Friday 26 February 2010

Felted mittens, and lovely mail on a bad day

The last few days I have been fighting against a flu. Yesterday I spent most of the day wrapped in a quilt and shivering, today is a little better. My personal mailman, Mr. K., had the nicest mail to make my day on Thursday:

Melanie sent me black and white wool for felting/sharing with Mr. K. for flytying, and a wide selection of Green&Black's delicious chocolate. Amazon sent me the next Arthur Ransome book, Coot Club, just when I had finished the last one I had for Christmas. And finally, for the hours of lower energy level, there was my new issue of Kodin Kuvalehti. Their chief editor commented on the big German women's magazine Brigitte's decision to start using real size , non-professional models: Kodin Kuvalehti has been using their readers as models for 16 years already! - The chocolate was a good medicine, I slept well last night and only started sneezing again after I stood up in the morning.

As I have mainly concentrated on tea, chocolate and reading in my spare time, I have not much to show. The washing machine must run every day, no matter what, and so my mittens are now ready for use. This is the before picture, the safety pin at the top is holding a plastic bag in place inside the mitten during the felting process.


and here are the mittens after their spin in the washing machine:


A closer view:


They remained fairly soft, but they are still a bit too large for me, just DH's size.  Mr. K. only needs warm mittens for the snow pushing, but the wool is not very durable in such use. (This is not something I would even dream of darning!) I think I will wash them once more and see if they can get a little smaller still. The thumbs are too wide and long. I don't think I will make another pair very soon; it was fun to give it a try but I prefer knowing beforehand what size I'm going to get.

Thursday 25 February 2010

VTT 7 - Darning

Yesterday I needed to darn a pair of technical sports socks for my Dear Mr. K. who has been so busy with pushing snow that there was a new hole in his sock. So of course I took my big box of darning things and tried to find a matching thread. This is what I saw:

My mother gave me the box when she found out that I actually darned socks, not just the hand knitted ones with the leftover yarn, but also other socks. The collection is from my grandmother, from the time when stockings were darned and nobody could even dream about nylons and panty hoses. Therefore I own lots of brown shades:

From the time of silk stockings!

Anyone remember these?

There were several manufacturers in town - Tampere, my home town, was for a long time the textile industry capital of Finland. Suomen Trikoo and Nanso were big names.

OK, Nanso was not in Tampere but in the neighbour, Nokia. And it still is a big name, for T-shirts and nightgowns and children's wear.

There were some smaller manufacturers as well, they all knitted the socks and provided the mending thread. Kesto means durability, and Amor is such a lovable name for grey stockings!

After the silk, wool and cotton came a new material for light summer socks and stockings, Crepe Nylon, the lovely, elastic synthetic material. One brand name was Helanca:

With time those socks turned hard and lost the elasticity. - Did I find what I was looking for? Yes, the last bit of some black thin wool yarn, and now DH can use his favourite socks again. He may well have ten pairs of all kinds of heavy use socks to use in boots, with high-tech qualities of moisture transportation, left and right foot design, snug fit and felt soles, but one pair is always the best, softest, warmest and coolest, so I better get some more darning thread for that pair!

This was my story for Vintage Thingies Thursday with the Coloradolady. Enjoy your tour through her list of links!

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Boy's stuff with Andy

Hi, this is Andy! Let me tell you about my adventure in the snow. She took me along yesterday to town, and we left Ann at home because the weather was so cold. I borrowed a cap from a nice bear who lives in the house too, and the scarf Ann used last time we were out in the snow. The guy who borrowed his cap is called Uppis, and he can write poems and all. He belongs to DS1. Here we are testing Mr. K's snow pushers and showel; they are a bit big for us.

So She took me with her and we walked to the station. On the way we saw several machines trying to open the roads for traffic and clear the parking lots. It was exciting!

This was a small tractor in the park. The path is funny, it only goes round a pond, and you have to cross the lawn - or in this case climb over a snow bank - to use this short cut to the local café or the beautician.

A bigger backhoe was clearing the parking lot between the two grocery stores. It would be fun drivng one of these!

A little pickup truck was pushing snow at the railway station. The driver didn't like Her taking pictures, and She was upset how unaesthetic the result was. Not the photos of course, but his job. He left an awful lot of loose snow on the ground, and made big snowbank in front of the mailbox.  Well, you have seen our yard and how He does things. Someone could call that style. The Art of Pushing Snow, by Mr. K.!

The roof of the underpass had snow caps on:

And there was no way we could sit on the bench waiting for the train. Luckily it was only ten minutes late, and we were sitting in the waiting room anyway.

Then we arrived in Järvenpää. Bigger town, bigger machines, She said, but I was a little nervous about this one:

It was coming right at us, and there was nowhere She could jump with her bad legs, anyway, because we seemed to be stuck between the backhoe and this:

Of course She didn't jump in the snow but kept a cool head (easy at these temperatures, I would say), and just took pictures of the giant:

... well, its tyre prints only.  Then the camera battery went flat or it was just too cold for it, and we didn't get a picture of a little pavement snow plow, or me drinking hot chocolate at the café (they don't put marshmallows in it here, but whipped cream is good too). She had just some tea and didn't eat anything, because She didn't want to go and brush Her teeth and leave me alone at the table. (I can't got to the Ladies, can I?) Did you know She has braces? She says they make her look younger. Some teenager, with grey hair and wrinkles and arthritis! She is a bit childish, though, and I can see that She likes playing with us.

After the chocolate we run her errands and went to her gym, and then  He came to meet us for the big grocery shopping and to take us home.

End of story. I think I will be friends with Uppis. I'll have a chat with him when I thank him for lending me his cap. It was a good one, but doesn't go too well with my hair (exactly the same color!). Ann had just been watching birds while we were away, and taking a nap. She gave us the little granny square blanket she made last spring when she first learnt to crochet those squares. Good for naps! OK, this is the end. Enjoy the snow! Maybe She   will knit me a beanie of my own, if I say Pretty Please? The End.


Just one more thing: the blanket picture is from last spring, of course, there is still an awful lot of snow here, and more is coming. Mr. K has grown some muscles pushing all that snow. Bye bye now!

Saturday 20 February 2010

Knitting, sewing and reading

After having finished the Christmas Wish stitching I needed another handwork for the evenings in front of the TV. I had bought a ball of deep purple wool for mittens to be felted, and I started knitting them on number 8 needles. It was fun and fast, and soon I noticed that I need another ball to finish the other mitten. Easier said than done, because deep purple was an autumn/winter colour, and now the shops have new colours for the spring. Deep purple was nowhere to be found.  I wanted the mittens to look like a pair, so I unknit the mittens (one with thumb and all), and started new ones with stripes.

The yarn will shrink about 40 % when washed at 40C, I just must remember to put plastic bags inside the mittens so there will be a place for my hands left between the layers!

I like using these thick needles. They make the knitting go very fast, and tonight I can start knitting both thumbs.

My other "not sewing project", the tatting, needs a lot of practice. On Thursday evening in sewing class I asked our techer Anne show me what I was doing wrong, and she showed me nice and perfect stitches. It looked easy, but when I started trying again, it was as difficult as before. The only thing that helps is practice! Be patient, I will show you pictures when there is something to show.

Last night I started sewing a draft stopper for our kitchen door. Snow doesn't melt on the threshold, as there is just a little space between the outer and inner door and it is so cold outside. I used 1.5 m of fabrics from my stash, and some of the contents of an old bean bag.


The bag is chinz from my sister P, and the inner bag with two compartments is from her polyester department. The dust container of my Dyson vacuum cleaner is full of those beans; I must empty it inside a plastic bag outdoors to get rid of the little white bastards. This morning's temperature was -23C (-9.4F), and the below freezing point temperatures have lasted uninterrupted from late December. The coming week is Winter holiday for schools in Southern Finland, traditionally guaranteed to be a snowy and cold week so the children have a chance to ski and skate.
 I'm currently reading Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome.  I heard about the Swallows and Amazons from Melanie last year, followed her excursions on Lake Coniston in Ransome's  wake, and read through all her links. I borrowed the first book from our local library, but most of them were never translated, so I wrote to Santa and he sent me the first four books for Christmas. Darling Melanie sent me last week a book by the photographer Jon Sparks, Arthur Ransome's Lake District, and now I can see the actual places of the charming adventures the books are about. They are much better than Enid Blyton's Famous Five, which I was reading when I was young.

I have not only been knitting and reading and playing with the beanbag: number of string blocks for Stephanie's challenge is today 63.


I was afraid I was running out of solid dark blue fabric, but when I was getting the chintz from my green box I looked in the dark blue box on top of it, and found not just one but two suitable candidates for the missing blocks. Hip hurrah!

Thursday 18 February 2010

VTT 6 - Bowl and China Basket

Thursday morning is here again, and I went through my photo archive to see if there is something I have not yet shown on VTT. Suzanne is hosting this weekly fun

So what did I find there? A hand painted bowl for vegetables or sweets  perhaps?

Maybe I will serve a cucumber salad in this, when the cucumbers taste like summer again. Thin slices of long green cucumber shaken with some salt and sugar in a bowl covered with a plate, then add cold water and vinegar until it tastes right. Lots of fresh dill crowns the salad. Serve cold with all kinds of summer food.

The flowers are painted by Great Aunt Saima.

The bowl is by Arabia, the flowers from 1948.


There was another picture from my old china cupboard, a porcelain basket for bisquits:


Isn't this sweet and romantic? All I need is the cookies, and company for tea.

The bottom markings only tell me that this is imported.

This was it for this week's VTT. Coloradolady has a long list of links of places to visit and enjoy. Happy VTT!

P.S. Today would have been Great Auntie Saima's birthday. Happy birthday, Saima!

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Getting finally started...

... with the custom order giant wall hanging for my friend. I have been suffering from the same block syndrome as writers sometimes have with empty sheets of paper, although it nowadays may be an empty screen as well. I have been collecting ideas, making plans, writing notes, looking at fabrics - and having cold feet. Some weeks ago I made the first move and painted two sky panels, but then I ran out of time and emulsion, so the rest of the skies have to wait.

On Sunday I took some newspapers and started cutting houses to the size I imagined they would be in a landscape 6 meters long and 1.15 meters high. This was my sketch:

I'm starting with the first panel on the left, morning sky and reddish houses. Now I have 4 houses cut, and I'm thinking how to place them. I have ironed the "ground" fabric but I will cut it later, when I know how high it will come.

Windows and doors and other details will come later. I think the first brown house will come a little higher. There will not be any real prespective, not every detail. The room this will be made for is not a very big one, and the viewer will always be close. I hope I don't need to start over many times! Luckily, my friend left me with a big plastic bag full of her fabrics for the project, and I know I have enough. (And in case I ruined all her fabrics, I think I have some to spare in my own stash!)

While waiting for courage to start cutting the houses, I made some nine patch blocks for  The Quilt for Illene Lyn from Bluebird Quilts is making for her friend. These will be on their way to Australia today:


Naturally, the fabrics are from my stash!

Sunday 14 February 2010

How hard can it be, really?

I have been trying to learn a new skill. You may remember the tatting shuttles my eldest and youngest sister gave me recently, both inherited from Great Auntie Saima. As a happy owner of at least two shuttles (I still have not come across the one I believe was given to me years and years ago) I thought I ought to try to learn how to tat.

First thing to do was to buy a book: Learn to Tat by Janette Baker, with a DVD showing how to do it. I also bought a ball of thread to see how it should be. So far easy beasy.

Second step was to start learning the basics. Like instructed, I started with two different colours of thread, orange and red, because they were the same thickness.

Almost even knots, looking all the same. The result of about two hours twisting and turning and bending, and rewinding the shuttle once. Then I noticed that each and every single (double) stitch was wrong. They were red (shuttle thread) instead of orange (ball thread).

New day, turquoise cotton yarn for the ball thread. I played the DVD Lesson 1 over and over, learned to hold the shuttle and the left hand thread properly, but not the shuttle thread. Look at this, it is supposed to be turquoise knots only with no red visible:

For me, it is really hard! I have not given up yet, but I'm no longer thinking I will learn the basics in February. February is such a short month, too.

My stash reducing is not going too well either. I don't even count the fabrics my sister P dumped on me because I didn't ask for them. I just happened to buy some more fabric I felt I absolutely needed: Brown I just must have, always, grey I need for the big wall hanging project and the yellow was too pretty to leave in the shop. They are in fact bed sheets, good quality 100 % cotton at 7.90 € for 2.7 m which makes a little under 3 €/m. If I buy the same fabric by the meter, it will cost at least 5.50 €/m for the 1.5 m width.

On Friday I sent the 10 pillowcases to Jackie, so she can take them to the children's summer camp when the time comes. I hope she will get the 2,000 pillowcases she was planning to deliver this year. Here are the last two I made this month, and I used my Husqvarna Sapphire to write Good Night Sleep Tight on the green accent strip.


Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! We call it Ystävänpäivä, Friend's Day. I'm glad to call you my friends.

Thursday 11 February 2010

VTT 5 - Embroidered table cloths

This week I'm going to show you my table cloths over three generations. I have been joining Vintage Thingie Thursday,

the weekly show of used and loved treasures, 55 times now in almost 17 months. About 50 times I have shown something I have received from my family, a long line of keepers.

The first table cloth is from my Grandmother, with her monogram EK very skillfully embroidered on the linen damast cloth:

We used this on our Christmas dinner table, and now I need to wash and iron this beauty so it will be ready to use for the next big dinner. I would think this one comes from the time before the WWII.

The other table cloth will take us over two generations. It is one of the many unfinished projects my mother has given me in the hope that I will sew the missing parts and make the piece useful.

Mother had stitched the flowers in blue and white, thick perlé thread and embroidery floss. That was the fun part for her. She also finished the hemming, the mitred corners, and some of the lines dividing the middle area.

That is where I came in. I stitched some of the missing diagonal lines and many of the straight ones, and I got to sign this piece in 1992. It had been a project from the 1950's, I believe mother had ordered the kit from a women's magazine.


Maybe in 15 years I will start pushing my UFO's to my daughter, just to continue this tradition as well. She is a maker and a keeper already!

Have a happy VTT! Suzanne is hosting with a lovely  theme.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Snow Fun

Hi! It's me, Raggedy Ann. You remember how Andy and I came here last year from Ohio? Well, after the cute tea party we have mainly been sitting on the windowsill watching birds and hares and squirrels. I have been watching dust too, and then I always tell Her to sweep the stairs so I can breathe again. She only cares about sewing and cooking and washing and cleaning downstairs or upstairs, and keeps forgetting the mid-stairs where we live.
Let me tell you what Andy and I did yesterday, when She was - again - just sitting by the computer: We ran out!

I found a wool scarf in Their drawer and wrapped it around me, but Andy didn't want one, because he is a boy and you know how boys are. It was not a cold day, only -2C or 28F like we still like to think. It takes time to get used to new thermometers and all. The snow is pretty high! This is how much it has snowed since Christmas.

We wanted to slide downhill, like the local kids do. It was great fun! Over and over again.

Mr. K has pushed snow from the driveway like this, making perfect hills of snow for us to play in. But guess what? After a while I was getting cold, even in my scarf. And Andy said his bum was freezing! No wonder they wear such warm clothes here when they go out, and mittens and wool socks in their big boots. All boys have to wear long underpants in winter as long as their mother has anything to say! Girls wear such things too, but they call them leggings, and it doesn't sound so bad.

Our noses were red, but the cheeks felt quite red and warm too, from all the climbing and sliding. The other cheeks sure felt COLD! So we had to go back in and brush the snow from our clothes and shoes so She would not notice what we had done. Of course She noticed, but She is not the angry type. She let us sit on the radiator until our clothes were dry, and then She promised to type this story tomorrow, because my hands are not, how should I put it, keyboard friendly. No: the keyboard is not doll friendly. There is nothing wrong with me!

Keep warm, everyone!