Saturday, March 31, 2012

Anti-Depressant Socks And Other Spring Crafts

Spring time in Finland means 3 months of watching the snow melt followed by a brief two week run when everything explodes into blossom. Most of what we call spring isn't that glamorous. Instead of cherry blossoms and daffodils we have heaps of half melted snow, brown patches of last year's grass shyly peeking from under the blanket of snow and dog poo that has been lurking between layers of fresh snow all winter. The color palet of a Finnish Spring on the first of April is dirty grey, dirty brown and dirty snow. There's still time before the Big Green Bang.

Hence a little color therapy is in place!
Easter is next week so I made little egg decorations for my wreath. It really is the handiest of wreaths, it's made out of thick rugged roots and gives a lovely contrast to any seasonal decorations I've had on it so far. I cut little egg shapes out of thick craft felt and decorated them with little strips of thinner craft felt and a few embroidery stitches here and there. Simple but effective!

I also made a pair of anti-depressant socks for myself. I started knitting with the orange thread and was going to make knitted easter eggs (very easy to follow pattern here) but after a few rows I found myself knitting something a lot larger. It became a sock. A super stripy sock knitted from toe up. I've never made toe up socks before and neither have I knitted both socks at the same time, I've always made socks one at a time and I gotta say working with both socks at the same time makes it so much more easier. I often find it tedious to start again after just finishing the first sock. Now I didn't have that problem. Plus it was easier than I thought to knit from toe up. Will deffo do it again and maybe next time write down the pattern instead of just winging it :)

I love the way these turned out! Knitting with 15 different colors meant a lot of yarn ends to be darned in (120 in total!!!) but it was all worth it. These super trippy socks are like wearable anti-depressants. I wore them out yesterday and through out the day where ever I was I found myself staring at the bright and almost annoying colors and smiling. It works!

What do you think? Super trippy or super annoying?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Knitted Felted Tote Bags

Ha! After tediously trying and testing over and over again I finally managed to do kitchener stitches! Kitchener stitch is a neat way to combine two pieces of knitting without seams and is handy for handles and such.

I managed to use it in two different kinds of bags, both large tote bags. The first I made was this lilac beauty with a long strap to wear around the neck. I don't quite know how I did it, but I did!

Then I moved on to try it on a bit of a more challenging piece. The pink bag has pretty plaited straps. I did them by knitting twelve (twelve!!) i-cords, 6 on each side. I plaited three together and then using kitchener stitch joined them with three shorter ones, creating a seamless plait handle. It was tricky but I did it! Don't ask me how, I still don't understand how I pulled it off, I just tried and tried until the stitches were right. If I ever fully come to comprehend what is the logic here, I will surely share it. Until then there is nothing to do but accept the mystery!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Craft Sale!

Just a reminder for my local friends; Kerava Käsintaitajat ry (non-profit organization) has taken over Galleria Alli for the next few weeks. From today until the 1st of April you can find beautiful and unique handicrafts from local artists and artisans, both professional and us dilettantes. Opening hours mon-fri 12-18 and sat-sun 10-16. WELCOME!
photo courtesy of Keravan Käsintaitajat ry

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Hang Tags & New Bag

New and improved hang tags
Old hang tags
I'm getting ready for local craft sale by Keravan Käsintaitajat ry starting next week. I'm feverishly finishing new bags for the sale, as I don't want to put my Etsy shop on vocation mode as I did during Christmas sale. I've now got 3 new bags finished out of the 6 I was planning to make. Dead line is tomorrow. Ooops.

Anyways, I've made some new hang tags and am extremely happy with the way they turned out, make my bags look more professional and less hobby-y. I also made some iron on labels to go on the inside of the bags, unfortunately don't have a picture of one at the moment, but those turned out great also. So I'm almost ready to start the spring sale :)

Next up is renewing business cards, but I might just order them instead of making them myself, don't think my printer would love thick carton paper.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake + Old Furniture = Happy Days!

nothing beats fresh ground coffee in the morning
Cinnamon roll cake (recipe below)

I'm currently on a long sick leave from work, so I have plenty of time in my hands. Time to meet up with my amazing father, sit in the coffee table for four hours eating cinnamon roll cake and drinking fresh ground coffee. Time to finally, with the help from my dad, finish the 80 year old chair I've been working on since 2006. Time to finish my desk made out of an old sewing machine stand and a glulam board.
Look, I used to have a waist!

The chair used to belong to my grandfather and as my mom estimated, it's been in the family for at least 80 years. It has been black, white and all sorts of colors along it's life, but in 2006 I stripped it of it's layers of varnish and paint and oiled it to a more natural, rustic look. I just didn't have a seat cushion for it, so it was left in storage for several years.

When my parents moved house it re-emerged from it's slumber and was sent to my aunt, a retired upholsterer who kindly made a new seat cushion for the chair. How wonderful it is to belong to such a crafty family! As a small token of gratitude I in return sent her a rose embroidered pin cushion in a tin tartlet, handy for her many sewing projects and in a color I know she adores.

Me and my dad fixed the cushion into the chair and voilá! The chair is in use again :)

The Husqvarna sewing machine stand was found abandoned at a storage my parents used to have their stuff in. I saw it when rummaging through my parents' many a treasure and fell in love. It still had the sewing machine on it, but my crafty father took it apart and the stand has since been taking out space in our storage room. Yesterday, finally, we managed to screw on a glulam board and it was then ready to recieve the finishing touches; a layer of Maston WOODmix Wood Wax in shade of cognac.

When picking up the shade in the shop, we couldn't find a sample of the color, so chose it based only on the picture on the tin. ERROR! It turned out a lot darker than I imagined, only did one layer and it looks awafully mismatched with the chair. Goes to show decisions like this should not be made hastily. But as I say, only the victims of unavoidable circumstances have the right to whine, victims of their own choices are denied this right. So I'll just have to live with it :)

I'm not much of a baker, but now with all this time in my hands, I'm trying new recipes. This one I simply MUST share, the cinnamon roll cake turned out sooooo yummy and quite easy to make I simply gotta share it. (Or more accurately; I gotta write down the ingredients somewhere I can easily find them again to re-do this beauty some day)

Finnish Cinnamon Roll Cake 
(or as it is called in Finland; "Boston cake")

for the dough
250 ml water or milk (I used water though recipe originally was made for milk)
25 g fresh yeast
1 egg
1 tsp salt
100 ml sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamom
~800 ml all-purpose flour
150 g soft butter

for the filling
~50 g soft butter
~1 tbsp cinnamon
150 ml chopped almonds
1 tart apple coarsely shredded

for the icing
200 ml icing sugar
1 tbsp of luke warm water

Take ingredients out from fridge about 2 hours before starting to cook, all ingredients should be luke warm before baking. Crumble yeast into luke warm water or milk. Stir until the yeast has dissolved.

In a mixing bowl, add egg, sugar, salt and ground cardamom and blend well. Start adding the flour and stir until you have a gruel-like consistency, then work in the butter (this is easiest with a mixer with dough hooks). Knead in the rest of the flour (start off with a bit less than 4 dl and add as needed) until you have a nice elastic dough.

Cover with a kitchen towel or cling film and let stand until the dough's doubled in size. While the dough rises, ground the pealed apple into a bowl and mix with sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts. The nuts will then have plenty of time to soften while the dough rises.

Once the dough is risen punch out the air from it gently. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to a ~30x40 cm rectangle. Spread the rectangle with butter and then the apple-nut mixture making sure to get filling right up to the edges. Beginning on the longer side, roll up to a log.

Cut the log into thick slices and arrange in a buttered pan (about 25 cm in diameter), cut-side up. They'll rise and spread quite a bit, so you need to give them a bit of space. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for half an hour.
Original recipe instructed to cook in 200°C for 30 minutes, but mine took a lot longer than that to cook. You can test if the cake is done by sticking a tooth pick into the cake, if the dough clings to the tooth pick, you need to cook it a while longer. Reduce temperature if after 30min it is still raw (we don't want the surface to burn).

Let the cake cool completely. Mix the icing sugar with water and drizzle over the cake. 
(thanks to deinin, I used her Spicy swirl cake - blog post as a source for translating my version of the recipe (lazy ass me). Check out her version too, sounds delish!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Knitted Felted and Embroidered Yellow Paisley Bag

 And now for something completely different; a yellow bag with free-handed paisley pattern.

I've noticed my bags all follow a similar style and themes and wanted to kick myself out of my comfort zone and attempt to do something completely different; paisley. Abstract patterns are not my forte, I have been stretching my imagination to tap into that abstract side of creativity. It's harder than I thought! It's a lot more easy to follow a more concrete idea than fill an empty space with what ever springs to mind. I think I'll stick to less abstract patterns from now on :D

Here's some pictures anyway of the process and the finished bag. As hard as it was it turned out decent enough.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Yellow Daher tin from PatinaMarket and aqua Daher tin from Big Yellow Vintage
 My sanity has been questioned many a time. I'm happy to announce now that the matter is now officially settled: I have gone tinsane.

I love old vintage tins, the more decorative the better! Some of these are old drift store finds and some are new acquaintances found from various vintage shops on Etsy. It's truely handy, I'm not much of an expert on scouring through the flea markets or making great finds at garage sales, so shopping online suits me great.

I've ordered quite a few tins online recently and promised I'd share some photos of both old and new friends. It's beginning to feel a lot like spring and nothing says spring like an old vintage tin! (How very poetic.)

As handy as these tins are for storing small goods like jewelry, some (like the dear bf who suspects nothing as I try to sneak in the tins one by one so he wont notice the change and who btw never reads my blog) might say it's not sane to buy tin after tin just because they are pretty. And they are right. It's tinsane.
Floral Daher tin from The (Ri)Charmed Life
Daher tin with hearts from The 5th House

Drift store find
Pink tin on the right from Wrath of Ra, rest of the items are flea market finds

Floral Daher tin from LiliaRose, Daher bird tin from Curate & Love, small candy tin and tin tray are old drift store finds.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Black Wreath Bag II

The black wreath bag I made in December was so beautiful I was asked to replicate a similar bag for another buyer. As I didn't want to make an exact copy I embellished this one with fresh water pearls and Swarovski crystals, making it even more bling-bling than the first version.

The only problem with this bag is how to get good photos of it, white on black seems to be particularily challenging to get right on pictures. Not a problem that would keep me up at night, but a problem any case.