Friday 26 November 2010

Lovely mail and some winter news

This week I have received more nice mail than in ages. Two Christmas presents have already arrived and been hidden from me to wait for Christmas Eve. One parcel was not for Christmas, so I could open it. To my surprise it was filled with gifts as well, and I was just expecting a bag pattern Dolores, the True Blue Canadian, promised to send me when I admired it on her blog. There was the pattern, on the right, but also two matching fabrics, red ribbon and a kitchen towel with the Canadian flag and a beaver embroidered.

That was not all: Dolores had also made me her own version of the bag I liked, matching perfectly to my brown clothes.
Blogger prefers to hang the bag sideways, and I still don't know how to change this habit.

Thank you, Dolores!

I have been Building a Village with Mrs. Moen's free pattern. I just happened to notice my collection of used shirts cut and ironed for an eternity project I have been planning about two years already, cutting squares for half square triangles whenever I felt like it and had a new old shirt from DH or the charity shop. The fabrics are stored in a box and outside the box, very easily available, so I took 22 fabrics and cut two rectangles from each of them and packed the rest nicely back in the box and beside the box. I had some old white bedsheets easily available from Unicef Doll making, and so I cut a pile of 2½" squares for the snowy roofs. No new fabrics were needed, the starry sky is a Christmas fabric from my stash.

Last week I made the table runner this far in class, and last night I machine sewed the bindings on so that I can have a nice hand sewing project for the evenings by the TV and the fire. My other projects are hush hush for now.

The weather has turned colder, and this morning the temperature was -15C  (5F). The winter birds are busy with the sunflower seeds. The bullfinches wer not very cooperative when I was taking photos of them, the red-chested males kept hopping away from my frame before I had time to take a picture.

Keep warm, everyone! The tonttu elves are now already out there taking notes of your behavior. Santa will need to know who has been nice and deserves presents. Don't stay up too late!

Monday 22 November 2010

Christmas Mystery parts 2 and 3

 These dark days make picture taking difficult. I was late with the Mystery part 2, so here they are, my Saturday's blocks B and C:

On Sunday the only new block to sew was a little brown bit to the end of a longer yellow one to make block D, and then to put the four blocks together like this:

I think they will be table toppers, one long and narrow or three square ones. Now they will need to be put aside because some Christmas projects need serious attention! Merete's blog shows finished versions of this mystery, and there are links to other bloggers who played along. Thank you, Merete, for this play with fabrics.

This morning I watched the full moon at half past seven:

... and one hour later when the sun was up:

Yes, we have had snow for a week already, and today the temperature was -10 C (+14 F).

Saturday 20 November 2010

Christmas Mystery, part 1, and Napkin Challenge

Today I'm showing you yesterday's part of the Christmas Mystery quilt designed by Merete from Norway. I kept the golden orange fabric but changed the grey background to coffee brown and the pale pink to a red dotty fabric.

Today's instructions are already up here, and in the afternoon I'm going to find time to finish the next blocks.

My other challenge is also linked to Norway. Mrs Moen has challenged us to make a project inspired by a napkin (click the button in my right sidebar), and here are my napkins:

The one in the background is almost 31 years old, and I have cherished it for sentimental reasons. It was part of the engagement gift from my sisters and brothers in December 1979, with matching plain plates and tea mugs with tiny white flowers. The plates are still being used, but one mug is badly chipped so the other one is resting too. The gingerbread napkin is from last Christmas and it has a very Scandinavian style, I think.  I have picked some fabrics for this project already, but still need to think how to make it.

This is all for today, I'm busy with all the sewing!

Thursday 18 November 2010

New projects, and Swan Lake again

I have been busy sewing and hardly have had time to make pictures. On Sunday I needed to deliver my bits and pieces to Villa Cooper for the Christmas shop builders. Most of it was what was left from last year, but I made some coffee mug warmers as well. Some are for mugs like this, and the others are for takeaway paper mugs. I also made some angels, but they flew away before I had time to take a photo.

The opening will be on Saturday, and I will take you on tour again when I have a chance to visit the exhibition.

This is a busy time of the year for most of us, but guess what I have been doing? Taking new challenges! Mrs. Moen is asking people to make boobs (you read what I wrote; she used that word first!) for breast cancer patients. Not to wear, but to use in workshops to make art. Click on the link and read more. This is all happening in 2011 so you don't need to do anything just yet if you are busy right now. The instructions are very simple, and the fabric circles are easy to mail as a letter.

The other challenge will take some time this coming weekend. It is a Christmas Mystery for a quilting project, and I found it at Merete's blog. So far I have the instructions to pick my fabrics and to cut them. This is what I thought to use when she wrote about a pink and a golden yellow fabric and a black or grey background (Google translator calls the fabrics "drugs", but they are just cotton fabrics!).

I didn't cut any of them yet, because I think my pink is too pale and my grey is too grey, so I may need to change them. I like the the orange yellow with golden sparkles, but the other fabrics look too weak with it. This can become three cushion covers or a table runner, we'll see once we'll see how it looks like.

On Monday I took some more pictures of our little Swan Lake. New adult swans have joined the flock. There has been ice on the pond but it melted again. Today it is snowing quite heavily, and next week we are going to have real frost, colder than -10 C (+14F), so the swans and mallards need to fly South, at least as far as the coast.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Ladyfingers, gifts (part two), and birds

Last night I finished my Ladyfingers bag, with light purple beads and the handles I bought in Germany.

This was my first attempt at Dresden plate pattern, but with the special Dresden ruler the sweet Stephanie sent me with the Ladyfingers pattern I won in her giveaway, it was no problem. Originally I wanted to make this with my father's ties, but as the material is more difficult to handle than cotton, I practiced with this one first.

I made the inside pocket a little wider than in the pattern as I was not using charm packs but fabrics from my stash. (Who could have guessed?)

Now that Melanie and Simone have shown theirs, I can show mine. Here are the coffee place mats dear Suzie gave me when I met her in Germany.

Now I'll take you for a walk in the village, as it was a sunny day on Monday. This is the biggest pond, right next to the highschool, with a nice little beach for warm summer days.

Only a small area was free of ice, and all the waterbirds were gathered there.

The local whooper swan family was there, and a new adult alone, maybe one of the last year's cygnets. Swans gather together for their move, and on the west coast you can see hundreds of them, eating themselves fat and round, and waiting for a suitable flight weather.

This is one of the parents, with white feathers.

And the other one. They have three young swans left, one of the four died during the summer.

The young swans still have grey feathers, and their bills are rather pink and grey than yellow and black. One is half-diving like ducks!

Usually they only dip their head and neck in the water to find something to eat.

The ice was very thin, and it bent and made funny noises when the mallards climbed on it. Slippery!

The mallards either made attacks at each other or wanted to keep the water in motion to prevent the ice from forming.

The male mallards' green heads looked beautiful in the sun.

After yesterday's cold weather and snow the swans had left for open water and only some of the smaller birds remained. During last night it rained again, so the mallards may come back, but for the whooper swans it is time to fly south. I'll be waiting to hear their trumpets again in April when they return here to nest.

Sunday 7 November 2010

New Raggedy & Friends block, knitting and a new challenge

Today the sun was shining so I could make a decent picture of the fourth block of my Raggedy & Friends quilt. If you want to make this quilt too, all instructions are still available at Kaaren's blog The Painted Quilt. Just click here or the button in my right sidebar.

Ann didn't feel like posing for this one, and as I didn't have hearts and stars available for her, I agreed. Maybe next month's block is easier for both of us.

I have also been knitting in front of the fire and the TV, and made myself a little shawl to keep my shoulders warm. I have had this fringy yarn for ages, and bought two other yarns to knit with it, also already some years ago, but only now I bought a pair of no. 10 knitting needles and finally started this. I knitted 30 stitches until I ran out of the fringy yarn, one row with each yarn.

I'm wearing it right now, it reaches comfortably from one elbow to the other behind my neck, very light and warm.

I still have two balls of the fringy yarn left and I think I'll make another scarf using it alone. Knitting with the giant needles is superfast and easy.

The days are short and dark at this time of the year. I took this picture some days ago just before 10 in the morning. The sun had risen around 8, but it keeps so low all day that cloudy days are pretty gloomy. This morning's sunshine was soon covered by clouds, and it started to snow a little.

I have taken a new challenge, like there was too much time on my hands at the moment. Dolores told me about the Napkin Challenge of Mrs Moen, and I couldn't resist! I'm going to make a very small project inspired by a napkin of my choice, and it needs to be finished by December 1st. I'll have a look at the napkins I have at home, and then I can have a good excuse to look for new ones tomorrow in town.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

What's new at the fair, and stash use report for October

It takes me days to recover from a short trip, but today I'm ready to tell you about the exciting trip to Germany and back. Only on the day before we left we knew the strike threatening our flight was over and we could fly as scheduled to Hamburg. There we missed a train by minutes and had to wait an extra hour for the next train to Hannover. On the way back home we just had to change from a train to a bus and back again on another train to get to the airport so that the normally 25 minutes ride took more than 45 minutes. Careful travellers as we are, we were prepared and had still enough time to catch our flight. I could very well live without all this excitement.

At the fair, the EuroBLECH 2010 Exhibition I concentrated on comparing the methods of sheet metal working with my work with fabrics. They weld the edges together and we sew a seam by machine. They spot weld, and we can baste.  They rivet, we pin. They use roller seam welding in cases like where we need to add some piping in a seam. They use presses and cutting tools, laser or water jet to cut out shapes, we use a template and a roller cutter or the sophisticated GO! cutter. I think this satisfies your curiosity about the fair. It was spread in 9 giant halls, so we walked several km on both days. The machine colours were pretty much the same as two years ago, maybe purple is more up and gray and green are disappearing colours.

Saturday was our holiday, and we walked a little in the pedestrian area of my sister's home town:

It was Halloween there too, and we saw these little pumpkins at the market.

The most exciting part of my trip was the meeting with Suzie on Thursday after the fair. I was so happy to finally meet her, and it really felt like meeting an old friend. We sat down at a café for cappucino and latte and a nice long chat. I had such a lovely time, just sitting there, letting my feet take a rest, and enjoying Suzie's company. We also exchanged presents, and here is what she made for me:

The cutest little pumpkin pin cushion! She also gave me these sewing themed fabrics, both new to me and I have not seen either of them here in the shops.

This is the bag she carried as indentification, and it was also meant for me. So suitable for our coffee time.

She included something more, but I don't know if I can show it yet, because there are others who will receive something in the same line from her. It is very beautiful and useful. Naturally I forgot to take pictures of what I packed as my gifts for her, but who cares.

The next day we started to the fair very early so we could spend some time in Hannover for shopping afterwards, and finished the shopping in the local shops on Saturday. Here are my new fabrics, 3.4 m in total.

And here with the rest of my shoppings: handles for the Ladyfingers bag by Stephanie, black and blue quilting thread, and in the background is some heavier fusible pellon.

The change in my stash in October was negative: I bought those 3.4 m of fabrics, and only used 1.3 m for sewing my little blue bag, some gifts and giving away some bits to Suzie. I hope November will be better because there will be so much sewing for Christmas.