Catching Up

Sometimes it gets quiet here because I’ve nothing crafty to talk about. But sometimes it gets quiet here because I’m too busy with the crafty stuff! I’ve been running around doing stuff so much lately I barely get to use my computer these days! We’ve been busy with packing for the move – my strategy is to do it bit by bit so it is easier on L and us, just a couple of boxes every week, starting with the things we do not need at the moment. Apart from that, I’ve been busy with sewing and knitting.. The birthday vest didn’t make the birthday but maybe it will make it for the wedding anniversary.😛

I also did some dyeing with some friends here recently. I went and got a second-hand pot for it (because I cannot justify wasting a perfectly good new pot for the occasional dyeing) but I’m not sure how I like how it is serving it’s purpose. I was in a rush to get out of the thrift shop (a restless L in tow) and did not see that it was an aluminium pot. The pot I used in Singapore was a stainless steel one and somehow I felt the yarn took up the dye so much better.

Here are some of the yarn we dyed. We tried out a gradient method and I love how it turned out!

The intense violet faded out to white with a marbled effect. This is AP’s yarn and I cannot wait to see how it knits up!

This is mine.. I did a manual gradient for mine, using the same colour. I really like the silvery lavender of the lighter shade. The pinks were experiments with koolaid. I was initially planning to use the pinks with the purple, but have since decided to use white with the purple. AP and I were planning to knit Sky Isle, with modification to knit it top down instead of bottom up. I have started mine but already have to put it on hold because of 3 rushed projects slotted in, 4 if I include the anniversary vest. Hopefully I don’t forget about this before I’m done with those projects… Once we are settled after the move and I have a proper place for my craft stuff, I really have to round up all those forgotten, wild and loose WIPs! I hate being this disorganised.

So I managed to take modeled pics of the finished double gauze dress. As you can see, it is fitted at the underbust, then flares out to an A-line skirt. The back fits very well. The bust gapes a little, but thankfully I’ve remembered to include a little insert. The 2 pockets are very handy, even if they do not hold much weight. Its nice just to put my hands in sometimes! I am glad that I did so much adjusting and trying on with the tissue cutouts before actually cutting the fabric for this dress. It really helps to check very well before cutting anything when it comes to sewing, which is a lot more unforgiving than knitting!

Here are some pics of the vest I whipped up a couple of weeks ago. It is still unblocked as I’m waiting to block it along with the anniversary vest. This vest was a cold case project – it is an updated version of my first ever (and only) published (in a magazine) pattern – Rose Red. It had been such a long time since I wrote that pattern and I hope that I have since improved at this designing/pattern-writing thing. I’ve noticed quite a few erratas from the printed version and intend to make a better version in both design and pattern, to be available in the near future. It is such a simple and quick knit – I finished it in a couple of days despite running around like a headless chicken most days.😀

The hat and vest together. I like how this vest, in this colour, works well in Summer outfits as well as Autumn and Winter ones.

Back view of the vest. I forgot to mention before, but the pattern I modified for the hat is the Starlight doily by Julia Hart.

So there was some sewing going on… Not garments this time, but baby quilts!

Yes! More baby stuff…

I practiced my free-hand machine quilting on these 2 baby quilts. I’m not really pleased with how the quilting turned out but it at least does the job of keeping the layers of patchwork, quilting and padding in place. So anyway, on this one I quilted a design of waves, currents and clouds, with a cable-y border that you can see very clearly. All free-hand and very ‘organic’.😉

This is the second baby quilt. Same as the first, freehand quilting that looks terribly organic.😛 I really like the prints of the fabric used in this quilt. The cheerful pink flowers on an aqua background is just the right amount of girly!

The quilting on this one is not so terrible that I won’t show here… I quilted a design of flowers in the center, flanked by 2 leafy vines, flanked by some stones. Border was some doodle-y line that reminds me of hearts.

Despite all that amateur quilting, the backing (which is the same one fabric as the ‘binding’ – I used my favourite self-binding method) is an absolutely delicious fabric. Soft, light, silky… Did I mention soft? I mean it! It is this fabric that I originally bought for another project, then changed my mind. I hope the babies will enjoy cuddling and snuggling up to this quilt, despite the hot Singaporean weather. Bad quilting is not visible when a blanket is all scrunched up, snuggled and cuddled.🙂

Another sewing project. Much more simple this time, more at my level.

It is a cover for a baby-carrier – a request from my sis. This is the tutorial I followed. I used a printed canvas, rather than quilting cotton fabric, for this so it will hold up to the tugging of snaps better. I did manage to mess up a bit with this straightforward project – I placed the elastic on the shorter side so it looked rather strange rolled up. So I went in with a seam ripper, unpicked and re-positioned the elastic. So if you do make this, be sure to check you have the right side before sewing on the elastic.😉

All these sewn projects are currently winging their way to the tropics as I type… SX, QQ and PS, if you’re reading this, don’t read any further or you’ll be spoiling your surprises.😉

So, since I was sending a big package, I decided to send along the Christmas stuff…. Yes, in August! I am not a commercial Christmas fanatic but to cut the story short, I had extra space and decided to send along some simple Christmas cheer in advance, so my friends (the mommies) get some treats too, and not just their lovely little babes.

I sent them a packet of Glögi each, with English directions on how to prepare this very Christmas drink. I  designed it and drew the cards with watercolour and marker. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull off glasses of beverages in watercolour, but I am surprisingly pleased with how it turned out! I didn’t quite get the hang of drawing Christmas-y designs in August, as you can probably tell from the summery blooms included.

On the other side of the cards, I decided to push my luck and paint some deers… This one didn’t turn out that well, as you can tell.😄 It was looking pretty awful and I tried to salvage it with line shading with my marker… It helped a bit. Then I decided to try adding some highlight on the deers’ faces. Hmm.. We have a chinese idiom for these sort of behaviour, literally translated: Draw snake, add legs.

Thankfully, only one side of the cards need to be facing up at one time.😉

Have you ever added legs to a snake painting (literally)?

That is all for this week. Have a lovely weekend!

Summer’s End

The long Summer days are beginning to get shorter here but a more detectable hint of the end of Summer is a slight chill in the air. I’m sure the actual temperatures have not changed much, but it feels like the balmy warm breezes have acquired a bit of a sharp crisp to it… I haven’t been in Finland long enough to grow tired of the seasons and I hope I never will!

I’ve finally bought buttons for the double gauze dress but it took more than a week to sew them on!

3 little buttons! I was looking for small and round golden ones but this was the closest I could find here.

I’m tempted to top-stitch around the neck so the facing will stay in place! Have you noticed the interlocked/serged edge to the facing? HH had graciously given me her serger a couple of months ago! It took a while before I could find an opportunity to get it out for a spin, but after a bit of a rocky start, I’m convinced this will come in very handy indeed! The serger and I got quite well acquainted in the process of sewing this dress.

I have put pockets in the side seams of this dress. But because I did not have enough of the double gauze, I sneaked in some of the leftover fleece from sewing my robe, which also happens to be grey! (Yes, I tend to like the boring colours like beige and grey…)

The invisible zip was actually added as an afterthought. When I first made the dress and tried it on, I realised that I had to take in the waist quite significantly for it to fit well. So I did just that. Then realised that it meant I had to really wriggle (actually, contort will be a closer description!) to get in/out of the dress! An amateur mistake, but I’m happy with the lessons learnt. This is also the first time I managed to sew an invisible zip in invisibly!

One of my favourite part of this dress is the lace trim I’ve added to the hem. It isn’t terribly noticeable but I like the cottage style it brought to the dress. I had arranged the layout so that the selvedge edge of the fabric ends up at the hem of the dress but I might got back and re-sew it because I’m not too fond of the way it is puckering now. I’ve washed the fabric before cutting and sewing, but it seems to have changed/shrank when I put the sewn dress through the wash again!

And this is it. I’ve learnt quite a lot in the making of this dress (I forgot to mention before, but I did not follow any pattern for this dress)… I hope to put it to use a few times before putting it away for the Winter.

I’ve not been very diligent in updating about my FOs… For example, this hat:

I finished this many weeks ago but never found the opportunity to take proper pics of it. And even when I did, L was running around my legs. I suppose it must look quite funny to see mummy standing so still in a corner, running back and forth and such! Anyway, back to this hat.. I crocheted it out of Bergere’s Coton Fifty. I modified a lace doily pattern for this and winged the brim.

It may not seem obvious, but this is a soft hat! Which is probably why it took so long to get about taking pics of it… I have to put it on it for it to look like anything, or else it is just a floppy flat pile of threads! I have considered starching it so it will have a crisper shape, but now the Summer season is almost over, I’m thinking maybe next year instead. The brim stays up because I’ve worked a rubber-coated gardening wire into the last round of the brim. It works well and is mould-able, which is always a plus, but the join is fiddly and I’m considering changing it out for a plastic millinery wire. Well, we shall see!

Have you noticed the knitted vest I wore in the picture above? It is the latest FO! I took pics of it but the pics didn’t turn out clear (plus it was, and still is, unblocked) so I will talk more about it when I have better pics! I have another FO under my wing too, but that one will have to wait a bit longer because I’m trying to write the pattern out for it. It is difficult because the only time I actually get to myself is when L sleeps, which isn’t much at all! But at least I can knit a bit these days even when he is awake. I’m currently knitting a birthday vest for M and it is about a third done. It has cables and while I like how it looks, I’m not a fan of knitting cables (blasphemy, I know!). M picked the design and approved the yarn/colour but doesn’t know it is for his birthday… I want to make sure at least he will use (and enjoy using) it after the work I put into knitting it!

We recently brought L on his first boat trip ever. We visited this little island nearby (if you remember, a historic building on it caught fire the last time we attempted to visit the island!) and spent a nice hour grilling sausages and looking around. L kept trying to step into the water, even when we were in the boat! Hopefully next time we go on a boat, he will be more used to the idea that one does not just walk on water.😄

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Summer Daze

Nothing much to share except for this dress I’ve sewn up  using that double gauze fabric… Which had indeed softened up a great deal and is every bit the soft and comfy fabric I thought! I have also noticed that it seems to pill too, even though it had only been tried on for fit!

I still need to find and sew on buttons. Then I will write more about it.

My love for Singaporean chicken rice had recently resurfaced with the  abundance of spring onions in the market here. Though I believe we are chicken-riced-out for the moment.😛

Also nice for Summer – Tiramisu! So easy to make and such a refreshing little treat in hot weather.

Just today, I dressed a chocolate cake I’ve baked for a friend’s birthday celebration. I had picked a little more than 1kg of raspberries this past weekend and made jam out of it last night. But I kept some of the prettier ones for dressing up this cake, which I also filled with thin layers of raspberry jam and cream. Raspberries and chocolate are a match made in heaven, don’t you agree?

We’ve been spending time in the countryside and L had been enjoying running around as well as swimming in the lake. Though he can’t really swim yet (he is only 1.5 years young, afterall) he likes splashing around. Quite the bundle of energy, as you can see from the motion blur in this pic!

Its a good thing M plays with L because I certainly don’t have the energy for that!

Hopefully more to share soon, though I foresee the upcoming couple of months to be kinda busy as we prepare to move! Hope everyone is having a nice Summer so far!


Today we will be doing it a bit differently… Today we will go in reversed chronology!

My week ended with us popping in to a knit festival. Unfortunately, I did not sign up for any of the classes (even though they were in English, which is super awesome!) which turned out to be a fortunate thing after all, because I would’ve had to skip it since it turns out we had something on in the countryside this weekend.

So, the knit festival! I got to meet some terribly sweet alpacas!

They were seriously the sweetest animals I’ve seen so far… Despite their size, which is like that of a pony, they were as meek as lambs and had the cutest little voices. After thinking about it for a long time*, I tried petting one of them and oh, so soft, fluffy and warm!

*They are bigger than most animals I encounter. I was also worried about stressing them out, but they seemed happy enough.

Here the 3 little alpacas were being very interested in 2 little dogs passing by.

L was interested in the alpacas for maybe 5 minutes. Then he was more interested in climbing up and down the stairs.

Towards the end of the excursion, M brought L over and told me someone gave L a little wooden butter knife!

The wooden butter knife is sitting on the yarn I bought at the knit festival… I told myself I would not buy more than 1 item, mostly because I already have a big stash and also because we will most probably be moving soon. (I’m looking forward to the move very much, especially if it means more storage space out of L’s reach!)

So, the yarn I chose in the end is Colinette’s Parisienne in Jay, a deep teal with tonal variegation. I do not typically go for variegated colours, but this one don’t seem like it will go nuts on pooling.😉 I also had my eyes on 2 new-to-me indie dyer, La Bien Aimee and Snail Yarn. They had such gorgeous colourways and delightful bases! If I remember correctly, Snail Yarn’s booth had set out some skeins of yarn that was the same colourway on 2 yarn bases, a lace mohair and a BFL, side by side. Imagine the possibilities! Won’t it be so interesting to knit something that has the same colourway but alternates between the 2 very different bases?!

The rose here was from HH’s garden, which is flourishing despite the cloudy/rainy weather we are having. And you haven’t heard much about my ‘garden’ because once again it did not work out. The diagnosis from VP (who has the greenest thumb I know of) is that there is simply not enough sunlight in my balcony and I suppose the cloudy weather was the last straw for the poor plants. Maybe next Summer I will be able to try in a much better location?

This weekend in the countryside had been busy. The autumny weather we’ve been experiencing had brought up a good crop of mushrooms! As a result, I have collected and dried enough mushrooms for the next year at least!

Yes, this much! (It might not seem terribly much, but mushrooms become really compact after being dried, so believe me when I say there is a lot of mushrooms in there!)

I chanced upon many young mushrooms that are in excellent condition. Here are some of them sitting on top of my new DPN set!

Yep, I decided to get a set of DPNs, because the ones I have are either missing, broken or the wrong size. These came with their own bag, which I have found from experience to be very useful in preventing them from getting lost, since I will always put them back in their spot after using them. The size printed on the sticks are pointless though. The ones I’ve (barely) used are already all rubbed off. In case anyone is interested in these, they are the knitpro Dreamz DPN set.

Back to the mushrooms. I spent a long time cleaning, slicing and drying them. The mushroom here looks bad but it is simply an orange birch bolete and they tend to stain blue/black when bruised, ultimately turning black when cooked/completely dried.

These are the mushrooms I dried in round 1. Thankfully, HH has a dehydrator which I could use in the cellar, because if not the whole house would be stinking like a wet dog.😛

I collected mushrooms in 3 total rounds. These are the loot from round 2. I stuck with the mushrooms I am familiar with, mainly the orange birch bolete, but sometimes the Bay Bolete, Porcini and Pine Bolete. I did not clean these boletes on site because I didn’t bring the mushrooming knife on the first 2 trips – I was not planning to go mushrooming; I was only walking L and putting him to sleep when I saw the big floppy hats of boletes beckoning me from the forest. Ironically, when I finally set about to go mushrooming in round 3, I did not find many mushrooms, only about 5.

These are the ones from Round 1, shown with HH’s mushrooming knife at the far right.

My favourite are the orange birch boletes. I love their vibrant orange caps!

Here is what I meant when I said ‘big floppy hats of boletes’ in the forest! Boletes tend to grow really big, but the big ones are usually not suitable for harvesting because they are full of worms! But they sometimes lead to younger and smaller boletes that are in good condition.

Like these!

By the way, those splotches on my fingernails are nail-art roses.

Apart from boletes, the forest was full of other interesting fungi.

And moses.

And clover patches!

And unfortunately, mosquitoes! I was almost eaten alive by the swarms of mosquitoes. That is probably my least favourite thing about the forest! The mosquitoes here are different from in Singapore… They are bigger so you can actually feel them when they bite! And the bitten area remains affected for many days. The ones in Singapore are like ninjas. You barely see them and don’t usually realise you’ve been bitten until it had flown off. Thankfully, the mosquitoes here don’t seem to carry diseases though!

These rocks are covered in the thickest layer of moss I’ve ever seen. Truly fascinating place! I’ve climbed up these rocks once, many years ago, with M (there was a dog barking non-stop up there and we thought someone might be hurt, so we went to check with TH).

And that is it for this week! Quite an eventful week, though not too much achieved craft-wise. Now I should pop off to bed. Have a great week ahead and I hope you’re having less rain than us!

On and Off

That seems to be the theme of this Summer! It had been raining most of the past weekend and last week’s productivity was not carried on to this week. The only crafty thing worth a mention was this little scented pouch:

A little pouch filled with real lavender flowers, grown in the garden of a friend’s friend. Dried, of course. But with an amazingly strong scent!

I sewed the pouch, then filled it (with filling and the dried flowers. Filling it completely with flowers would’ve created a scent bomb. It was that powerful! I had to keep the dried flowers in a sealed plastic bag.) Then I crocheted around the border with a really tiny hook… Tiny enough to act as a needle to pierce through all 4 layers of fabric.

By the way, if the fabric looks familiar, it is because this is the remaining fabric from the cheongsam I sewed to wear to L’s christening.

For this border, I did a row of sc,
followed by a row of 1 dc+2 ch over 3 sc-s,
followed by a row of “2 ch + 1 dc” 4 times in the same st to create the lacey scallops,
followed by 1 sc+3 ch+1 sc in every space to create the picots. Also made a long chained strap for hanging it.

I made this for HH but I intend to make a couple of simpler ones and put it in our closets. It is a great little gift idea and quick weekend project.

Something else exciting, craft related. I finally bought some double gauze to see what the fuss is about! The grey fabric is the double gauze and I bought it from Maud’s Fabric Finds. The green fabric with giraffe print is a flannel intended to become something for L, also from Maud’s Fabric Finds. While the fabric are lovely, (and the service speedy and fuss-free), I was a bit disappointed when I first felt the double gauze. Perhaps because I had expected it to be impossibly soft and fluffy-like. Almost like a cloud. But I thought perhaps it will get softer after a round in the wash, like some yarn will bloom beautifully after a quick soak. So I put it through the wash and the fabric did feel better. But still not as amazing as I thought it would be. Well, let’s see how it fares being sewn and worn! I don’t really have an idea what it will become, but most probably a dress.

I shall end this short post with a pic of L eating his way through the blueberry shrubs. This baby is turning out to be quite a blueberry fiend!

Have a lovely week, everyone!

As the title suggests, this week had been wonderfully productive! I managed to do a bit of sewing and a bit of knitting too. Nothing much to show for the knitting yet, but I have sewing FOs! (Yes, plural!)

First up, this little caftan that had been laying around for far too long. I was following a creativebug class but it was turning out simply huge for me… I was literally swimming in the swaths of fabric! New lesson learnt: there is a limit to how loose a loose-fitting garment should be, especially on a petite figure. The sizing thing is a common problem for me though… The smallest size available is still too big for me. It is one of the reasons I typically don’t use sewing patterns. It is not that I am that petite, but (as I’ve discovered in recent years) because my ribcage is ridiculously small.

But I digress.. So I finally bit the bullet and cut off a huge chunk from each side of the caftan, adding a bit of curved shaping as I go. Thankfully it seems to have worked and now this is almost done… I just have to add belt loops so the tie creates an empire waist cinching rather than around my natural waist. I find that empire waistline is not only more comfortable, but also more flattering for my body shape.

The neckline is modified from the one taught in the class. This is because the fabric I used came with a really pretty border that I wanted to incorporate into the neckline. It took be a while to figure out how to make it work. In the end I attached the printed border like a facing, but instead of sewing it to the inside, I flipped it and sewed it to the outside. It took a lot of fiddling, especially how it connects to the back (resulting in a sailor-scarf-ish look), but it seems to have worked out well in the end.

Because I shaved off a really big portion off each side, I created loose dolman-shaped sleeves to maintain the drapey sleeves without being overwhelmed by the excess fabric.

This is how it looks on me. I usually wear some shorts under it, though it is slightly longer than my shorts. I really like the end result and foresee myself wearing this a lot this summer! And future summers to come.

Next up, my summer robe!

I tried to find the same print as the flannel I used for M’s summer robe, but could not find anymore of it. (By the way, I have discovered the name of that print, in case anyone is interested! It is from the Jungle Ave collection.) So I got the closest print I could find – white, grey and pink polka dots on a grey background.

It matches my current nails! This was unintentional and I’ve only just discovered it when I was taking the pics! I used mostly french seams for this robe too.

I added pockets to my robe because I use those a lot.

The belt was made by folding a long strip halfway in twice, then sewing along the open side. When I was cutting out the main piece, I did it such that one of the selvage is at the bottom hem. So when I was hemming the robe, I only had to turn it up once. This idea to make use of the stabilised property of selvages was actually learnt from my mom, who was (very briefly) a tailor. She told me (many years ago) that the selvage sides should be reserved to use for attaching zips whenever possible.

Here is both M and I in our summer robes. I have discovered, in the making of these robes, that flannel is probably my favourite fabric to work with! It is soft, cushy, not slippery, easy to pin, not terribly thick and very forgiving… It is like the wool of sewing!

I made my robe’s sleeves a bit shorter for practicality. It helps to not have to constantly pull up my sleeves when I’m doing things in the mornings and evenings.

I managed to make another KISSkirt as well this week.

In fact, I wore it today when we took L out to the playground. I paired it with my TienMiMi knitted top today. This KISS is actually more narrow than my usual ones*, as a result I have to make it no more than knee-length because apparently I take quite big steps.😉

*I made it narrower because I like this fabric so much, I want to make a top out of it too!

The last bit of sewing was just a small modification of an existing garment. (Wrong side shown.) This was a thrifted wrap-style top that turned out to be too big for me. It sat in my wardrobe, unused for at least a year (for “when I gain some weight”) before I thought of bringing in the sides. I sewed down the sides in a stretch stitch, reducing the circumference by about 5″. Now it fits better, although it is still a bit big!

This week I also tried a new recipe shared with me by a Costa-Rican friend. It is a Brazilian Flan and it turned out simply delicious! This uses very few ingredients and is pretty easy to make. Plus, it is a chilled dessert and so very suitable for Summer. I used only 1 can of condensed milk and half the milk (since my pan was smaller than the one in the recipe) and it was borderline too sweet. So those who do not like their dessert very sweet should consider using even less. I used my bundt pan for this and it worked out pretty well. Also, instead of a water-bath, I simply baked it in a lower temperature, around 130 degress Celcius. Definitely making this again!

All in all, this had been a lovely week. I feel so much more relaxed and sane because I could squeeze in more crafting now that L’s new routine is clearer. It is amazing how much crafting helps me relax and feel happier! Hopefully the coming week will be just as productive. Have a lovely week ahead everyone!

Midsummer Weekend

This past Midsummer weekend had been exceptionally uneventful. Apart from surviving a storm of mosquitoes, it was all very pleasant and… uneventful.😀

As such, I have nothing much to share apart from some pics of the traditional Midsummer bonfire:

Pile of branches for the Midsummer bonfire, by the lake.

The weather was surprisingly glorious that day. Usually, midsummer is (ironically) quite cold and rainy. If I remember correctly, it even hailed last (or last x 2) Midsummer!

Can you believe it, half the year gone by already!

L was watching a volleyball game where M and ML played with some family friends. He started cheering out of the blue… Somebun had been watching too much football recently (there is some European Championships going on at the moment and M had been watching most of the matches!) but nonetheless, it was very funny to see him raise his little baby hands and jump around shouting “yay!”

I’ll end this boring post with a pic of our dinner yesterday… I tried out a new recipe that KnittedBliss linked recently. It is a garlicky summer pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes and basil. I modified it by adding some stuff so it is not just pasta and some tomatoes… I fried some bacon and then cut them into little pieces and tossed it with the pasta… Pan-fried some chicken breasts and then sliced them up to serve at the side. Roasted some garlic along with the tomatoes. And because I made a very big lot of it at one go, I added a pack of crushed tomatoes to the pasta as well. The garlic breadcrumbs was interesting… A nice little touch! It is a tasty and light pasta dish for Summer and we will probably make this again. But M said he still prefers the typical sauce I make for pasta.😛


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