Thursday, 29 November 2018

Christmas Apron

What makes Christmas unbelievably special, is the time we spend in preparation and anticipation of the moment when we will be together with loved ones.

The dressing up is purely vital - the cleanness of the house and mind is one thing that opens the heart for the blessing of Christmas. 

The night before Christmas, I remember how my grand-mom walked around her tiny house, burning incense in her little kettle dish to clear the home and land from the evil spirits and sins. She visited all the corners, well dressed and beautiful in her old-fashioned clothes, she only wore at this Holy time. She walked into the stables, giving hug and touching every one of her lambs and sheep with her fingers all curved as the branches of the old walnut, growing just outside her house, fingers already showing signs of the knowing no mercy arthritis, hands all stained and rough, from the work she had done during the day and at all her life, but with the most beautiful glare on her face - a kind reflection of the weak light from the candle she was caring in her other hand. It was a time to prepare ourselves for the Great event, a time to ask forgiveness and give one to ourselves, before the church ceremony at midnight.

This ritual, that I had always found annoying and disruptive to my comfort as a child, now fills my heart with love and sadness. I find piece in the little design from Tania Santarelli at  LilliViolette. It took me back in time with all the beautiful and unappreciated as a child memories.

It is ordinary and simple in my heart today. I have never liked the shiny Christmas, but I found for myself, that the simplicity in life keeps me grounded and strong. Whatever we make with our hands and heart is the most important - that is how we nurture our children, we create memories for them, to remember for who we were and we give them the tools to find themselves when they are ready to see through these memories. I am far from the thought that they could see through my memories with my grand-mom, but this design is what lit that memory in my heart and I think it will carry the spark for my daughter when she prepares her Christmas tradition. 

Baking for Christmas? That is the most important thing for me. I start light in November and when December hits, well, let's just say that 'I make them eat cakes' :))) I barely cook anything else, but bake for Christmas. 

In the days when I was growing up and spent time with my grandmother, it was a forty-day fasting period before Christmas day. As I said earlier - clean the house, the stables, the body and the spirit, prepare for the Holy arrival. Everything that my grandmother prepared before-hand, wasn't tasted, just well packed in air-tight containers and stored in the cold stone room. All this flavour and taste in the air was to be savoured in anticipation. What a test to my soul! 

I do not perform this "torture" to my family. I wasn't raised religious. When baking starts in my home, it becomes a struggle for the cookies to survive till Christmas.

Any concerns that anyone has with the stains on this celebratory apron, I would like to put to rest. I have a back-up and a back-up to the back-up :)

I made this little bent on the right side of the apron, so my dear girl could always wear a kitchen cloth to clean her hands. And she could only uses this apron for serving. When she cooks, I made a spare, vintage inspired apron with no stitched design. Sometimes cooking could be messy...

This apron has a very raised waist line and protects the clothing well. I think she would cook braver in it :) 

I sense it is that time of the day, that I have to put my Stained Apron and dive into the kitchen.

Thank you so much for spending time with me and my thoughts. Thank you for stopping by! I hope you dig into your beautiful memories of past Christmas time to feed your imagination. 

Happy Christmas baking!



Friday, 23 November 2018

Lebkuchen Bags

These delicious, full of flavour and aroma cookies have become a tradition in our family. I have made them for the last four Christmas baking parties and this year is no different. You could find the recipe for the cookies in my delicious blog Tablier taché.

This year, I am sending a batch of the cookies to a friend in Germany. It is a challenge, since the recipe originates from there and the German market is flooded with them. But I am hoping that the homemade touch would create a brighter Christmas spark.

In order to appropriately pack the cookies, I have sewn cosy throw-string pouches and hand-stitched the tags for them.

I used very loosely weaved 18ct Belfast linen - it is so rough that it creates the rustic old-fashioned effect on it's own :)

Then I lined the tags with the fabric, used for the bags and framed it with a decorative stitch all around with a crocheted loop for the cord.

As rough and old-fashioned as possible my bags must be - the recipe for these cookies was firstly recorded as early as 1296. That is why I used a jute cord for the tags and bags.

I found these cellophane individually wrapping bags in DailyLike Canada. They make such a difference with their old-gold decorative elements and keep the cookies apart. 

I made a tiny crocheted edge on the top of the little bags for the jute cord. There are two very old looking (4-holes) buttons sewn on the bottom of the bags to create a stable self-standing bag.

People made everything with their hands at old times  and still managed to gift so many baked goods. Christmas should only be about that - handmade gifts and for as many people as possible. 

Ready... Set... Wrapped
Placed in the bags and ... in the mail.

I hope you are busy working on your handmade crafts and your home is filled with the sweet aroma of cinnamon and sugar.

Wishing you the best time in preparation for the big holiday!


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Nordic Winter Pullover

Nordic winter designs are unique. It is impressive how a snowflake could be drawn in so many different ways. I guess Scandinavian culture is quite connected with the structure and purity of a snowflake, since they exist in every story tale of theirs and in every decoration - modern and vintage.

When I was a child, I loved the fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderesen. I still do, but I feel them again with the heart of the young me, the child me. The world of Mr. Anderson had become a reality for the time I was reading the stories. Very sad and heart breaking at times, there were few, that helped me become a better sister, friend and grew into a crafty woman with settled but vivid imagination. 

There are two fairy-tails that stand out for me the most - "The Wild Swans" and "The Little Match- Seller".

In the world of Andersen, it snows a lot - most of the stories take place in winter. I like the world of winter - it is so clean and pure white. There is something warm in the description of the winter coldness. I guess, the Nordic countries really love the season - images of snowflakes are present in everything - from the house decors, to the embroidered designs on their clothing and decorative cooking. For the music and dances they inherited from ancestors, elements of snow-flakes were carved even on their wooden musical instruments.

The Nordic patterns on pullovers have always  amazed me - I love the created contrast and the details to the tiniest beam of a snowflake. I haven't dared to try knitting a pattern until recently, when I decided that maybe a little design of my own will make a successful start to my longly dreamt upon drawn on sweaters crystals of winter.

The first accumulated snow of this winter inspired me for these images. It was peaceful and beautiful to look out the window and crisp and cold to carry the camera :) but so worth it.

I used fine wool yarn and thin knitting needles, so it was a lot of knitting on this pullover. 

I like wide elastics on the sleeves. Every time I knit the elastic bands, I try to suppress my eagerness to start on the design and to see how it would look like. Since this was my first attempt on a simple Nordic, I have designed the scalloped edge above the elastic so I can finally start having some taste of the contrast between the snow-white and the crimson. Here is a sharp look of the other sleeve:

Oh, glorious sleeves, they have less knits in a row and my work seemed to go so much faster :)

I will not go in details of how difficult I managed the plain part of the sweater up until next scalloped line and finally ... to see my design growing. Changing the yarn from white to red and white to red again, could be frustrating at times, especially with the wool I used, but when the pattern was half-way done, it looked like it is going to be a rewarding experience at the end.

I have designed the top part to look like a snow falling. It looks so elegant, that when I was hesitant on how to finish the neck line, it did not took too long before I knitted it as similarly as the rest of the top part of the pullover:

I think cold days ahead don't look too scary any more. After all, thanks to the winter, I get to create and experience new things.

Have a warm and cosy day, my friends! Thank you for visiting again!


Monday, 22 October 2018

Autumn Chubby Case

My autumn adventure continues in a more settled way. After the crazy stitching of the incredible beauties of the forest (some story in images I have already told you in my post The fire-fur companions of the woods) and constant changing embroidery floss, I am back to my sewing machine, trying to make it up to myself, since I abandoned my sewing place completely. It is nice to see how fast my project is growing and turning into a beautiful voluminous pouch. So many treasures are going to find their home in it :)

I used Henry Glass fall cotton collection, that are perfectly matching the colours on my cross-stitched design. I chose to introduce two colours for the face of the pouch and a third colour for the lining, but the pattern could be applied to one colour fabric.

size of the pouch:

lengt: 20/22 cm (top/bottom)
depth: 8/9.5 cm (top/bottom)
height: 12 cm

I improved my zipper pull with a little acorn charm.

The pattern is absolutely easy to follow: just make sure that the flats and sharps (marked on the pattern) connect when you folding the cut piece. Please, find the pattern here: pouch

I am sure you will have a great time creating a pouch like this - it is not a difficult make and it proofs to be absolutely useful.

My other foxy was framed and is about to be sent to its new home. I know she will be happy there.

Happy sewing, dear friends!
Thank you for visiting!

, Ivelina

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

My Lavender Laboratory

The transformation of lavender plant in its beauty ... - I love to admire how this happens through the seasons. This is my last harvest of lavender (I know - this late in the season, it is truly rich in flowers). The frost is announcing its arrival already, but I still keep few fresh buds on the plant with the sincere hope that they will grow, maybe even bloom?! 

Lavender is a plant of new memories to me. I know it is considered a flower of grandma's attic, but not for me. I started growing lavender less than ten years ago - when I first owned a house myself, when I had a place to grow herbs. Lavender was the first one I planted. It doesn't connect me with my past, but it is creating memories of the present. So to me, the aroma of lavender is fresh and clean. 

The colour of English lavender is truly unknown - is it lavender blue or purple lavender?! I can declare with absolute certainty that on the plant, the lavender is purple, very deep purple, with cold bluish green sharp-edged leaves. Once cut and dried, it gracefully sets its colour in dark sad blue. I love the purple happy version. I have one plant of Irish lavender that has more airy and delicate purple colour. It did not produce any flowers this year.

Every year I make different sachets for my wardrobe. This year, I created a mini-laboratory - sorting and preserving the extra seeds. My baby girl is mad about science, and she was thrilled to give me a hand in this. 

Tilda 'Bird Pond' came out with a magnificent pair of purple - these two fabric pieces clearly explain my lavender-colour dilemma. Combined with the Tilda solid 'Thristle', these help me create beautiful lavender accents. 

I chose to make the hand-embroidered lavender designs with a continental tent stitch. This was the first stitch I had ever learnt from my mother-in-law. It is very often confused with the half cross-stitch, but it creates a completely different look and texture. For the tiny lavender buds and flowers, I thought that the continental tent stitch would be perfect. 

For the draw-string pouch, I applied the design with reversed appliqué to keep the clean look and accent on the stitching. 

I layered the fabrics for the tag with a light weight batting in between, for some volume. I will bundle white shirts and blouses with it, before I put them all away till next summer.

The lavender basket I created by crocheting a jute case for one plastic box (from Mozart marzipan chocolates ... yammm). A few little silk summer scarfs will go in there. 

I think I have it all set for this coming winter. I have some few more fresh flowers to dry and place in flat sachets in between some very precious woollen blankets. It is always so nice, when I take the blankets out and spread the lavender aroma all over the room... 

When the lavender memories overpower my girls one day, I will be the creator of this annoying smell of lavender - from grandma's attic :))) And I don't mind... Everyone is entitled to creating their own overwhelming memory. 

I better put my Tablier taché and face the kitchen challenge of making Lavender and Lemon cakes - some recipe I experimented with in the fall of 2012. 

Lavender is definitely a plat of the present for me :) 

Thank you for visiting my aromatic corner today!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Monogrammed macaron and sweets cases

... in images and stitches

Chocolate macarons with chocolate praline ganache and cacao nibs.

I am not sure which ones were more challenging to make - the macarons or the cases :)

Monday, 1 October 2018

The fire-fur companions of the woods

First signs of autumn do not fancy to be bold - it is almost as if they are fearful to start decorating the earth for the grand welcoming of the fire-starter season. As if someone is holding on the big explosion of hot and burning colours. Or maybe it is the green that is so stubborn - holding on to the last breath of the trees, tying tightly the loose straws of the nests - homes to the recently departed cheerful singing residents, protecting the fruits for the little climbing creatures, who are in a rush to fill their hollows with food. 

Only the sky touchers, high tops of the biggest maples started to give up on the temptation to put their robes on - bright in gold and ruby, they prepare for the last ball of the forest. Most of the times, I could only imagine what is life looking like in the deepest ends of the woods. It probably feels like one crazy megapolis, all strapped with busy noisy highways, where everyone is honking, yelling and fighting for their right to cross first and prepare for the quietest season of all, when the peace is painted in pure burning white. But first, let me enjoy the colours of one very intriguing, playful season, that changes her dresses with an inflated pride almost daily. I won't boost her vanity by admiring her presence, but by acknowledging her Castilians.

Foxes have been an amazing creatures - subject to fables, they cary the wisdom of the common people. 

I couldn't resist this year - I had to stitch a collection by Hélène Le Berre. I changed the design a little bit, making different pages of foxes, instead of one full paneaux as the designer created it. These adorable creatures (and many more) could be found in the book Agenda point de croix 2018 "Adorable animaux".

This little guy is planning on something. I have a special project for him :)

Apparently, there is a very unique hearing power to the foxy ears. I have a friend, who finds the ability to hear as a fox a blessing and a curse. She is an incredible musician and a very demanding teacher. Her students can not get away with pitchy notes :). That is how this guy finds a new home soon :).

This, probably, is my favourite of all designs. I see my babies being calm and protected in their sleep. It brings back so precious memories from their first days. My girl has an eye for this design, and I will make her something pretty, although, do not know what yet...

The days are becoming gloomy and sad. It is only a matter of time before the green give up fighting the new-colour fashion. I am holding on to the warmth of the season - aroma of orange and chocolate brown. Another beautiful day after another to be thankful for the gifts of Nature.

Hope you find peace in the rainy days!


Friday, 21 September 2018

Farewell to summer

It is not completely difficult for me to kiss the summer 'Good buy'. After all, one beautiful season is coming with its warm colours and leafy dress. 

My plain blue summer had to be sent on its journey with these cute whales by TILDA.

From many books Tone Finnanger published, from all her angels, animals and cosy home makes, I chose these whales, that remind me of the turquoise water of Georgian Bay. What a crystal place this is! The water is so clear, that you could almost feel the cut of a crystal piece in your skin - cold and sharp and instant. 

patterns from Tone Finnanger book "Tilda's Toy Box"
fabric : Tilda Sunkiss

When you decide to make these beauties, do not forget about the notches around each curve. There is nothing more frustrated than a non-notched curve. The seam becomes bulky and unpleasantly unclean.

Here is how I did mine:

You could see how the notches around the shorter curves are closer to each other, to remove as much of the fabric as possible. Please, be careful not to cut through the seam :(

These whales are fast and clean make, but they still require love and attention in order to make them look pretty :)

I have made my ocean out of very wide weaved linen and the shells were collected in one beautiful trip to Prince Edward Island - memories kept very preciously in this image.

I have seen whales once in my life. They enter into the home of fleuve St. Laurent from the Atlantic and there are places where people can admire their acrobatics. It is amazing how they travel in groups. I was especially stunned by the belugas. Their warm white backs form some carpet in the water - mothers with children, whole families and friends swim together. What a beautiful way to live a life!

Here is my mom-and-daughters memory of them:

Thank you for visiting!

♥ Ivelina