daughter made it for me as a schoolgirl. She later made the brown one with polka dots. It is very good to keep by the sewing machine: it's big and easy to hit even when not looking, and it stays on place because of the heavy filling. It is filled with used, curly wool yarn from not mendable mittens and socks. The last one is a Cathedral Window experiment by me.

This morning I finally finished the tactile book for advanced readers.

This one has a plot, as you can see on the cover.

Soon will be spring with first flowers and migrating birds.

Then comes summer with strawberries and an abundance of flowers and butterflies.

In autumn there will be mushrooms, and the leaves turn yellow, red and brown.

And then comes Christmas and winter with snow. And then you can start from the beginning, because after winter there will be spring.

Monday 10 March 2008

Sunday lunch recipe

The weekend has gone and I haven't done anything sewing-related. I have been cleaning and washing and cooking instead, and now I feel full of sewing energy again. I even cooked so much for our big family dinner on Sunday that I don't need to make lunch today, just warm up the rest of our yesterday's merimiespihvi. This is one of my favourites, my mother used to make it often for Sundays in winter when we were a big family. It is made of sliced (raw) potatoes, beef (slices fried in a pan), and fried onion rings and a couple of carrots sliced as well, for colour. The incredients are layered in a ceramic pot, starting with potatoes. Top layer is also potato slices. Add some bay leaves and peppers, a little salt on each potato layer. Then add a strong broth, almost reaching the top. Put it in the oven for 2 hours or more, 180 degrees C. Put a lid on the pot when the potatoes start getting brown. Yum! Serve with pickled cucumbers, red beet and lingonberry jam. For 1 kg of beef I would use 10-14 average size potatoes, one carrot and two big onions.

As I was so busy cleaning, I also needed to put something on the table after taking all my tactile book stuff (Yes, it has occupied our big dining table this long. We eat in the kitchen.) and my ironing to the bedroom. I chose this little runner I made a couple of years ago for Easter, which is this year very early, next week.

I'm experiencing serious difficulties with uploading the photos. I'll go and put some new laundry in the washing machine and hang the first load, and try again.

Yes, a break is always good. Five attempts before going to the cellar, and now on first attempt the pictures are here. This Easter flower is made with the paper-piecing method, where the patchwork is sewn with a paper pattern on the reverse, along the lines. This makes it easy to make small details correct and all blocks alike.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Lucky winner

Yesterday I was busy making a bag from my new Japanese book. I made it bigger and in many ways different, but I was inspired by the picture. I also made a stupid mistake but noticed it so late that I decided to ignore it and just try to make it disappear: I sewed the side ends together before a) adding the floral print to the top, b) adding the batting, and c) quilting the whole thing. Pictures will come when I have finished the project. I still need lining with pockets, and the handles.

Today is very windy and snow is falling. My husband is away for the day (usually he comes home for lunch), and so I have to take me by foot to the train. In this weather, and because it is slippery again, it will take about half an hour. Luckily I'm going to have a haircut, which is always nice, so it is not so bad after all. And I had a good start for my own time this morning when I came to the computer. I always check my e-mail first, and there was a message from Karen. I won one of the pincushions on her giveaway! I don't know which one I'll get, but I think they are both lovely.

Because I don't have any new pictures of my recent work, I show something I have made ages ago. This little "everyday angel" has a mouth and rosy cheeks, too, but my pictures are not always perfect. I wish you all a good day and a smile on your face.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

My new book and new plans

This is the new book Kaija brought me for by coming birthday:

There is only very little English text in the book, but the pictures are inspiring and beautiful, and there are drawn instructions in the "How to make" part of the book. I already started making one bag, or my version of it. I just had to start, because I bought this at the fair:

"This" means now the floral print at the bottom. I got the book before we went to the fair, and when I saw the print I knew I could use it with some natural coloured linen for my favourite bag from the book.
I know I have not finished the second tactile book I have been working on, and of course there is the hand quilting to do. (Household chores don't count, because I keep doing most of them, and the rest can wait.) Sometimes a girl just needs to do something else instead of the things she should be doing. And so do I, in case I don't count as a girl any more, being a mother of three grown up children. If there is a sewing/crafting person out there who always finishes one project before starting any new ones, please come forward. You must be a very special person!
And, by the way, my pinwheel block was on the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog today, in the bottom row of a group of nine blocks.

Monday 3 March 2008

Report from the Handicraft Fair

Last Saturday I went to this handicraft fair with my daughter Kaija (in the pictures are not any people we know). It wasn't a very big fair, nothing to go crazy about, but we saw many 'quite nice' things there.

There were knitted scarves.

And lovely pieces of quilting fabrics. I kind of wanted to buy the teal bunch, but I didn't.

But from this wall I picked 10 pieces (50 cm x 110 cm), including the light blue for the binding of Kaija's quilt I'm quilting this winter and spring.

Felted clothes and felted almost anything are very popular at the moment. There was also fine merino wool for sale. I only bought a little bag of curly wool in mixed colours for my husband. He said it was OK for his fly-tying. I have learned to choose mainly good colours for him. We share a hobby room, and if I'm not sewing at full speed with my machine, we can listen to music or just enjoy the peace. When he shows me his flies, I often ask and learn something about them as well. This helps me when I choose treasures for him when shopping for yarns or trimmings for my own needs.

And then there was one good and one 'usual' book seller. From the good one I bought a book-binding book for Kaija's birthday, and gave it to her in advance. (She brought me a book for my birthday in advance!) I'll show my book tomorrow.