Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Old things interest me, and I just wanted to share two christmas cards I found in a card collector I inherited from one of my uncles a few years ago. These are cards my grandmother received as a young girl and a woman. They are quite similar, but there is a span of 15 years between these. This one is from 1917!

while this is from 1932.

As most of the countries up north in Europe, we celebrate Christmas eve, and not Christmas day. There is something unnatural about opening presents during daylight... At 5 pm all the church bells in Norway tolls for a full hour, bringing in the holidays. We eat a big dinner, lots of sweets and then open up all the presents. The rest of the evening/night is spent eating and drinking. I am stuffed....

Merry Christmas all. I am off on my African trip in a day or so. Oh joy:-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quick knits!

I have managed to finish some knitting before Christmas, too! Barely...

These are for my sweet goddaughter:) I hope she likes them. She wanted something with colours and patterns, and long! I thought it it was cute the way the pattern made each sock a little different.
These are quick fingerless gloves for my niece. A test, really, in a typical Norwegian pattern. If it doesn't work like we hope, I will knit her proper ones. I have already started on them, though... but they will not be finished in time before I leave, I don't think.... we shall see.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Done in time!

I spent most of yesterday sewing binding on a table cloth and a table runner. I know it is necessary, but oh goodness! how boring!! But now they are both done! And since none of the recepients reads my blog, I can show them off:)
This one is from a Norwegian designer called MarianneZ. She designed several red and white designs for this Christmas, and I think this is the third or fourth of hers I have done this Christmas. This is called 'Queen of Hearts' and can be used all year around, if you ask me. This is for my mom. Hope she likes it.
This I have shown you before, but now it is done! It turned out ok, I think. This one is for my sister-in-law. She has this huuuuuge dining table... it should fill some of it....:)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last BJ's this year!

I made these Baby Janes a week ago, but haven't had the time to take the pictures and download them. However, here they are.

L4 - St. George's Cross

J6 - Granny Weaver

J 2 - Picture Perfect (not quite!)

C 4 - Tic Tac Toe. Again, the pink! I hope it will make sense one day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas star

One of the most common christmas flower in Norway is the poinsetta, or Christmas star as it is called here. Ten years or so we could only get puny, little versions of them - and they cost a bundle! Today we get lush, big ones that cost slightly less. I love them. For me, they spell Christmas, and I always have trouble when visiting countries where they are a part of the local flora. They just do not belong to summer and sunshine. Strange what pictures we make and hold on to.

Anyway, I wanted to make a quick gift for my sister-in-law, as I had a lot of christmas fabrics left.
I saw an idea here and snagged a thought there, made a simple table runner and found an applique of poinsettas in a book of the creator of this fabric, Nancy Halvorsen. The book is called Peppermint and Holly Berries from Art to Heart. I just have to machine quilt it, and then machine quilt another one and knit a pair of socks and a pair of gloves and.... well, good thing I don't have work to go to:)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Afternoons in winter

Today I would like to talk about two Norwegian expressions. One is 'there is no such thing as bad weather, just badly chosen clothing'. The other expresseion is: weather sickness. I don't care if the medical community has proven there is no such thing - when it gets dark at 2 pm, and the fog is down around your ears I get depressed and melancholy! And the only thing I want to do, is to hibernate until May. However, you can't do that even if you are unemployed and feel you have every right to dig yourself in. So I went for a walk, even if it looked like this at 2 pm.

Oslo is located so that you can have both forests and coast. I am drawn to the water, even if I get seasick just by thinking boat... however, I am good on land:) Snow makes for interesting patterns. A Norwegian poet and singer said that snow was 'white-out on the misspelling of summer'. Quite profound.

There is a melancholiness in the afternoons of winter, I think. Imagine that these beaches are full of people sunning themselves, kids playing, hustle and bustle, lights and colours. Now it is quiet, cold, and empty.
And no, beaches in Norway are not usually miles and miles of white sand:)
But there is beauty in dark and snow, too:) As long as you are dressed correctly and can manage to drag your butt out of the warm and cozy apartment.....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

About ducks and ends

I saw this sign on my way to the fort. Thought it was fitting in today's economic climate. The Norwegian word for ducks is also the word for 'ends'. So while the text on this sign actually says: Here the ducks meet - it also says: Here the ends meet.

Got to love the irony:)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Continuing in the cold....

Still wandering in the cold in the fortified city down east...

This is the oldest house in the whole fortified city, even if it is from the 1671, I think. The first part of the fort were of timber, and burnt down during several of the big fires over the year. This one is bricks!

This one shows the incredible thickness of the walls! These days they have glass in the window slots, but in the old days there would just be holes. I love the metal 'doors' on the windows. I forgot to take a picture of the door, it is so tiny and has the same kind of metal doors, too:)

Though parts of the fort have brick walls around it, most of it is surrounded by what looks like huge mounds of dirt. This is one of the walkways through the 'walls', you can see the frozen moat through the gate. The masonry inside is amazing, like a small old stone cathedral! Too bad it was too dark in there to get a good picture of it.

Oh, and as in all old places - placed on the city square across from the church..... Although in the kind of cold winter weather I would think just being outside would be punishment enough!

Irony of history

Since it is winter, and since it was extremely cold! the other day, I decided that there was nothing better than spending a day walking outside in a coastal city with the frigid wind blowing in from the sea.....brrrr......

It was wicked cold! Here is the first irony. I was visiting an old fortified town down east in Norway, close to the Swedish border. There is a moat around the fort. The water was frozen solid. What is the point with a moat that freezes solid every winter? Just asking...

Norway has a long, long border with Sweden. Since we were a colony under Denmark for about 400 years, there was a necessity of defending ourselves against the Swedes. This fortified city was established around 1567 after the city itself was burnt down. They petition the king to move the city closer to the river and the coast and fortify it, to prevent the Swedes coming in and pillage. And there has been a military presence there until 2003!

The second irony. It has only seen fights once - against the Swedes - and they lost after only a few hours fight. That was in 1814.

Today it is a living city - people live and work here. So they live with cobbled streets like this.

Nice to look at,  but horrors on high heels, not to mention trying to drive down there.

These houses looks like dream houses in the summer. However, visiting in the winter I can't help but think that they might not be so warm in the winter. I grew up in an old house, and before dad redid the whole thing I remember scratching my name in the ice on the inside of the windows. No double glazing at that time!

The entrance to the fort, which today is just for walking through. No room for cars, though they are allowed into the city.

The bridge over the aforementioned moat. Not sure if you can see it, but it has a hoisting mechanism that allows for the middle to be lifted up, to let boats in. Well, today it is just for show, but it is quite an impressive mechanism.

I got more:) Keep you in suspense for a little while.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Candles for Christmas

I visited a very nice candle factory a little while ago. It is based in an old aquavit factory - now it makes candles. Not sure the connection between alcohol and candles.... but anyway:) The front gives us the history, as I think this is actually the formula for the aquavit.

The whole building consists of candles in absolutely every shape you can imagine! A lot of emphasis on Christmas at the moment, but a lot of other stuff too. Amazing!

They had made theme rooms. Like this 'ice' cave with just white candles in every shape and form, with angels, polar bears, snowcones and snow flakes. I find it good that they had lighted so many of them, because it made you see that they are even better lighted than not. If you are like me, I tend to not light novelty candles as it feels like ruining them. But they are actually made to be lighted. Look at this angels. 

There where whole rooms with table settings for suggestions of creativity, a lot of different decorated christmas trees and rooms with different themes and colours.

In the second part of the house they had set up different craft and gift stores.  At the end they had a small eating area that was decorated so as to make it look like  you were sitting in an old city back yard. I particularly liked the clothes lines:) Got to admire the drawers. Good thing we don't have to use that kind of yardage anymore.... although in this cold weather it would probably been a good thing. Brrr....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter and Christmas

Two posts in a day:) I just had to say that eventhough my personal life isn't exactly roses at the moment, I have to say that I do enjoy it being pre-Christmas. For me Christmas is from the first Sunday in Advent until Christmas eve. The preparations and the lights. We need them here, where the sun now goes down around 3 pm. Short, dark days. But we do have Christmas lights! My neighbour has the blinking kind of thing that makes my head ache, but I can live with that. The rest of them have the more estethically pleasing lights.

And even if I do not like snow (cold, cold, cold) it has to be snow for Christmas. This picture was taken at 3 pm today, as the sun is setting. Until Christmas the days will just get shorter and shorter and shorter.... oh well.... It is Christmas:) And on the second day of Christmas I am off to South Africa and Cape Town! Rock on!

Too much....

I just learnt that my current applications for jobs did not go through - sigh - it is winter and it snowed yesterday - double sigh - and I have been so lax in my exercise routine that my arms are now aching from too much sewing and knitting - triple sigh. I have enough time to exercise, so I have no excuse, apart from the fact that at this time in my life sewing has taken the place of exercise as therapeutic. So I hate having to spend time on it! But I have to, I have to. I will, I will, I promise.

Here's the last batch of babies:)

H 1 - Peek-a-boo. Actually not that difficult. Hideous colour, though. What on earth made me bring pink into this?!

D 1 - Alison's Guiding Light - strangely not that difficult. Maybe just sheer luck.

D 10 - Battlefield. Aptly named! Those small white corners are miniscules. Remember the block is just 4 inches big! I finished it at 1 am. Stupid to start a block late at night!

D 5 - Cathedral Window. Slightly crooked. I might redo parts of it.

D 9 - Uncle Richard. Again, what is with the names? Had some problems with this one.

F 4 - Old Windmill. Not sure about the lines of this one. Might redo a few seams.

Managed two triangles, too! This one looks crocked, but it isn't, really! I promise! TR- 4, Bennington Cross.

TR 3, Checkerboard.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My first triangle

Did my first triangle! BR 1 - Rosemary's Window. I think this is one of the easier ones. I have started two others, too, but they are monsters to get straight!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Beyond silver

Arghhh.... I do not know what is ailing the blog at the moment. It won't let me download pictures! Annoying!! I started this blogpost five days ago, and I still can not download the last two pictures. What is the point of a blog if you can't add pictures? And I have more to share. Sigh. Well, now you know why I haven't been updating. If it keeps on like this, I will have to see if I can move the blog. Bother!

A 5 - Cathi's Campfire. I wish I knew the naming process of these blocks....

K 10 - Quandry. I had some problems with this one... had to redo half of it. Looks good finished, though:)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Silver Award!

I have reached my 25th Baby Jane block!

J 4 - Adelaine's Apron Strings.

Here are all the first 25th in order of completion. I hung them on my design wall, which is not quite straight. The blocks are straight, though! And there is actually a colour plan in all this. Time will show:)

The rest of today's blocks are:

A 4 - Courtney's Stethoscope. Not quite straight in the middle, but what the heck. It is almost impossible with these small blocks. It is better to finish than perfect. The mantra still holds:)

And now the blog won't let me add more pictures for today. I will continue tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More babies

New day, new baby steps... if I can get them downloaded to the blog. (it only took half the night!)

K11 - Columbine. I keep wondering if this was an old block she decided to use, and then had to cut off the points because it was a little bit bigger than the rest:)

K8- Sprinbook Park

I8 - Pete's Paintbox
E9 - Quilt Jail. Even with paper piecing, it is difficult to get these lines straight. The blocks are so small!