Monday 26 July 2010

Soft-brained sewing

This July has been HOT until last Saturday, when we had a cool and windy day with some rain and only 16 C (60F), but on Sunday the wind changed and the temperature jumped up again. The upstairs sewing room is unbearably hot.

This is all I have been able to sew, a summer dress for me with a pattern from DD's Japanese book. The heat has softened my brain so that at first I sewed two left shoulder parts. I unsewed the one on the right and turned it (they are cut on the fold and look the same on the inside and the outside). On it went again and I looked at my work. This time it was nicely sewn with the back part on the front and front shoulder in the back. The ripper knew what to do, again. Once the shoulder parts were finally sewn in place like meant on the pattern, I tried the dress on.  I noticed that the back parts looked strange because my shoulders like to bend forwards for sewing and reading and knitting. Pick, pick, pick, and I adjusted the straps at the sides, and sewed again.

I added pockets for my phone and keys in the side seams. Now I'm waiting to go to town and buy a zipper for the side seam. After that I only need to iron it, top stitch the bodice and  fold the hem. If the warm days are over, I can wear a T-shirt under the dress. This dress has been on my list for at least three summers; last year I bought the plaid fabric for the bodice and the floral is some years older. Using my stash again!

There are some cherries in the little cherry tree birds have planted in our other yard. I couldn't step close enough to taste if they are ready to be used for a pie or a tiny jar of marmalade.

Today life is getting settled to normal routines again. DH and DS2 both started their work today after spending three weeks at home with me. Le Tour de France is finally over and we don't need to sit several hours in front of the TV every day. I managed to do some knitting during the Tour, but getting back to just one episode of Lewis, Criminal Minds, Doc Martin (reruns) or Foyle's War per day is better for the housekeeping.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Have a safe journey, Makena!

A funny thing happened: One of my Unicef kids has already found a new home, but not through the shop. One of my VTT blogging friends, Keetha in USA, wanted to adopt Makena! Yesterday I made another trip to Villa Cooper and paid Makena's adoption fee, and today she started her long journey across the big ocean. Here she is sitting on the post office desk while I was filling in the papers for her emigration.

Raggedy Ann told her all about the trip. She knows, because she and Andy have travelled the other way, from Ohio to Finland. Ann felt a little sad after saying goodbye to Makena for the second time.

But today means the beginning of a fun project for Raggedy Ann and her friends. Kaaren at the Painted Quilt is hosting a free BOM called Raggedy & Friends, and today I downloaded the instructions of Block 1. Ann and Andy are posing here for the stitchery, but I will be using Kaaren's drawing!

When I was taking that picture of my dolls on the sofa I suddenly remembered that I have not shown you Melanie's Summer cushion cover. I had the cushion as a Christmas present from her, with four panels to change for every season. This summer has been such a big building and renovation project that it wasn't until after Midsummer  when we started taking furniture back to our living room. The cool greens and blue flowers help me cope with the heat!

The heat is taking all my energy so there are no crafty pictures this time. Today there are some grey clouds on the sky, so I'm hoping for some rain and lower temperatures.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Meet the new kids

Last night I gave the final touch to the curly look of Makena, and today they all went out to pose for group photos before life will take them to their new homes. So here they are, my Unicef kids from number 47 to 51:

From the left: Helmi (Pearl), Fei Yen (Flying Swallow Bird), Taipa (To spread wings), Onni (happiness), and sitting in the front Makena (Happy). This group truly represents all the children of the world, and I hope they will find nice adoptive families. Maybe the Unicef logo on the doll will always remind their new families of the one child somewhere in the world whose life was saved thanks to the vaccinations Unicef could provide for her or him for the adoption fee of the doll.

Here they are standing on the verandah coffee table minutes before the heavy rain came. It only lasted a few minutes, so the weather continues hot and steamy.

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy wanted to pose with their new friends. They still felt grumpy because I lost the pictures of them hugging Dot and Martha goodbye in March, so now they made sure each one of them could hug two new kids in the picture:

I have their identity cards written, and now I only need to add their passport photos to the cards, and the cards to their wrists before they go to Villa Cooper tomorrow. I hope they will find their new homes soon, so I can start waiting for the postcards telling me where they will be spending the rest of their lives. I always write my name and address to the other half of the identity card, and about half of the cards have been returned to me. The most touching message was from an 11-year-old girl who had seen one of my dolls in the shop, saved from her pocket money, hoping that the doll would still be there, and finally bought it.

It took me over two years to come from 41 dolls to 51. I made my first dolls for Unicef in 2003. I'm still struggling with hair problems and dressmaking, because the dolls are meant for play and they should be safe for small children. I need to add a note to Makena, telling she is not baby safe because of her hair and the pushbuttons I used for her dress. Custom order dolls are easier to dress, using buttons and other easy closures, and their hair can be more dangerously attached.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Quilt finish, summer trip and garden report

This morning I took some pictures outdoors, before the heat made it too hot to enjoy the no longer fresh air. At 9 o'clock the temperature is already 28 C (83 F), and it is expected to rise up to 32 C  (90 F) later today. It is 60 degrees C or 140 F more than what we had in January for a period of time, but in the Winter we always had a pleasant temperature indoors. Now it is hot everywhere, all the time.

I finished the Between Charming Friends quilt  for the quilt along on Sunday. Here it is , washed but not ironed.

The tiny 1" squares were much smaller than what I usually sew, and I was getting desperate with my seam allowances, promising myself never again to get involved with such things. But guess what? I had such amounts of leftover 1½" squares that I just couldn't put them in the wastebin, and so I have started sewing them together for a special little project.

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. DS1 and his girlfriend took us in their car to Turku, where we met DD for lunch in a nice summer restaurant. We had a lovely lunch with a cold buffet, and fried whitefish as main course. Naturally I didn't come to think of making pictures of the place or the food. While the others were taking heavy bags of books to DD's apartment and her bags to the car, I took a picture of the market place with an old tramcar used as an ice cream booth. Elderly ladies don't need to walk to places if their legs are hurting.

We had Italian ice cream in the city after the lunch, here are our portions after everyone had already tasted some. (The heat really makes my brain work slowly!)  Clockwise from the top: Mr. K's chocolate and After Eight, DD's raspberry  sherbet and lemon sherbet, my chocolate and lemon sherbet, DS1's pistachio and vanilla, and GF's melon sherbet and lemon sherbet. Very delicious and refreshing!

Back at home in the evening it was time to water the vegetables. We have one tomato coming. The tomato plants suffered from plant lice and the cold in June, but seem to like the high temperatures.

The radishes have suddenly grown and are getting woody, so we must eat them quickly. The new row is coming along fast and I have already thinned it. The peas are climbing up the trellis and there are flowers promising a harvest later in the Summer. Lettuce is growing well, too.

DD is staying here for a little Summer holiday, so I'll be having some girly time with her instead of blogging. We have plans of dressmaking and I'm going to ask her to consult me as a hairdresser for some Unicef dolls, so I hope there will be a crafty post next time.

Monday 5 July 2010

Weekend trip and wild dolls

Today Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy wanted to play outdoors with two new Unicef kids, who are still waiting for their identity cards at our house. They went to see the raised vegetable bed.

Naturally the little rascal Andy had to show his new friends how clever he is, and started climbing up the willow trellis I had made for the peas.

The new boy was easily tempted to play along, although his limbs are not as flexible as Andy's.

The always sensible Ann told them to get down from there immediately or else ... she would come and tell me!

That worked! But Ann noticed how round and red and delicious the radishes looked, and they all decided to make a harvest feast.

They also brought in some lettuce for their salad, and dill for the fresh potatoes. It is nice to have such sweet little helpers around! I'll be sad to see the two of them leave as soon as their papers are OK, and I have their friends' wardrobe finished so they cann all go together to new homes.  But I have plans for some Unicef dolls to keep for myself, when the time is right.

On Saturday we made our annual trip to the Old literature fair in Sastamala (it used to be Vammala last year, but they took an old name for that region when some towns were put together at the beginning of this year). We took a scenic route because it was such a beautiful day. 

This is the Sääksmäki bridge.

Here we are again at the school, where the seminars and lectures are held, and many antiquarian and second-hand bookshops have their  stalls.

There were lots of people looking at the books, but not as many sellers as in previous years.

The most interesting books were again in the big tent. This year there were hardly any old handicaraft books, no nice old magazines, and really very many second hand books only a few years old.

During the first centuries of written Finnish language the literature was concentrated of religious and scientific texts. Novels in Finnish only began to exist around the middle of the 19th century, so there are hardly any really old books by Finnish authors. What we are looking for are books from the first decades of the 20th century, which are often very affordable. Here is what we bought: my two parts of Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, for 1 € each, and DH's six books about Lapland, fishing and such things. I need to keep my eyes open for the last part of Undset's trilogy, which I think will not be too difficult to find. This is a Finnish translation of a Norwegian author's books.

Next time I hope to show some crafty progress, but the hot weather makes me very tired so I can't promise any great results in the nearest future.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Stash Use Report of June

This has been a busy month with many projects and lots of seams, but I have only used tiny scraps of fabric. The only bigger use was making a hose for our garden shredder, to be used instead of the bag when there is much to shred. It took 1.4 m fabric and 6 m of that packing strap they use around cardboard packings. I used it like hoops in petticoats to help to keep the hose open. The fabric I used was an ugly beige polyester, so there was no use to make a picture!

I made some dolls' clothes for the Unicef dolls, but the outfits are not complete so the pictures will come later. I used maybe 30 cm fabrics in all.

For the three string bags for Stephanie's No Strings Attached challenge I used 1.5 m in all for lining, foundation and top. Here is a better picture of the last bag of my previous post. I'm really satisfied with the result. When I chose strings for the two other bags I noticed the black, white and yellow summer dress fabric strings in the plastic bag with all the others, and knew immediately that they will not be mixed with any other colours. The pale yellow linen was in the same bag, and I took it aside as well. I wanted to use black linen for the top, couldn't find my bit at first and so I had to buy some fabric: 0.5 m black linen. After that I found my hiding linen, so this bag is after all completely from stash.

The stash was reduced by 3.20 m and added by 0.5 m. I don't count the Between Charming Friends quilt in the June report as it was not finished in June. It will be easier to calculate the fabric use when everything is done. This morning I finished the outer borders, the next step will be "quilt as desired". Charming Chatter is hosting this quilt along.

For those of you seeking inspiration for their coming string quilt projects I made a list of links to my blog posts where I showed my 15 string things made during the six months of challenge. The list is on my sidebar below the challenge badge.