Sunday, March 20, 2011

When you have nothing to say, compensate with pictures!

This week has been more about planning things and less about actually finishing anything. Annoying, especially when the not finishing part is because of technical difficulties and indecisiveness. First my new ink cartridge refused to work and I have to wait for a new one. Next I found out that my sewing machine is making a brutal sound even though I've only used it once since oiling it thoroughly. I think it needs to be serviced. After all I got it for my 18th birthday which means two things: first of all it has served me for 11 years without complaint, and secondly I feel really really old.

Say hello.
I better get it to a shop next week because things need to be sewn. Luckily I have another sewing machine I can use for everything my serger cannot handle. This absolutely adorable one on loan from my housemate:

Riazan is approaching fast and I'm very conflicted about what I want to wear. I have bits and pieces and none of them go together very well. I already made a pair of Really Big Pants out of black cotton/linen from a thrift store and then I found this gorgeous old curtain here that really wants to become a Bilibin-inspired coat:

Yes, it's woven and the colors are reversed on the other side.

To makes things easier, I also found this pillowcase with beautiful embroidery just dying to decorate a blouse or a dress:

Sometimes the best things also cost 50 cents.

What is even more helpful is that what I really, really want to use that pillowcase for is this apron:

Except that I'm not sure how black pants, a white apron and a green-yellow coat are ever going to live in harmony. Maybe a short-sleeved apron so that the coat gets more screen time? And of course I have this purple coat and hat I made for the last medieval Russian adventure and could easily use:

For the record, I was running a high fever and drugged senseless when this pic was taken

Oh, and my character could also incorporate Chinese and Mongolian elements in her dress. Head, meet desk. Looks like I'll just make ALL THE THINGS and then decide which ones look best together.

Among all these other things I hope I get the printer to work soon because I have a special in mind. Here's a teaser:

Teasers gonna tease.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Home improvements and charity knitting

The picture above illustrates the past week pretty well. I've discovered that doodling something with my Wacom often helps me get past the worst lack of inspiration - it's something about being able to zoom deep into detail that I find reassuring. Being able to forget about the daunting bigger picture and concentrate on something seemingly insignificant. Yet when I pull back, suddenly everything falls into place. That angry cloud does not fall into this category though, as I treated it as a "how about I finally learn to use Illustrator" experiment.

Another thing that I've found is that chaos around me = chaos inside my head. Sometimes just cleaning up helps. So, today, that's what I finally did. And since it's a sunny day outside, I decided to capture some photographic evidence of Order as long as it lasts, i.e., until my roommates decide to overrule my home decoration decisions, probably tonight when I'm sleeping. Somehow just because I feed, groom and cuddle them they think they make all the decisions in this household.

This is why I cannot have nice things, the tablecloth edition.
I like to store things on tables and shelves - they'd rather keep things on the floor. It's a constant battle. There is, however, one item that never gets messed with: the doggy that lives on the windowsill.

Don't mess with the doggy - he will fuck your shit up.

The doggy has lived here longer than any of us, I found him covered in sawdust in one of the storage rooms. My first housemates thought he was creepy and warned me to not remove him, but I thought he would much prefer to live somewhere he can see outside rather than lie in the sawdust. But they were all a bit chickenshit anyway - can you imagine that they were even creeped out by the lonely child's shoe that appeared from nowhere in another storage room doorway weeks after we had already moved in? Psh, city kids.

I'll freely admit that I have a thing about old toys.

And maybe books.
Perhaps even octopi.

My mantelpiece is a fine example of a place that looks nice for approximately five minutes before it all ends up on the floor. Bluetack? Super glue? Or maybe I can find a way to attach the items on the mantelpiece instead.

That cross stitch there, by the way, I found from a flea market (for 2€ like everything good, it seems?) and tried to replicate but it was going to take the rest of my life so now I just appreciate it all the more. The black on orange is awesome for a rococo chick.

I also finally hung that new cross stitch of mine. I have almost as little wall space as I have bookshelf space, but I think it goes well with my cock. What? My measuring tapes are always AWOL, so I have a cock.

There is a joke in here somewhere.
Well alright, I may also have a thing about cocks.

This used to be my favorite mug until a tragic accident that for once was my own fault. I still haven't found one to replace it. I have Moomin mugs for tea, but they are too small for hot cocoa. I'm also on the lookout for a new small teapot since the cats destroyed the one you can see in the background there. In fact I found the perfect pot to replace it, but can't really justify spending over 20€ for a teapot I don't exactly need. Still, it's so very pretty, isn't it?

Okay, so, now that the pretty pictures are out of the way I can get down to the business of what makes this post more than "lookit my stuff!" There are two different Finnish charity knitting projects that I find extremely supportable, so do take a look and if you feel like advertising or contributing, please do so:

Villaa ylle -keräys collects hats, socks, gloves etc. mainly in men's sizes to hand out to the homeless next October. The knits must be sent off by the end of September.

Kotosukka, on the other hand, collects hand-knit socks to make asylum seekers feel more welcome. There is no organized send-off or time limit, and all sizes are welcome. It can only be found on Facebook atm, but if you're not on it and want the address, let me know in the comments.

Both the homeless and asylum seekers could probably use some warmth and love that comes in a hand-knit and while a pair of socks doesn't solve many problems, at least it's a nice and personal gesture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

They call me the pie master

I watched Twin Peaks for the first time in its entirety last year with my flatmate, who cooks. It started with brie and butter baguettes. Then came the donuts. Soon enough we were stuffing our faces every other night and dreaming about the perfect cherry pie. Apple, bilberry, pumpkin too, but especially cherry. I'm a sucker for that poisonous essence found in canned cherries, Dr. Pepper and arsenic.

The reason it took me about eight months to actually get around making said pie was that it's impossible to find fresh or even frozen sour cherries in Finland and even canned tend to be hard to find and expensive. Miraculously at least Citymarket now carries huge jars of both sweet and sour cherries, and this pie is made with the latter.

Damn good pie, this is. Glossy, too!

I have to say, I am extremely pleased with this pie. I don't know what the secret is because it was all very simple, but let me take you through the process so that I, or you, can maybe replicate it later and pinpoint the source of fabulousness.

The crust

5 dl flour
225 g cold butter

All crumbled together. The secret to a nice flaky crust is to handle the dough as little as possible to keep the butter from melting. The consistence should be teensy crumbs of butter encased in flour. I am now dreaming about a good pastry cutter, but a kitchen blender should do the job as well and I just pinched little cubes of butter in the flour with my fingertips until it was suitably crumbly.

Now, for a regular shortcut pastry you usually just mix a small amount of water in with the butter-flour mixture. Apparently you can replace some of the water with vodka, which will then evaporate from the pie and result in a deliciously flaky crust. The recipe I used contained a small amount of vinegar, which I suspect works in a similar manner. I added

0,4 dl water
0,1 dl vinegar
0,75 egg (I mixed the yolk with the white and left a little in the cup for later)

I then smoothed the pastry into a lump, divided it into two (I even used a scale to do it!), wrapped the halves in cling wrap and put them in the fridge.

The filling

1 jar (350 g) of sour cherries + about half the liquid
3 dl brown sugar
a healthy dose of cinnamon
1 dl flour

All mixed together. Now, this is the point where I took a two-hour nap, so I let the filling stew and the pastry cool in peace. It's imperative to keep the pastry cold, but who cares when you combine the filling ingredients, not me.

After I woke up I took one half of the pastry out of the fridge, sandwiched it between cling film and proceeded to roll it into a thin, pie dish sized shape, readjusting the cling films every now and then to avoid wrinkles and stickiness. I let the bottom cool off in the fridge while I rolled out the other half and cut it into the lattice strips. Then I brushed the bottom with the remaining egg, added the filling, made a pretty lattice top, brushed it withe remaining egg remains and baked the whole beauty in 220°C for 35 minutes. Let it cool for a bit and served with ice cream. OMG perfect! For the record, there was no cherry essence taste: apparently adding a little almond extract makes it even more delicious. I couldn't use it because of an allergy, but do try it if you will! And the vodka crust, too. Just don't eat it raw too much.

Om to the fucking nom nom!

In other news I've been more inclined to start projects than finish them. There's a pair of wool pants on the needles that will probably only premier next winter because it's most definitely spring now, commission hats are waiting to be cast on, a sock pattern awaits proper inspiration, I think I promised to make two pairs of socks for different people... but most excited I've been about Geodesic cardigan (links to Rav, here's the link to Interweave store).
I'm at the first tucks, how exciting!
I was originally going to splurge on some Malabrigo lace for it, but in some fit of common sense decided on this mystery laceweight wool I found from a thrift store. A bit disappointingly the first of two skeins had numerous cuts here and there, but no trace of any animals and all my yarn is nowadays safely tucked away in ziplock bags so I decided not to worry about it. I ended up with two bigger balls and several tiny ones. But hey, 150 g of laceweight for 2 euros, what am I complaining about? It's a very pretty purple, too.

I've also been on a cross stitch highway. I decided way before Yule while making the kitty-vomit-thing that I needed motivational sign myself. Something like a motto I could live by, that would inform anyone visiting my home of the values I live by. Something pretty, sophisticated and subtle. Something like...

The antique frame compliments these delicate stitches perfectly.

The font is from and two of the birds from The frames and the bird on the bottom left I designed myself. As before, the picture below should be big enough to work from. Because I know what's been missing from your home decor.

You're welcome.