What a Vappu

What a weekend! We had amazingly glorious weather this weekend, which made Vappu even more enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Winter and even rainy weather – I strongly believe in enjoying the season’s weather as the seasons pass by…¬†I think knowing how to appreciate what we have is one of the key to happiness, something I was trying very hard to grasp a couple of years ago. But that is a story for another time.:)

A while ago, it was M’s Name Day. So I made him homemade burgers for lunch, as well as a chocolate Kringle.

The kringle I made was an Estonian styled one. It is basically a braided sweet bread with many layers of filling sandwiched within the bread. The filling is typically cinnamon sugar and butter. But I decided to try a chocolate one this time.

I forgot to take a cross-section pic of this, maybe next time.ūüėõ I really like the chocolate version. Next time I will try it with Nutella, which I’m sure will be divine!

Another new food attempted: Bureka. Well, maybe more like Bureka-inspired.

I had some Bureka at a friend’s place last week and decided to give my own spin to this deliciously simple meat pie!

I added mushroom, spinach, paprika and risotto rice* to the meat filling, making this more of a complete meal. Cabbage is also a great addition to this. You know what is the best part?

It is a one pot dish!

Yes, you basically cook the fillings, let it cool a bit, then fill it in the pastry and bake till golden!

You know what is the next best part?

It is freezable!

Let the filling cool completely, then fill the puff pastry with it, seal and freeze! When you want a quick (but good) meal, pull it out of the freezer, leave on the counter to defrost a little, then pop it in the oven.

*I chose to use a risotto rice because unlike other rice (even the short grain ones), it is better at retaining its texture and bite even after being cooked a long time.

Back to Vappu talk… We spent the Vappu weekend with TH and HH in the countryside.

Finnish countryside in the morning. Lake, trees, cottages.

L had a lot of fun! He went for many walks (always with his walking stick! That is the first thing he runs for when we bring him out.)

We went down to the lake and chanced upon 2 swans on the lake.

L enjoys throwing balls and, surprisingly, I think he is even better at throwing balls than me!

Knitting is more my sport.ūüėČ

I made donuts.

With a chocolate glaze, white chocolate drizzle and almond slices sprinkled on. Mmm mm!

¬†Donuts and sima are a Vappu tradition. Although the traditional Vappu donuts (munkki) are covered with sugar, I prefer chocolate glazed ones! Let’s call it a diplomatic compromise!ūüėČ

This is the recipe I referred to, in case you’re interested too! For the glaze, I used less butter and milk, skipped the corn syrup and used more chocolate. This is because I wanted to use less sugar and in order for it to ‘dry’ properly with less confectioner’s sugar, I had to use less liquids and more solids. It worked out really well this way and I used maybe only 0.5 cups of sugar. Even then, it could be less sweet for me! (And I love my desserts!) Next time I might skip the milk completely and use just chocolate, a bit of butter and a bit of sugar. Oh, and of course I replaced the nutmeg with cardamom. Cardamom is everywhere in sweet breads and pastries in the Nordic countries. And I have to agree, it is a lovely addition!

Nothing beats fresh donuts!

It is a Finnish tradition to have marches/parades on Vappu. This year (and last year as well, actually) we decided to participate in the march organised by the church.

Walking around the city center with L in a stroller.

Apart from the Vappu stuff, I also finished my orange knit and even started a new hobby!

Watercolour painting! My first few pieces were quite terrible so I won’t show them here.ūüėõ These, however, are decent copies. Watercolouring is easier than knitting when L isn’t napping, because I take breaks in between to allow the paint to dry anyway.¬†To be honest, though, I find¬†oil painting more enjoyable than watercolour painting.

Today I did some more watercolouring. Still very amateur looking but I’m not expecting much. In fact, the watercolour paint I’m using is a cheap children’s watercolour set! I’m not intending to go very far with this hobby and see no reason to splurge on professional tools when my ultimate goal is mostly card-making. In fact, I turned the flower painting, in the previous pic, into a Mother’s Day card for my mom, and made a matching¬†envelop for it (in this pic above).

How was your Labour Day weekend? Do you have traditions for Labour Day where you are from? And what about Mother’s Day?

At Long Last

With Vappu just around the corner, I decided to make this Vappu’s sima¬†earlier on this week.

After the primary fermentation stage, I had M bring these huge 2L containers¬†to the cold cellar for the secondary fermentation… I made 4 of these, one of which is an experimental spiced version. Earlier this evening, I had M bring one of it up for a taste test. It definitely passed the test! It was sweet enough, but not too sweet. With a¬†refreshing lemon flavour and a rummy hint from the raisins… Just bubbly/fizzy enough but not overwhelmingly so, unlike some soda with such strong carbonation that it hurts the tongue! It will continue to mature until we bring it to the countryside where we’re planning to spend our Vappu.

Apart from home-brewing, I’ve found time to sew on the buttons for¬†my new sweater! I now pronounce it finished!

At long last, finally a finished knitted garment for myself… It had been far too long and I’ve missed the joy of finishing a garment for myself. Without further ado, here is my “Labour Sweater”, finished just before Labour Day!

Labour Sweater
Yarn: Chinese Cashmere/Mink 2.1 x 50g and “Angela” Mohair/Cashmere, 2 x 50g
Pattern: Light by Kim Hargreaves
Modifications:¬†To be honest, most of this sweater is modified. Firstly, I made it smaller than the smallest size, because the pattern did not come in¬†my size. So I cast on less stitches. Also, I decided to knit it in the round, so I cast on both front and back at the same time. Since my stitch count is off, I did the rest of the sweater my way…
For the placket, I knitted it along with the body (just split it to by knitted flat, and cast on extra stitches for the overlap) in garter stitch, making YO buttonholes as I went along. I went back afterwards and sewed the overlap/extra stitches down.
For the neckline, I did short rows and placed the stitches on hold for the collar while I knitted the rest of the main portion.
I haven’t planned to make this 3/4 sleeves when I started the sleeves, but I was running out of the cashmere/mink so I decided to make it 3/4 sleeves so the sleeves ended up a bit tighter than I would like – the part near my elbows were supposed to be for my bird-wrists! I did run out of the cashmere/mink in the end though, and had to order a 3rd ball. I’m very glad that there wasn’t major colour variations though it had been many years since I bought the first 2 balls! Anyway, back to the sleeves, I knitted it into the armhole in the body so there was no seaming required for the sleeves.
Afterthoughts: I started this sweater around the time L was due, hence the name, “Labour” Sweater.ūüėČ I needed something simple and mindless to knit while I was recovering in the hospital. At least that is what I thought. I hardly knitted while in the hospital… I was sleeping or trying to get used to looking after a fragile and loud little newborn! I didn’t get to work on it much for the year that followed either, until recently.
This was meant to be worn in Winter, hence the dark colour and yarn choices… It is probably my warmest sweater, despite the ¬†lace stitch. Not surprising, considering the cashmere content in the yarn!
It is a lovely design and has that effortless grace like most other designs by Ms. Hargreaves! I was wearing it with sweatpants in these pics (because we were going out for a walk in the countryside and I couldn’t muster the motivation or time to change out of it!) but this sweater spruced it right up! The simple and feminine design means that this will pair easily with other garments in the wardrobe too. I paired it with a wispy maroon dress before this sweatpants pairing… That one actually made me feel rather¬†1950s!
I really like this design, and will consider knitting a Spring version of it too, someday.

Side view. If you look carefully, you will see that I didn’t sew the lowest button right, so the fabric tends to pucker there when buttoned up. Let’s see how long it takes me to set that right.ūüėČ I’m thinking probably years, if at all…

Back view.
PS. I’m wearing my latest favourite hairstyle here… It is a very practical version of a half up/half down style. It allows me to keep my hair down but keeps my hair out of my face! The pretty wavy effect is a bonus! Also, it is so easy to do, no curling, teasing or fiddling with a dozen bobby pins! A bit difficult to fluff it up nicely by myself, but I’m satisfied with this lean version.

Buttoned up.

So, we spent the weekend in the countryside. And went for a walk…

The snow had mostly melted away so we let L walk/run as much as he liked. He loves that hiking stick and would run to get it whenever we took him out for a walk!

Random pic of interesting looking fungi/moss.

And of course, a pic of a cute little squirrel! They came around quite often this weekend.

Its really late now, so I should be off to bed. I hope you had a nice, relaxing weekend and a fantastic week ahead. Till next time, Happy Vappu!

Making Plans

Still waiting for that burst of Spring, you know, when the barren branches all over¬†the city suddenly explode into fuzzy little neon green buds… It usually happens right after a bit of rain and is a pretty amazing sight.

While waiting for Spring, I decided to go ahead and make some Summer plans. Because when your Summer plans involves handmade anything, you have to plan quite much in advance!

I started a rug and it is almost finished! I intend to go back and fill those giant holes, which looks kinda pretty but is in fact a tripping hazard, especially with little children. Also, a quick block will the lace good as well as open it up a little so the outer rims stop ruffling. I used maybe around 1kg of that rope yarn for this. I will weigh it properly when it is done.

I also started another circular rug, this time in the grey. If I have enough of the rope yarn leftover, I might even make one or more little floor cushions/poufs!

However, working with the rope yarn is quite hard on the hands, especially my wrists. I had hurt my left wrist previously and it was beginning to act up again with my constant rope-yarn-crocheting last weekend. So I decided to take a little break and work on something else lighter for a while.

So I decided to try designing another summer top! It is coming along really nicely so far. I’m using Rowan’s Panama, which is a viscose/cotton/linen blend. I find that this sort of blend typically produces a rather heavy draping fabric when knitted in a non-lacey stitch, not really my favourite. However, I discovered that with Panama, it was not the case!

You see, Panama is not the typical plied yarn, where the yarn is made up of many strands of the fibre twisted together. Panama is made up of strands of the fibre chained/knitted up! The result is a (theoretically) hardwearing yarn that is loftier and bouncier than it could be when spun the usual way! The yarn does not lay like a deadweight, stiff and ungiving. It is slightly elastic, light and has the lovely drape of linen still! As you can tell, I’m very impressed with this yarn! I’m looking forward to finishing it up and wearing it, so I can see how it wears too.

I’ve been working on it slowly, because most of my free time is during L’s nap time, like now. His naptime is probably the only time I get to myself these days, so I savour it, albeit quietly like a mouse because L has ultrasonic hearing.

Something else I’ve been working on… A bit of sewing. I followed¬†a very simple tutorial, but had to modify it a bit (to be not so simple afterall) because the fabric I’m using has a gorgeous printed border that I would like to use for the neckline. I have since sewed the neckband on, but on afterthought, should have interfaced it! It is sagging a bit and getting a little distorted… I had thought of it when I was making the neckband, but did not have a suitable interfacing on hand and didn’t feel like waiting. You’d think after so many years of crafting I would’ve learnt the principle of “more haste, less speed”! :S I might try to fix it by sewing a ribbon to the wrong side if it bugs me.

Other than that, it is awaiting some un-seaming, because I tried it on and didn’t like the treatment of the side seams in¬†the tutorial for this particular fabric. So I will have to do a bit of undoing and hopefully the method I have in mind works for this! It will take a while, though, because it is hard to do anything that needs concentration when L is awake, but when he is napping¬†I prefer to sit and knit/read!

Speaking of L, he had been up to some funny antics…

The other day, I was playing on the piano when I noticed that he had gone really quiet… Not usually a good sign! So I took a quick look and found him sitting there, flipping nonchalantly through a newspaper!

Later that day, M had came home from work and I heard him laughing at L (I was cooking). I went to take a look and saw L in this awesome pose.. (That was a piece of lego in his hand.)

Other than that, I’ve been surprisingly busy this week because L and M had been sick. But they are pretty much recovered, thank goodness!

Have Spring sprung at your place, or are you still waiting for it like me?

As you can tell from the title, this had been a slow week here… Just waiting for that burst of Spring to break through! But at least most of the snow had melted away…

No blossom to show off this week…

But thousands of little ones in this Romanesco!

Dressed up with some Asparagus at the side…

This was a “non-flower” birthday present for a dear friend. I saw this box of Romanesco at the supermarket and knew she (and her husband, who is a vegetarian) will enjoy this more than any blossom I can find¬†at the florist’s. Isn’t¬†the stumpy/spikey spirals fascinating?!

I also made a cake for her and another friend who share the same birthday! “Made” and not “baked” because this is no baked cake! I got M to make a stack of “lettu”s (similar to the French crepe) the night before and assembled it to make a “lettu cake” (similar to crepe cakes)! I used white chocolate and lemon to flavour this cake. But my all time favourite way to do this is with nutella! Mmm mmm!

I used freshly squeezed blueberry juice to colour the frosting, hence the specks. Went for the ruffled style¬†again, though it was harder to execute this time. The cream turned out rather floppy so it was tricky getting the ruffles to stay on the cake without sliding down the sides on its’ weight!

I had been running around all week so the purple sweater is still sitting in the project bag. There had also been minimal progress on the summer tunic/blouse. However, today was a great day craft-wise, because I !FINALLY! went to my first craft fair!


Yes, I have never been to any craft fairs… It is the downside of living in a tropical country where craft had been traditionally regarded as work for the poor or uneducated. To be fair, things are changing back home, but it is unlikely that knitting will ever be a major hobby in hot and sunny Singapore!

Anyway, back to the topic… I enjoyed myself much more than I expected! I even remembered to take out my camera (when I wasn’t oogling at the pretty stuff!) to take a few pictures!

This stall sells ecological craft supplies, mostly yarn.

This one sells mostly knit/tricot fabric. They even had (merino) wool knit fabric, which you would think is common and popular up here in the cold North, but is in fact extremely hard to find! (At least in this city.. Might be easier in Helsinki.) And oh, the prints on the fabric they sell!!

A handyed yarn stall. They had some simply gorgeous merino silk with glitter thread, as well as some with stellina.

Not my usual cup of tea, but I was blown away by the ingenuity of it! Most of those pendants were old silver spoons!

This was the damage done. I was even telling M “I don’t really know why I’m going.. I don’t need more craft supplies!” as I was walking out the door. Famous last words!

Anyway, the red fabric is a cotton knit fabric that I intent to sew something(s) for L. The grey one is the wool knit fabric that I’m planning to sew a dress for myself next Winter. The thick stringy stuff are knitted tube yarn for some rug, most possibly.

I had wound them up into wheels (with the help of M!) already. Just have to wait for the inspiration to strike!

So this was my slow week in April. Slow but mostly good.:) Have a great weekend and fabulous week ahead!

Happy April

April brings with it plenty of sun and anticipation for those soft, lazy Summer weekends…

And beautiful blooms!

I had gotten this pretty Chrysanthemum flower, intending to make another mini bouquet, but the florist wrapped it so prettily, I decided to give it as such.

I had finished another project¬†for the newborn photographer mentioned. This one actually has a pattern available! However, I did not know that when I was crocheting it so I did not use the pattern… It was only after I had finished the project, when I was looking at the picture on my phone, that I¬†thought of googling the watermark. Imagine my surprise when I saw that listed on Ravelry!

It was a sweet and interesting project. A friend who saw my WIP had thought I was making a sleeve! I have to agree, though, that this will look very pretty on a period costume.

I used Elann’s Silken Kydd for this project. I originally ordered yarn for this, but the yarn that came (shown above) was almost neon pink, which will not do as this photographer specifically mentioned she dislike neon colours (as do I)… In fact, the picture does not do its ‘neon-ness’ justice! So I took this Silken Kydd from an old WIP that never worked out (the yarn ¬†used was unused on the ball). I suppose I can always use that neon pink mohair in a project, held along with a¬†dull¬†colour to tone it down a bit.

Apart from crocheting, I have also been sewing!

I finally made those project bags I had been wishing for! It took less than one afternoon to make as they are pretty straightforward.

The one on the left is 5×5 inches at the bottom and the one on the right is 6×6 inches. I intended the bigger project bag for sweater projects, because I’m more of a garment knitter and garments are bigger than socks or shawls.

Both bags are fully lined. I originally wanted to use the new printed cotton for the lining as well, but then decided to use some plainer fabric from my stash. These polka dot printed cotton are from a set of fat quarters I bought 1-2 years ago.

I’m surprised how much they can hold! The big one holds my completed sweater. The small one easily holds my current WIP, a blouse/tunic. All 6 balls of yarn for the project fit in the small bag with ease.

I’m using some Rowan organic cotton for this WIP. It is quite lovely to work with… Very smooth with a dry touch. It is soft too, but not lofty. I’m hoping to have enough yarn for a tunic but I only have 6 balls of this yarn.

I have finally finished the neckband for this sweater and even found buttons in my stash for it! We are away in the countryside again this weekend so I didn’t have a chance to block it, but maybe next week?

The buttons I’m using are made from shells. They have been in my stash for years and I can’t even remember when I bought them!

This weekend had been gloriously sunny here. So we took L out to play on the lake, which is still very much frozen over.

L enjoys running around on the ice. But he enjoys being pulled around on the stiga even more! He would rush to the stiga and ask to be put on it when he sees the stiga being pulled.

Some random pic I took of a papery birch trunk. This papery quality is truly fascinating. The trees in Singapore have really thick and coarse bark.

Lichen on a birch trunk.

New buds popping out from under the snow.

L recently discovered the joy of swings.

Earlier today, we attended the birthday party of a little boy. One of his aunts made this absolutely awesome cake for him. Yes, even the train, monkey and giraffe! (Out of sugar paste.) How awesome is that?! The creator is this talented Finnish lady.

And now I shall get back to my knitting. Have a lovely week ahead!

Easter Weekend

We spent this weekend in the Finnish countryside again. But before we get there, here are some pics from last weekend, also in the countryside.

It was a beautifully sunny weekend, as it was the whole of this week until the weekend.

We went out for some fun in the snow. L and I were sitting on a stiga here. I was wearing a coat I’ve designed and knitted. I’ve never showed or spoke about the coat here because I was writing the pattern. That was before I was even pregnant with L and I don’t have time for writing patterns these days. Maybe soon? It is a nice design and I’m looking forward to having the pattern written up.

Here is L looking pretty stylish sporting his shades and a scarf I’ve knitted for HH.

The snow glittered in the sun. The snow was actually really thick, but the surface was iced over so we were able to walk on it rather easily.

On the way home.

A while ago, I sewed up some oven mittens. I didn’t show them before because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for my friend… These were her birthday presents.

Fabric cut up and ready to sew.

I used a forest-animal themed 100%cotton home decor fabric for the mittens. The lining is also a 100% cotton home decor fabric, but in a minimalistic black and white design. The batting used is a cotton one specifically for heat insulation. I placed double layer of the batting in the palm sides, because this friend handles really hot cast iron pots and pans and I know she will appreciate the extra protection. I quilted the batting onto the lining, but not the outer fabric because I didn’t want to mar the pretty print!

Some other interesting sewing…

I chose my first project for the pretty printed cotton I showed in the last post!

Fabric cut up and ready to sew. Can you guess what it is?

A padded camera bag!

I used some “buttonmad” buttons for this project.

Also used faux leather for the outer bottom, so the bag will (hopefully) not dirty too easily.

I also made a camera strap. I got the inspiration for the camera strap here. (There is a tutorial there!) I had received this really pretty silk scarf from a friend. But I really don’t ever wear decorative scarves voluntarily so I was pretty elated when I came across this tutorial!

This camera bag and strap took only one noon to plan, cut and sew up. It was surprisingly quick because L was cooperating.:)

I’m hoping that I will have some time to sew up some pretty project bags next week.

This Easter weekend saw all of us gathered at HH and TH’s home in the countryside. The weather was rather bleah, snow melting off and constant thick clouds. But we still enjoyed ourselves.

ML made this cute and yummy smoothie cake! It is like a no-bake cheesecake, but made with smoothie instead of cream cheese. Healthy and delicious!

I baked this braided cinnamon bun for Easter. It had been a while since I last baked a bun!

I also made a cake, this time trying out some new piping tips that AP had given me, for the ruffles. The cake was a white chocolate and lemon cake.

The decorations are made from dark chocolate, which I melted and drew out on a parchment paper and then chilled to solidify.

There were also chocolate bunnies decorations. The cream was coloured with cocoa powder.

I really like this ruffled style to dress a cake and foresee myself revisiting this style very often indeed!

And this is all I have to share this week. I hope everyone is enjoying their Easter weekend!

Scenic Weekends

We spent the last weekend in the countryside where M and L had lots of fun in the snow.

L in his sheepskin-adorned sled. How wonderful to be able to have childhood memories of fun in the snow! I had never seen snow until I was in my 20s and so sometimes wonder if my clumsiness on snow and ice is due to the lack of exposure from a young age.

I came across this pretty plant and was told that it is called a “dog’s pipe” here. When I got back, I found out that this is called “cow’s parsley” in English. No wonder it looked familiar, I had seen it on some really pretty knits!

It was a nice and relaxing weekend in the countryside.

But when we were preparing L for fun in the snow, I found out, much to my horror, that he does not have any woolen socks! Yes, his knit-crazy mother from the tropics had forgotten to knit him his own pair of woolen socks!

Of course I immediately set about the rectify that.

I’m happy to say that he has a nice pair of woolen socks this weekend! The yarn I used is Bergere de France’s Norvege in Sapiniere, which is a very deep and earthy green. I used a little less than a ball for this pair of socks for L.There is still quite a few balls of this in my stash and I think maybe a cardigan for L next Winter?

Look! I finally finished the sleeves! But I ran out of yarn for the collar (Even after shortening the sleeves to 3/4 length. Grrr…) and so have to wait for another ball of yarn to arrive…¬†I used Chinese yarn for this project, 2 strands held together, one lace mohair and one mink laceweight(if I remember correctly).

I steam-blocked it lightly to see if it helped the stitches relax a little, because it was a little too fitted in the sleeves (because I shortened it). Steam blocking did help it fit better and I’m hoping it will relax even more after a proper block, when I actually finish this sweater.

I recently ordered some pretty printed cotton from The Cotton Patch. The package arrived on Friday, to my amazement. It came so quickly and the fabric inside was such a delight! I ordered only very small amount of each print and am not yet quite sure what I will make of it… Perhaps a wallet? Or a patchwork bedcover? Or a project bag like these gorgeous ones (that unfortunately¬†goes¬†out of my budget after taking into account the shipping from another continent)?

My favourite has to be the stag, the crane, the Japanese floral and the orange leaves.

I can’t wait to choose a project and get to work!

Just yesterday, I made a mini bouquet for a friend who needs cheering up.

In fact, I think it cheered us both up!

That is all I have to share for this week…¬†Maybe next time I will have some pretty sewing projects to show? We’ll have to see how L cooperates.ūüėČ

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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