Thursday 31 December 2009

Holiday Post

It has been a week since my last post, a week of wonderful family time with my daughter Kaija here to boost my girly energy - we watched over 6 hours of Pride and Prejudice, and two episodes of the newest Emma. She also helped me start the giant project of sorting out my 13 cardboard boxes and numerous plastic bags in the cellar sewing room. We made a good start. She left at noon back to Turku and her own home, to spend New Year's Eve with people who are 30 years younger than we. OK, make it 35.

A week ago, on Christmas Eve, we opened our gifts from our friend Karen from England. We both got a piece of silk (I need to wear gloves to handle it!), pearly white pins and some cute bias tape with a lace edge I have never seen before. Thank you Karen! She makes art with white silk.

I'm showing you, in alpabetical order, the gifts I have received from other blogging friends. The next package came from England as well, in fact not very far from where Karen lives. This master wrapper is Melanie, the Jellybean Angel:

She sent me a towel with Lake District recipes. Maybe I should try some of them, if our local grocers can supply the ingredients.


The big soft gift was a cushion with four different panels, one for every season. They are all in wool appliqué, in the nicest colours and made with Melanie's perfection. If you don't happen to know her blog, go there soon and enjoy her photos and text.

I will show the other panels one at a time when I change a new one for use. Thank you, dear sweet friend!

The next gift travelled across the ocean, it is from Stephanie.

She had made me a lovely placemat in my favourite colours and a forest themed pincushion with a squirrel and a bird, animals I can daily observe from my kitchen window.

She also included an antique bobbin/thread spool so I can add it to my collection of old sewing notions. The Sugar and Cream yarn feels ever so soft, and I will think about a nice project to use them for. Stephanie included some patterns as well. I think the yarn has something to do with my trying to help her learn to crochet Granny squares. She took a class and masters the skill perfectly now! Thank you, Stephanie, for the lovely gifts!

Last (in the alphabet only) is Suzie's gift from Germany. She told me that she was going to leave the house to mail packages to Stephanie and me, when the doorbell rang. There was the mailman with two packages for her, and they were - you guess by now - from Stephanie and me!

The cutest snowman card with such nice words straight to my heart and out from my eyes! Inside were some delicious treats, a little book about coffee, some scented candles and  two fabric stars she made in golden brown colours, just like all my new baubles in the tree. A bigger star is a reversible table topper, sewn with Suzie's perfection. She also made a thread catcher/pincushion for my sewing machine. Suzie must have seen the mess around my machine; I just try to hit the little trash can I have on the floor.

Here is a better look at the catcher, with a lovely "sewing" fabric. The pincushion is heavy so it will stay on the table even when the bag is full. Thank you, dear Suzie! You are in my heart.

This last picture was taken through the staircase window just before I started writing this post. Today has been a clear and sunny day with only -17 C (1.4 F). It has been snowing some more this week, and the weather forecast promises new snow for every day until Monday.

I thank all my blogging friends and readers for this year. We have been through a lot of things, luckily most of them nice and cute and beautiful or fun. Shared joys put smiles on many faces. I hope shared trouble has been easier to live with, too. I wish everyone good health, lots of energy and inspiration for the year we all start tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Thursday 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

This is our tree, brought in and decorated already on the eve of Christmas Eve. Kaija decorated it with just our new baubles from last year, and some paper stars she made. She will tell about the stars here in a few days.

The gifts will appear under the tree when nobody watches, and they will be opened after dinner. I'm starting a holiday break from blogging now, but may sneak to the computer for some blog reading during the holidays. I wish you all a peaceful, joyous and merry Christmas and a happy New Year with good health, lots of energy and good ideas for sewing!

Wednesday 23 December 2009

More Snow

There is a saying about evening red sky and bad weather for the coming day. This is a picture of the setting sun yesterday, after a sunny, frosty day.

This is this morning, after I had been showeling for over one and a half hours, and Mr. K came home to clear our driveway after he had done it at work, and to finally have his breakfast.

Six inches new snow this morning! He woke up at 4 to see if he needed to get up and start this winter hobby, but there was no snow, so he came back to bed. At 5 when it was the right time for him to wake up, it was snowing heavily, so he went to work and I started showeling at home. He was very glad to see my results when he came, and I felt like a little tonttu.

There is more snow coming, so we shall repeat this show later.
Tomorrow will be the last Advent Calendar post before my holiday break. In case you are busy with your holiday season already, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for coming by and being there with me.

Tuesday 22 December 2009


This picture shows the first snowman of the year. Our neighbour's little girls built it two weeks ago, when there was just a little snow. Autumn leaves stuck on the snow, but today the snowman will have a clean white coat on.

It has been snowing for a couple of days, and the weather is still cold (-17 C = 1.4 F this morning), so a white Christmas is guaranteed for us. I hope the Christmas traffic will not suffer too much from this.

Our daughter Kaija came home for Christmas yesterday. Today she will be visiting a friend, but after that she will be my little inspiring elf in the kitchen. My brother and his wife dropped in for a quick change of Christmas greetings on their way to spend the Christmas with her mother. Tomorrow I may expect my sister P and her husband on their way to spend the Christmas with our mother. We are the lucky ones, our children are coming to spend the Christmas with us, and we can stay at home.

Monday 21 December 2009

Pictures from the Elma 09 Fair

Do you remember the paper twine flower curtain from Dec 8th? Here are some more pictures from that fair. Wool rowings in lovely colours:

People could try their hand on sewing a ryijy rug. Big ones are woven in a loom.

It was also a countryside fair with farm animals. Here is Viola, the winner of the Prettiest Cow in the City pageant. With her baby. They were moving so fast that all my other pictures were just a blur.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Day 20

Yesterday we visited my mother in Tampere. I gave her the nightie I made, and a "Christmas hamper", only it was a recycled pillowcase turned into a light shopping bag, filled with vanishing goodies like coffee, tea, biscuits, chocolates and candles. It was lovely to be able to spend the day with her.

On the way home I visited my father's grave as well, and brought him a Christmas candle.

Take care of your loved ones!

Saturday 19 December 2009

What do you need a spade for in Christmas cleaning?

On Friday was the coldest day so far, -22 C (-7.6F). I decided to use a spade for Christmas cleaning.

I took our red Oriental carpet out, but it didn't fly me away to warm places. It was dusty. So I needed the spade to do this:

Then I brushed the snow this way and that way and on the other side too.

And so I had a bright clean fresh nice carpet! (And very very cold fingers in my mittens.)
Have a nice weekend! I'm visiting my mother today.

Friday 18 December 2009

Santa's Little Helper Reveals a Secret

This is something I have just sewn with my own little hands and my little overlocker and my big sewing machine:

It is a Christmas gift for my mother, a nightgown to keep her warm. I can show it to you, because she doesn't have internet, and I believe my sisters can keep this kind of a secret if they happen to see this. I want Christmas gifts to be surprises, so we can all believe they are made by Santa's little helpers, the tonttu elves, who have been secretly watching us. They know what we need, or maybe not need but very much would like to have. They know what colours we like, or what materials, what we collect or what we like to read or to listen to. They also note in their notebooks if we have been nice or naughty, so Santa can decide what we are going to get.

As one of Santa's helpers' helpers I have noticed that my mother sometimes needs extra blankets when she sleeps, so I believe a warm nightie would be welcome. She also appreciates hand made gifts, so I dived in one of my big cardboard boxes in the cellar and found this piece of jersey I bought for her nightie some years ago and wasn't inspired to use before now. I used one of my favourite nighties as a pattern. So now I have been good and reduced my stash a little!

Be good, the elves are still making notes!

Thursday 17 December 2009

Vintage Thingies 50 - Straw Goat

This is my 50th VTT. Suzanne is hosting again, and the links are here.


This is a traditional Finnish Christmas ornament, a goat made of straw. My mother-in-law made it for me and
my family in the early 80's, so it can be counted for vintage.


What does a goat have to do with Christmas? Long time ago masked young men wearing goat horns and a fur coat went from house to house begging for the last Christmas beer on January 7th, when the Christmas season was over. Their version of trick or treating! At some places they did this also before Christmas, sometimes throwing little gifts through the door and disappearing before being seen.  (This was the beginning of the Father Christmas character as well. His Finnish name is Joulupukki, joulu = Christmas, pukki = goat.) The straw goat is related to this tradition; it was important to see that the straw goat ornament had enough beer to drink. Straw items, like the more Finnish tradition himmeli, are usually referring to good harvest or fertility. The straw goat tradition comes to us from Sweden. There is a giant straw goat every year in Gävle, but it usually gets burned by bad boys before Christmas.

The real Joulupukki's office is here in English, you can follow several links and see tonttu elves at work, Finnish reindeers and arctic landscapes. I hope it will give you Christmas spirits!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Tonttu Needed!

What do you think of my sewing room? Do I need a tonttu or some English speaking elves here to help me clear this mess for Christmas?


I have the perfect answer for this from a lady from a women's assosiation: "Yes, if you are going to spend your Christmas there!" She actually said that about cleanig all cupboards for Christmas, but I think it goes for sewing rooms as well. Now you can all feel so pleased with yourselves, because there is someone whose house is messier that your worst closet. (Or teenager's bedroom.) The rest of my house is not this bad, it is pretty good. This will be dealt with when there is less stress. Stressed mothers are no good.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

The Sun is here

This is the time of the year when our days are the shortest, the sun rises around 9.20 and sets right after 3 in the afternoon. Yesterday was a lovely, sunny day with -18 degrees C (-0.4 F), with some new snow to make the ground look white and nice. This is how high the sun was at noon:


This is my shadow, as short as it can get at this time of the year, shoes not included:

Today is a little colder, but the temperatures are rising towards the end of the week, only by a few degrees. It looks like we are going to have a white Christmas!

Monday 14 December 2009

Calendar Blocks

These are my last two blocks for the Country Calendar BOM. I have shown the November block with the cute little bird earlier. Now I finally got to the October block after buying some black fabric.

The December block was easy to make. I will put the blocks together to make a quilt, but that will happen in January. This time of the year is too busy.

Working on these blocks instead of Christmas gifts to my nearest and dearest, or at least baking lovely cakes and mountains of gingerbread reminds me of the time I was supposed to study for the final exams in high school. I wanted to study, I really did, but I always found myself cross-stitching yellow flowers on linen to make pretty placemats. I passed the exams anyway, and I want to believe Christmas will come as well.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Third Advent

Today is the third Advent Sunday, time to light the third candle.


This Advent candle holder is a gift from my sister P. She brought it from Stockholm many, many years ago. Sometimes I use red or green candles, matching the lingonberry decoration. This year, hoping for a little snow, I used white ones.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Feed the Birds

This is our new bird feeder. Mr. Kotkarankki built it to make a squirrel-proof feeder with enough space for the seeds so we could be away for a couple of nights and the birds would not starve.


The old feeder was made of wood and he squirrels gnawed the edges of it, tring to get inside. They reached the tray when hanging upside down like this:

The new feeder is made of a smooth and slippery leftover piece of plastic sewage pipe, so it will be easy to keep clean, too. I do like the squirrels, but there is food for them in the forest as much as they need, and they can still find acorns on the ground as long as there is no more snow. The birds are more fun to watch and more helpless against the cold. They will always drop some seeds on the ground for the squirrels too. The new feeder has been up for a week now, and I already saw a new species of bird not yet seen in 2009: the willow tit Parus montanus was there together with its cousins the great tit Parus major with the black tie, and the little blue-capped Parus caeruleus.

Friday 11 December 2009

Matchbox Crafting

Yesterday was a reversed childhood day. I was crafting with my daughter, but it was she who showed me how to do it! She is staying with us for a couple of days because of her house renovation, and she had to make her matchbox for the day here. Luckily she had a spare one for me (because I still have not found the ones I bought for crafting in 2008).

Kaija made her box, and I tried to make mine as nice as I could. I watched her closely, and she explained what she was doing and why. She is a good teacher. She teaches me new things like computer and digital camera, too.


I only had glue sticks, but she managed to make a lovely work without her good materials.


She glued little torn bits of paper for the box bottom. I kept everything very simple. You can see Kaija's box here. She has made one for every day since the first advent. This is my first box:

I have collected little things I have picked up from the ground between the house and the washline, and always intended to make a project with them. Unfortunately the little bird egg shell broke into too small pieces before I used it. These items are not so fragile, and they go together because both are used for building.

The metal thing is something used as a nail to build our house in 1947, when there was a true shortage of everything, including all building materials. The yellow one is a Lego brick of my children, maybe fallen from a pocket on the washline, or they have played with their Legos outdoors, which was kind of not allowed. When you step on a Lego brick on the lawn, it disappears in the ground, but when you step on one in their room, it hurts like **** and you immediately notice it so you can save the poor brick from getting lost.

The nail is in fact a waste bit of metal cut away when making forks. Our floorboards and interior walls were nailed with these, and I found one in the ground.

It was much fun to sit together and talk about things we remember, learn something new and just be together. When I someday find my boxes I will continue crafting with them and make boxes for the other items I have found.

My daily posting has taken me by surprise: this is post number 300! I will celebrate later, as I'm too busy posting every day for two more weeks and trying to make Christmas happen in the family as well. In January will be my blog's 2nd Anniversary, that will be the time to celebrate.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Vintage Thingies 49 - Tonttu

Today's Advent calendar picture is a vintage Christmas ornament. This tonttu elf is double sided, printed on cardboard, and with a jingle to decorate his long red peaked cap.


The style of this drawing reminds me of Swedish  Christmas cards by Jenny Nyström, but it is not signed. The clogs make me believe the tonttu is from Sweden. Here they wear felt boots.


Remember to go to Suzanne's blog and visit all the lovely places with vintage thingies on Thursdays!

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Winter Bird

It has been  a while since I showed anything I have sewn, but yesterday I finished the November block of my Country Calendar BOM project.

I still have not started the October block, because I couldn't find my black fabric for the background. On Monday I bought some, so I hope to finish the pumpkin block in the near future.
Yesterday my daughter Kaija came for a visit, escaping the window renovation in her house. I'll be spending my time with her.

Tuesday 8 December 2009


This is something I totally forgot to show you. In November I visited the big fair in Helsinki, actually four fairs together: Living Countryside, Forest, Handicraft and DIY. It was called the Green Weekend. I'll post about it when I have more time.

Today just this pretty curtain made of paper twine flowers.

Today is the 30th anniversary of our engagement. How cool is that?

Monday 7 December 2009

Day Seven

Today I want to show you a lighter picture for a change. This is a rag carpet woven by me several years ago. I had it in the kitchen, but originally made it for a bedroom. This is a traditional Finnish way of recycling and using up worn garments and leftover fabrics.

The busy strips are made of a striped curtain fabric, mixed with white sheets. The light blue comes from men's shirts, the pink and yellow from nightgowns. I have woven carpets using jeans and heavy jerseys as well. You only need to adjust the width of your weft strips to the thickness of the fabric used, and you can blend almost anything.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Independence Day

This is  December 6th, our Independence Day. My advent calendar picture with the new snow from yesterday is about as merry and joyful as we Finns are on this special day. We seem to take many things seriously.


I belong to the generation whose parents were born during the WWI, before Independence in 1917. Our fathers fought to keep this independence in the three wars 70 years ago. No wonder the Independence Day celebration is a bit serious, especially as it is at this dark time of the year. In the evening we light two candles in the window, and we watch the most boring (and yet so interesting) TV program, a direct broadcast from the Presidential Palace: the arrival of over 1,000 guests in their best dresses (that is the fun part) to shake hands with Mrs. President and her husband; and then the dancing crowd. It would be so much satisfying to watch this show with a female companion. Mr. K is a dear and lovely man, but his comments on dresses are far less than expert.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Clean House

This week I had the unexpected pleasure to offer a training possibility for a student. Her subject was home cleaning. You heard right: vacuuming, dusting, wiping the floors, scrubbing the sauna from ceiling to floor. She worked with me (I wasn't sitting in an armchair and sipping cocktails, if that is what you thought) from 10 to half past two on both days, and did a wonderful job. There are many chores in a big cleaning which are difficult to do when you are alone, but go easily with another pair of hands. I took the big carpets out, because we could lift the tables together, and so on. Christmas cleaning made for Independence Day already.

Afterwards I felt like Raggedy Ann here on the windowsill, very pleased with the result! If you look through the window (we didn't get to cleaning windows because of the below freezing point temperature), you can see we finally have a touch of snow to brighten our days.
This is my 5th Advent Calendar picture. Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday 4 December 2009

Full Moon

Finally I caught the full moon last night after sewing class:

This was half past eight in the evening, and the moon was already small and high up in the sky. We had a last class before Christmas, and everyone brought something to share. We had hot Glögi (spiced black currant juice), blueberry pie and gingerbread with a chat, and only did a little sewing.
The sun is up for about 6 hours and 15 minutes today in Helsinki, so it is about the same here where I live. Up in the north the sun has set on November 25th and will rise again on January 17th for an hour. Around Christmas are the shortest days of the year, and the sun will be up for about 5 hours and 50 minutes. It helps to think that in six months the sun will be down just a little over 4 hours during the night.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Vintage Thingies 48 - More Simplicity Patterns

This week I'm joining in the Vintage Thingies Thursday again. Coloradolady Suzanne is hosting with a Christmas theme. I will just show you the rest of my old patterns for clothes.

Do you still remember the time when maternity clothes were wide and doing their best to hide the changing figure of the future mother? Like this:

I think it looks great when the young mothers today wear stretchy shirts keeping the bump warm without hiding it.

After the baby is born, he or she needs clothes. The second folder from the left is for dolls' clothes.

The next pattern is again from Stil, I think it was a Scandinavian pattern. Nightwear for about 12 to 14 years old girls.

The last pattern is by Sorja, a Finnish magazine. My mother sewed me this outfit in the 60's. It was a dark blue woollen sailor's jacket with woollen hipster trousers. I don't remember if they were striped, but I do remember the beautiful red suede ankle length shoes I had with them. I felt so fashionable!

This was all from me for this week's vintage. I try to find some Christmas vintage for next week!