Tuesday 24 December 2013

Christmas Eve

We have a tiny Christmas tree after all! I added my smallest glass baubles to decorate it with memories.

The last window in my Victorian style Advent calendar is open, and this is the end of my blog Advent calendar too. I'll be taking a holiday break and come back after it with new crafty posts. I wish you all a peaceful and happy holiday season!

Monday 23 December 2013


No snow on the ground. I decided to hang these snowflakes in the window. My mother and I crocheted them many, many years ago.

Sunday 22 December 2013


 This odd warm season brings unusual Christmas pictures. Where is the snow?

Saturday 21 December 2013

Christmas tree

... but no snow at sight. The little cabins look almost out of place on the market place in Järvenpää, but their Christmas tree is big and beautiful, especially after dark when the lights are shining.

Today is the shortest day of the year, Winter solstice. The darkness lasts for 16 hours and 15 minutes here where I live, and we have 58 minutes of dawn and dusk. At the top of Finland the last sunrise for the year was on November 25th, and the next sunrise will be on January 18th next year. This is a long country! But we'll be catching up rapidly, and in three months our day and night are the same as yours, wherever you are.

Friday 20 December 2013

Christmas Oratorio

Last night I went to the Helsinki Cathedral with my younger son. He is a big Bach fan and for him this was at least the third visit over the years.

The concert was Bach's Christmas Oratorio, parts I to III. By the time the chorus Cantores Minores was taking their places I had to put the camera away, so no nice pictures of their performance or the church itself.

For me this was the first time, I only knew the Christmas Oratorio from records. Being there in person made the experience unforgettable. The performance was very festive and I believe for many people it means a welcome stop in the busy time before Christmas.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Baubles in a jar

No Christmas tree in the house for us this year, so I put my baubles in a big jar.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Knitting Angel


I made this years ago for my mother.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Safety first

The beginning of our Winter has always been the season I dislike. The temperature is going down and up again, it is raining, freezing, snowing, melting, freezing ... and it is dark. The result is icy pavements, slippery roads, water on ice, ice under snow. What will happen to elderly ladies when we they walk there? They either walk very, very carefully and get a hurting back, or they slip and break their bones. There must be an alternative! And so there is. Mine is here:
My new Icebug boots with carbon steel and rubber studs. Safety goes before elegance. High heels are for parties. Pretty shoes are for fine weather. Sensible shoes are for me.

Monday 16 December 2013

Winter birds

This year we started feeding the bird early, in October. Blue tit and great titmouse.
We had lots of birds coming, but now they seem to have found other places where to feed. These are European greenfinches.

Maybe they don't like the sunflower seeds they need to peel and only find a tiny skinny little seed inside. This little mountain of peels started growing sunflower sprouts with little green leaves and all at the end of November. The Autumn and beginning of Winter have been unusually warm and snowless in this part of the country.

A bullfinch couple has arrived; they are hiding in the forest for the snowless part of the year.

Sunday 15 December 2013

While I was supposed to be cleaning the house ...

... I was putting together these:

to make this:

I hope you spend your time in a useful way.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Folded stars

Yesterday I was crafting something my DD showed me on line. Here is the link to a mother and daughter (both very young ones!) crafting together: Pysselbolaget. Scroll further down and you will find the instructions in English as well. I folded a Post-it note while going through the pictures and instructions and it was easy to learn all the folds at once. The most difficult part was to get the hole in the middle as round as possible. Finding the glue was not easy either.
I used gift wrapping paper and my quilting tools (the old rotary cutter!), and I cut my squares 7 cm or 2 3/4" . Tiny squares are more difficult to fold. This is a traditional origami and you can find the instructions on many sites.

Have fun crafting, with or without daughter. My daughter's beautiful stars are here.

Friday 13 December 2013

Short Days

This is the time of the shortest days of the year. The Winter Solstice is next week, but the sunset time is already fixed at 3.12 pm for eight days. The mornings will still change for darker, as the sun will rise about one minute later every day until Winter Solstice. From today's 9.16 we will go to 9.23 on the 21st. After that, the sun will start setting later but also keep rising later until the end of the year, just by two minutes, while the sunset time will have changed to 10 minutes later. Some time in January we really can see and feel the change in the amount of light.

Thursday 12 December 2013

The Giveaway Gift

The gift to celebrate my 600th blog post has been sent over the ocean. I tried to choose goods that travel well.

The Finnish tastes are rye crisps, gingerbread, cloudberry chocolates and Xylitol chewing gum. Xylitol's dental-friendly qualities are a Finnish discovery.
In the background is a ball of Finnish Novita Nalle wool, enough for a pair of socks or two tiny ones.
The birch leave felted on white Finnish sheep's wool hides a soap, so you can have a washcloth and soap in one. This one came from Villa Cooper. The tiny black tin in front of the soap is Vitalis cream for chapped lips and hands. In my childhood it was used to protect the skin from frostbites. Later this proved to be not true, but the cream's other uses are still popular. The bigger tin on the right shows Moomin characters, famous Finns. The last item is a CD with typical Finnish dance music from years back. We have our own interpretation of tango, less passionate and energetic and far more serious and sentimental than the Argentine tango. I hope this record reflects the Finnish life in a way Dolores will somehow recognize as familiar.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Once again the Flying Mitten

On Monday I just had to pop in the knitting café Lentävä Lapanen again.

The shop is just a little over one year old.

It looks like knitters have found this wonderful place and their great selection of yarns from near and far.

These yarns are from near, from Finnish sheep.

I wonder if they could start a day care group for yarn addicts?

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Pink Ribbon Socks

In the evenings I like to knit or crochet when we sit and watch TV or just the fire, or Mr K might read a book. I can't read and knit at the same time, so I just knit.
The Pink Ribbon campaign has spread from mere ribbons to various products. Years ago I bought a set of Fiskars scissors in pink instead of the usual orange. This year, you could buy cleaning products, chocolate, plastic shopping bags or a limited selection of Finnish wool yarns dyed in shades of pink a red, and a pattern booklet with 19 amazing sock patterns. Each skein of wool brings 0.80 € to the campaign.

I have not knitted this kind of patterns before, so I made the socks simpler, with just the one row of roses at the top. Here on the Finnish Craft Organisation's website you can see the patterns they designed for the campaign. Their other pages are in English too, but this one is just in Finnish.
The pattern was very challenging for a beginner like me, with up to 10 stitches in one colour before the other colour was used again. Don't look for differences between the two socks, there are many!

Monday 9 December 2013

End of the tour in Villa Cooper

Here is the favourite article for Christmas:

Hand knitted wool socks are our bestseller, especially as Christmas gifts. Not everyone has the time or the skills to knit their own, and they appreciate the craft club ladies who know how to make the socks look nice, fit perfectly, and especially for women's and children's socks follow the latest trends. Men seem to prefer traditional grey socks.
Modern Christmas decorations and a glimpse of a straw goat, a very traditional decoration.

Wreaths made of different materials.

These are my favourites,  the materials come from the nature.

I hope you enjoyed the tour and I wish you could come and see this place in person.

Sunday 8 December 2013

The tour continues

There is a closet under the stairs in Villa Cooper's old dining room. It is used for small scale exhibitions. This time the theme is old toys from our members. These are from the 1940's to 1980's.

More tonttu elves.

Himmeli traditional straw decorations in the dining room.

More to follow!

Saturday 7 December 2013

Welcome to Villa Cooper

It is too dark for a better photo at six o'clock in the evening, but the lights look welcoming. Join me in a little tour in Villa Cooper. This is a home museum but also a showplace and shop of Järvenpään käsintekijät.
Elves and angels represent the two sides of Christmas.

I could think about replacing the traditional Christmas tree with something like this.

Even the potholders have changed for a Christmas look.

Come back tomorrow for more pictures from Villa Cooper.

Friday 6 December 2013

The Winner is...

... randomly generated number 36!

Counting from the newest comment back, number 36 is Dolores from True Blue Canadian with her comment on Colours are changing on October 17th. This is a funny coincidence: I promised to send something typically Finnish as today is our Independence Day, and Dolores has Finnish roots. Congratulations, Dolores! Rye bread will not be a mystery to you then.
Today we finally had some snow to lighten up the landscape.
I have been sewing a little, knitting a little and Tunisian crocheting too.

I wish you all lots of ideas and energy for your Christmas preparations.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Grey days

Fieldfares in our apple tree, eating the last few apples before flying further South.

This is my 600th blog post. To celebrate it I decided to have a giveaway. The winner will be drawn from among the 60 last comments on  my blog, any post, at noon tomorrow, which is our Independence Day. The gift will be something typically Finnish like dry rye bread or Fazer chocolate, but it may be something else if the winner lives in a country where the post regulations don't allow sending these items.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Colour for the dark days

The Summer flowers are gone and replaced by Calluna. These will keep their colour during the Winter and be the only colourful spot in the white garden.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

The Winter takes tiny steps

Unusual to see blue skies at this time of the year. Some days are clear and sunny.

There is just a hint of snow where we live. Lack of snow makes the cloudy days so dark!

Monday 2 December 2013

Day 3 - Oxford!

It has been a while since my travel report from England, so I think we are all well rested for a long walk. Warning: this will be lots of pictures, lots of links, and no crafts at all.
The third day of our trip was the one I was really looking forward to. We had train tickets to Oxford! And you must guess by now who was there to meet us and show her expertise as a tour guide in her old home town. Our mutual friend Melanie! So, like I told in my last travel post, dear daughter and I took the train from Paddington and arrived in Oxford just an hour later. We met Melanie and her husband at the station, and Melanie handed out copies of The Inspector Morse City Trail, a map of Oxford and a guide book for later studies. Our first destination was the Ashmolean Museum. Once again, we just picked our favourite parts like textiles, netsuke miniature sculptures, and tools.

This is the Martyr's Memorial seen from the steps of the Ashmolean. The Martyrs in question were protestants and the Memorial is from 1843.
Our next stop was the Eagle and Child pub, the meeting place of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis and their friends in the 1940's and later. The weather was turning cloudy and the cosy fire looked so inviting.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch, and Melanie and I made a little tour around the pub.

The original pub from the 17th century has been altered over the years. New rooms have been added, and there are photos of the famous Inklings. Click the photo to read, if you like.

When our walk continued, we saw the famous Bodleian Library. I think this is the right photo, there were big building works going on so we couldn't really see the main building. Can you imagine a library with more than 11 million printed items, and a copy of all new books published in England is deposited there so the collection grows on a daily basis? 
The Oxford Bridge of Sighs from 1913 joins two buildings of Hertford College. It was a familiar sight from the Inspector Morse series.
Our local male guide led us to St. Helen's Passage. The lower sign says "The Famous Turf Tavern".

This plaque on the wall was interesting:

We seemed to bump into the Pre-Raphaelites everywhere. - Here, at the end of the narrow passage and after a few turns, we found the Turf Tavern. It is one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, under one of the last remaining parts of the city wall.  I must keep my eyes open for this place too if there will be re-runs of the old Inspector Morse series.
The University of Oxford is "everywhere".

 Beautiful buildings

wherever you turn your head.

Knitted graffiti!

Bicycles everywhere. The streets were very narrow and bicycles seemed the best means to get to places. This round building is the Radcliffe Camera, built in the 18th century as a library.

The porters look exactly like on TV!

This is where the Liddel family lived. Lewis Carrol wrote his Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for their daughter Alice.

This is Inspector Morse's police station.

Not far from it, just down the street, was a place I remember well from the series. The Head of the River pub. Morse and Lewis often had a beer here and discussed a case they were working on.

We sat here for a while to rest our feet (at least mine) and had some tea or other refreshments.

Christ Church Memorial Garden

Beautiful flowers there, it was mid September.

Tom Tower and Christ Church. The tower was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and the tower was named after the bell Great Tom. It is the loudest bell in Oxford and it is still sounded 101 times every night at 21.05 as a sign for all colleges to close their gates.

The other side of the gardens.

On our way to the Pitt River's museum we saw more of the beautiful parks and gardens.

At this point it was raining and it was too difficult to take pictures and hold an umbrella, so the show ends here. You just need to imagine a nice hot cup of your favourite tea with some warm scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream.
On the way back to the railway station we had a glimpse of the Oxford Castle and of the Jam Factory, where the original Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade comes from. I know it from the book Missee Lee by Arthur Ransome. The Swallows and Amazons meet this former Cambridge student who loves Oxford Marmalade.
Thank you Melanie for a lovely day! It was worth the bleeding toes and blisters on my heels. Oxford has a special place in my heart now.