Monday, 31 December 2012

Recap on the year 2012

This evening is New Years Eve. 2012 will end in a few hours and 2013 will start. I'm sure the year 2013 will be as fun and even more productive than the 2012. I do feel very proud of what I've achived on the year 2012. I made small collages of the main events from 2012. Looking at the pictures makes me both amazed of all the things I've finished and at the same time I feel so baffled that it's already been many months since these projects were done. To me it feels like I finished them just yesterday.

(7) Abaqus

(15) Apple cider and wine
(17) Himmeli

Hope you have a sensational New Year 2013!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

I wish you all peaceful Holidays.
In Finland the Christmas is celebrated today. Me and my sister will go to my parents. Also my grandparents will join us. We will enjoy dinner together this evening and open some presents later.

I might make a post before the New Year but if I don't I hope you have a happy New Year 2013.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Icelandic gardigan

When we were in Iceland year and a half ago I saw that (↑) Icelandic gardigan on a rack in a shop. It was hand knitted, fairly modern, a gardigan - not a pullover, from soft yarn, it was just really lovely. And it cost 300 euro. Outch.

So I didn't buy it, but I thought I can make one (hence I took the picture of it). I knew I would knit something anyway so I might as well do this. On September I finally started to knit it. I did not find any exact pattern from the web. I did find some similar ones with much thicker yarn and different pattern on the shoulders. But based on those I calculated a new pattern which you saw here. I estimated the amount of yarn I need and got to work.

I used Drops Alpaca yarn. I'm used to knitting with wool so the alpaca at first felt really silky and bit slippery to knit, but I got used to it quite fast. I knitted the sleeves and the middle part surprisingly fast untill the pattern for the shoulders started. Knitting with three different yarns turned out to be really slow. I can not remember when was the last time I had done a colour knit. I did not remember I was so slow at it. It took me quite some time to finish the rest of the cardigan. I even started knitting another thing in the middle of the project, because I needed something simpler. But eventually I did finish the Icelandic gardican and I love it, it's almost exact copy of the one in the shop, it's light but warm and just lovely. The first few rows of the colour knit are a bit poor quality, I should have practised with some test knit before hand, but I did not bother. So now the thread that runs in back pulls slightly, but I don't mind about it that much. I'm so happy about the gardigan, I jumped up and down when I had the gardigan on for the first time.

And I would not sell it for any less than 300 euro.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas flowers

I took a Christmas flower workshop on Monday evening. One fellow student from a Simplify 101 workshop had took a similar flower arrangement class few years back in her own town and country and said it was one of the nicest ways to get in the holiday spirit. Inspired by her example I found a flower workshop in Helsinki in Gardenia. I signed up for the workshop already in the end of October.

We were allowed to take our own pots and decorations with us. I took one pot and one vase, I figured I will have time to make only two. In the end I had time to make three so I had to buy one more pot from the workshop, which was a bit dull, because I really don't need any more pots. There was not much teaching on the workshop, the teacher told the very basics but nothing deep. I think I could have been interested in bit more knowlegde about the actual arranment making, but I think most of the student were just interested in doing. But what was very excellent on the workshop was that there was a big variety in plants that we could choose from and there were huge amounts of different ribbons and wires and pine cones and all types of decorations. In home I could never have such a variety.

I tried to make a bit more modern arrangements, many there made very traditional ones which of course were really nice, but not so me. Also it was really good that on the workshop the plants didn't cost awfully lot. So the cost of the material and flowers didn't really turn us down. I really like my arrangements, especially the one in the white pot and the one in the concrete pot. The one in the vase is maybe a bit too simple, but I love the Christmas rose and I had to have one for this holiday too.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Geometrical tree ornaments

I mentioned these tree decorations last week already. These ornaments were inspired by the Himmeli. When I googled some inspiration for the Himmeli I found also modern geometrical art installations that had used plastic straws, glass and metal pipes. Those were big things, which were magnificient but I wanted something smaller. It occured to me that I've seen in craft shops long bugle beads, those seemed like the perfect material to make himmeli style tree ornaments.

So I made three tree ornaments, I started with one where I used a standard octahedron shape as a base and added to it with even longer bugle beads a triagle on all the sides. On the pyramid shape I have five octahedron shapes on top of each other. Finally I made the star. It's not my favourite, it does not seem to stay in shape that well, but it's still quite nice.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dipped candles

We made candles with my sister. I've previously made candles using molds but those have never been a huge success. Those were not difficult to make but they did not burn well, they smoked and the melted wax run everywhere. This time we made the candles by dipping and I must say that even though it was bit more laborious to make them this way it was worth it. They burn really well and don't run.

First we prepared our dipping settings. We covered the floor with plastic and old sheets. We took two dining chairs and placed two brooms on them. Then we used flower stakes for the dipping, which we hung on the brooms. The dipping vessel, which I got from cafereria at work, was placed on a stool that I covered with an old T-shirt.

I had collected leftover candle ends and candles that had killed them selves by melting so much wax that the wick drowned. We divided these to almost white ones, red ones and lilac ones, because those were the colours I happened to have most of. I read from the web that making candles by dipping is slow, but I assumed the dipping itself would be slow, I never realized that the dipping was quite fun and time seemed to fly, but waiting for all the leftover candle ends to melt was really slow!

The candles were on a metal bowl on top of a pan of boiling water. I think it took almost a half an hour for the first batch of candle wax to melt. At least felt like that, it was so boring. But once it did melt we poured it through cheese cloth to the dipping vessel which was almost full of hot water.

But then the dipping started. And it was a lot of fun. The candles got bigger and bigger so easily. We dipped ones then left them on the rack to harden, dipped another one and that is how we proceeded. When it seemed like there was not enough white wax on the vessel to make all the candles thick enough, we consentrated only on few candles and dipped them until they were nice size. Next we melted the red candle ends and added them to the vessel. We dipped in the red wax the rest of the white candles that were not yet thick enough.  Once in a while we added hot water to keep the wax warm and to keep the wax level high.

Of course we immediately had try out one candle. It was suberb. It burned so well. I've got to say we were pretty pleased with ourselfves. The pointy end of the candles was cut of to the wick. One tip: the pointy end is easiest to cut off while the candle is still bit soft, once it has hardened the cutting gets much more difficult. Once that is removed the candles can be again hung to harden.

Once we had done those colours we still decided to make the lilac ones too. It was maybe a bad choise, since there was so little of it that we were only able to make four candles from that and it was really dull to make because after each dip we had to wait for the wax to harden in between dips. Also the water in the dipping vessel had got bit colder and the surface on the candle got a bit wrinkly and bubbly. One time we dipped the candles too quickly and the wax started to slide down from the wick because of the heat. Also because the lilac was mixed with some other almost lilac wax and there was still some white wax in the dipping vessel the colour of the lilac candles did not end up to be very pretty. To tell the truth the lilac candles remind a bit of a certain manly body part. So I decided to burn them away immediately. But if one ignores the assosiation those too are very functional candles.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Welcoming wreath

Again I made a wreath for our front door. I made it exactly like I made it last year. After the snow storm few days ago I went to the near by park and searched for fallen branches. It was a bit difficult to find them since there were so much snow but I was able to find two biggish branches and few tiny ones. They were just enough to make one wreath. In the wreath I have now fir and pine, I like the combination. Again I have no decorations in the wreath. I was thinking of searching some pine cones, but had too much trouble finding the branches already so I sort of forgot about the cones.

There is some renovation underway in the front yard, in case you are wondering about those planks. We had the front yard open and some pipes were replaced. Now all the holes are closed with gravel but the front yard is still a mess. Because of the snow the workers will return in spring to finish the landscaping work. It's bit dull to have the front yard so messy, but it's not a big deal.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Himmeli inspired earrings

Before I get started on the earrings I need to mention that first the Himmeli inspired me to make Christmas tree decorations. I have done the decorations and those turned out really cool, but I want to photograph them in an appropriate environment. Since I don't have a Christmas tree yet I want to get a branch from outside for the shooting or then actually go outside to shoot (which will be cold and dark). I don't really see why I want to go through all that trouble just photographing some decorations, but I do. 

After I had done the tree decorations I had some material still left. Also I had some earring hooks at home. I used glass tube beads, similar to these, and silver coloured thin wire. Those were really simple to make but they make a big impact. I like them a lot.

Freakingly difficult to get a photo of your face without showing your face by the way.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Winter storm

On Saturday morning we woke up to this

We had a bit of a storm on friday and saturday night. And we got some more snow. Also wind was hard and the fluffy light snow formed into dunes. On Saturday our home was inside of one of those dunes.

To us the snow did not do any harm and later on Saturday we were able to chill the white wine in the snow dune. Handy.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Snow and lights

It is snowing as a I write this post. Snow is the ultimate reminder that it is now winter. And since it's winter it is appropriate to put up some decorational lights and light the candles.

I've usually hung a string of lights to the livingroom, but since there is already the himmeli, glowing orbs and other winter decorations I thought of adding some ambiance to the office. I was planning to hang the string of lights better, but I placed it on top of the floating shelves while I was pondering how to attach it to the wall, but then I kind of liked the lights just randomly placed there on top of the shelves. So I left it as it was.

I must mention that I have spent a lot of time in the office after the renovation there was finished. I love the office. I'm really pleased with it, I'm really happy I can do my crafts there. Also the livingroom is easier keep neat when my craft stuff is not on the dining table but in the office. So redoing the office was a huge success.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Himmeli holiday decoration

Himmeli is a traditional Finnish holiday decoration. It is a mobile made from natural straw that is kept together with thread. It has been also modernized and now days Himmeli can be also made from plastic drinking straws or glass pipes and other decorations can be added to it.

I had wanted to make a himmeli for years and I even had bought a packet of straw long long time ago. This year I finally did it. It was not difficult to make the himmeli. I had assumed it would be more difficult since here those are thought highly of. This particular one took me only two evenings to make. In this site is a good picture set showing how to make the basic octahedron shape of the himmeli.

I needed to get more straw in the middle of my project, but the new straw I bought was a lot more thick than the older one. I'm a bit disappointed by the quality of the straw I got. The old one I had was beautiful and slim and the himmeli in those parts is light and airy. But the parts made with the newer straw are thick and heavy looking, nothing as nice as the slim parts. Next time I make a himmeli I need to be more aware of the quality of the straw when I buy it. Still I'm really happy I made one, I think it's beautiful.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Stitch markers

Wednesday I visited Piipadoo blog, they had been to a crafts fair and had taken some photos of cool knitting stuff. On few photos there were products from a company Succaplokki and they have an Etsy shop where they sell stitch markers and other knitting accessories. I did not have to browse long till I noticed that I would like to buy all their stuff!

But I contained myself and realized I can make stitch markers on my own and I also realized that I have all the equipment already in home to make them. I noticed that I was sort of irritated that I had not realized that earlier. I cannot even count how many times I've stood on the knitting accessories aisle on the local super market and pondered if I should buy the plastic round markers. But I never did buy those, I thought the ones in the super market were too ugly for what they cost. The Succaplokki ones are beautiful and fun though but those made me realize I can also do them.

I used some beads and wire I had at home. I still like the Succaplokki ones more, but at least now I have stich markers. I'm thinking of buying the owl earings from the company. I like odd earings, I have actually quite a collection of weird ones. I don't have radish earings like Luna Lovegood, but that would be just my cup of tea.

Also linking to My Creative Space

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hair brush cleaning guide from a pro

My grandmother was a hair dresser, now she has been a pensioner for a long time but still she is the one who cuts my hair. I've never been to any other hair dresser in my life. Ever since I remember every time we visit our grandparents my grandmom has had a clean hair brush for us to use after the sauna and we visit there often, especially we did when we were kids. She seems to still have pride in her old profession which I highly appreciate.

My grandmother always used natural brushes and so do everyone else in my family. I have never learned to like the plastic or metal brushes, they hurt my scalp and tangle on the hair. I don't clean my hair brushes very often, at least not as often as my grandmom, but when I do clean them I clean them just as my grandmom does.

All hair is removed from the brushes using a thick comb. Then the brushes are washed, to do that I run luke warm water in a sink and add to the water some shampoo, soap or other mild cleaning product. I let the brushes sit in the soapy water for a minute, not longer because the wood might expand from too much soaking. Then, since I have two hair brushes, I brush them against each other to open the space between the bristles and get the gunk out. If you only have one hair brush, use a comb or hand to do that. Then I just rinse the hair brushes clean and let then air dry.

Also my grandmother always says that hundred strokes (or is it sweeps?) a day with a hair brush keeps hair looking healthy and clean. Oh and that everyone should eat chaulk, that according to her keeps hair looking good. I obviously don't do the hundred strokes a day, I only brush my hair before and after I wash it. I brush before with the red hair brush so my hair won't clog the drain and after with the wood toned one so the hair does not end up all shaggy when it's dry. And I don't eat chaulk either. But don't tell my grandmom.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Cruising to Saint Petersburg

From Helsinki can be taken a cruise to quite many cities. On the weekend me and my co workers got on a cruise which took us to the gray wet St. Petersburg. I did not carry the DSLR camera around with me on the cruise so I have pretty much no pictures of the ship, but to the city center I took the camera with me. Some of my co workers had never been to St. Petersburg, so we did some basic sightseeing that we could do in the few hours we had.

The pictures on top are from The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. I've never been too interested in churches but this one is worth the visit. It's unbelivably colorful both form the outside and from the inside. I love all the domes and the inside is covered with mosaics. The church is truly a work of art.

Walk past the Winter Palace is of course a must. We did not go inside the Hermitage museum since it's huge and it would take the whole day to see the exhibitions.

I am a bit sad the weather was like it was, since most cities in gray and rainy day just won't look as beautiful as they would if the weather would be sunny. When I was the first time in St. Petersburg over ten years ago, it was summer and it was warm and the parks were a amazing, green and lush. On the other hand it's sort of cool to get the wibe of the old Soviet Union, I can easily imagine a KGB agent walking on the dark streets. Like in a 80's James Bond movie where all the bad guys where Russians.

We were in St. Petersburg now only for few hours but with the cruise you can stay there for up to 72 hours without a Visa. It's a major saving to go to there Visa-free. Next time I go, I want to be there longer.
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