Friday, 27 March 2009

One more Birthday present

Mr. Kotkarankki says the post office will soon take me under surveillance because I get so many packages from all over the world! This loveliness arrived on Wednesday, but as I was busy being educational with my vintage thingies yesterday, I'm showing it today. This is what Melanie sent me for my birthday. Notice the ric rac!

Inside was this: a set of flower embroidered handkerchiefs, a nice smell for my clothes cabinet and some lovely fabrics in blue.

In the butterfly package was this, bound with a lovely flower bud ribbon. You can click the picture to se the appliqué details.

This lovely big tote bag was made by Melanie, with her sore poor hands! She has just today shown better pictures on her blog here. March seems to be full of birthdays!

I took my new bag naturally to the sewing group last night, and everyone admired it like connoisseurs can do! I was making an apron, and my pattern magazine, fabrics and tools fitted in perfectly. I think I will make a matching little tool bag from the fabrics Melanie sent me.

The sewing group's spring exhibition will be soon. Many of the things I have been sewing there this school year since September have been for swaps or presents. The apron will be finished for the exhibition, but I wanted to do something more. Last year I had this for show, but it is too late to try anything like that starting now ;-).
We made some experiments with photo transfer on fabric in the group.

I continued the work at home - the photocopy, fluid and fabric had to dry together for 24 hours.

I used a mirror reversed copy of an old photo of us kids having a ski holiday in the country. We moved to live in that house all year round some years later, as it is in town really, even if it is by the lake. I hope to make some kind of a collage with this. The paper was finally rinsed with water and rubbed away carefully, leaving the image on the fabric. I will show you later what became of all this.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday 19 - Ryijy Rugs

This will be the final part of my ryijy stories, as I don't have a finished ryijy. With this post I'm also playing along with Suzanne. Click here to see who else is showing their old stuff today.

This is a close-up of a ryijy cushion cover WIP my mother has made sometime in the 1960s, I think. In my earlier post I wrote about the threads used - naturally I should have written yarns! We use one word - lanka - for both types, specifying them with a prefix for sewing (thread) and wool (yarn) .

The pattern my mother used was not Finnish but from the Swedish yarn manufacturer Marks. We have been just 200 years separated from Swedish rule, so it is obvious that we share a lot of culture and tradition with them. You can click all my pictures to see the details. The drawing shows how the knots are made and the loops are formed around a wooden "ruler".

These are the yarns from this and some other rug projects. The kit included several big needles for the different colour combinations.

This is the cover made from the kit shown above.

The reverse looks like this:

When a ryijy rug is woven on the loom, there will be some rows of ground weft between the rows of knots, to make the rug lighter and more flexible. In this modern ryijy the knots are very close together. Many shades of yarn are knotted together, and the length of the yarns varies to give the textile surface more structure.

There was another cushion cover waiting for the final touch by me. From reverse:

And the right side:

If you are new here or just came for the Vintage Thingies and this history made you curious, I have just posted here about a book I received. The book covers a collection of Finnish ryijy rugs over a period of 270 years.
Then click the link at the top of this post to see who else is feeling vintage today. The link list was long already when I joined today!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

What is in the book?

Today I'm showing you some pictures from my new book. All the ryijy rugs are from a privat collection over a time gap of 270 years. The ryijy or rya (in Swedish) is a typical northern textile with rows of tuft knotted in a warp, and ground weft between the knotted rows. I'm no expert on weaving so my explanation may not be perfect!

These rugs were originally used in boats and sleighs as well as in beds to keep the traveller or sleeper warm. Later they were used on beds and the decorativeness was getting more important.

Here you see the structure of the ryijy rug, worn in heavy use. Blogger turned my picture again.

A new use was in the church for the wedding pair to kneel on, and the rugs were decorated with many symbols like the tree of life. The most beautiful rugs were then hung on the wall or used on benches or rocking chairs. During the first decades of last century many patterns were created by artists and sold through Suomen Käsityön Ystävät, the Friends of Finnish Handicraft.

Later a popular way of making your own ryijy without a loom was to use a woven base and a needle to make the knots. I remember my mother making cushion covers with this method.

Here is an example of a modern ryijy rug, designed by Raija Rastas:

See the close-up and the lovely variety of threads.

You can see more examples on the site of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft.
I will try to find the unfinished cushion cover I have from my mother, and make some pictures for you to see.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Housing Project

Yesterday we had a housing project going on in our garden and the woods behind our house. Mr. Kotkarankki built these four brand new bird houses, with asphalted felt roofs and squirrel and woodpecker proof openings. The front can be opened to clean the houses after the winter.

Pieces of wood leave some air between the house and the tree, and a plastic coated electric wire around the tree keeps the house hanging there without harming the tree. These new houses are for tits (Parus major), and pied flycatcher ( Ficedula hypoleuca). They often come and chase the tits away to make their own nest in the house. Their ladies are used to have a choice from two or even three homes, when they arrive a little later. Therefore we offer them so many possibilities, to give the tits a chance, too.

These special houses are both for treecreeper, Certhia familiaris. These were in the woods earlier, and Mr. K took them away when trees were cut some years ago. On Friday we saw one treecreeper in our oak tree, so we knew they are back here again. The curved edge comes against the tree stem, and the bird goes in from the side doors.

Here is the inside of another type of house for them:

There was also one old normal bird house to be cleaned again. After some climbing we had new accommodation for 7 happy bird families available. This morning the first tit was already looking at one of the brand new houses! It was perfect timing from both sides. Two old bird houses are in good condition are ready to be used as well.
The snow is melting on the roof and dripping down the rain pipes.

This is the first peek in the garden, showing there might be something green hiding under all the snow after all! The Bergenia leaves keep their colour all winter.

I'm ready for the spring to come. The light is lovely, but the weather is still too cold for decent window cleaning, so all I can do is wait. I'm enjoying the wait.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Cake and flowers

The busy schedules of February with Time for Tea Swap and my trip to Germany left me no time to do my BOM for the Country Calendar. But this month I have sewn two blocks; here is the February block with Valentine's Day hearts:

And this is March with tulips. I'm doing this the easy way, machine applique and just some hand stitching for the details.

In my garden there is no hope of any kind of flowers this time of the year, but I have some tulips from my bigger brother, who needed three pairs of new trousers shortened.

I happened to have a little reason to celebrate, my birthday was yesterday, so I hade some more flowers. The sweet roses are from my biggest sister P.

And the orchids were sent by my brother-and-sister-in-law.

After having received all these flowers I baked a cake; and had only male company to share it with me, Mr. Kotkarankki and our two sons. We had quite big portions!

I had some unexpected presents. You already met Raggedy Ann and Andy, Eileen sent them for my birthday. But I also had something from AnneMarie from Norway. I know her through the Summer Stash Challenge 2008, the Stitching Angels and the Time for Tea Swap. She sent me a beautiful floral print in my favourite shades, some wooden buttons with hearts engraved, and a thimble from Norway. The picture of a reindeer walking in front of the midnight sun could as well be from the Finnish Lapland; we are neighbour countries up there. It was really sweet of her to send these gifts for me. The blog world has given me such dear new friends!

I had this very thick book for my birthday from DH. To be honest, he didn't choose it but let me have whatever I wanted from the bookstore. I had been looking at this book many times and hoping they would reduce the price, and now I'm really glad he bought it for me. It is about Finnish rya rugs over a period of 270 years. Maybe I'll show you some of the contents later.

Last Thursday was my first sewing group night in 5 weeks, and I was going to continue my photo transfer project there. My transfer experiments failed very badly and I need to start over with other material choices. Instead of that project, I was able to sew some 6" Maverick stars, and today I made 5 more and rotary cut background squares for more. I hope to finish that quilt for the spring exhibition in April. Suzie from Little Busy Bee told in her blog that this is a National Quilting Day in USA, and suggested it could as well be made international. I agree, and even if I can't go to any quilt shops, I have done some quilting related sewing today. By the way, she has made an excellent tutorial on the Lemoine Star. Happy Quilting Day everyone!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday 18 - Tea Set

This week I'm showing you something I used when I took pictures of my new tea cosy made by the talented Dawn from Piece & Love for me for the Time for Tea Swap. Coloradolady is hosting Vintage Thingies Thursday again, and on her blog you find the list of links to all the other blogs playing along this week.

My vintage thingies are a silver tea/coffee set and a little tablecloth. We had the silver set from my parents as a silver wedding anniversary some years ago. They have been birthday presents for my maternal grandfather.

The tray has a different pattern but they have always been used together.

The tablecloth is a very small one, with a clover pattern in each corner. Like all my old tablecloths, this comes from my family but I don't know who made it. The stitching is very simple so this may be a beginner's work. The colours go very nicely with my new tea cosy!

Now go to Suzanne's blog to visit the other vintage posts, and notice that Suzanne is also having a giveaway for her birthday on Saturday!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Some finishes, and new toys

You may remember I was working on these hexagons many weeks ago. Now I have finally finished them, with heavy interfacing and honeycomb weave backing. I think they make nice coasters.

The other day I was playing with my textile paints. I printed some hearts on this kitchen towel.

Yesterday I received a package from the other side of the Atlantic. You can imagine my surprise when these two fellows climbed out of the box! They are Ann and Andy, and Eileen made them just for me! Thank you, sweet dear friend! Eileen used an original pattern from 1940, and I can dress and undress the dolls. The way Andy is behaving, I'm afraid there will be laundry to wash sooner or later. Every detail is perfectly sewn.

Raggedy Ann and her brother Andy wanted to sit in the snow at first, because they thought it was a little exotic at this time of the year.

Ann wanted to see if there was anything to see in my flowerbed, because at Eileen's there are crocuses by now. Well, I have snow. Oops, her pantalettes are showing!

Ann came in and needed a nice cup of hot sweet tea with some cucumber sandwiches. She even brought my old kettle to her tea table, to freshen up the tea when Andy comes in. By the fierplace it is warm to sit. Her little biscuits are in the tin. What a lucky girl I was to receive this tea set from my Time for Tea Swap partner Dawn earlier this week! I have had a porcelain tea set in doll size but it must still be at my mother's house.
Guess what Andy was doing when Ann sat nicely and had her tea? He was climbing in the oak tree in our back yard and wanted to see Charlie the squirrel eating at the bird feeder. Of course none of the squirrels, not to mention the birds, dared come when there was a little boy just a couple of feet away. I had to get him in before he caught cold.

Speaking of birds reminded me of something beautiful I saw Monday afternoon when coming from town: a white hooper swan was flying to the South! It must have come here to check if there was open water anywhere, and went back because everything is still covered in ice and snow.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Time for Tea Swap Loveliness

Last night I received my swap delivery from across the ocean. Dawn from Piece & Love was my partner, and she sent me a huge amount of lovely things.

These she made herself:

The most beautiful tea cosy, and a matching tea towel and potholder, a cute little tea wallet with a snap button and some tea bags, and two clothespegs with magnets and yo-yos with tea themed buttons. All in the lovely fabric with teapots and sewing machines - what could be more suitable? The tea towel has yellow giant rickrack, and prairie points at the edge, the first ones I see live! I live in the periphery of the world, we don't do such fancy things here!

Machine quilting on the backside of the tea cosy. Blogger turned the picture but let's not care. I think I need a straw hat like that for the summer for my tea parties.

Look at this loveliness! Dawn has hand stitched the text and the flowery steam coming from the teapot. There is another yo-yo on the pot, with a tea button. You may notice how perfectly the tea cosy matches with one of my vintage tablecloths.

Dawn included a lot of extras in her gift for me: a booklet full of cookie recipes, a tiny tea set just for me, and a quilting magazine. Even her card shows ladies drinking tea! The magazine cover tells on the left-hand corner that rickrack makes comeback - I have always loved rickrack, and after I started blogging I learnt its name in English and found it even more fun (koukkunauha doesn't sound funny at all).

After this wonderful swap I don't think I'll join any for a long time. Anything must feel like a disappointment after this. We had a perfect hostess, Stephanie, who fed us with the most inspiring links every Tuesday. And now is the time to take rounds around the blogs to see what everyone has made with the inspiration. Stephanie's list shows who has already received her goodies. The ultimate deadline was only yesterday, so the parcels will keep coming for a while. Go and have a look!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Like I told you before, Melanie chose me as one of the lucky objects of her Random Act of Kindness. Now that the secret is out, I can show what she sent to me. There was the cutest tea towel with a cross stitch pig and other farm animals, a tea pot shaped plate for tea bags, Earl Grey Vanilla tea (you notice a theme here!) as well as cappucino and chocolate hot drinks. In the middle of this picture you can see the levendel scented washing tablets for my sheets and liquid handwash for delicate fibers.

She also included two patterns for embroidery - probably for the time when I have finished the ones my grandmother and great aunt Saima didn't!

And she had photographed at least 12 different roses, some in her own garden. and made a set of laminated coasters. Thank you, sweet friend!

Because she chose to make her acts of kindness random and not a PIF, I decided to do the same. Yesterday I donated blood, it was my 23rd time in all. I have had long periods I couldn't donate - pregnancies and breastfeeding - and sometimes my hemoglobine is too low. This time I was just above the limit, but they gave me iron tablets to make it better again. I had also a magazine telling about blood donations, and a bottle of Red Cross water with the text Elämää joka pisara - Drops of Life. Blood donors don't get paid here, but I had a sandwich and a piece of cake with tea afterwards. The Red Cross comes to our village 4-6 times a year so I don't need to go far.

My other Random Act of Kindness goes through Pip to Australian bush fire victims. She collects kits for a project "Re-stash a crafter", and this is what I'm sending there.

Six little bags I made from leftover bits of my curtains and other projects. The stripey fabric is from my mother, I made two girls' dresses for the Red Cross some years ago and this was the rest.

Then I bought some wool yarn and added some from my stash, and a thick red cotton to make potholders.

I went to a local shop to buy some knitting needles and crochet hooks, and the lady gave me a generous discount, whe she heard where I needed them for. Then she gave me some of her used needles, all those without packing. I decided to call her the nice lady from the shop.

Yesterday I went there again to get three thimbles for the three thimble holders in the middle of this picture. I also bought the blue wool yarn and three fabrics. When I got home I noticed she made me pay for 4 thimbles instead of the three I bought, so I'm not calling her the nice lady after all.

I weighed the parcel to see if I can put there anything else, because the postage shouldn't cost more than the stuff you are sending, don't you think? There was still room for these fabrics, and then some more wool yarn from my stash. I'm sure Pip and Suzie can use these bits and pieces to re-stash some of the crafty ladies who not only lost their homes and furniture and personal things but also all their tools and stash.