Fabric, jam, and a confession

Well, that new fabric I bought to make t-shirts out of? One of them shrank in the wash so much that the only thing I can get out of it now is a 1980s style crop top. Yep, those are back in fashion… I don’t think they should be, and I don’t think I would have been able to pull one off in 1980s, even less so now… Into the fabric stash it goes. A good reminder on why it’s always a good idea to wash fabrics before sewing.

Confession? I visited Salvation Army thrift store last week, to pick up more materials for these shirts. Found and bought a cardigan. I’ve been looking for a nice, light one since last spring when the previous one gave up the ghost (it had way too many holes to wear it in public, although I did for a long time anyway). So that’s my first purchase during my no-purchases year. Well, this cardigan comes with a label “Made in Canada”, so it could have been worse.

This week I’ve mostly been at home with a sick three-year-old. He happens to love jam, so we decided to make some (because while he was sick he was as energetic as ever – kids, who knows how they do that…). Jams in general have SO much sugar I’ve been hesitant to give him any. But thanks to Pinterest, I discovered fruit butters! We started with this recipe for peach and vanilla butter in a slow cooker. 16 hours over two days later, we had a batch of lovely peach mush that needed some honey to sweeten it – next time I’ll try to find peaches that are actually ripe! Well, it took a bit too long for my liking. So we repeated the process on the stove top the next day, with pears. Added cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks for flavour. It only took three hours, and there was no need for added sweetener. Now we have jars full of kid-friendly jam!

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Myrtle

One great source for sewing patterns and tutorials is Colette Patterns. The company is small, independent and focused on great quality, easy-to-use patterns. Their sewing handbook is the perfect starting point for any new sewer.

Earlier this summer (I’m still calling it summer – the weather is mighty fine here in Vancouver) I bough a dress pattern from Colette. Shortly after I had bought it I got an email that there was going to be a sew-along for the dress. I signed up but didn’t manage to find the time to finish the dress in time.

It’s finished now, and I’m very happy with it. I think it’s a great way to start my year of sewing. I adjusted the pattern a bit, left out the elastic from the waist (gathered skirts aren’t my thing) and made it more fitted. I think it’s just a bit too tight over the bust but otherwise it fits well.

myrtle dress

Heart Attack!

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and while I’ve never been a big fan of the holiday, this year I’ve been doing something… The whole project is a surprise to someone who may or may not be reading my blog so I can’t reveal the details until in a couple of weeks. But I’ve been knitting hearts!

It’s really easy to find crochet heart patterns but I had a hard time finding a nice knitted heart pattern. And then, when I started knitting one night, hubby was using the computer so I couldn’t get on Ravelry… So I made up a pattern, and it turned out nice. I have both garter stitch and stockinette stitch variations. I wanted to share it with you, so here goes:

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Heart Attack Hearts 

Gauge is not important here. I made hearts with worsted and DK yarns, using 5mm needles with worsted (18 sts / 4″) and 4mm needles with DK (24 sts / 4″). With that gauge, the small DK hearts measure 3.5″ across, and the large worsted hearts measure 4.5″ across.

Small garter stitch heart:

CO 25 sts
Row 1 (wrong side) and all odd rows: Knit
Row 2: k1, m1, k 10, sk2togp, k 10, m1, k1
Row 4: like row 2
Row 6: k11, sk2togp, k 11
Row 8: ssk, k 8, sk2togp, k8, k2tog
Row 10:  ssk, k 6, sk2togp, k6, k2tog
Row 12: Bind off while continuing to work the decreases. Ssk, BO 4 leaving the last st on the right needle, work the centre decrease (sk2togp), continue BO until last 2 sts, k2tog, BO to end.

Large garter stitch heart: 

CO 29 sts
Row 1 (wrong side) and all odd rows: Knit
Row 2: k1, m1, k 12, sk2togp, k 12, m1, k1
Rows 4 and 6: like row 2
Row 8: k13, sk2togp, k 13
Row 10: ssk, k 10, sk2togp, k 10, k2tog
Row 12: ssk, k 8, sk2togp, k8, k2tog
Row 14:  ssk, k 6, sk2togp, k6, k2tog

Row 16: Bind off while continuing to work the decreases as in the small heart pattern.

For stockinette stitch hearts, knit as above, replacing all the wrong side rows EXCEPT the first and the last one with the following:

K 3, p until the last 3 sts, k 3.

The first and the last wrong side row are knitted.

I hope this makes sense… If it doesn’t, please let me know. 🙂 And I’ll reveal the actual project in a couple of weeks…

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Travels, Old Photos and Distractions

I’ve been absent for a while. You may have noticed. This is the time of the year when I seem to be really busy every time. Christmas craft sales are coming up, and with J around, I have even less time to spare than I used to… And somehow I end up with jobs that get more and more busy, the closer to Christmas we get.

I also took J to Finland to visit mummo and pappa (grandma and grandpa in Finnish) in the beginning of October. It was a good visit, in spite of us all being sick most of the time… I got to spend time with my parents and sisters, and spent a lot of time going through old photos and listening to stories from the days past.

All my grandparents are now gone, but their old photo albums are at my parents’ place. My grandmother (dad’s mom) had a serious Alzheimer’s, and she had torn many photos off her albums and thrown them away. I looked through the rest. There were no names, no dates, just photos. My dad recognized many of the people but more were left unnamed. I took lots of photos from the albums since apparently no one else cares.

Matti & Iida Niemi (my great grandparents) and their daughter Sylvi, 1915

My grandfather (mom’s dad) passed away less than two years ago. He was interested in genealogy, and had written down names, dates and descriptions for the photos. He had albums full of photos, and many loose pictures in a tin. I browsed through, and took many of the photos from the tin, especially because many of them had duplicates in the albums.

Kerttu Varri, my grandmother, 1930s or 1940s

So now I have piles of old photos – family history, WWII photos, people long gone. The plan is to scan them all and then make albums – but considering I’m really bad at getting albums or scrapbooks done for our own photos I’m not sure when that’ll get done… Maybe when I’m retired.

Terttu Niemi, my other grandmother

Now, posting this has been the distraction part… I’ve got work to do.

(P)Interested?

I may have a new addiction… Pinterest.com is a dangerous website! It hogs hours and hours of your time if you yield to that temptation… I did. *sigh*

However, to my defense, it’s a nice distraction when I’m rocking a baby to sleep in the middle of the night – it helps me to stay awake. Nothing like looking for dinner ideas or knitting patterns at 3am…

You can find my pins at http://pinterest.com/elina28/.

Old neighbour

Just across the street from us is a small, white house. When we moved here four years ago, we would often hear music playing in the house on summer nights. It was good old times music, from 1940’s and 50’s – the kind that makes you want to waltz on the street.

The lone resident of the house was a little old lady. I didn’t get to know her very well, I just said hello every now and then when I saw her. I think she was half deaf, her music was so loud and she spoke loudly as well. She had a cat, we heard her calling her cat in the evenings.

Almost two years ago in the fall I saw an ambulance picking her up. She was on the stretcher, and asking about her cat. Another lady was there, her caregiver, I think. She promised the old lady to find the cat and take care of it. The ambulance left, that’s the last I saw of the old lady. Her caregiver locked up the house, didn’t worry about the cat but left.

I’ve often wondered what happened to the lady. Maybe she ended up in a care home somewhere. The house has been empty ever since, there has been no more music on the street. I’ve also wondered what was the fate of the cat – maybe one of the cats I’ve seen around was hers? I was hoping the old lady would return, and I had decided to get to know her better if she ever came back home.

Today there was a truck from 1-800-got-junk in front of the house, and young guys were emptying the house, loading up furniture and everything. Somehow it made me really sad. I realized once again how little we know about our neighbours. I have no idea if the old lady is still alive or not. She’s clearly not coming back home if she’s still alive – I will never find out more about her.

It feels like our lives are like a loosely woven rug – we see each other in the street and maybe say hello but don’t get to know each other. But loose rugs don’t last long, they are fragile and come apart easily. I would love to be part of a tightly woven community where people care about each other and know each other. I realize a place like that can be tough to live in – I grew up in a small village where everyone knew who I was and what I was up to. But there’s a security in a place like that – if anything had ever happened to me my parents would have heard about it really quickly.

It also bothers me that it was the Got Junk guys who were loading up the perfectly good furniture. Is it going to end up at the dump? Such waste if it does… I hope they have some other way of disposing of the good stuff, i.e. giving it to charity or something… But this is a minor concern… I’m just sad I never got to know the old lady.