Monday, December 31, 2007

Re-entering the Winter Forest

Dear You,

How was your Christmas?

Mine was good. I had all my girls at the table the same time and that was the best part. Having them home makes me whole and content. I keep looking proudly at my big girls wondering where did they come from? And where did the little girls with long braids who believed in Santa Claus go?

The communicating between us these days happens by the cellular more and more and because of that I am very pleased to have received a new telephone. When I carry around my new small telephone, I feel like I have the girls safely stored inside the tiny precious piece of equipment. I have pictures there and can look at them whenever I feel like it by flipping it open and anytime I need to with one smooth press of a button I can reach them. I had a telephone earlier, but a very modest one (it made me look totally over the hill at times) and this one makes me very, very happy. Do you suppose the girls would like to live in a nice little cosy? Should I make one?

Are you feeling sick of overeating chocolate yet? I am. Right now I feel like I should give up chocolate for the entire year, but I know this feeling will pass, two to three weeks without cacao and I am totally recovered.

The year is coming to an end and I swear I have never before been this sick and tired of the darkness, kaamos as we call it. The days have been darker than dark. Now that January is here, it will get lighter and this is a fact and this has not changed during the past decades like the weather. It rained right after Christmas and I was looking at the white snow sadly turning into dangerous ice or melting into dreadful dirty puddles. It is getting a little colder now and hopefully the real winter will start. This is a second winter in a row when the weather has been very strange. I have been cleaning away the Christmas stuff already, feeling that the sooner I get them out, the sooner the spring with light will come. I felt that the huge tree was sucking up all the light.
Did I say that I would possibly never knit again? I did. Now that the pressure to knit is gone (I know, this does not make sense, since I set the pressure myself), I have been knitting. If I ever want to finish the Winter Forest sweater, the time is now. If I let this linger around, soon the spring sun will come out (yes, please!) and this dark and winter green will be out dated. I suppose I could revisit this next winter, but I can so picture myself not doing it and it would be a shame to leave this since I still like the sketch. If you remember, I did this once before (without the lace parts) and then it did not turn out well at all and now I’m hoping to be able to solve some of the problems. I will show you the differences when I get to them and you’ll see if I manage to upgrade the sweater. I knitted the first sleeve but ripped it right away when it was finished because the hem; it is giving me so much trouble. I keep looking at the sketch wondering just how many stitches the hem should have and since I could not find any solution I was satisfied with, I decided to flip around the pattern and start from the top. This way I can try this on after every increase bunch and think over.

The yoke construction was not easy to think before hand either. I have gone through the notes many times trying to figure out the problem rows where the yoke is separated into sleeves and the main part and then cast aside all the worries and thought that I just would go ahead and rip and re-think when necessary. I’ll see how this works out and you will be the first one to know.

I tried to knit this inside out and - thank you for your suggestion - outside out knitting inside instead of purling outside, but did not like either of these methods. I guess this old dog does not learn new tricks. As I have mentioned so many times that you must be sick of hearing it again, I love stockinette, I feel like stockinette just flows and flies from my needles and with this purling business I feel that I need to stop after every single stitch and this gives me a feeling of a battle. Even though a good fight every once in a while is a good energy booster and some yarns and patterns can really put up good resistance where my victory is not granted, right now I‘m not in the mood for that kind of a challenge. To solve this situation, I have slowed down, I cannot keep up my speed with purls, so I will perform every stitch like steps of Finnish tango, enjoying the love and hate and passion and now this seems to be working - if not fine, at least well enough. But don’t expect this to be done any time soon.

I have 500 grams of this green yarn and I have already started squeezing the yarn ball to find out how much yardage I can get out of one 100 grams and if I need more and if I should order it now instead of in the very end. I know I have plenty for a long ordinary sweater but if I want to make the hem wider, possibly a lot wider, then where do I stand?

It is New Year again. Do you experience any after Christmas emptiness or New Year fear?

As always I find it difficult to let go of the old year and to be able to do it; I’d like to give myself a better new one. I would like to write a mile long list of the things I want to accomplish the next year but knowing me they would be very difficult to keep – this I will say with no regret, only as a fact. I did write a list of the things I would do if I were not the real me but the imaginary me, but I guess there is no use of publishing that list. It was interesting though, it had all these things that I know would be impossible to fulfil and therefore I am not going to try even but that took care of the need to make promises. There could be a list for the things I’d like to accomplish in the field of various crafts this coming year, but that list could end up being a bit overwhelming too. I tend to set the bar so high that it is impossible to reach or to come even close. This much I will say though that I will thrive for better results and will fight to keep my creative spirit alive and busy enough.

Busy enough – meaning what, you might ask? You know me, if I would need to think and take care of myself solely, I would only cook hot water to make tea and eat nuts for dinner and burn my candle madly at both ends doing my various crafty things. I should say: busy enough for the family and me to stay healthy and sane. The line here is very, very thin. It is so easy to venture into the land of creative madness. Even after days of roaming in this land either without a clue of my whereabouts or after passionate but vein treasure hunting, only a short break with everyday routines and a good meal and I can’t wait to get back there as soon as possible and am constantly looking for a good excuse or a right moment to escape there.
That land offers great joys and deep failures, and not being able to go there at all would be a great loss. I need to find a good balance – every day. Luckily as the girls grow older and need me less, I can set out on my adventures more often. The dogs and the cat won’t mind as long as the food bowls are filled regularly and there is plenty of fresh water.

(I will put in parenthesis here that I would love to knit myself a little black dress one of these days, I’m hoping it will happen this year, but if not, I will not look at it as a failure.)

This transition from the old year into the new will go nicely now since I am settled in my Winter Forest. I won’t need to fret whether or not the new project it worthy of the New Year. When the first couple of days of January are gone the New Year will feel like an old acquaintance again and the nervousness of having a pure white page is gone. I like history and all the familiar old things, so unknown surroundings and circumstances are daunting and I’m a bit difficult to talk into anything new, even definitely good new things make me suspicious. After the unavoidable has happened, I will adjust quickly and don’t complain any more.

So now I will not look back, because then I feel sad to leave this good old year behind, and I will not look forward, otherwise I will get uneasy and stressed of the unknown future, I will just look at my Winter Forest and keep purling until this transition period is gone, and life will continue as usual.

I better close now, since this is getting to be a too long one now.

If you feel that you are in the threshold of something great and new and exciting, go for it with open heart and wide mind!

And if you happen to be feeling like me, a little bit nervous and uneasy of the big unknown, have the courage to step into the New Year with a firm belief that all the old and good and familiar things will be there!

Yours truly.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Take Joy!

I salute you.
I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not.
But there is much,
very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can
come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within
our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.
And to see, we have only to look.
I beseech you to look! Life is so generous a giver.
But we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering,
and you
will find beneath it a living splendour,
woven of love by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it,
grasp it,
and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty,
believe me, that angel's hand is thereThe gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.
Your joys, too,
be not content with them as joys.
They, too, conceal diviner gifts.Life is so full of meaning and purpose,
so full of beauty beneath its covering,
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage then to claim it;
that is all!
But courage you have,
and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together,
wending through unknown country home.And so,
at this time,
I greet you,
not quite as the world sends greetings,but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you,
now and forever,
the day breaks and shadows flee away.

~ Fra Giovanni ~

Wool with you all and see you in January 2008!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Trying to keep the Christmas Spirit alive

There is no denying that today I found myself standing in a queue in a crowded shop and did not have a drop of good will in me but forehead wrinkled was looking at the fellow shoppers... Came home exhausted and annoyed. I guess this was unavoidable and one day like this had to happen in this time of the year.

So when home did not turn the TV on, lit some candles, drank some orange flavored tea (my favorite at the moment), sat on the sofa, closed my eyes and listened to this...

I think I am fully recovered and in peace with the world again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Felted Bookmarks

I was wrapping Christmas presents earlier today and here is my present to you… I know you are not supposed to give presents beforehand but since this actually needs some action on your part, I will give it to you now. You might be already too busy with everything to be doing these little things but when you have the time and energy… and there is always next Christmas…

You will need some fleece, felting needle, cookie cutter, some yarn, wooden balls (I don’t know the right word for them, but you’ll get the picture when you see them), embroidery yarn and sharp needle with big enough eye to thread the yarn… hope I’m not forgetting anything… oh, yes, a soft surface for the felting.

If you are familiar with felting, skip all the words.

Best wool for felting is one that is not over processed, not too clean, and natural colours always felt easier. If you are a spinner, I’m sure you have plenty for this purpose and you probably have some that you do not enjoy spinning. Try it to this project.

Take the soft surface and lay the cookie cutter on top of it and then start layering wool inside the cutter while felting it with the needle. I layer almost as much as the cookie cutter is able to hold.

Then remove the cookie cutter, lift the heart from the surface and continue needle felting it from the sides too. I needle felt mine quite tightly because then they will hold the shape better when you wet felt the piece. Be careful with the needle, it is very sharp.
These two pictures above are needle felted hearts and ready to be wet felted.

When you are done needle felting, you need to do the proper felting with soap and water. Start with soap and very little water, almost only wet your finger tips and start massaging the surface softly. First be gentle but when you have felted the surface, you want to felt the inside and then press harder. Add soap and water and keep felting until you feel the piece getting firm and quite hard, it is not done before. This process cannot be rushed, it takes time but you’ll get there with patience. Then rinse well and set to dry.

When the piece is dry, add embroidery if you want to, twist some yarn into a cord and thread the cord through the wooden ball and then attach it to the felted piece. And you have made a bookmark. When you give a book to someone but feel that it needs a more personal touch, make a bookmark to go along.

And then if you want to get really creative, you can make a bookmark to support the story…Hope you enjoy this!

PS. Ellen, do share the recipe if someone is interested. The gingerbread cookies do not have any anis in them. The elves that I showed yesterday I made some time ago, two to three years ago?? And when I was younger, I don’t remember it being dark, sure it was, but never bothered me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Red therapy

Another dark day broke and I drove off to town - because of Christmas. I always dry to arrange the driving so that I would be able to do the trip in daylight but it is no longer possible, the day is just too short. Around four in the afternoon it feels like nine o’clock at night and all the afternoon I feel like putting the pj’s on and going to bed, by six I gaze at the time being sure that it's midnight. I feel like a blind mole underground most days.

I drive from the country where the world is wrapped into this black and silent blanket to town where it is merry and lively jingle bells with bright lights. The contrast is delightful but I feel relieved when the car pulls to the garage and its peace and harmony again – except for Tina who greets me with jolly barking.

I enjoy the colour red very much at this time of the year. The colours in the nature have died out long time ago and ever since the end of September the world has been quite dull, so red is very welcome. For these short few weeks the red spots in the house draw my eyes and I can’t get enough of the colour. I have read that red is supposed to bring up the blood pressure a bit, so serious red therapy is necessary that I will not fall into hibernation completely and therefore I have been embroidring red linen napkins. I'm sure this helps.All your supportive comments are treasured, thank you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


When I wrote the last post, I could not imagine such a warm response. After I published it, I turned off the computer hoping that too many of you would not be disappointed. I have been reading your comments and they have touched me. Thank you, I did not expect this at all and I do write this to you, not to myself, I have my bedside diary for me, so I’m glad you are out there reading. Thank you again to all of you. Heavy scent is lingering in the house at the moment, it is almost too heavy. I have been baking pepparkakor today. I myself don’t care for them very much, but I love to decorate them and they belong to Christmas. I could not imagine not having them at this time of the year. Everybody seems to be making them. They are served in every single coffeeshop and there is no way you can escape from them. So me too, I bake them and the kids and the dogs love them.

I make cats for Tina. It gives her a great pleasure to have one in the morning after a night in the hay. She and Mr Kille have very weak truce and frontier incidents are almost daily and each others food bowls are raided frequently. I try not to take sides but sometimes I do have to step in. Neither of them is winning although I suspect Mr Kille would if he wanted to. I would gladly make dogs for Mr Kille but he does not like gingerbread. Unfortunately I have not found any catnip dogs, just mice.

I usually make a gingerbread house too and this year is no exception. Here are the parts, this will again be a bird feeder filled with seeds (= candy). I only make one house a year and even though I’m quite old and have had some practice, this is always a bit tricky. Lets hope this will work out and I can post a picture of it some time next week.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New directions for the new year

I guess I do not need to remind you that it is only nine more days to the celebration. And in less than that the light starts to come back gradually.

Another year is coming to an end. I am looking back at the year and the various things that I made during it. I have been looking even further back at my work from the past years and wondering what is it that I’d like to do next year…

I quilted a lot few years ago. I have done some embroidery, always been interested in felting and done some. Spinning wheel has been sleeping for months without one single turn of the wheel. I have a little bead stash. Sewing cloths for the kids and myself was at the top of my list for a long time. There are toys, sewn and felted, dolls, cloth and porcelain, along the path. All the pictures from the girls early years are waiting to be organized and put into the albums and as long as I can remember some bits of those years I would need to write them down, I have diaries to help me with the parts that have escaped my memory. I keep looking at my loom longingly. Piles of paper and boxes of drawing pens are calling me. I have a pillow for bobbin lace, but have never done any. I have been collecting books to be read. I haven't touched the piano for ages. Maybe there is something totally new for me to discover yet. And only this one life for all of this - luckily in a few weeks there starts another new year!

I started knitblogging in 2005 and limited myself into knitting. I was a lot on the go so knitting was a perfect way to pass time while waiting and I’m quite happy for the things I accomplished and I did learn a lot. At the moment I don’t need to drive and wait. I would like to broaden my horizons and give myself an opportunity to do other crafty things as well. This realization is causing me a slight problem. My blog is a knitting blog and if I won’t knit that much now, there will be nothing to blog about. But even so, I want to be free from the limitations that no-one but me set to myself. For a while I thought that I would start year 2008 blogless because I must confess, I have been little tired of blogging for the most of the year and have tried to find the joy I had in the beginning, but so far have not managed and this I think must be due to the fact that knitting is not the only craft I want to spend my days with.

No, no, I am not saying that I will stop knitting completely and I suspect I will find the joy of it again when I set my spirit free but if I don’t feel the desire to knit, then I will do something else. And the knitting basket could end up collecting dust for months…What I am really trying to say here is that this blog is not a knitting blog any more. I will not put any label on it, I will do whatever I want to and next year I will write about something maybe once a week, or at least I try it for a while.

I know many of you come for the knitting and maybe now feel that there is not anything to see anymore. I thank you for coming here until today but totally understand if you leave now. I might feel that way myself too, because if you love something very dearly, you want to nurture the love and other things just might not touch your soul and since time is limited one can only spend that much time looking at the screen. And for those of you who want to come by and see what I’m up to, you are very welcome.

There is time for everything and once in a while life changes. This is nothing big, but I wanted to make this clear to you – and clear to me. This has been on my mind for a long time; I feel relieved and am very happy that I finally wrote this out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My advent calendar

Many of you have asked about my Advent Calendar.

I bought this few years ago. When the celebration is gone I close the little doors and store the calendar in a safe place and again take it out the next year. I love the little drawings inside the doors.

I am sure all my country men have recognized the calendar, at least my generation. This calendar was drawn by a Finnish illustrator and artist Martta Wendelin.

Martta Wendelin was born in 1892 and died in 1986. She illustrated children’s books and magazines covers but she also painted and did graphic art.Her pictures bring back images of my childhood and the world gone by. When my world was simple and life was easy, summers were endless and winters cold and snowy. When the girls played with dolls, boys played with trains and cars, mothers baked and fathers took care of their families. Maybe the world was not quite like that but that is what I want to see when I look at these pictures.
If you want to see more of her work, you can follow this link. When there, click Martta Wendelin -joulukortit and there you can see some of her Christmas drawings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


This is the Hálfskák from the book that translated into English is called Three Cornered and Long Shawls (ISBN 9979-70-032-7 - I bought my copy from the Schoolhouse Press). It is one of my all time favorite shawl books. The yarn is Alpaca with a twist and needle size was 3,5 mm. I made the wrap a bit bigger than in the book. I tried to get a good picture of it but for some reason most of the pictures ended up looking blurred. Being December and only few days left for all the stuff that still needs to be done, I did not have time to take the pictures again and from these detail shots it is difficult to put together a whole shawl.
I upploaded here a picture of this shawl when I did it the first time. I used handspun Shetland then and used several colours just the way it is in the book and the look is totally different. This really is a lovely shawl and I would not be surprised if I would knit it for the third time.
Now I will go and have a cup of hot tea and gather my thoughts before going to bed because tomorrow is another full day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little lace and some stockings

Some people hate stockinette but I love it with a passion. My new sweater has very little stockinette and thus does not keep me happy. See, there is a lot of purling going on. I have thought about turning the inside out to get to knit instead of purl but it feels a bit awkward to be having the right side in the inside and that being the case I have been occupied elsewhere…

The other day I was going through the few crochet patterns I have and that reminded me that there is a place for crocheting and it actually is quite nice. But being me I had to try crocheting with these.
And Amanda got a little lace edging to her underpants. (I know the lace is not perfect but with practice it will get better. I am going to crochet some more definitely.)
Little girls were promised new socks earlier and even though I had a temptation to give them as Christmas presents I know that the girls do not appreciate wool socks as such, so they'll have them as soon as they are done. I finished Amanda’s white merino stockings (need to sew in the ends yet) and knitted another pair with Appleton crewel wool. Both times used 1,5 mm needles and was thinking that I need to buy smaller ones.
The sight of the striped stockings taking a bath was too good to pass without taking a picture.
I still have not solved the purling issue with the Winter Forest, so I guess I need to find my happiness elsewhere. And besides, everybody is knitting socks at the moment.