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Waves

What a week! I haven’t been able to work on the pattern writing at all because I’ve been hit by a wave of babies! One of my friends here just had a pair of twins so I quickly whipped up something soft and cuddly.

A pair of ribbed beanies loosely based on the Basic Ribbed Beanie, but modified to be much smaller.


Also sewed 2 baby blankets. The fabrics used are fleece and a colourful printed gauze. I used the self-binding method again. I’m not very sure about the combination of gauze and flannel, but my aim was to make a blanket that is multipurpose… It can be 1) placed on the floor for the baby to crawl/roll around on, 2) used for swaddling, 3) used as (an oversized) burp cloth,  and of course 4) used as a blanket. Another bonus is that both flannel and gauze wash easily and dry really quickly!

While I was at it, I discovered “double gauze”fabric, which looks amazing and I’m really keen to get some to try out! It doesn’t help that the prints all look so pretty!! Unfortunately, it was difficult to find even printed normal gauze fabric locally, much less double gauze. The prettiest ones seems to be from USA, but I really try to avoid buying things outside the EU because of the customs paperwork, which isn’t so terrible except that it is in Finnish! So we shall see.:)


Apart from knitting and sewing for little twin babies, I’ve been doing a bit of painting as well. HH and TH liked the pair of Black Grouse I’ve painted (for the letterbox) so much that they asked me to do another similar painting. I was happy to comply!

This week, I managed to take 4 Me Made May outfit pics.


Handknitted cardigan (which I’ve been writing the pattern for, since before L was born! Maybe it will get done this year?), IngHer camisole (which doesn’t get enough credit for how often I wear it! I need to make another one.) and a KISS (tutorial) I’ve sewn up a couple of years ago (which also doesn’t get enough credit for how often I wear it!)


Handknitted Java Drops jacket and Xia top. This was actually one of the really rare occasions where I actually wore pants. I hate how the store-bought pants for my size are usually sewn for women with absolutely no curves… I may be kinda petite but I’m not a stick! Pants are constantly slipping down and also being too tight at the bum. I really have to give it a go to learn to sew pants!


A handknitted Rebecca Wrap, IngHer camisole and the same KISS skirt mentioned above.


Handknitted TienMiMi bustier/tank and a store-bought tulle dress. Not shown, but I also wore my Java Drops jacket.


News on my little garden, the seeds have sprouted! This year I planted some Bai Cai (Bak Choy), Cai Xin (Choy Sum), Thyme, Rosemary and Lemon Balm. The Chinese vegetables had sprouted really well and the Thyme was just beginning to sprout. The Lemon Balm is flourishing because I simply bought a potted one and re-potted it in a bigger pot.😀 Other residents in my balcony includes 4 Aloe Vera plants and 4 miniature rose plants. So far so good!

In the previous years, I had grown the Chinese Vegetables hydroponically. So I am curious to see how these will turn out this year.


I also decorated a cake today. I baked the cake a couple of days ago and stuck it in the freezer (so it is easier to work with when dressing. Of course, it will be given enough time to defrost before consuming!) I tried a new cake recipe for this cake (which is bigger than it looks.. If I remember correctly, it is 12″/30cm across!) and to be honest, am not so thrilled with this recipe.

For the dressing, I simply used my ruffle/petal tip (Wilton 104) along with a turntable. This is my current favourite way for cake dressing, because it is so quick for such a pretty effect! And of course, an ombre effect using freshly squeezed blueberry juice!

Because this cake is bigger than my usual 8″ cake, I decided to make a few smaller flowers on the top, rather than a big one. This was more difficult to do, simply because I had to position each flower at the center of the turntable for proper piping, which is tricky because the cake is big. It turned out well enough in the end though. Next step will be to transport it to the venue without smashing it.😄

We spent this weekend in the countryside again. This time round, we didn’t manage to spend much time outside. But in the brief amount of time I was out, I saw many flowers popping out! The north is ready for Summer!


This is from an apple tree full of blossom buds. There will be quite a few apples on this tree this Summer!


The wild blueberries are also blooming. In fact, most of the plants are full of raw blueberries already! I am looking forward to berry season.

So this was my week so far. The wave of babies is not yet over, though. There will soon be 2 more back home in Singapore and I’m hoping to make something useful and meaningful for them. But it is trickier because of the weather in Singapore… Maybe some baby kimonos in lightweight stretchy cotton?

Showers

We had been (finally) experiencing a more season-appropriate weather this week… Drizzly days with the occasional sunny bursts, sometimes both at the same time. With a slight chill in the air, perfect for wearing a wooly sweater without the need for an overcoat. So it is quite the perfect weather for MeMadeMay outfits for a knitter! And I had been wearing more of my handmade clothes, but haven’t been able to take pictures of them. (Because by the time we are ready to leave the house, L would be raving to go… He loves going out. So I didn’t even have the time to snap a selfie before running out!

Anyway, I’ve been mindfully paying notice to the outfits I chose for my MMM and so far, I’ve noticed loopholes and items that I often reach out for. Perhaps at the end of May I can write more about it.

So, the stitching continued for me this week. This is the outcome:

A squirrel, a sun, a fox and a tree. Funny enough, the squirrel is bigger than all the others.😄


It was a collaboration between me and JK. We made a hanging toy for a double pram for AP! JK found this Woodland Creatures Doll  by iManuFatti on Etsy and I decided to join in the fun to create a baby shower gift for AP. On Tuesday, we took a short trip to a local craft shop and bought the ribbon and little felt balls. Then we head over to my place armed with our ready-made Woodland Creatures dolls and began assembling the hanging toy.


The dolls slide along the ribbon and are kept in place by the felt balls that act as spacers. I am pretty excited to see this hanging toy in action!


Apart from the hanging toy, I managed to find some time to knit up a little sailor-themed accessories for the arriving bundle of joy!


I made sure to choose machine-washable wool, of course. I had thought of knitting cute outfits, but since the baby will be born at the beginning of (real) Summer here, I don’t think it will get much use.


I also sewed a pacifier clip to go with the hat and scarf. I absolutely adore this little anchor wooden clip!


JK and I then assembled a ‘diaper ship’ and loaded our goodies on it. The next day, I painted some flags for the diaper ship. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a decent pic of it but AP did and you can see it here!


I made a fruit tart for the baby shower… Just a basic Pate Sucre crust, blindbaked and then filled with pastry cream and topped with raspberries, blueberries and mango. JK baked a nutty zucchini cake that L actually sat down, on a real chair (no straps), from start to finish, to eat a slice of! He is only 1.5 years old! I deduce that he must really like that cake.😄 VP made her yummy-to-max pulled pork and heavenly chocolate cream pots too.


After working on the baby shower gift, I managed to find time to play around with some idea for sewing, while L napped. So far I’ve managed sewing the bodice… It was my first attempt at pintucks so I shall be lenient with myself and say they are very organic looking pintucks.😛 Spent the most part of this evening fiddling with the collar. Next will be to add sleeves and the “skirt” part of this top.


While I was sewing, L stole my machine cover and ended up catting in it. Pic is blurry because L kinda drove my phone crazy (he loves playing with it, unfortunately, and I don’t always catch him in time!) and I couldn’t get the camera to focus.


We spent this weekend in the countryside again, because it is tree-planting season so M went and gave a hand. The night before we left for the countryside, I managed to do this painting for a letterbox for HH. The birds painted is a pair of Black Grouse, which are common birds in that area. I used acrylic paint for this painting.


While M was out planting trees, I went for a little walk with L. He enjoyed most of the walk, stopping to pick up pine cones, stones and such.


L with a pine cone.I love standing at the side of this clearing and look at the trees in this forest. It looks so different but beautiful through all the seasons.

And that was my week! Well, the crafty bits of it at least. I had to give knitting a break this weekend because my left wrist was strained. I’ve been working on a pattern and might work on sizing it and should be able to get it test-knitted soon. I can’t wait – its been far too long!

Spring had finally sprung, right into Summer it seems! It was so sunny that I finally decided to wash our balcony last night, so we can spend more time there!

Because Summer weather is typically so short in Finland, when it actually happens, people swarm to beaches and into the nature. Also, outdoor cafes begin popping up all over the city.


M and I are not the outdoor cafe type, but we are the type that go into the nature! Earlier last week, we cycled to the nearby beach (over here, the beaches typically refer to beaches of lakes) with L. It was lovely to see all those buds all over the place.


L was all over the place so it was hard to take a pic with him… Oh, by the way, I’ve finally joined Instagram! You can find me there by the name of “Kessanlin”.


I decided to give the MeMadeMay thing a go… I am not able to participate every single day, because on some days I barely get out of my pajamas! On my first MeMadeMay attempt, I wore 3 knits – My Java Drops jacket, Andromeda tunic/dress and IngHer camisole under it.


Only one MeMade item on my second attempt – my TienMiMi bustier/tank.


Last week I tried a different kind of stitching… It had been interesting and quite fun!


Another different kind of stitching…


This is a Small Doily in Cream Colour. Mine is in an apricot pink though. The doily was coming out a bit bigger than I was aiming for, so I omitted one of the outer rows.


I cross-stitched a “H” freehand into the linen fabric because this was for HH. The weave of the linen fabric is so visible I didn’t need to put in gridlines.

For the lining of the pouch, I used 3 pieces of Ikea’s Finurlig. I was pretty excited to be able to match the print really closely, for the rose on the left side of the pouch!


Not any stitch, but I converted one of my small watercolour (practice) paintings into a card for my mom.


We spent this weekend in the countryside again. L had a lot of fun running around the summer cottage.


For Mother’s Day, I made a cake. It is a chocolate cake with bluberries.

Once again, I made the food colour using blueberries. This time round, I strained it so the specks will be smaller. It turned out much better this time round.

I’m hoping to get some gardening done this week (not that I have a garden, but I have a sunny balcony with morning sun!) and maybe start some seeds for vegetables. Also hope to finish some of those WIPs that had been hanging around too long! What are your plans this week craft-wise?

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.😛 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.😉


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!😉

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.😛 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.😉 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.😉 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!

*hooray*!

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!

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