Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Taking it easy

Last Friday I had to admit that I am more like a cow than a goat when it comes to walking on steep rock paths like the ones I took last Tuesday and posted under Morning dew. I had to go and see a doctor and show him my aching, swollen, hurting knee. He gave me some pills which seem to help a little, and told me to take it easy for a week. "Only the obligatory walking, and ice packs 4 times a day on the knee." So there will be no walks this week. Yesterday, when I was in town, I didn't walk to the fabric shop, not even to look at fabrics. Instead, I enjoyed the florist's shop in the shopping centre where I have my latte or tea. When I sit in the cafe, I can see all this:

And this:

It was easy to spend an hour there, with my notebook and tea and a piece of cake. Yes, you see, when I can not get Brownie points for my walking badge this week, I can at least see to it that I have earned my tea drinking badge and cake eating badge. Every cloud can have a silver lining!

Last night we had frost again. It has been windy and the leaves are falling from the trees. After a frost it only takes a little breeze and the leaves start falling on the ground. This is a picture I took this morning in our yard. I tried to catch a titmouse in the picture, but even without it I like the pattern of the branches.

The Bergenia leaves are turning red. They roll up like this when it is cold and open again when the air is warmer. The grass looks grey because of the frost.

I have been able to finish two of my Stitchers' Angel Swap projects, and I'm going to send them to my partner tomorrow. This is the mini tote Blue Wren's Nest designed by Natalie from Cinderberry Stitches.

And this very big pincushion is designed by Karen of Cotton Spice Blog.

There will be space for all kinds on pins and needles!
I am still working on the stitching of May Britt's angel stitchery for my own bag. The Stitchers' Angels patterns are all free to be downloaded for your own use, even if you are not participating in the swap. I have enjoyed this new kind of handicraft and I think I will keep making stitcheries even after the swap. But at the moment I'm feeling the need to start a new quilt, even a little one. And I really ought to start working on my Unicef dolls if I am going to get them ready for the auction in November.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Vintage Copper Thingies

For several weeks now I have been admiring the vintage thingies Eileen has been showing in her blog on Thursdays. The hostess is Lisa and her blog is Confessions of an Apron Queen. This week I decided to join the fun for at least some weeks.

Today I want to show you my vintage copper. The first thingie is a little brush for sweeping the crumbs from a table cloth. The brush originally came with a matching dustpan, but unfortunately it has been misplaced before I got the brush from my mother. This is almost antique, from the early years of the 20th century.

The next picture shows two cake moulds and a water scoop. They are hanging on my kitchen wall and not used any longer, because the tin layer inside is not intact. I think the wedding cake of at least one of my elder sisters was baked with these and another, bigger mould.

Here I tried to show the stamp, blogger insists on showing the picture turned this way. The year 1607 is not when the mould was made but when the company was established!

This last picture is of my biggest copper thingie, an oval tub where I keep my dry flowers. I'm not sure wheter this tub was used for washing the dishes or clothes. I like the shape very much.

If you click the picture with the apron lady, you will find other blogs showing vintage thingies.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Harvest time

These past weeks I have been preparing for the winter to come. Autumn is a wonderful time of harvesting, making jams and juices, picking mushrooms for the freezer as well as for making them for lunch or supper. This is how I make apple sauce:

I cut the apples in half, take out the stick and the blossom remains and put the pieces in my juice cooker for about half an hour, until they look like this:

Then I mash the steaming hot apples with my "Mouli-legumes".

After adding sugar I put the thick sauce in these hot glass jars up to the brim and screw the lids tight. The hot sauce will shrink when it cools and there will be a vacuum to keep the apple sauce intact in my cellar. I have been doing this so much that my shoulder is growing big muscles from winding the masher mill.

Melanie was interested in recipes for rowan berry jam. The magazines are full of those right now, so here is one including apples to make the jam less bitter:

1 kg apples
1 kg rowan berries
0.5 l water
800 g sugar
1. Wash and cut the apples in big chunks, remove the cores and stems
2. Strip the rowan berries from their clusters and rinse well
3. Cook the apples and berries in water until they are soft
4. Mash the apples and berries through a sieve or with a masher like the one in my apple pictures
5. Pour the mash back to the kettle, add the sugar and cook for about 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens a little
6. Put the hot sauce/jam in hot glass jars and close them immediately.
The rowan berry jam is usually served with strong meat like venison or reindeer, but can be served like any other jam if you like the "slightly" bitter taste.
I found another recipe, for a rowanberry-carrot marmalade:
1 l rowan berries
½ l roughly crated carrots
300 g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Strip and rinse the rowan berries. Cook them in a small amount of water until they are soft. Mash the berries with a mixer or any preferred method. Mix the berry mash, carrots, sugar and cinnamon in a kettle and let simmer until the crated carrots are soft and the mixture is thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick. Put in clean, hot glass jars and close the lids immediately.
The taste of rowan berries varies, so if possible, taste the berries of different trees and choose the sweetest for the jam.
I finally finished a project I promised in August to make for my niece. She is my goddaughter and a kindergarten teacher. They have new learning material, and the new book tells also about a bookworm. My niece M asked if I could make a softie bookworm on the basis of the picture in the book, and this is the result of my imagination:

It was a challenging task and I should have made a test softie before my deadline was close. Well, like I have said before, people usually use all the time available for a project, and so did I. No time to make a new improved version. But on the other hand, the children may see this learning companion as a friend with its flaws and personal features.

On a good day the bookworm can stand on his six legs, but sometimes they spread like Bambi's on ice, as you can see in the first picture.

Morning dew

Yesterday I enjoyed the beautiful weather on my walk and took a new path across the rocks. After two minutes I didn't know where I was but I wasn't lost because I could hear the traffic from the big road. I had only been in this part of the forest 27 years ago when I was skiing. It looks quite different in winter and with a ski track to show you where to go.

The sun was just reaching over the treetops.

There was a footpath across the rocks.

The morning dew had made the lichen soft and strong in its white colour.

This little spruce had already grown beard moss. It is the darker soft spot near the trunk about half way down. The branches are grey with lichen.

The cobwebs were covered with dew.

This was a surprise. I never knew there was a pond in the forest. In fact there were two of them.

The walk took me a lot further than I thought, but it was an hour well spent. On my way back along the road I once again found donations from my anonymous sponsors: there are often empty bottles or cans lying by the road, and I take them to the grocery shop for the 0.15 to 0.40 euro refund. I also pick up some litter when it disturbs me enough. This giant size cheese snack bag did.

There is a local movement against littering. It is called "Roska päivässä" or Litter Movement and they challenge everyone to pick even one litter every day and take it to the trash can. And naturally stop littering. They recently had a campaign giving portable ashtrays to smokers. They were plastic film pots (?), decorated with a sticker of the recipient's choice. Feel free to copy the idea!
Many of you may have noticed Finland in the news yesterday. If you feel like discussing it with me, I would prefer private emails. The tragedy didn't involve any persons I know, and my family and friends are safe. My sympathy is with the families and friends of the victims.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Autumn colours and embroidery

These are my autumn flowers I bought a couple of weeks ago when I was frustrated of the behaviour of my jumping petunias. As you can see, the basket has a wide bottom and it is placed safely on the ground ;o).

I also wanted autumn colours for the little table where I keep my hand-sewing projects. I chose this vintage tablecloth embroidered by my great-aunt or my grandmother in the early years of the 20th century. After taking the picture I thought I'd better iron the cloth before putting it to the table, but when I looked at the amount of projects I currently keep on that table, I saw it would be a waste of time and electricity.

I have finished the first project of Stitchers' Angel swap and sent it abroad, but the fabrics are still on the table for the other projects to come, and of course the box with my embroidery floss, and my sewing box with all the necessary things, and the folder with the instructions for all the projects. They cannot be moved away before the sewing is all done! This is how the armchair caddy looks when it is in use:

The other pocket is hanging on the other side. -It was fun trying something new. I have made some cross-stitching when I was young, and my first embroidery was the name panel for my brownie uniform. I think I'm going to like this.

On Thursday I spent the day with my mother. DH was on a fair in Tampere and took me to my mother early in the morning and picked me up in the evening. You know what little children sometimes say to their parents: "When I'm big and you are little, I'm going to ...". This has happened with my mother now. She used to be a lot taller than I, and for a time she was a "woman of traditional build" (we both are great fans of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency), but now she has grown to be the little one. I altered two pairs of trousers she had from my younger sister (they had been shrinking in her closet), and I had to take in a lot, still leaving them comfortably wide and easy to wear.
Yesterday I was pampered: I had received for my birthday in spring a gift voucher for a pedicure from my friend P, who is a nurse and pedicurist. It was lovely! She is also the one who gave me the plastic bag with the stranger quilt pieces. I took the opportunity and gave her the quilt when we met. I found out that the pieces were from her late mother, who had made quilts for her grandchildren but not for this daughter, so I think it was just right that she now has a quilt started by her mother. She recognized many of the fabrics from her mother's dresses and blouses. Happy end!

From Helsinki (pedicure) I took the train to Järvenpää where I had errands to run, and I saw this delicious-looking apple tree at the station - you can see the old building behind the tree. The apple tree is called the "railway apple tree", it was a result of plant breeding in our other neighbour town Hyvinkää and used to decorate the railway station surroundings. The apples don't taste very good, but the tree looks nice with the hanging branches. It is less than 2 m high, easy to keep in shape by cutting away the branches trying to reach the sky.

Last night I finally had time to read some blogs and emails. I noticed my talented special friend Karen had mentioned me in her guest blog on Monday in connection with some real textile artists. She had been trying to send me emails, too, but I still have not received them. Go and see the wonderful art the ladies create!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Amateur botanist

Now the morning walks are almost a habit, and I look forward to new routes. This morning I walked for the first time the "long" route; I added the whole 1.3 km running/ski track to my normal walk. This is the view from the highest hilltop to the South.

This time I concentrated on the berries. They look a lot nicer than most mushsrooms ;) ! This is the European blueberry, or bilberry (Vaccínium myrtillus), in autumn colours. The berry time was in July/August.

This is lingonberry thinking it is June, white flowers in September:

And here are the berries. I just found in the dictionary that the lingonberry is only the commercial name for the berries, and the Vaccínium vítis-idáea really is cowberry or mountain cranberry.

Here is Rúbus saxátilis, or roebuck berry or stone bramble. The berries are not edible.

This is Convallária majális, lily of the valley. The big beautiful berries are poisonous. I used to pick all the flowers from our yard when the children were little, but I also told them not to eat any berries from the nature without showing me first.

The last berry is a real bush, Ríbes alpínum, or alpine currant. The berries are red and tasteless.

I was so focused on the ground that I forgot to take a picture of yet another berry, Sórbus aucupária, the rowan tree. Yesterday, when I took another route (without the camera), I suddenly heard loud sounds of birds, fieldfares according to my dictionary. A noise in fact, they are no great singers. There were hundreds of them all over the rowan trees eating the red berries. The bird flocks move in the area eating every tree empty. Sometimes the Bohemian/northern waxwings find these berries in winter and they also come in big flocks to eat. They look and sound a lot nicer than the fieldfares, who ate all redcurrants from my garden in July.
Today I have my day off, and DH is away on a fair. I'm alone at home until the evening. I have great plans for the day and I hope to be able to show something hand made for a change in my next post!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

What took me so long on my walk

Last week I took the camera with me on one of my morning walks. The 30 minute walk too 45 minutes, when I observed the nature and picked some mushrooms for lunch as well. Here is what we ate:

Blogger wants to show this one on its side, but it doesn't matter because I had picked the mushroom before taking the picture. The whole group of this kind of mushrooms has the Finnish name tatti, but their Latin names begin with boletus or suillus or leccinum. Boletus comes from the Greek word bolos meaning a lump; suillus is the Latin word for hog-like; and leccinum is the Italian name for one of these mushrooms. The Italians are great fans of these; any amount of our Boletus edulis could be exported there. The tatti mushrooms are easy to use, I just cleaned and chopped them and fried them with chopped onions. Yummy!

This picture is showing a very different kind of fungi, the orange coloured little haarakas, a member of the ramaria family. It is soft and branched and looks rather exotic.

These are in Finnish tuhkelo (from the word for ash) , their Latin name is lycoperdon from the Greek lykos meaning wolf and perdomai, to break wind. Both names must have been inspired by what happens when the mushroom is ready to spread the spores: there will be a little hole on top, and when you touch the mushroom, the spores come out like a little dark, bad-smelling cloud. Melanie and I had some email exchange last week about the mushrooms and their names, and she mentioned puffballs. This is our version of them. There are others, often to be found on lawns and not so many together; they are very nice to eat when they are fresh and not puffing around!

These are just some brown mushrooms I didn't recognize, but there are lots of them.

These are another species, and around them the little green twigs are lingonberries. I'm sorry they don't look like the pictures in my mushroom books and I can't identify them. I should have looked at them a week earlier!

My walks are getting easier day by day. I have learned not to think about going, I just go. The bad knee gets better because there are some muscles growing to support it. It doesn't hurt at all during the walk, only in the evenings a little. I hope the weather will stay fairly dry, it is a lot nicer to have a walk when it is not pouring. The walks do me good, I spend too much time sitting and sewing or sitting by the computer.

This is supposed to be a sewing/craft blog, and so I need to show a little peek of my secret project. I have been working on these for a couple of weeks already. They are my Stitcher's Angel swap projects, an armchair caddy designed by Helen of Hugs and Kisses, with a pincushion and pockets for threads and needles and scissors; and a little tote bag with the Blue wrens designed by Natalie from Cinderberry Stitches.
I have finished the caddy by now, but as it is supposed to be a secret I will not show it before the swap is over.
P.S. I started writing this on Saturday, so blogger insists on that date. It really is late Sunday afternoon my time already.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Finished mystery quilt

Today I finally finished the "Stranger quilt" I have been showing pictures of this summer. It has been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture of the finished puzzle. And with the modern, machine made pieces with the exact shapes repeating over and over, so that it is possible to put a wrong piece in place. I personally prefer these vintage jigsaw puzzles somebody really sawed by hand when my mother was young. Every piece is different, no chance for a mistake.

The quilt was at this stage when I received it some years ago from the mother of DS1's girlfriend. I don't know who has started the patchwork, but there were foundation pieced rows of about 4" squares, with varying seam allowances.

I tried out many different arrangements but nothing really seemed to make sense. I concluded that there never was a plan, although some rythm and repetition was in the rows.

Finally I ended up with this arrangement. And then I changed it.

I added a few rows to both ends of the top using pieces from too long rows, some fabrics which were in the same bag as the rows, and some fabrics from my stash. Then I dyed an old sheet for the borders and backing. The border piece was dyed first and a little longer than the backing, for darker colour.

For the binding I used the same fabric as in some pieces from my stash, fifth from the right on bottom line and diagonally above it in the picture above.

This morning I sewed the last bit of the binding and took these last photos. The darker spots are shadows of leaves, the sun was shining through a big tree.

I'm pleased with my "jigsaw puzzle" stitching. The rows of the quilt were straight in only one direction, as the squares were not all finished the same size, and I couldn't stitch in any way following the seams. These wavy lines go across the patches in both directions. It was a pleasure to use the new sewing machine for the quilting.
On Monday P (the girlfriend's mom) is coming to pick some apples because we can't use all the apples. I'm going to give her the quilt then. She will most probably not see the faults in this quilt because she is not a quilter herself. I will also ask her what she can tell me about the rows and who started them.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Autumnal award

A couple of days ago Melanie gave me this award:

Thank you, Melanie! - I didn't get any rules to go with the award so I decided to give it to the following five blogs, in alphabetical order:

Antika Nöjen - Ewa-Christine who has antique and vintage textiles in her art

Eileen's Attic - Eileen my quilting friend with a love for vintage

Paperiaarre - Kaija my dear daughter

Shabby Chicken - Drewzel another Brownie with merit badges

Spirit Cloth - Jude who takes her readers to an amazing journey in textile art

Go and visit these blogs, they may be something quite different from your usual reads!

I have been exchanging emails with Melanie about mushrooms and their non-latin names, and I have told her how most mushrooms have their Finnish name. Here are some examples from our recent menus. I even found an English name for these, they are chanterelles (in Finnish kantarelli or keltavahvero):

And on Sunday we had these cousins of chanterelles, suppilovahvero:

The yellow ones grow at the time when, and in places where there are lots of yellow birch leaves on the ground. The funnel shaped brown ones are just beginning their season and can be picked when there is already frost on the ground and all leaves have turned brown. Masters of hiding, both of them!

This is something I tried a couple of years ago when I had my shoulder operated and couldn't do "anything" being one-handed for many weeks:

I took a one-afternoon course in sun-dyeing. I have not used these fabrics because I had no real plan when I put the leaves on the fabric so the different motifs can not easily be cut for use without distroying others.

I thought of giving it another try this summer, but it seems the summer days somehow disappeared and were spent on other projects.

This is one of them, the stranger quilt. I have been working on it again and I thought it was like one of the modern factory-made jigsaw puzzles you can put together "wrong" because the same shapes are repeated. You can put a sky piece on the wall or a flowerbed piece in the sky if you want to. This jigsaw puzzle came with no picture of the completed work, and so I had to guess which parts, or strips of patches, were meant to go together.

The rows are straight in one direction only, because all pieces were not the same size. No chance for my usual, boring stitch in the ditch here! At the moment I'm already sewing the binding, there will be more photos in my nex post. I used this great tutorial for the binding.