Thursday, 29 January 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday 15 - Time for Tea

My this week's vintage thingies are tea related, because I'm in the middle of the Time for Tea Swap projects. That includes lots of information on tea through Stephanie's blog, and drinking extra cups of Earl Grey to keep the ideas coming! Suzanne is hosting the Vintage Thingies Thursdays, and links to other blogs showing vintage things are here.

Tea tastes really different from a thin china cup. These are from my mother around the time I started my own household. The cups are from Japan or China, from the early part of 1900. The pot is from a different set.

The lid is secured with a piece of string, because it falls off too easily. It is just a round lid, without the extra bit to keep it secure when pouring the tea. The ladies of the pot look Japanese to me.

It was easier to show the cup upside down. There are no marks to show where the cup was manufactured.

The saucer has the same picture.

Finally the tea cosy, from about the same period. I have shown this one before. Linen, with cotton embroidery. It was stitched by my now famous great aunt Saima or her big sister, my grandmother. I made the lining and put the tea cosy together.

The table runner in the first picture is from grandmother or her sister, too (Saima lived in her sister's family). It has been used a lot, mended, and stained. No wonder, it looks very lovely, and the tea pot has a runny nose!

Go and see the Coloradolady to find all other lovely vintage thingies!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tea Tuesday, and some Tagging

Another Tea Swapper Melanie was showing her many different English ways of serving tea. Go and see, it is a lovely collection of photos from 2008, with fresh strawberries and all! My tea culture has influences from east and west, and my blog friends in Britain might be shocked to see the way we make tea. My modern way of drinking tea is this:

A mug (Arabia/Iittala Teema, special edition in red, a Christmas present), a coaster from Melanie, and black tea with nothing in it: no sugar, honey or raspberry jam (the Russian way), and for God's sake no milk. Therefore no spoon needed. This is a mid-morning cup, therefore nothing to eat either.

On Saturday we visited my mother, 92, still living alone at home. There was a lot of snow on the trees, so it was not easy to see the lake. You can get a peek in the middle of the picture, above the snow covered rock. The white area is the lake, and the dark area above the straight horizontal line is an island. You can click all my images to enlarge.

Mother had started putting together a 1,000 pcs jigsaw puzzle my youngest sister had given her for Christmas. The picture will be of an old Dutch painting with 12 persons and a dog, but also some dark corners is brown and black.

I have been tagged by Miri. I'm not very good at these things, but let's try.

Here are the rules of the game:
1. When you are tagged you are asked to list eight random facts about yourself and post them on your blog for visitors to enjoy.
2. Tag eight of your blogging friends and leave them a comment that they have been tagged and to join in the fun if they have the opportunity. (If not, that's okay. They can still enjoy the random facts everyone shares :) Be sure to list a link to your eight friends in your posting.

Here are my eight random facts:

1. My "name day" (a smaller celebration than birthday, all names have a day in the calendar, and variations of a name celebrate on the same day) is on my father's birthday. It was a special day for my mother as a teenager when she was already in love with him, and she wanted to call one of her daughters Ulla for this reason.

2. I drink black tea three to four times a day.

3. When I drink coffee, it is latte (1/8 coffee, 7/8 steamed milk) or cafe au lait.

4. I sort everything that needs to be thrown away. In addition to the one real waste bin I have two small containers for problem waste (batteries and medicins), 4 bins for recycling: compost, glass, metal, and packaging materials, and we take fluid cartons and newspapers to their separate recycling places. It goes without saying that we recycle all bottles to be reused, and get our money back (0.40 € for a big soft drink bottle).

5. Fabrics that other people need to throw away I turn into quilts and Unicef dolls. This doesn't happen very quickly!

6. I like old things.

7. I read a little in bed before going to sleep.

8. I have read all Agatha Christie's detective stories.

Here comes the difficult part. I have many blogging friends, and even more blogs I follow more or less regularly, but I don't really know which of them don't like to be tagged. Therefore I leave the choice to you, my reader. If you want to play this game, leave a comment with a link to your blog and copy the rules from above. In this way we can all come and learn a little more about you.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Stars and prints

Last night I was in my sewing group again. This time I took my own needles and my presser foot with the 1/4" lines along; luckily they too have Husqvarna sewing machines at the school! I saw this tutorial on Belinda's blog some time ago, when I was lurking around all the Tea Swappers' blogs. I think this star is cute, and the tutorial shows a very easy way to make them. I don't cut my star point bits at all before sewing them, because I use very small scraps here. My squares are 2½", a little bigger than Belinda's. This will be my fun project I can always take on when I don't get my other things done.

Yesterday was a nice day to be outdoors, we had just a little new snow. The animals had left their marks on the white surface. Here are some little bird's footprints, the dark things are sunflower seeds or their hulls from the tray hanging above. The birds we most often see here are the great tit, blue tit and green finch. The squirrels drop a lot when they eat there, and birds can come and eat on the ground at the same time. Sometimes they change places.

Here are the squirrel's prints at the feeding place.

A hare lives also in the forest around our house. Its footprints are easy to recognise:

This little fellow is having a hard time in winter.

It is the mouse. He hides in the snow, making tunnels.

And this is why the mouse wants to hide:

Some neighbour's cat always keeps coming to our yard, peeing in the corners and pooing in the sand under our kitchen steps. The least the cat should do is keep the mice and moles away!

Today there is no sign of these footsteps left. Last night it snowed over 10 cm or 4". I spent almost two hours pushing the snow away from the easy parts of the driveway. I only do the parts where I don't have to push up any slopes to get the snow out of the way. My only responsibility is the front door steps and the path to that door, but I did some more because the weather was good and my one hour's work brings DH home half an hour earlier. Which, I hear, is right now, so I will go and make us a well deserved, nice cup of tea.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday 14 - more books and lace

Last week I left one book untouched, and now is time to show what is in it. Coloradolady Suzanne is hosting VTT again, and on her blog you will find the links to all other blogs playing along.

The last book is Handarbetsboken, a handicraft book in Swedish. It covers many different crafts, like sewing clothes, stitching, knitting and crocheting.

Samples of the crocheting patterns:

These are some of the laces my grandmother crocheted for me after she had gone blind in one eye. We are six sisters and brothers, and she crocheted a set of half a dozen laces for each and every one of us to be used in our bed linen.

Back to the book: this is how you learn to knit on four sticks.

And you will learn to make the heel in at least two different ways. I prefer the first one.

That was all for this weeks vintage. Suzanne is showing her first jar of vintage buttons, and at the end of her post are all the other links.

New treasures

Today I finally get a chance to show you the loveliness I received from my dear friend Karen from UK. My daughter Kaija went to London in December, did some shopping I'll envy forever (but she bought adorable things for me, too), and met Karen in real life. Karen sent me these pieces she has made. The first one I was allowed to open immediately:

You may have seen this work in progress on Karen's blog. Once again, she has hidden the long text quotation by cutting it up and sewing back together. There is also some machine embroidery on paper, and the eyes on the edge. I will have the piece framed and hang it with the two other works by Karen on my wall.

The present for Christmas was this collection of silk puffs with embroidery. They need to be touched (but wash your hands first!), and I'm looking for a suitable glass jar where I can keep them safe but still be able to enjoy the look of them.

On Monday I was in Helsinki to see a knee doctor; I hurt my knee in September when I was walking for the pink ribbon and overdid it a bit. Good news and bad news: there is nothing they can do before it is time for a total knee replacement, but the time is not yet. I'm thinking of having a knee like the fashion models have, you know, narrower than the parts below and above it, smooth and elegant. I'm sure they only give me metal parts in my own surface material :-( . Well, it will go better with my other thick knee! Anyway, to make the most of the trip I went to two fabric shops. This is what can show of my new fabrics:

I'm planning to make a big bag for my cutting mat and ruler (I bought a new ruler with inch measures!) and the projects I'm carrying to the sewing group, so I bought the sewing prints. The dark background fabric and the striped brown fabric may come to use for my Time for Tea Swap project. I bought two other fabrics I will not show before the swap is made public.

This last fabric is heavy cotton, marked as "trouser fabrics", 20 €/kg. I'm not even tempted to make trousers of it, but I'm thinking of shopping bags for the spring and summer. I just may have in my stash the perfect dark olive green to be used for the bottom, and maybe some pink for the lining at least.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Lacy stories

I promised some of you to show some bobbin lace after I showed great aunty Saima's lace book on Vintage Thingies Thursday. This lace is also called bone lace, pillow lace, Honiton lace and Chantilly lace according to my little Glossary of Arts and Crafts. This is the tail of my wedding dress:

My mother made the dress using some old machine made bobbin lace. For the next photo I inserted some tan fabric to show the lace better. The lace goes like this on the back too.

It was a long bit of lace! Even the cuffs are made of the same lace.

For the veil we used tatted lace made by dear great aunt Saima. I can say "we" here, because I sewed the lace on the veil! Tatted lace is made with a small shuttle kind of a tool and looks rather different.

And finally some hand-made bobbin lace. My mother-in-law was also a very talented craftswoman, and she made this runner for me. The middle part is made separately, and the surrounding edge is all in one piece, going around the corners. You can hardly see the seam (well, you can't see it, because it happens to be at the other end!). The thread is unbleached linen.

This is another table runner she made for me. White linen fabric, stitched in white pearl cotton, and the lace white linen thread, again with built-in corners. She also made some runners using silk thread, but I think linen is more suitable for this technique.

Friday, 16 January 2009

January Block

Finally I have something self made to show again. I'm making my first ever BOM, a country calendar from Ellies Quiltplace, and this is my version of the January block:

The pattern is for embroidery but can also be made as an appliqué like I did. Only the details are embroidered in my block. I decided to use the Finnish names of the months, and my hand written letters ended up a little wonky. I will finally join all the blocks together to make a wall hanging, so this will be a long project!

If you are interested, there is still time to join the fun. Just click the button in my right sidebar. You can also find the photo gallery where people have sent their version of the first block. I think they are very inspiring!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Vintage Thingies 13 - old handicraft books

This week I'm participating again in Vintage Thingies Thursday, hosted by Suzanne. For some reason Mr. Linky is not working so there is - at the moment at least - not a list of links to the participating blogs, but in the comments you will find their addresses. Let's hope the link list can be fixed soon.

Last week I saw here pictures from a Swedish book and I thought I had the book. Well, my mother probably has it, but I have many other old handicraft books. The first one is about bobbin lace making. I have inherited the lace cushion and bobbins from my great aunt Saima, the loveliest os spare grandmothers anyone can imagine. My daughter Kaija has just recently posted some pictures of her. I have learned the basics of bobbin lace making, but never finished anything useful - yet.

Here you can see her handwriting. The date is 1st of November 1928.

These are some patterns from that book. I have read somewhere that bobbin lace making came to Finland with sailors who on their travels had learned this skill. Rauma on the western coast is famous for the lace. Sorry the link is in Finnish only.

The second book I'm showing today is about traditional Finnish embroidery. The book is published in 1950, but the material is based on the author's trips to Eastern Carelia in 1938 and 1939, before the war.

The following two pictures refused to turn, so you may need to tilt your head a little to see the birds. These embroideries were traditionally sewn with double running stitches, using red thread.

The cloth pictured here is called käspaikka , a towel. With all the embroidery and the lace it was not just any towel but also something to be given as a gift.

The book had a few coloured pictures as well, and this little table cloth or cushion cover was my favourite.

That is all for this week, I have more pictures and more books for Thursdays to come.
I had the most welcome comment on my last post. My dear "sister" Linda from Tucson, Arizona, had received my Christmas card with a note telling about this blog, and she popped in to say hi. Linda spent a summer in my family in 1964 as an exchange student. I was so young that I had not started learning English at school yet, but I could communicate with her on some level, with the help of my elder sisters and brothers. I kept in touch with her on and off over the years. When she was living in Switzerland, we corresponded in German, and later I learned English so we switched to that. In the sixties my family had three times a summer student, and one girl staying the whole school year, but Linda is the only one still remembering us. It feels good to know that we could make her feel welcome and safe, being all alone on the other side of the world. It was easy to like her from the first day she arrived. She travelled back to USA with my real sister Maija, who was going there for a year as an exchange student in another family.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Trying to get started again

Last week we had frosty days like this, a beautiful sunset at 4 p.m. in Järvenpää, the sun setting behind the lake:

Since then the weather has been cloudy and dull and too warm, and all our snow has melted away. The days have been too dark to make any photos, and my energy has been hiding so there is not much sewing to report either.

This morning I took my big scissors and started cutting some plaid shirts I had bought from a charity shop. Our living room floor looks like this when I work there:

I took all these bits in the bin after taking this photo and swept the floor clean. The cutting is a first step of a new quilt I'm planning to make from the Mad about Plaid book I have shown earlier. I still need to go through all my plastic bags, and organized stash, and unorganized stash, and Mr. Kotkarankki's clothes (the worn-out ones!) to find all the necessary dark, medium and light plaids needed for the quilt. And maybe visit another charity shop for more shades. Then there will be a lot of cutting to do. And really many buttons! I may have to think where I could use all the buttons I cut from the shirts; there are usually 10-12 normal size buttons and often 2-5 tiny ones, if there are buttons on the collars and the cuffs.

Soon I will also be starting a tea related project for the Time for Tea Swap hosted by Stephanie, but that will be a secret project because the swap is secret, too. The swap is by invitation only, but there are some great links to free patterns for anyone, if you want to sew or knit something tea related for yourself.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Goodbye, holidays, welcome normal life

Finally I managed to take a picture of one of our talented acrobat visitors at the birds' feeding place. The squirrels usually take a leap from the branch, but one even experimented gliding down the wire where the box is hanging. It reminded me of one of my favourite Little Golden Books, the one with five brave fire soldiers, only the squirrel slided with his head first! The smallest squirrel manages to sit on the edge by the seeds, but this position is the only alternative for the grown-up squirrels. I wonder how they manage to swallow anything?

The lovely fabric roll I posted about in my previous post made me think of my one and only genuine Liberty dress, and why I didn't have any rest bits of the fabric to use for the hexagons in the Grandmother's Garden quilt I made for my daughter. Many, many years ago I made a trip to London, had afternoon tea at the Ritz and went shopping at Liberty's. I bought myself a floral print fabric (who could have guessed?) for a nice summer dress. My mother was going to sew it, because at that time I hadn't started sewing yet. She is a special kind of woman, mother of six, started her family during the war and was always used to making the most of what she had available. And, also a great fan of jigsaw puzzles. These qualities were the reason why instead of a little dress, we chose a pattern for a wraparound skirt and a blouse. That kind of a skirt uses a huge amount of fabric. I had bought fabric for a simple dress only. My mother made what we planned, even when it took some planning, some extra seams and puzzle skills:

This is the facing of the blouse's hem. Notice all the little stamp-sized bits it is made of.

This is the other side, with a smart double sideseam solution and some more patchwork facing. The one sleeve also had two seams to make the correct width, and the under collar was made of 6 pieces of fabric. No rest bits this time for quilting! It was a lovely outfit, and I used to wear it a lot. I have kept it all these years so I can someday use the fabric for a quilt.

Today is Epiphany, the day when traditionally the Christmas tree will be undressed and taken out. My amaryllis is still in bloom, the tangerines are out and the Christmas tablecloth has already been washed to be stored for next Christmas. After the tree is gone I will still leave some of the decorations in place. The tree is in good shape still, I have been giving it water almost every day, but I'm glad to have the dining table in its own place again so my ironing will be easier. Holidays are great, but normal life is easier, if you ask for my opinion. I'm glad to be back to normal everyday life again. (It means I can spread my sewing things in the living room, where they don't belong but where they live, with me.)

Friday, 2 January 2009

Time to learn new things

This Christmas I received many unexpected, wonderful presents. Obviously my hobbies have made it easier to choose something I like, find useful, and enjoy for a long time. I started blogging on January 16th last year, and at the same time I started using DH's digital camera. Now Santa has brought me not just one but two guide books to improve my skills. I have only started reading the one on the left, but I hope that by the end of this year you will see some progress!

My dear daughter Kaija is gently pushing me in the direction of more modern ways to play with fabrics, and she brought me the Contemporary Quilting book from her trip to London. My sister P gave me The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. In the book women become friends through their knitting hobby, and I have found many dear friends through sewing blogs.

The most exciting present was this 5" roll of "worn and washed fabrics" Kaija bought for me at Liberty's in London. Many years ago we made a trip to London together, and I took her to that shopping paradise. Now she had returned to the beautiful building and found this surprise for me!

I have not really opened the roll yet, but took a little peek to see what it contains. The fabrics are all 5" wide, but the lengths vary from under 4" to over 30" in the pieces I happened to open.

I think I'll need to enjoy looking at the roll and holding it for a good while. I'm sure the right pattern will be found in due time, and the Perfect Quilt will be made. Meanwhile I have some thousands of meters of fabrics waiting to be transformed to lovely quilts, bags, dolls and clothes.

The weather has been sunny on many days after Christmas. On Wednesday, the last day of last year, I was looking at the sun at noon. It hardly reached over the treetops across the road. But in about two weeks the days will be about one hour longer than at Christmas already. And it is getting colder, today's temperature here is - 15 degrees C or + 5 degrees F. Time for some hot tea, I think!