Friday, 31 December 2010

A year with my fabrics, the final stash use report

Today is the last day of 2010. This year started with a long cold period and with lots of snow. It looks like the end is the same: we have had snow for over 7 weeks already, and the temperature has been below freezing point all this time. The camera missed the little boy who was climbing and sliding down at this mountain of snow at the railway station last week, but you can see there is enough snow for games like that.

The wind has smoothed the shapes on the roofs.

In January I started keeping a record of my fabric purchases and the amounts of fabric I used. My intention was to reduce my huge stash, and only buy new fabrics if I needed them for a project. I had no idea how big the numbers would be by the end of the year. In December I reduced my stash by sewing some Christmas presents and giving some bits away, and managed to get rid of 9.9 m of fabrics. On the other hand, I couldn't resist some Christmas fabrics on sale a few days before Christmas, and I needed some tricot for PJ's I made for Christmas, so I bought 5.25 m in total. Adding these numbers with the previous statistics I see that I have used 82.5 m of fabrics in a year, and bought 32.15 m to fill the gaps (as if there were gaps!). It means a reduction of over 50 m in this time! I think I can be a little proud of myself. I have sewn lots of small projects this year, like tissue holders and mug coasters

and only a couple of quilts like this one for Stephanie's No Strings Attached Challenge

or this wedding present for my niece.

Many small pieces of fabric still add up to something , and I thought that if I can keep working with this efficiency for maybe 15 more years, using per week about 1 metre more fabric than buying in, the dent in my stash should be quite visible, 750 metres. I hope the coming year will bring new, inspiring challenges to help me reach my goal.

The Christmas fuzz is over and I can enjoy all the lovely gifts I had. Thank you dear friends for all the love and loveliness you sent! I don't intend to parade all my gifts here, but I need to show you what my beloved Mr. Kotkarankki made for me with his own hands. You remember I have been working on the Raggedy &  Friends BOM quilt by the Painted Quilt.

It means tracing the stitching patterns on the fabric, which I used to do against the window. In winter, this required careful scheduling so that I could do it in the short hours of sunlight, and my arms were aching from the uncomfortable position at the window.


DH always wants the best for me and only needed a little hint (and two remindings, as he forgot that I had given my letter for Father Christmas for him to be mailed), and this is what was in a big box for me on Christmas Eve:

The finest imaginable light table, with a long cord and switch and everything. He recycled our old light from the hall mirror to guarantee suitable light for the A3 size surface.

All the time he said he was working on his bamboo rod when he disappeared for hours to finish this for me. I had my suspicions! Now I just need to clear a safe space for this box. Maybe he could build me some shelves?

I want to thank you, my dear readers, for this past year, for all your comments and your lovely blogs which inspire me to use more fabrics, try new patterns, do kind things to others and use my skills for charities as well as for my own projects. I wish you all good health, inspiration and happiness in the New Year 2011!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas greetings

My DD Kaija has been making matchbox art for her Christmas calender. My long-time readers may know that she is a master bookbinder and a very talented creator of things. Her little treasures have interested other bloggers in different parts of the world, and you can read Kaija's interviews about the matchboxes here at Missouri Bend Studio and on Anca's blog here. This December's 23 pieces of art can all be seen on Kaija's blog paperiaarre, the last box will be revealed tomorrow. It seems that the boxes could become collector's items. That made me think how sometimes the early works of an artist can later be of great value - I have seen a drawing by Picasso  when he was only 8 years old, in a museum in Malaga, Spain. I have some early works by Kaija, and I will cherish them even more carefully now that she has become an artist and not just my daughter. I tried to find her earliest piece of altered art, a tiny box of My Little Pony fruit drops cut open to look like a magazine holder, and filled with notebook sheets cut to size, to be used as very small shopping lists, but I couldn't find it. Here is my collection from the 80's to very early 90's:

Kaija is staying with us for Christmas and I asked her about the origins of these three boxes. The silver one with a chocolate wrapper is very probably by her elder brother, and the big one with red and yellow stickers could also be by him. Anyway, it is a Belgian chocolate box and not a matchbox. The last one is certainly by Kaija. Let's have a closer look:

She has used some treasures of her own to make this beautiful box for me: a shiny sticker with a toaster with one slice of bread, and another sticker with a salt shaker, also with the metallic shine (which made them first class stickers, naturally).

Tacky tape was used to keep the paper wrapping in place. She definitely had her ideas already when she was a little girl. If you jump to her blog and see my favourite box of her present production, you can see the huge development in her skills.

OK, I think I have boasted enough with her qualities and it is time to come back to my real life. Stephanie gave us a good idea for a little gift for someone like the mail carrier here, and for a man here. I combined these ideas to make gifts for our regular taxi drivers:

A mug warmer and a coaster made with flannel plaids form my recycling stash, and a mug filled with portions of instant coffee, cappucino, hot chocolate and tea bags.

Two female friends received the same set but with a more delicious fabric:

I can show one more handmade gift as it goes to a non-blogreading friend:

The gold prints on both sides of the paper-pieced tree of this little table topper are the only "new" fabrics used here(bought in Germany in October), the rest is from my old stash.

Now I will start concentrating on Christmas preparations and my family. I wish all of you a peaceful and joyous time with your families during the holidays. Drive carefully, keep warm, stay safe. Santa is coming from Lapland, Finland, not North Pole.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas in Villa Cooper, part 2

Today we move on to the next room. Wool has taken over this space, where we usually see bags and clothing.

Mittens and scarves, beanies, caps and hats for every taste.

A whole tree hanging full of socks in every size and pattern. Hand knitted wool socks are a favourite product at this time of the year.

A group of tonttu elves is watching here too.

We move on to the kitchen. A modern wall decoration with straw, cloth, paint and dry roses.

Christmas stars made of wicker and red felted balls.

Handmade candles. The pastel shades are soy candles. You can wash the possible stains away with soap and water.

Red wreaths in the kitchen window.

A closet was filled with sauna products like these soaps in crocheted bags, and the hand woven towels.

The last room is the maid's room, usually our "wool room", but now showing the bags, clothes, baby things and toys.

The tour ends here, behind the windows of the kitchen and the maid's room. The shop is open on weekdays from 3 pm to 6 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. All the handmade products are for sale, and the staff is our voluntary members who also work as guides for the Villa Cooper.

On the way back we walk past the swimming pool now filled with sand for safety reasons, so our  little guests can play there in the summer. The lanterns mark the edge  and show the way to the door.


When I came home, I had some special mail to be opened. This came form Paulette, my recycling blog friend from Canada:

Paulette is a specialist of wool appliqué, and she dyes the necessary shades herself. This cute cat elf will decorate my sewing corner tomorrow. As you see, still can't figure out why blogger sometimes tilts my portrait pictures like this. Just bend your right ear close to your right shoulder, and you will see the picture like it should be.

The other surprise was from my sweet blogging friend Melanie, whose parcels have been torturing my curiosity for weeks already. She promised I could open the one that jingles! Here it is:


A genuine British Christmas elf with her jingling shoes and hat, and with two red jingles in her hands. She is sitting on top of the new fireplace and watching over us. I think I need to start the Christmas cleaning now, before more guests arrive.
Thank you, talented ladies!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas in Villa Cooper

Welcome to a tour in the Villa Cooper, my craft club's shop and architectural treasure in Järvenpää. I took the pictures yesterday in the afternoon, here are the entrance hall and office windows around 4 pm.

In the little entrance hall we must put those protective wax cloth things over our shoes to save the original wooden floors. Felted hearts and felted bullfinches have joined the tiny tonttu elves at the window and on the windowsill.

The table was set for Christmas in the biggest room. We'll see the other rooms next time.

The fireplaces are not used for heating for safety reasons.

Big tonttu elves.

Traditional Finnish himmeli decorations made of straw.

Handmade books and pottery.

A closer look at the dining table.

More ceramics and hand painted china.


A nativity scene and some blue lanterns for tealight candles.

Modern Christmas decorations.

Wreaths made of materials from the nature.

Angels by many designers.

Shiny hearts.

This was all for today, we'll visit the other rooms soon. I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Monday, 6 December 2010

New Raggedy & Friends block

It took me longer than usual to finish the Raggedy & Friends BOM, but today Raggedy Ann posed again:

And here is my November block finished:

A detail of the stitchery:

The picture of Ann:

Thank you Kaaren for the pattern, I enjoyed it like every month!

Between my secret sewings I have also managed to finish the Building a Village table runner, a free pattern by Mrs. Moen:

The December light doesn't allow me to take very good pictures, but here you can see that I stitched doors to the houses and added a white binding to the long sides (and a starry one to the ends). Thank you, Nina Lise!

Today is our Independence Day and I need to wash my hair and put on a pretty dress so I can watch the annual dress parade on TV!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Napkin Challenge, Fair and Stash use reports for November

Some time ago I took the challenge from Mrs. Moen to create something inspired by a napkin, and the deadline was Dcember 1st. I chose these two paper napkins I had at home.

And this is what I ended up with:

It is a little table runner made from materials I had in stash, like a red plaid shirt from a charity shop, and the golden yellow binding of the fabric I used for the Mystery Quilt a few weeks ago. I used my gingerbread cutters to draw the gingerbread appliquéd on the top, and some white rick-rack for icing. The light is bad at this time of the year so I have no better pictures. I have machine quilted the runner in a grid along some of the lines in the plaid. Mrs. Moen's blog has a list of links to all blogs who joined this challenge, and the list may be growing in the next few days.

I used only fabrics from my stash to make this table topper, about 40 cm in all. I counted my secret projects and a curtain and the little things for the Christmas shop and ended up with the huge 9.25 m of fabrics used in November. I also have bought some, like two baby prints on sale, and two fat quarters I bought at the Elma fair last weekend, and a baby flannel (I'm planning to make a baby quilt for the shop now that someone finally bought the red and white polka dot quilt I made last summer). That all adds up to 3.7 m of bought fabrics. I still used 5.55 m more than I bought!

The fair was as nice as every year. The countryside part of the fair had a lama show.

We skipped the Forest part this year, and the DIY part as Mr. Kotkarankki was busy with meetings all day, and the Pet part just because we don't have pets, but we spent quite a lot of time at the Arts and Crafts part.

The granny square blanket is hanging sideways, but you get the idea. Here is all I bought at the fair:

A wonderful book about Cloth Dolls by Jan Horrox (thank you for telling about this, Heather), a pair of scissors to make round corners (not as good as I thought), some postcards, a little basket and the dotty fat quarters. Plus a box of chocolate kisses.

It's cold out there:

Today on my way to the train I saw this halo on both sides of the sun:

It looks like a section of a rainbow. I think there are ice crystals in the air and they make the halo visible.

By the way this is as high as the sun gets at this time of the year, the pictures were taken at 12:30 today!