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Quaker alphabet

Today as promised some pics of my small Quaker alphabet wall hanging:

Isn’t it cute? It goes together pretty well with the colour of the wood panelling in our living room.

2009?

Yes, 2009, that was when I finished the embroidery – and yes, it has been lying in a cupboard THAT long!

The black backing fabric was my husband’s shirt in a former life.

Please don’t blame me for the awful lot of hairs on the black fabric, it must have been this two-headed monster that was spilling hairs like crazy:

Oh no, wait, it’s just my 2 cats intimately snoring!  phew…

Autumn delights

Although I like the summer season, I’m always happy when autumn is in the air again. We live near the woods and I just love the the sight of yellow and brown trees, the scent of fallen leaves. This weekend a friend came visiting and we went out to go look for mushrooms.

Soon we saw this little fellow:

A few hours and three different kinds of mushroom later, we went home and gave them a total make-over:

They were delicious!

That morning I already made a pumpkin cake following a wonderful recipe; I think it was the best cake I ever made (which is not that difficult as I do not make cakes that often, but still). How can it go wrong with pumpkin, chocolate and pecans in one cake, iced with lemon butter cream?

I’ll first show what my kitchen looked liked after I made the butter cream, that unfortunately included one explosion of powdered sugar:

But it was all worth it:

So far with all the cooking. I did some crafty things too!
Already three years ago now, I made a small cross stitch Quaker alphabet:
(the free pattern can be found here)

Over the past days, I made a narrow patchwork border for it to make a small wall hanging. But there is still one side left to be finished with binding, so the FO pics will have to wait for next post.

Buddha

Years ago, we received a Buddha statue. It is always said that a Buddha statue should be given to you and not bought yourself, so I was quite happy having received one. Strangely enhough it came from a person that I didn’t feel much sympathy for and whom I would never see again, which made it all the more special.

But I always thought that the colouring was a bit too rough for in the living room, as if the statue was ment for the garden. But then we got a good idea last year when we were so lucky to be able to visit Tibet. There, most statues in monasteries and temples are golden:

So the plan was born to also paint our statue golden. This week I finally took up the pencils, and I was amazed how much the statue changed! See for yourself, first the before and than the after pic:

Great isn’t it, how the face seems to come alive? I can imagine that some people prefer the white over the ‘kitsch’ gold, pink & green, but I do like a bit of kitsch now and then… :-)

Bamboo in Hamburg

A few days ago I bought some new yarn and started knitting a sweater with it right away. Material: 100% bamboo. Colour: gorgeous, blinding pink!

The yarn is new in the Linea pura line of Lana grossa. I read on Ravelry that bamboo items grow a lot when worn, but I hope that my sweater will have less of that tendency as this yarn is some kind of woven ribbon. Anyway I choose a pattern with positive ease so that it wouldn’t be such a problem when it gets bigger. I already had to frog once and since my gauge perfectly matches the label I have to conclude that the pattern is completely off. Instead of 24 rows per 10 cm, the pattern requires 31 (44 rows in 14 cm)…that can’t be right. Also the nr of stitches to cast on for size 36/38 resulted in a HUGE sweater, I changed from 104 to 78 stiches!

I had lots of time to knit past weekend, when we were in a traffic yam for 3 hours on our way back from Hamburg, on top of the normal traveling time of 4 hours. Probably no one really understands why in Germany they first have to break up ALL the roads they maybe, possibly, some time in the future want to work on, and then leave it as is for some years…

I’ll post some random pictures that I took there that I like. The first one seems a very normal staircase, and it is, but I always have a soft spot for such old staircases. They seem to breathe the energies of all the people that over the years put their feet on the steps, held their hands on the handrail. Maybe it is the indirect light that makes me dreaming. The other pics are from a very cute little restaurant where we had breakfast.

Small projects

The viking dress that I mentioned in the latest post has long been finished, but I keep forgetting to take pictures of it. Well then, I’ll first show some small projects that I worked on recently.

First a pattern that has been made a zillion times before: Saartjes Bootees! I’ve seen them in so many colours on Ravelry, and they are always cute. I made them for a friend who will have a baby soon.

And then, for the first time in my life, I made a stuffed animal. No, two stuffed animals, because one looked a little sad. They are rabbits and derive from a wider family of Anything Animals. Meet Hunny and Sully the Bunny:

 

 

Inkle loom weaving

Since a few months, I have a new hobby and I’m pretty thrilled about it. It feels like a lot of things come together: my love of crafts and craft history, my fascination for how common people lived their lives in earlier times, and my desire of the last year or so to meet new people outside the university world. And where did I find all this? In re-enactment of the middle ages!

Always when I saw re-enactors in open air museums or at festivals, I thought how cool it would be to do such a thing, but it never crossed my mind that I could simply join a group. Over the past years I read books on local history, I dyed wool with plants that I found outside, I tried card weaving and learned needle binding (both methods going back to at least early medieval times). Now that I joined the re-enactors group I have not only found a purpose for those crafts, but even people to share my interests with.

The first thing I’m working on now is to create a viking age dress, as one of the subgroups I joined brings to live 9th century European tribes such as the Frisians, Francs and Vikings. A nice thing about the Vikings is that they seemed to have been quite fond of jewelry and other decoration, such as woven band. Therefore I started weaving band on an inkle loom, which is fun to do and goes very quick as well. On this website, I found a great pattern generator.

This is the inkle loom with the warp threads before I started weaving. In the following graphs, you can see the different colours of the warp threads, the resulting pattern (generated by the above-mentioned website) and the end result. Although this band is quite plain and simple, I will perhaps use it for my dress.

Lace pullover

Yay, my lace pullover is finished! It took me quite a while to knit, but I’m very happy with how it turned out.

The yarn was bought in Japan, and this pullover reminds me a bit of the women in Tokyo: classy, elegant, with eye for details. I’m not so much of the classy type, but I did my best for the pictures, haha. I actually wore this combination already to a birthday party and felt very smart in it! (-;

The blocking was a scary moment, because the label said that the yarn couldn’t be washed, not even by hand – probably because of the silk in it. I only found that out when I was halfway my pullover, as the label was in Japanese only (thank you Japanese knitting group on Ravelry). In the end I did soak it completely, but was careful not to let it stretch and -pfew!- it turned out fine.

This lace pullover was designed by Vera Sanon and the (clear and well written) pattern is free for download on the website of Cascade yarns. I used the yarn Silk et Soie by Nikke Victor. Ravelers, visit my project here.

Not my favorite

The past week I’ve been sewing. It is not really my favorite craft and I’m always having arguments with my sewing machine. There were however two things I really wanted to make. The first thing was this:
What it is? A guinea pig tunnel! Flowers on the outside, soft fleece on the inside. At both ends I sewed in strips of plastic, so that it will stand open. Ronja likes it a lot (please excuse her red capsicum-cheeks):

The second thing I wanted to make was a new case for my oboe. I play baroque oboe but the case that came with my rental instrument was not really protectant (very thin), and had an ugly, violently green colour. So I dashed up some blue and beige flanel from my stash, complemented with extra-volume quilt batting and two wooden buttons. The buttons are very rough and unpolished, which I really like.
I was again struggling with my sewing machine and ended up making it completely by hand. Some work but much more relaxing! I’m really a novice when it comes to sewing so the case is quite basic, but it functions and I’m pleased with it.

Cats and lace

Today I took some pictures of two of our cats playing outside. First, meet Bob, up to his belly in the snow. Only his green eyes and red fur show off against the white. Isn’t he beautiful?


The little one in the next pics was the latest addition to our family: Maggy. I found her in the fields as a kitten of only 6 weeks old, she had walked a great distance from the farm where she was born. The farmer didn’t want her anymore, so I took her with me. At first she was very wild (bit my finger nail in two when I caught her…), but now she’s a sweet little rascal.


Over the past weeks I’ve been working on my first lace project: a pullover with short sleeves. The body is almost finished and I like the way it turns out (except that yesterday I discovered a mistake in the armhole decreases, so I have to work back a couple of rows). The yarn I’m using for this project is from Japan, the only yarn I bought on our trip through Asia. The name of the brand -Nikke Victor-  doesn’t sound very Japanse, but it is.

Bob was willing to be my assistant, and show this wonderful yarn. In the last 3 pics some close-ups of the pullover-to-be.

Highlander pullover

Today my DH and I were taking a walk in the forest, and the best thing was: he was finally wearing the pullover I made for him when we had our 5-year anniversary – THREE YEARS AGO. In all those years he only wore it twice, today and last winter. The thing is so warm that it can only be used outside, and only when it’s cold.

The pattern’s very basic, but I was proud of it since it’s the first pullover I ever made. I made one crucial beginner’s mistake: the bind-off around the turtle neck is very tight, which makes the whole turtle neck look weird. Oh well. The yarn is Drops Garnstudio Highlander (discontinued, so don’t go look for it) with a very special colourway: brown/orange at first sight, but it has blue, purple, yellow and green in it when you look closely.

Christmas doggies

Ok – I promise: last Christmas post of this year. But the dogs were so nicely posing for the camera that I must show them here with their special christmas collars. I crocheted a collar for both of the Jack Russells in our family, and attached beautiful bells that I bought on holiday in Tibet. When walking them it sounded like Santa himself was on the way with his sleigh bells! The black one is Jacky, doughter to the white one Molly (who, for Harry Potter fans, bears some similarity to Dobby, don’t you think?).

“Erm, can I please go now…?”

Christmas Carols

Last year I started on a small Christmas wallquilt, but only the piecing was ready on Christmas day. Since I didn’t find it very inspiring to work on a Christmas quilt in January, I decided I would finish it next year. So at the beginning of this December I dug it up from my sewing room and enjoyed working on it again. The scenes on the quilt are so romantic, I bought the fabric at a Dickens Festival and it really matches the feeling of A Christmal Carol.

The quilting is only very basic, so I wanted to add something extra and gave it a finishing touch of gold paint on the stars and binding. I like the result, the paint gives the plain stars a bit of depth (to be seen on the lower 3 pictures). The uppermost picture shows the original fabric, which had a bright red colour surrounding the scenes. I didn’t like that and bordered them with black fabric.

Christmas ornaments

Oh, how do I enjoy Christmas time! The cosiness, decorating the house, going to Christmas markets and the night mass… I really love this season. I do feel a bit embarrased to say, though, that this year I started looking forward to it as early as september… that’s not normal is it? Well, at the moment I feel justified to work on some Christmas decoration, after all it’s December tomorrow.

The things I’d like to show today are some small ornaments. They are made from felt, embroidery thread, filling, ribbon, and some decorative buttons and bells. Not much to say about it for the rest, here come the pictures.


 

 

Knitting for buddha

On our trip through Japan, another amusing habit that we encountered is to dress statues of buddha or shinto gods in cute clothing. Very common were bibs, mostly red, such as the one Inari is wearing here on the right. Inari is the god of rice, harvest and general prosperity, either depicted as an old man with two foxes beside him, or as a beautiful fox-lady. Most shinto shrines that honour this god have two fox statues on either side of the entrance.

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And what about this one on the left. Isn’t that cute, with his rabbit-bib? I have no idea who this statue impersonates, though. It could be a god related to children or birth.

But also knitted goods were applied. See for example these little guys on the picture below. All the same huh… grey…

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But not the special one behind the flowers! He has a nice yellow hat and coat:

Actually it is a sad story behind these statues, depicting the god Jizo. They were all placed here in memory of an aborted or deceased baby, mostly by the parents.
To conclude with, I’ll show a few pictures of a row of statues (not sure who they are again), all with their own assembly of bibs and hats.
It looks kind of cosy, hm? Maybe I should take some wooly things with me next time I go to church…


During the past 2 months, my freshly married husband and I have been traveling through Asia. Our first stop was Japan, an amazing country. The people are extremely polite and everything is very well organized. And especially in the north, nature was beautiful. Of course I’ve been having my eyes open for all craft-related stuff, and in the coming posts I’d like to share some things with you.

It started already the first day in Tokyo, when we visited a special shrine. Some background info: a shrine is the place of worship for Shinto believers, the indigenous religion of Japan. It is quite complicated to grasp for someone brought up in a different culture, but it has a lot to do with ancestry and connecting present to past. The shrine that we came across was a small one, dedicated to a god called Sukunahikona-mikoto. He is the god of medicine but is also famous as a guardian of women. Once a year he is honoured in a very special way, and the ingredients for that are tofu and needles. During a ‘needle memorial’ or ‘hari-kuyo’, women express their gratitude for the past year by bringing used sewing needles and sticking them into tofu! Unfortunately it was not the time of year and we couldn’t see this happening in real life, but already the thought of it makes me happy. :-)

The shrine outside and in:

Palempore quilt

My creative life started with embroidery, soon followed by crochet and knitting. I had many women around me, foremost my mother and grandmothers, who could teach me everything. But quilting is less well known in my country. It got my interest after reading a novel in which a group of women came together to quilt. It sounded wonderful, I went out to the library to look for more information, and started quilting. The funny thing is that over the last year, it now was my turn to teach a craft to my mother! She has recently finished her first pachwork top, and last weekend I showed her how to quilt it.

The only thing about quilting that fools me again and agian is how much work it is to make a quilt! I do everything by hand and since I’m not so fast, even the smallest quilt is taking me forever. The quilt I currently would like to be finished the most is the ‘Palempore quilt’.

It doesn’t look like much work, does it? The whole middle panel was bought as it is, the only thing I had to add were these:

But the quilting took much more time, I worked precisely around each flower and leave on the panel. The only thing left to do now is the quilting of diagonal lines over the white parts of the panel. But I have to admit, what really causes the lengthy period it takes to finish a quilt like this, are all the distractions… so many other things that I want to make!

A few words about the name of this quilt: ‘Palempore’. Although quilting is not particularly well-known today in my country, it does have a long history. The antique quilt in the book below is where I got my inspiration from. It’s dated 18th century, when colourful, printed cottons (chintz) from Asia were very popular. Panels of this kind (usually much larger to make bed coverings) were called palempores.

I’m afraid it will still take some more time before this quilt is finished…

Starry vest

As I mentioned in the last post, I used some leftover yarn for the baby cardigan. Today I’ll show you the other project that was made with this yarn. It’s a vest made for myself, and it’s a combination of two patterns. For the shape of it, I followed the directions of the Blush pattern by Kessa. The colourwork is from the Fresco colorwork wrap vest by Veronik Avery.

I like how it turned out, but if I were to knit this again, I would add some waist shaping and maybe start with a few less stitches. Now that I’ve worn it a couple of times, the fabric has stretched a bit and I liked it more with some negative ease. Nevertheless I would surely recommend the Blush pattern, one could do so many things with it when adding different colour charts!

 

Baby cardigan

Finished the baby cardi today. It was my admirable intention to use up some stash for this project, because -as any knitter- I’m gaining more and more yarn. From an earlier project I had some blue and white Karisma left over, which I thought would be great for this baby shower gift. Long story short: with just half a sleeve left to be knitted, I ran out of wool and had to buy a new skein – so after finishing I ended up with the new blue skein still nearly complete and one white skein untouched. Well, let’s look at it from the bright side, that’s one skein less than I started with…

The pattern is from Garnstudio again. I’m really fond of Scandinavian knitting. Four little deer on the front, four on the back. It’s just cute!

Buttons

A while ago I bought these nice buttons.

They’re about to be used on a project that I hope to finish within a few days:

Just one sleeve to knit and sew in, and the buttons to attach. Then it can be send to the brand new baby of my cousin!

Applepie sweethearts

Before going to the forest last sunday, I really felt like making a pie. I only had ingredients for apple pie, so apple pie it was! A nice chance to use my heartshaped bakeware. I don’t usually make pictures of food, but I couldn’t resist!

Heather

This weekend we went to the woods, where the heather is in full bloom.

It was beautiful, all that purple!

It reminded me of the jumper I made last year with heather coloured yarn. It was a free Garnstudio pattern and I made it with Drops Alpaca yarn. Garnstudio is one of my favorite brands, I really appreciate that all their patterns are free and so easy to search through.

In my experience, Garnstudio patterns are always a bit on the large side. I like fitted knits, so I made some mods to the pattern. To start with I used needles 0,5 mm smaller than indicated, I skipped 3 of 5 increases above the waistline, skipped 4 of 8 increases in the sleeves, and made the sleeves 48 instead of 40 cm long. Finally I made some short rows around the neckline, so that it wouldn’t be so wide.
The shirred pattern on the yoke was really fun to make. I liked working with the Alpaca yarn, but when wearing it I do find it quite itchy, so I’m always having a long-sleeved shirt under it. I’m very happy with how it turned out.