Tuesday, 29 July 2008

More about thistle, and I've been tagged

After I showed the thistle picture of my domestic carelessness, I have been thinking about the use of plant fibers in felting . I found out that the only natural fiber that can be felted is wool, so the eriophorum fibers from peat are used in the felt for their ability to absorb moisture. This makes the felt feel warmer. The peat felt is mostly used for insoles and wests etc.

Through the Summer Stash Challenge I have learnt to know many wonderful new bloggers. One of them is Messy Karen. I don't know if she really is that messy, but it is easy for me to remember which Karen is which, because Karen from Contemporary Embroidery surely is not messy. She keeps working with white silk all the time, and doesn't need to wash the finished cloth. Anyway, my new acquaintance the colourful Karen has now tagged me to tell six random facts about me, so here it goes:

1. link to the person who “tagged” you. - it was Messy Karen, link above

2. post the rules on your blog. - here they are

3. write six random things about yourself. - comes after the rules

4. tag six people at the end of your post. - well, it can be more or less

5. let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

6. let the tagger know your entry is up. - will be done in a minute

Six random facts about me:

1: I married my husband 28 years ago, 364 days after I saw him for the first time

2: I love flowers but not gardening

3: Recycling is important for me and I believe I have raised my children to think positively about it too

4: I spend way too much time by the computer

5: I have never had long hair

6: I don't drink coffee but about once a week I go to the cafeteria in town and have a latte and a croissant

I will not tag anyone by name, but I invite all summer stash challenge quilters to this game if they are interested. That will be about 50 people. Your names are on the right sidebar.

It just happened that I had a picture of my special treat on the computer and so I had a picture for this post too. In about an hour I will go and have my latte and do some grocery shopping, and of course I will have my recycled shirt Mauritz bag for the groceries.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Thistle beauty

Last Sunday we had the family lunch I already told you about. To decorate the dining table with something else than my brand new Husqvarna Sapphire, my daughter Kaija and I picked a big bunch of wild flowers from the roadside. Bluebells, milfoils, daisies and thistles with some ferns. It was beautiful, and I wanted to enjoy the flowers for as long as possible. Well, I think I waited a day too long, because one morning this week I met this sight:

The thistles had their seed ready to be blown with the wind and one flower had erupted forming this beautiful lace veil. When I cleaned away the mess, the little hairs on the seed felt like silk in my hands. This thistle is called felt thistle in Finnish, and I wonder if it has been used for felting. I know that another wild flower, eriophorum, remains intact in peat and is used together with wool for making peat felt.

Melanie from Jellybeanangel has given me this award:

I'm honoured to receive this, because making people smile is not always easy. The award itself makes me smile, and I hope you too! Melanie didn't give any strict rules to go with the award, so I make my own. I will give this award to the following blogs:

Eileen's Attic because Eileen is making the Summer stash challenge with me and I love her dolls

Meet me at Mike's because Pip makes everyone smile

paperiaarre because Kaija is my daughter and I can be happy and proud of her

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Two first quilts

A while ago I had a big laundry day for my father-in-law and took also this woollen lap quilt to be washed. After I had ironed it I took this picture to show you the first quilt I have sewn. I made it for my mother-in-law in 1992 during and after my short quilting course.

It is my own design, as you might have guessed. I used sample books of men's wool scarves, and some wool fabric rests my mother had given me. The only thing I'm still satisfied with is the colour scheme! Given that material today, I would have prewashed the fabrics to avoid uneven shrinkage. I would also have made the sashings in a different way. But as I said, this was my first one, and the teacher didn't interfere with my design. I wish she had!

This is my sister Maija's first quilt in process. She is joining in the summer stash challenge to help her finish this quilt for her daughter. As she doesn't have a blog (yet), I promised to report her progress here from time to time. A couple of years ago I introduced her to the quilting world, so I'm pushing her a little to keep going with her work.

The rows are sewn together now and as far as I can see, Maija has done a pretty good job here. She will post more photos in the Summer Stash Challenge Flickr group when the time is right. Her Flickr name is Maijukka, a diminutive form of her name our parents used when she was little. And later, too, of course. If you are in the Summer Stash Challenge and have not received an invitation to the Flickr group, please contact me or Eileen to get you there. That group is a place where you can see everyone's challenge quilts together.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Hedgehog and other visitors

I have been busy cleaning the house (including the packing by new machine in its case away from the dining table, just to make room for food!) and baking and cooking and no time to blog world for a couple of days. We had a family lunch yesterday with DH's father, sister and brother and his son and our three kids, 13 people in all. It was a warm day and we could eat outdoors under a pavilion roof and on the veranda. It was nice to see everyone, and we had an extra visitor as well. A tiny little hedgehog baby was wandering around on the lawn, and our two-year-old guest was thrilled to see something like that.

To show my slow progress on the summer stash challenge quilt, a picture of basting the layers for quilting. I was also testing our new garden table and chairs; we have been planning to buy a set for at least five years and finally did it last week to seat all our guests for the Sunday lunch! I don't trust my safety pins alone when I plan to quilt by machine, I need the basting to be sure. I know it sounds like belt and suspenders, but that's me.

This little piece I quilted with safety pins only, but it is only three rows high. They are the rows I ripped off the challenge quilt which was too long for my backing piece of fabric. I tried almost all the different quilting stitches of my new machine here. On the dark brown piece you can see the jump stitches caused by a too small needle. After I changed to a number 100 it worked all right. I decided to stitch in the ditch for the challenge quilt after all; it will look more masculine . I will use the fancy stitches for smaller, sweeter quilts to come.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

New toy is fun!

Like most of you correctly guessed, I went to play with my sewing machine. I have almost finished the exercise book, and I was doing some test quilting on the rows of my challenge quilt I ripped off to match the backing material size. Suddenly I heard a Beep! and looked around, but couldn't hear anything so I went on sewing. Then I heard it again and noticed this:

The Sapphire darling was telling me that I was running out of bobbin thread! There was about 50 cm left on the bobbin, and I could choose to sew it to the end or start filling the bobbin immediately. On any other machine I have used I could have kept sewing on and on without noticing. The machine did also have her bad moments, the quilting thread was tangled a few times and the machine stopped and informed that the motor was overheated. It prevented me from trying to sew through the tangle and overstress the machine, I think. When I changed a thicker needle it did not happen again.

I also tested the table included in the set. With the big quilt, this will be a tremendous help. I only need to take a higher chair; on the dining table this is way too high for me on a normal chair.

Once again I'll show you something I've done long ago, one of my very first quilts. The design is a little odd, but my daughter uses this quilt on her sofa where it is partially covered by big cushions. The centre is made of corduroy and the rest is jeans. For many years I used to cut all worn-out trousers of our whole family into 11x11 cm squares and stash them in a drawer, long before I had started quilting. When the piles seemed big enough I sewed this quilt for my eldest son. I thought he could use it as a carpet, as it is big and very heavy. Somehow it ended in my daughter's home. Main thing is that this odd quilt is being used. I remember that I wanted to make the quilt look like worn-out jeans' knees, lighter in the middle. This knee seems to be patched with corduroy!

P.S. on Friday I ironed almost all there was to iron. Now the pile is bigger than the one I showed. This time I'll iron first and then start playing!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

To iron or not to iron?

What do you think I should be doing now (except writing this), ironing these, the new backing for the challenge quilt is on top,

or playing with this, my new Husqvarna Sapphire 870 Quilt I bought yesterday when I just went to have a haircut and to look at some sewing machines:

Look at the length of the arm! Look at all the stitches:

I haven't even plugged it in yet. It came with an instruction CD and an exercise book where I can collect all my samples when I practise. I just keep smiling all the time, like when in love! Now I must take time to learn the basics so I can machine quilt the challenge quilt easily. To show you some progress in that field I have a photo of the borders. They look like this, all the way around:

I ended up leaving three rows out. Maybe I use them for a cushion, sometime in the future. Now I think I will plug in the iron - or new sewing machine.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Sweet surprise

On Monday I had the sweetest surprise mail from Suzie. She was my first PIF contact and I have just shown what I sent her. Now she wanted to thank me and sent me this cute little name panel to wear in class or meetings:

And to help me find the page I was reading last night, she has sewn me this most beautiful bookmark in my favourite colours:

It is only 6,4 cm/2½" wide so you can imagine how tiny the log cabin pieces are. And all corners are sharp! She is a very clever girl, so maybe you should go to her blog and sign her PIF to get something hand made by her. All you need to do is tell her you want to join in her PIF and then publish the rules in your blog, promising to send handmade gifts to the three first persons signing in on your blog to continue this game. There is still one name missing on my list too.

My summer stash challenge quilt is still waiting for progress. I have bought a new backing on Monday, to replace the too small one. Unfortunately this was the last bit the shop had and it ist not very much bigger than the first one, but the colour goes better with the top. Today I will iron the washed backing and sew the seam in the middle and make the sandwich. My wadding has been lying flat since the day I bought it so it will certainly not be bumpy any more. I hope to post some progress pictures tomorrow.

Friday, 4 July 2008

PIF mail in and out

This lovely table runner is made by another Ulla, the one in Sweden in Ulla's Fiber Blog. I received it yesterday as my PIF gift from her, and it is in my favourite colours, different shades of brown.

There was also this sweet little pouch, which blogger insist on showing rotated. It is easy to look at this way too. I have not yet decided what I shall use this pouch for. It could be for lipsticks and nail file in my bag, or some jewelry when I ever happen to travel. The zipper closes perfectly, so the thin chains would not escape. It could also be useful for sewing threads when I go to my sewing group again in September. I love my gifts very much and I'm glad I chose Ulla's PIF to participate.

Here is what I have sent as my PIF gifts to both Suzie and Lesley:

They both like blue so I made them a set of holders for scissors, thimbles, pins and needles. They are useful when you take a small sewing project with you to waiting rooms or trips. I take the opportunity to remind my readers that I still have one gift to send. It may not be like this one, and it may not be very soon, but I can promise it will be sent within a year from my original promise to Pay it forward.

A little update on my Summer Stash Challenge quilt: I bought yesterday the backing fabric and didn't think it was only 90 cm wide insted of the normal 150 or 140 cm. It will not be enough for the size the quilt top was planned to be. After some thinking I ripped off three rows of tumblers and put on a narrow border. Today I will think a little more and decide wheter the borders stay or not, and calculate how many rows can go back if I decide to get rid of the borders. It would be useful to think twice in advance!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Pigs and bags

This little pig is very thick and I think she will have piglets any moment now.

So there they are! It is so convenient to have a zipper in one's belly, the little ones just pop out like that and then you close the zipper and let the piglets have some milk.

Press buttons make excellent snouts and nipples. I made these for the Softies for Mirabel auction. My mama pig is not big enough for the three piglets I made, so she will go to Australia with just two of them. I'll have to make the next sow bigger, and she can take care of the lonely little piglet and two new ones.

Remember the bag competition I participated in May? No luck for me, but you can see the winners here. The first price went to a bag woven of videotape, an extraordinary idea and the bag looks really nice. The second price recycles a children's traffic play mat, and the third winner is crocheted with thin plastic bread bags cut into strips. The next one shown is a double bag from an old tablecloth; the idea is that you can remove the lining and use as a spare bag if there is more shopping to carry. The fifth one is a net bag crocheted with rests of warp yarn.

I still have not been able to go fabric shopping for the backing of my Summer Stash Challenge quilt, but I have started a new Flickr group for all who have joined the challenge. There will be only pictures of the challenge quilts, showing the process how a maybe problematic pile of stash will turn into a nice quilt. (More often it seems the husbands are having the problems, the quilters just have nice stash.) Number of quilts made for the challenge is not limited, so if you have already finished one quilt, nobody will stop you making as many as your stash and time will allow! This group is for invited members only, so you need to give your e-mail address to Eileen or me if you have joined in the challenge and not received an invitation by now. Our e-mail addresses can be found in our blog profile.

EDIT July 15th: There are more pictures of the bag competition here , on readers' request, and my Maurtiz bag was the first one they added!