Sunday 30 May 2010

Fireplace story

Once upon a time there was a godfather who thought he could design a perfect fireplace, and so it was built in his friend's house as well as his own. The houses were identical. The other family moved in their house on the day their grandson was born, and the godfather was asked to be his godfather. The grandson was Mr. K.

His grandparents tried to make a fire in their perfect fireplace, but all they got was smoke in the house. So the fireplace became a landing place for things. When we moved in almost 30 years ago, we started our own collection of things, like copper basins with dried roses, big vases too big for cupboards, jars for coins, beautiful things, important papers, sports trophies, small paintings and nice books. A very bulky narrow shelf, if I may say so.

You can see how the attempts to keep a fire have blackened the red bricks. Last winter was a very cold one for several weeks, and we began to think how nice it would be to sit in front of a fire and to have a warm house, and to save on oil.
So we looked at brochures and chose a fireplace, but first the old one had to go:

Half way gone!

It's all gone!

The new fireplace is being built.

And there it is, with a gaping hole around it to be fixed in one way or another. We need to wait for some weeks before making a fire so the mortar can dry. The plastic on the wall will go, too. Sorry godfather, your fireplace was no good! I miss the shelf though.

Today Mr. K was making me a raised vegetable bed and took our "self made soil" from the leaves compost for it. He called me and asked to bring the camera so we could have a picture of a blindworm. They are very rare nowadays. It is not a snake but a legless lizard, the brazen serpent. This was a big one, and about as thick as my little finger.

While I was out, I also took a picture of the lilies of the valley. In German they are called Maiglöckchen, little May bells, but up here they don't always come before June.

The fireplace project has been taking over our living room so I could not do much hand sewing there, but I hope things will change for the better. Unless the floor man comes and everything must be cleared away ...

Thursday 27 May 2010

VTT 14 - Knitted baby dress

Happy Vintage Thingies Thursday everyone! This week I was inspired by Melanie, who used a vintage pattern for a baby outfit she knitted as a gift. Those pictures are at the end of her post. Seeing her knittings made me remember something my mother knitted for my daughter 26 years ago. I keep it in this box.

You may say 26 years is not very vintage yet. This outfit was not originally meant for my daughter, but for me or one of my sisters, which adds three or four decades to the age. A busy mother doesn't always have the time to finish a baby garment before the baby in question has outgrown it.

Luckily there is the next generation! The sleeveless dress, tiny cardigan and knee socks are all in perfect condition. There is a ball of the original yarn for repairs. The socks are knitted in a different shade of pink, but even that yarn is old. I know mother knitted those for my daughter, but the other parts were UFO's from another era. The buttons on both shoulders of the dress and on the cardigan are genuine mother-of-pearl.

I packed this treasure back in the box and try to remember where I put it, so the dress can be worn again if there some day will be a new generation of girls in my family.

Suzanne is hosting VTT on the Coloradolady blog. She has the sweetest post about a dress as well! Continue your tour to the blogs on her link list, and have a nice Vintage Thursday.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Polka Dots and Problems

After an amazing warm period with a touch of summer the weather up here has returned to normal, below 15 C (60 F), rain and chilly winds. I have been suffering from ear ache for a couple of weeks, and yesterday had my ear drum pierced to drain the liquid and help me hear again. There was no infection, so let's just hope it will get better now. To make the day's program perfect I also had an appointment with my orthodontist, so my teeth are really sore today. Does this sound like I'm begging for symphaty, or what? I had ice cream today in town - mainly because I couldn't imagine biting anything - so I have had my pampering taken care of already.

This morning I put the binding on this little quilt I have been free motion quilting with more or less success. Let's just say that I used lots and lots of thread no longer visible in the quilt, and I still feel like I need to unpick some of the squarest loops.

I have been using Candace's method for the binding ends for some time already, but somehow I often manage to have a problem. This happened after I had just read Candace's nice and easy tutorial. First I joined the ends with a twist,  and then sewed the diagonal seam from the wrong corner. Third time was a lucky guess and the binding waits now for some TV hours for hand sewing.

The apple trees are starting to bloom in our garden. I hope the weather will be a little warmer so the bees can fly and we will get apples in the Autumn. I only have 7 jars of apple sauce left in the cellar.

Friday 21 May 2010

Advertising, Ann and Andy, and Amazon mail

You may have seen this sign on some of your favourite blogs, but I wanted to do some advertising as well. The Quilt Shoppe is organizing a Spring Fever Bingo for everyone to join. You have a couple of days to make it, as it starts on Monday and you must email your "coupon" before that. I have never been in a bingo, so I thought this will be my last chance!

Ann and Andy were playing again. Parents should be careful with what they tell their kids from their own childhood. We are having a new fireplace installed next week, and Mr. K made a concrete foundation for it. I remembered how my big sisters and brothers jumped in the wet concrete when our house was being built. I was too young to join them, I couldn't climb over the edge of that big wooden container. All I remember from the incident is a) mother was giving her LOOKS, b) father was not too pleased, and c) all their legs got scratched, red and infected, and mother had to put Medidryl cream on them, lots of it. I told this aloud, and of course the little ones have the biggest ears, and here  is what happened:

They were sitting on the cement bags to wait for the fun to begin.

They even tried how deep they could sink in the bucket.

Andy was curious and wanted  to watch Mr. K. mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow.

And finally he really was trying to climb into the bucket, but his arm was stuck (luckily!), and I sent him in.

He even dared to mutter something about his aunts and uncles, but I can give the LOOK as well, and he stopped muttering. Good for him.

Today I picked up a BIG LETTER from the post office. I usually call them parcels, but of course a box is big for a letter and can't be delivered to the mailbox. Melanie sent me a surprise. We have been reading Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome since Christmas, and the books inspired Melanie to put together all this for me:

Her letter was all in semaphore ABC, and it took me some time to decipher it. The Swallows and Amazons communicate fluently using the signs in all books. The  Frank Cooper's Original Oxford Marmalade appears in the book I'm currently reading, The Ovaltine and the Kendal chocolate bar are standard provisions of our heroes. Christmas pudding was bought and served by some younger heroes and members of the Coot Club, who protected birds on their lake - see the bird panel Melanie sewed on the tea towel! Some "parrot" (budgie) feathers were included for Mr. K.'s fly-tying. No birds were harmed. Thank you so much, Melanie! Playing with you has made me decades younger. We don't need to grow up just yet.

Thursday 20 May 2010

VTT 13 - Pattern folder from late 1950's

It has been a long time for me without Vintage Thingies Thursdays.  I did post a vintage blog post about a tablecloth UFO I finished here, believing I would join the VTT on the next day with a related theme. This week computer problems have been in the background, so I thought we could dig into my photo archives and look at some Swedish patterns for cushions, table mats and table cloths in colour. The first picture is for children's textiles.


The next ones are for cushion covers or table toppers. I'm pretty sure my mother has stitched some projects from this folder. The handicrafts had a very modern touch by the end of 1950's.

The next pattern is again for a cushion cover.

These are both "borders for different purposes":

Little tablecloths to be used as place mats or on small tables.

Pattern sheets for school and home. They are Swedish, very suitable for Finnish taste too.

Suzanne is hosting VTT again, with the lovely long list of links to other vintage treasures. Happy VTT, thank you for coming by!

Saturday 15 May 2010

Raggedy Ann and Andy had a picnic

Hi everyone, this is Ann and Andy. We want to tell you about our lovely day out yesterday. The Summer came to Finland suddenly, without much warning the temperature went up more than 10 degrees to 27 C (80F).  That is about from cool to hot. The trees burst into leaves and the first daffodils opened in the new place. We wanted to have a picnic!

Mom said the ground is still too cold, but luckily we had the granny blanket to sit on, and some hot tea and gingerbread. After tea Ann wanted to get some tan on her face, arms and legs, so she lay down while I went for a little excursion in the nature.

I climbed a little rowan tree to see the neighbourhood better.

This was the hill we used for our playing in the snow last winter. I'm about half way up.

There was an empty tree climber's house, and Dad said I could be a tree climber too (but only with my head up!) and check it out. You see there are two entrances, the light comes through just a little so you can see there are two of them.

I walked a little in the woods and found some pretty white flowers. I picked only five, because Mom has said you can't pick all the flowers away, if you want to see some next year as well.


Then I brought the flowers to Ann. She had been sleeping, and she was happy to have flowers  from me. Those were the first ones she ever had. Mom said they were called anemones.

We talked about our friends Dot and Martha who went abroad in March. It would have been lovely to have a picnic like this with them. Maybe their new Moms read this and show the girls our pictures and tell them we miss them. Then it was time for us to go back in. Our Mom had been working on a new quilt. She is almost desperate trying to reduce her fabric stash. Well, we think she just ought to sew more!

Just as we were going in the house, we saw the big Mr. Pheasant dancing for his lady like this:

He sure looked big, and we were glad they were not very close to us. He can make such scary noises, too. Well, this is all from us this time. Take care of your kids and give them gingerbread.

Ann and Andy
(Mom typed this for us)

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Vintage UFO finished

This is how close to summer we are today. Birch leaves are "mouse's ears", the size of my pinkie fingernail.

The strangest thing happened. I finished my summer embroidery before the summer even came here. This was an old UFO from my dear Great Auntie Saima, passed down to me by my mother several years ago. It was half done, and some blue perl√© thread was wrapped in it. I don't remember whether mother gave me the missing floss from her own stash, maybe I bought the variegated yellow, red and blue when I got the bag with Saima's handicraft things. Anyway, the bar codes show that the floss is newer than the original kit.

Earlier this spring I took the tablecloth kit from the bag and started working on it in the evenings, when I felt like it. Here is where I started:

The stitching was fast and easy, all six strands of the floss were used for the flowers and leaves.

I needed to buy some orange floss for the dots and green for the border pattern.


I thought I will sign this for both of us. My mother was almost certain that the kit is from 1920's or 1930's, because she knows her aunt Saima did not embroider things like this in the 1940's or later. So I wrote: SAIMA started around the 1930's, Ulla stitched the other half in 2010.


And here is our summer tablecloth, washed (the blue pattern print did not yet come out) and ironed:

All I need now is the summer, a garden table, a patio for it, and sunshine. The tablecloth is waiting! I'm waiting for summer.

Saturday 8 May 2010

New Strings

This past week I have been having trouble with the internet, so I had to focus on the serious things like paying bills whenever I had the chance to do so. As soon as the trouble is over I will be back reading all the blogs I missed. Less time spent with the computer means more time spent with my other favourite, the sewing machine. I emptied a plastic bag full of strips and scraps on my cutting table and started playing:

First they looked like this when finished:

I sent this one to my mother for tomorrow's Mother's Day. Then I experimented with the size and form a little:

Finally I chose to make box corners to the tissue pockets:

With the two pockets I can't show photos of this makes 11 new finished projects for Stephanie's No Strings Attched Challenge. With the big blue and white quilt I'm up to 12 now, and there is still time until the end of June. It goes without saying that my bag is still full of strips just waiting to be used. I think I'll try to make a shopping bag next.

The weather here has been like April weather, rainy days and sunny days. The lawn is starting to look green, the daffodils are growing but still no buds to be seen. On a sunny morning I took this picture, where you can see the first hint of brownish green in a birch before the leaves bud. For the pollen allergics this is not a pretty sight.


The other day I caught the whole pheasant family having lunch under our bird feeder.  Mr. Sore Peak occasionally left his five wives alone when he had to attac the Basement Bird. I heard the hen pheasants quietly laugh at him just like women can smile at men who don't understand women's things: "He really has never seen a mirror before", they said. When he leant back, fluttered his wings and made his warning noise so the other cock knew this was Sore Peak's area, he almost fell on his tail feathers. The ladies did the only possible thing for a lady: looked away and paid no notice.