Monday, 30 June 2008

Medieval tourism

This weekend we visited Turku, where our daughter Kaija lives. She took us to see the Medieval Fair ot the old market place near the cathedral.

There were stalls where you could buy handicrafts or something to eat.

And there was an area with work performances. This one was showing how yarns were dyed with natural ingredients like birch leaves, juniper, fungi etc.

I think the rare blue colour is achieved by woad. My sister Maija has given me some seeds but I have not sown them yet. I think I need to go to a course first to learn how to dye and how to handle the plants for it.
We had a lovely weekend and now I have to adjust me to normal life again. Tomorrow I can finally go to a favourite fabric shop and by the backing and batting for my stash quilt.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Home decorating

Earlier this year I bought an embroidery from Karen, and later she sent me another one as a gift. My flyfishing, flytying DH had two hobby-related pieces of graphics as a Christmas present from our daughter Kaija. It took some time but now all these pieces of art are framed and hanging on the wall.

This place is at the end of the staircase leading upstairs, the only place where you can get close to the wall without moving heavy pieces of furniture. Only here it is possible to see all the delicate details of the embroidery and the engravings. I am very pleased with the result. The three pictures on the left, with black frames, are by my father.

This is all for today,we are having a thunder coming closer as I write this, and I will turn off the computer. My Summer Stash Challenge top is sewn together and ironed. Next I have to go and buy some fabric for the backing, because I have no big pieces in my stash, and no batting. I have not yet decided how I will make the framing and binding.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Curiosities of the Finnish grammar

My sister Maija has joined in the Summer Stash Challenge and I showed her quilt here on Sunday. She then commented it and signed "Maijasi", which is Finnish and means "your Maija". We have lots and lots post-positions and possessive suffixes in Finnish, we just keep adding these little parts to words and add to their meaning by doing so. The -si -part in Maija's signature is a possesive suffix for second person singularis, you: your book = kirjasi, your mother = äitisi. My mother is äitini, and our mother is äitimme. Clever, isn't it? Even the small children know it here. So please call her Maija, no matter how she signs her comments.

Here are some new rows I have been arranging on the floor. I don't have a design wall, not even a place where I could dream about having one.

Backing carefully from the middle of the new arrangement I almost had a serious quilting accident. As I stepped backwards, I happened to step on my pincushion. As soon as I felt it was there, I tried to keep all my weight on my toes and almost succeeded. One needle came through the sole of my sandal and pierced my sock and skin, but not very deep. Luckily I was not barefoot! Some of my pins are crooked now, but I'm glad there was no real damage.

It still looks so big when the pieces are not sewn together. It will be a normal size quilt, 150 x 200 cm or a little less. Generous lap size is what I'm aiming at.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Rhubarb Tarte fine

This is the easiest baking you can imagine. The recipe is here . The website belongs to my favourite TV program in Swedish, Strömsö. It is all about crafting and cooking and gardening and building and decorating, and it mostly happens in a real house where these nice people are crafting and decorating and so on. Anyway, all you need is this ready made puff pastry (I hope this is the correct term. I saw it today on blog with the same kind of positive crafty energy as Strömsö, Meet me at Mike's, in Pip's Sunday lunch recipe, and the picture looked like the stuff I mean); and some rhubarb and lots of fine ground sugar. Roll the pastry sheets a little thinner, slice the rhubarb lengthwise and spread on the pastry sheets, leaving a narrow edge uncovered on all sides. Then sprinkle a sufficient amount of sugar on top. Bake in 225 degrees C until they look fine, 15 - 20 minutes. Serve with (home made) vanilla sauce or with ice cream.

I think I will try this later with apple slices and cinnamon.

Maija's quilt for summer stash challenge

My sister Maija has joined our challenge with her black and white quilt. She has not yet started blogging, so I will show her progress here. This is very suitable for me, because my project keeps looking the same all the time. I somehow managed to mix pairs and pieces in my calculations and only cut about half the amount of pieces I really needed for my tumbler quilt! Therefore I have been cutting and ironing some more, and as I took some new old shirts to play with, I need to rearrange the rows I have sewn so far and mix the new rows and new fabrics among the old ones. Challenging, isn't it?

Here are some fabrics from Maija's stash which she will be using for her blocks:

And this will be the backing:

She has started this quilt in 2006 I think. That is when I showed her how to work with the cutting mat, ruler and cutting wheel, she bought her own kit and these fabrics. With the help of this challenge group she will have the quilt finished by August, don't you think?

Eight rows of seven blocks already there. I would turn the row on the left around so there would not be dark blocks and light blocks next to one another in two rows, or move it to be furthest on the right. Just a suggestion. I'm the little sister, no need to take my advice.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Treasure from the seventies

If you are old enough, you may remember how fashionable this collar was. The shirts were also "slimmed" and fitted tightly on the young men, and the older ones too. I noticed this last year when I was making the Melka Twins series of quilts for my sister and brother and cut the old shirts of our late father. He was not a very tall man, and he was slender, just the man for slimmed shirts. This brown shirt belonged to my husband, and he was still wearing it sometimes at the beginning of our marriage. At that time I still loved the colour but I thought the cut was out of date, and I used to put other shirts more available to prevent him from using this. I didn't want to tell him it was oldfashioned, because he doesn't think about matters like that. And that is how I today have the sweetest pieces of brown to use in his quilt!

I have been arranging my pieces to dark and light pairs and sewing them together. I already put some pairs together as well, and ironed the seams to make the arranging easier.

The brown can be seen at the lower edge in the middle, paired with the checkered cream and olive flannel. Last night I spread all my ironed pairs and fours on this dining table and made the preliminary arrangement. It would be nice to know a name for this pattern, so please comment if you know one. I took the pattern from a library book (forgot to copy the name), and it is just titled "Inspiration Quilt or Nancy-Quilt".

My sister Maija has also joined in this challenge. Sincle she has not (yet) a blog of her own, I promised to show her pictures and report her progress here. She is more a weaver and a knitter. A couple of years ago she was staying with me for a couple of days during her visit to Finland, and I introduced her to our sewing group, a roll cutter, ruler and a cutting mat. Without a support group, her quilting career has not yet really started, but I hope this publicity will help her finish her first quilt ever.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

It seems that I'm a very slow starter. I still have not put two pieces together in my summer stash challenge quilt, and Eileen will start hand quilting her quilt today! Luckily she will do it by hand, and I'll do mine by machine, so I'm not too much behind. I just wanted to finish my PIF gifts first, and I sent them off on Monday. That was a lot of blue! And I should perhaps inform my new readers that I still miss one name on my list of three! The gift will not necessarily be anything like the ones I have sent, but it will be hand made by me. Check here for the rules, if you are interested!

I have never before had so many of these dark irises! I have brought them from my mother's garden. Two years ago we worked on this flower bed making it a lot smaller and easier for me to take care of, got rid of some flowers and kept these. The yellow ones are from a little start I once dug up at my parent's place. It was growing in the sand on the little "beach" where I learned to swim. I think the waves had brought the first seeds or roots there.

This is another project I have finished, I sewed the last bit of the binding this morning. This is my whirligiggle children's quilt, and I chose the most orange binding. Is this my way of getting ready to be a grandmother someday? This quilt is for no specific child, I just made it because I wanted to try the pattern and recycle the nightgowns!

Next post will show some progress on my challenge quilt, I promise.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

You Make My Day

I have received this award from Suzie, the sweet Littlebusybee in Germany. I am honoured and glad, and like before, I feel puzzled when I have to face the problem of choosing five blogs that make my day.

Therefore I will not give any names. I think of groups of bloggers that make my day, and you can copy the picture and give it forward in your blog if you feel like it. At the moment the most thrilling group is the growing group of Eileen's and mine Summer Stash Challenge. It is exciting to come to the computer and see if anyone has joined in since the last time I looked. Then there is the group of artistic bloggers who nourish my soul. And the group of crafty people whose energy and ideas I admire. And last but not least a new group I just recognized when I mis-spelled "artistic": the arthritic bloggers who may not all have arthitis like I have but are of a more mature age and make me instantly understand what they mean because we share so many experienses, having lived a little longer than most of the bloggers. You all make my day!

Friday, 13 June 2008

My new uniform

When I start working, I usually put my apron on. I work at home, and there are days when I wear my apron all day except when I eat. My youngest child used to say "Put your apron on!" when we came home, it made him feel safe knowing I'm not going anywhere but stay with him. Putting on lipstick on the other hand meant going shopping, which he also enjoyed unlike many more mature men. It is nice to start a new project wearing a new apron, and therefore I finally took some time with the sewing machine and made this ready:

This is my new Brownie uniform. I'm a Faraway member of the Brown Owls in Melbourne, and I embroidered the name panel and the faraway panel they sent me, and that's how I earned my first badge, the stitching badge you can see on my sidebar. For the cooking badge I sent a recipe for a cookbook they are making. I'm excited to hear what comes next.

With my uniform ready I'm full of energy and eager to start my Summer Stash Challenge quilt. By now I have about two hundred pieces cut (I'll need about 300). But before I allow myself this fun project, I will quilt and bind the Whirligiggle quilt. I do the quilting by machine and I have about one third done.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Good day in the City

Yesterday I had my day off and I went to Helsinki with my husband. We had a nice shopping day and luckily even escaped the heavy rain by having tea at the right time. First we went to a quilt shop and I bought two new rulers. DH found some nice threads for his fly-tying, and for both of us we got a two-bladed stitching template knife. After our first coffee-shop stop we had the strength to do some book shopping, some Lettraset felt tip pens for him and two books for each of us.

On our way back to the train we popped in to a sewing shop and I got the little zipper for my softie project, some floss for my secret PIF project and for his fly-tying, and the most tempting brochure of a dream sewing machine. LOOK: no fabric bought! It is a blessing my DH shares my interest in books, and he always can find cool tools and materials in "my" shops. However, I would never go shopping for clothes with him. This way we both can enjoy our day in the big city.

Then I of course had to try how practical my new ruler is on the pieces for my stash challenge quilt. These are just the first fabrics I have been cutting. I really shouldn't spend my morning sitting here, reading blogs and writing on my own. There is lunch to be cooked and fabrics to be cut!

Eileen has made us a logo for the Summer Stash Challenge. You are welcome to join us in this, the rules are very open and it really is just to help us start and finish a quilt using materials from our stash instead of buying piles of new. You can read the rules and sign in on Eileens blog!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Getting ready to start

On Saturday we visited my mother, all six children of hers gathered there for a summer afternoon. It was good to see everyone. We all had brought something to eat, so the table was full of delicious pies and salad and cakes and cookies. The weather was fine, there is always a fresh breeze from the lake and if you prefer shadow the trees will give it. Last night we had a thunder and some rain here, and now the air is breathable again. During the weekend my peonies opened the first flowers, but the rain made them lie on the ground this morning. I will rescue some in a vase.

I noticed my red pieces were all too small for my pattern of my summer stash challenge, so I started searching in some boxes I didn't reach when I started my organizing project eralier this year. (That project has been resting for a while.) And look what I found:

The uncut remains of my After Work quilt shirts and aprons, and lots and lots of other checkered shirts! I could make at least three quilts from these and only buy the backing since there are no big whole pieces of fabric in this stash. Which means that I do have bigger pieces like fabrics my sister P has bought for curtains but not used and they have eneded up in my cellar, too. But they wouldn't look nice with the flannel shirts, and I don't think I'm going to make the backing from pieces, so I most probably will buy something for it. Having a huge stash and many boxes can give you some nice surprises sometimes! It is good to dig everywhere before starting a big project. You never know what treasures you might find.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Summer Challenge

My friend Eileen from across the Atlantic ocean has agreed to work with me this summer with the Fabric Diet. We agreed to make a quilt totally from stash, if possible, and to have that quilt finished by August. She will be making a quilt for her daughter and I'll make one for my husband.

Eileen has already shown her pile of fabrics, and this is my plan:

Who would have thought: men's shirts! We have been married for 28 years very soon, so I have had time to make a collection. The red blocks and stripes are from my After Work quilt, and I may use some of them as well. The red and green After Work quilt is "mine", and the new quilt will be "his", and then we can sit hand in hand when it is cold, and our quilts will match ;) .
The fabric diet is looking quite good now: I was shopping yesterday and all I bought from a lovely fabric shop was some buttons for my PIF project. And this is an excellent opportunity to remind you that there is still one gift to give. One more person interested in spreading some joy can contact me and join in. That person will receive a hand-made gift from me against the promise to give a gift to three other people joining in on their blog.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


Yesterday I was busily sewing on this children's quilt top. It was so welcoming to feel again the joy of making just this block and only this one before I hang up the laundry, and then I'll have ten more minutes before I really must start making us lunch. I had the pieces cut last month, and the sewing was such fun. This used to be two nightgowns. I used the top part of the flowery one (a different fabric) for Flannel Kitty's dress. The narrow border here is the ruff of the flowery one, cut on bias. I cut it lengthwise in half to make this border, and there was a 7 cm piece left over when I finished! The quilt is about 120 x 150 cm. This picture was taken last night, the colours are rather blue, but you can see the whirligiggle pattern. I learnt about it during the Sew, Mama, Sew -quilting month in February.

Now I need to decide which binding would make this quilt look less anaemic. The backing will be a pinkish flannel with a children's print.

Alternative A, tile red/orange:

Alternative B, a warm red:

Alternative C, dark red:

And here they are all lined up, the darkest on the right is the one above and not really so dark as here. Because of the light fabric the dark one didn't get enough light, no matter how many pictures I took, with or without flash.

So please, comment and tell me your favourite. You can also make it D, your own suggestion. I might have it in my stash; and if not and I still love the idea, it will give me the perfect excuse to go shopping!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Green grocery bags

These are the bags I made for the competition of Kotiliesi women's magazine. Or to be exact, the first one was made some years ago for a recycling exhibition. One pair of trousers, one pyjama bottom (black) and two T-shirts (brown and yellow), and a little piece of a green T-shirt.

This used to be my nightgown:

This was a men's shirt, the bag's name is Melka:

And this was a young man's summer shirt with low set pockets, from H&M. The bag is called Mauritz.

I have machine stitched the button lists so that no shopping will drop out between the buttons. The last three bags are all small enough to keep in a handbag or even a jacket pocket. But also big enough for some shopping: I packed the bags with a 4 roll package of toilet paper and a 1.5 litre bottle when I took the photos.
There is no news about the competition yet, it was maybe more just a challenge to give ideas. I hope many people have taken the challenge and there will be less plastic bags on the dump!