Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Hello from sunny (and cold and snowy) Maine! I forgot my camera battery charger in Finland, so I think this blog is going to be especially quiet over the next few weeks. I'm still working on quilting the bear paws - just two weeks left - I still think it's possible. The only hitch is that my mom is getting me hooked on knitting! I've never been able to catch on before, but yesterday I got into a zone. I don't need another hobby! She's been playing around with Domino Knitting.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Those of us in Tonya's first online class decided to send her a thank you - our names (or online names) made using her letter tutorials and Friday was the big reveal!

Not much quilting going on here lately. I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving with twelve American, German, Finnish, and Estonian guests. We had a similar menu to last year, with a few added treats, including a wonderful Chocolate Hazelnut cake made by a friend and two traditional Finnish Christmas carrot and turnip dishes made by another friend.

I was 'down south' in the big city for the weekend and noticed on the metro this morning that there's a Hedgehog Road (Siilitie/Igelkottvägen) stop on the Helsinki Metro! I will definitely have to get there to take pictures next time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Who are you in Moomin Valley?

Hvem er du i Mummidalen?

Mitt resultat:
Du er Snusmumriken! Du er modig og rolig. Du er også selvstendig og kan ta vare deg selv, men du er likevel venn med alle.
Ta denne quizen Start.no

Just in case you need a little background info... The Moomin characters were created by the Swedish-speaking Finnish author/illustrator Tove Jansson and appeared in her comic strips and numerous books. Remember the Moominmamma jam I made in May? I found this quiz on Solvi's blog.

I don't speak Norwegian, but here's my attempt at a translation:

You are Snufkin! You are brave and fun. You are also independent and can take care of yourself, but at the same time are friends with all.

I'm afraid the bear paw progress (or lack thereof) doesn't warrant a photo today.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Slowly but Surely, Fluffing and Stuffing

I've had trouble finding any sewing time this week, but I have started quilting the bear paws and hope to have them finished by Thanksgiving. I'm celebrating here with friends on Saturday - if I'm feeling kind (and if I find the time) I'll bring some pumpkin bread or the such to my classes on Thursday. I did manage to do a little baking for tomorrow this evening - the famous Lingonberry Tea Cake.

So far, I'm stitching in the ditch along the sashing. I remember Paula Reid talking about fluffing and stuffing at Maine Quilts a few years ago and I find it much easier than rolling and unrolling. Next I think I'm going to stitch 1/4" inside the paws themselves. (You'll notice that I don't usually quilt with my walking foot - not sure why not - have never gotten used to it and feel like it works ok without it.)

Went to a fabulous play here in Vaasa last night - an absurd cabaret inspired by the poetry of Christian Morgenstern. More about it here (på svenska). Wasa Teater is also doing Dicken's A Christmas Carol this year - I hope I can get there before I leave for the holidays!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another Rainbow

These two posts inspired me to make this colored-pencil roll-up. I think I'm going to make a few more and give them as gifts for the holidays. I quilted the background and did a traditional binding, but may try a few other (simpler) techniques with the others.

I'm having a great crafty weekend - I hope that feeling will continue once I bite the bullet and start quilting the bear paws!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

With this as inspiration, I worked on a small Christmas gift today. I'm still not thrilled with my zipper skills, but hopefully with each little bag, I'll get better at it.

I finally have the two borders on the Bear Paws and have sandwiched it using every safety pin I could find! Now on to the quilting!

I also made a yummy (veggie) pea soup today, but the color is just plain unphotogenic. My pea soup tip - add sweet potato. Perfect for this grey day - looking not quite as grey now with the drizzle turning into flakes!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Interested in a Swap?

Sign-ups have begun for the winter round of the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. Head on over to find out the details. I missed the fall sign-ups, so I'm really looking forward to participating. I had so much fun with the Doll Quilt Swap this summer: click here for the one I made and here for the one I received.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bear Paws

Just a quick update on the bear paws - all the blocks are together now and I've decided on two easy borders. Hope to have the whole thing sandwiched this weekend, but am very worried about quilting something this big on my Bernina! Hopefully, there will be more photos soon.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I hung twelve of my bear paw blocks in front of the window last night and woke up this morning to this scene:

The light looked beautiful reflecting off the snow and through the blocks - I'm not sure the photo does it justice, but nonetheless, the snow falling this morning really goes a long way to get over the darkness this week here in Vaasa! The sun is now rising at 8:15 and setting at 4:15, making those 8am classes even tougher than usual! We did have a little snow three weeks ago, but this is the first snow that's accumulated.

I think I'll be able to sew the blocks together today, but I have a few dilemmas about proceeding. My original idea was to do a saw tooth border with the light blue and plaids between two thin
dark blue borders, but now I'm considering a thin dark blue border and a thicker plaid border with blocks of the plaids. Part of the reason for this is simplicity (or ease), the other part is that this quilt is going to have a sibling based on this quilt and I think that border idea is better for the second quilt and maybe having the same border will help them to look like a set. The second dilemma, how to quilt it?! I'm going to do it on my machine at home and still feel a bit unsure about my quilting. I've never done something this large on my own machine. How would you quilt it?

Yesterday, I got a wonderful bit of quilting mail from
Guðrún in Iceland! (Who, by the way, had a similarly snowy photo this week, too.) Thanks, Guðrún! The patterns are called 'My Season' - perfect for me, a Christmas baby! This will work perfectly with the Christmas fabrics I got from my mom last week (on the right).

Now a little blogland news... Sew Mama Sew is hosting 30-days of crafty gift ideas for the holidays - check it out! Force Majeure Farms has a new edition of The Bent Needle out, complete with a mention of my Barcelona letter photos! Finally, just a mention of three of my favorite non-quilt blogs: Nami-Nami an Estonian food blog I've mentioned before, Strange Maps a self-described collection of cartographic curiosa, and Post Secret an on-going community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on homemade postcards.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Christmas in October?!

Busy weekend here in Vaasa! Before I get to Christmas, Happy Halloween! I had a little pumpkin carving party this evening. Freshly roasted pumpkin seeds are so good!

A friend was here from Helsinki for the weekend in order to learn how to quilt! Here she is with her very first project - a gift for friends' one-year-old.

Now onto Christmas in October. I started to work on a few Christmas projects this past week and I couldn't wait to give this little bag (6"x4"x10") to a friend here, so we celebrated Christmas in October! I found this great zipper at the Marimekko outlet in June.

I know my brother doesn't read my blog, so it's safe to post a photo of some progress on his gift here, too. I started these blocks in the summer of 2005 and am determined to finish before Christmas this year. I made my very first quilt for him 20 years ago this month. I hope he doesn't have to wait another 20 years for his next quilt!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sneak Peek

It's getting close to the holidays (I just got my tickets for the USA for December!), so there will be some projects I can't post about in the weeks ahead. I'm sure I'm not alone! Here's a peek at one project - photos of the whole little project in January.

I also did the bindings on these little doll quilts I started back in June. I'm really getting into these little projects - the sense of completion comes so quickly! There are some larger projects I need to get back to, though!

Of course, I'm not listening to myself about getting back to the bigger projects and tried a few little postcards, too!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red & White Houses

Had a conference here in Vaasa this weekend, so I didn't find much time for sewing. A few days ago I made a few houses using Tonya's tutorial and added them to the envelope for Clare.

I did find a little time in the evenings to quilt and bind this tiny piece I started at the beginning of September. I did a messy little flower pattern in the red stripes and a diagonal across each of the coins in between. It's about 16"x 17".

Just another little bit of color - last week I tried out this delicious cake recipe from my favorite food blog. I must admit, there's nothing left of the cake. Veggie cake is healthy, right? (No mention of the butter, of course.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Red & White

In September Clare issued a free-pieced challenge for Quilts for Leukemia. I finally have a couple to send her way. If you haven't checked out her site, please do!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quick and Easy

A quick and easy little quilt made by cutting up this fabric and sewing it back together. It's about 14"x14".

A quick and easy dinner:

Veggie Chili

1-2 onions - chopped
1-2 green peppers - chopped into chunks
1 red pepper - chopped into chunks
saute in a little olive oil.

add a can of chopped tomatoes (or two) with juice.
add a can of black beans (drained and rinsed).
simmer about 20 minutes.

add a jar of salsa (as hot as you'd like).
simmer a little longer.

add a bag of frozen corn.
serve when the corn is warmed through.

that's a little sour cream on top.
freezes well, too!

I also learned a more difficult recipe this weekend from a friend - can't post it here because it's full of measurements like a 'loose wrist movement of cardamom' - but it was my first attempt at making Finnish pulla!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lappvärk Log Cabins

Lappvärk here in Vaasa has been working on a few donation projects, including this blue log cabin to a local women's shelter (hej, Lilian!). Everyone made a few blocks, then took home enough blocks to sew them into a row, and I volunteered to sew the rows together.

I realized that I never posted photos of our Lappvärk exhibition back in May, so here's my first attempt at embedding a photo album in my blog. The last one is mine and is now hanging on my mom's office wall.

(Lappvärk is the name of the Swedish-speaking quilt group here in Vaasa. A lapp is a patch and värk is an ache - it's a play on the word lappverk, meaning patchwork.)

Thanks to everyone who commented about my red and yellow string quilt and for the tips about safe pens/markers to use for labels. I really appreciate it!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Baby Bird

This project has taken me a little longer to finish than I'd hoped, but it's finally ready! Baby Bird (hence the little chick fabric - it's also the backing) was born August 29th in Hong Kong and this quilt is finally on its way to him!

The quilt is 36"x48". I had a little trouble quilting it - very bulky seams in some places were one issue, my limited free-motion abilities were another. Ripped it out twice and started again. I foundation-pieced on muslin, making it a bit heavier. I wasn't really thinking that this kid doesn't need warmth in a quilt living in Hong Kong!! Oh well, quilts aren't just for keeping warm - they're for having picnics on, too.

I'm a little frustrated because the ink I used on the label bled a bit in the wash. Can anyone out there recommend a good, reliable fabric-safe fine-tipped pen that I can buy in the US over the holidays? Thanks!

Mary kindly posted a link to my instructions for this quilt on the HeartStrings site.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Well, I didn't get the three day weekend I was hoping for, but I did bake some pumpkin bread last night for my 8am class this morning. It was a peace offering since I stood them up last week after having been bumped from my flight back from Stockholm and was also in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so why not celebrate it twice?

1 15oz can (I used 2 cups frozen) pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
(I used cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom last night)

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (or pecans)

Combine wet ingredients, combine dry ingredients, combine wet and dry. Easy. Original recipe says to let it bake one hour, but it always takes longer. 350F/175C. Makes three medium loaves.

No quilting news today - trying to finish up the red and yellow strings - hope to have photos soon!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Few More Places

Elmira, NY (8th grade), Hebron, ME (first teaching job), Berlin (study abroad)

Making these places is just too much fun - although the longer place names are still ahead of me. I'd love to find some map fabric for the back. I so wish I had a three-day weekend this weekend. (Too bad Columbus didn't "discover" Finland.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bits and Pieces

It's been a busy week getting back into the swing of things after my trip, but I did manage to do a little sewing this evening. I spent a few months in London in 1997 and then lived there for a year in 2001/2, so this is for the Places quilt.

Thanks to a friend, I got some more water fabric while I was in Barcelona, so here are my first attempts at some free-pieced fish to go along with all my fish words. Hope to find a little more time in the sewing room this weekend!

Monday, October 01, 2007

I Love Barcelona!

I took lots of letter photos to inspire me for Tonya's class - took lots of other photos, too! I put a few in a Picasa album here:

I was in Barcelona for work, but also found time for some fun. Sangria, tapas, siesta... The Spaniards really know how to live. Loved the Gaudí, Picasso, and Miró, too. The city is one big quilt inspiration! Can't wait to get back into my sewing room.


Inspired by this little cat, I made this small wall-hanging for a cat-loving friend and colleague who I met up with in Barcelona to do some workshops last week. (As if I needed to start something new. At least I finished it.) It's approx. 11"x23". I stitched in the ditch around the green border and the letters and then did some sort of squiggly thing on the white background. The back is a cute cat word fabric.

Barcelona was fabulous. Talk about quilt inspirations. I'll have to do a post about it - once I catch my breath! Went straight from the airport to my lecture this morning!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hugs and Kisses

After making VOTE, I realized how much fun it is to make something really small in just a couple hours from start to finish. This is just a little (approximately 12"x12") gift for a friend. I used scraps from a couple projects like this and these, only the red and orange border and binding fabrics weren't scraps. (Yes, I actually used borders for once!) Check out these cool hugs and kisses quilts here and here and here and here. Small is definitely good, but I really need to get back to all my WIPs before starting any new projects!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fish Update

I seem to be working on several different projects for Tonya's class... Work on the fish project (below) will continue when I get a little more of the background fabric (excuse the poor photography - it's actually the same fabric in each photo). In the meantime, I'm going to keep working on the 'places I've lived' project (and various other WIPs) and need to try to restrain myself from starting any new projects, large or small. Tough order.

And here are the fruits of my mushroom adventure on Friday evening! I broke in my cute new boots and found some non-poisonous mushrooms! I found several kinds, including these and these, and lots and lots of inedible ones! I think I'll need to take the class a few more times to really trust myself, but it was a good start!