Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

To all of my friends and family back in the US, I wish you a

This year is my daughter's first Halloween and in honor of her we decided to carve our pumpkins last night.  Mine is on the left and my husband's is on the right.  I decided to copy my baby girl's smile for my design inspiration and hubby is channeling Dracula ;).

  I am happy to be living somewhere where we have access to pumpkins for the festivities! 
Halloween is starting to catch on a bit in Norway as they have costumes and decorations at a few of the shops around town. 

I hope everyone wherever you celebrate the holiday tonight gets more candy than you can ever eat and has a fun time on this celebration night!

Friday, October 26, 2012

10/26 Friday Progress Photos Girl with a Pearl Page Finish!

Happy Friday everyone!  Welcome to my new followers and special Happy Birthday wishes to one of my followers ;). 

I have some great progress to show you this week.  Here is where I was at the beginning of last week on Girl with a Pearl Earring...

And here is where I am today with MY FIRST PAGE FINISH EVER!!

Before now I haven't worked on any designs that were in page formats but so far I like it because it breaks the design down into manageable pieces and goals.  I really can't believe how much I finished this week.

Here is a little bit of a closer view where you can see some more detail.

At first it was hard for me to stop using the floss at the end of the page limit if I still had more left on my needle, especially if it was a single confetti stitch.  Normally I would just work as much of a color as I could over the whole design but I must say I do like the result of having in this case 1/9th of the design completely finished!  Here is an image of the finished page next to my completely highlighted chart page.

I feel that with highlighting the stitches on the chart after I complete them and by using the gridding method I have made only TWO mistakes in this whole section which by my usual ratio is pretty good.

Now I need to set this project aside so I can finish up an old one that is so close to being finished and start making some Christmas stockings for this year.  I hope I will have some progress on those to show you next week.  When they are finished then I think I will come back to this project and maybe do the difficult page below that is completely covered in stitching without any open space like page 5 had...but we shall see.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and that you can enjoy the beautiful fall or winter weather wherever you are in the world! 

I took this pic yesterday of the beautiful leaves on my street here in Norway.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glazed and Amused Pottery Painting in Oslo

Last August I organized a small group trip to the local paint your own pottery place in Oslo Glazed & Amused.  I used to go to a studio almost every week for awhile with one of my best friends in the whole I was so excited when I found out that Oslo had a studio like this!

The studio is in a pretty easy to find location in Oslo's Grünerløkka neighborhood which is the student/working class/artsy neighborhood in town.  The owner Thea was very nice and welcoming!   Even though she does not speak very much English, our group still managed to communicate through hand signs pretty well.

Here are some shots of the studio from the interior.


Here is what I ended up making!  The colors are a little different after it was fired but I think you get the idea ;)

It's a trivet with my favorite design of an Owl :)  The experience was really fun and of course it was a bit more expensive than it would be in the US but this is a great activity that one could do on a cold winter day/evening in Oslo!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Progress Photos 10/19 Girl With a Pearl Earring

This week I focused on my current project "Girl with a Pearl Earring."

Here is where I was as of last week...

This week I had one tiny snafu when I used the wrong color in part of my stitching.  Here is where I was when I realized that I used a yellowish color instead of the blue.  But in my defense the chart symbols for both colors are the same they just have a diagonal line in a box going in DIFFERENT directions...oh well c'est la vie!


Once I fixed that problem here is where I ended this week at stitch wise.

I am getting closer to finishing this page!  I finished the Pearl Earring, the girl's collar and most of her blouse.  Now I just have to finish up part of her scarf that cascades down on the right side of the page and then her blue head scarf to finish Page 5!  One thing I have realized though is that I can only stitch the brownish black floss on black fabric during daylight hours because otherwise I can't see where I stitched...

I really feel like this project is at the stage where the momentum is pulling me along to work on it more...but I think I am going to have to take a break to start other projects.  I have one project that really is this close to being done that I would like to complete, and then I need to start my family's Christmas stockings to hang up on our fireplace this year.  I am super excited because this is the first time I have ever lived in a home with a fireplace (and we are lucky to have two fireplaces in our apartment)!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oslo Ski Museum

 Last week I visited the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum with our guest.  Norwegians invented the sport of Ski Jumping and one of their famous sayings is that every Norwegian is born with skis on their feet.  That is a little painful on the Mothers if you ask me ;)

I have always been interested in following the sport of Ski Jumping ever since I got to visit the Finnish training center in Lahti, Finland so when we moved to Oslo I jumped at the chance to check out their new Ski Jump located just Northwest of town.  I have been to the Ski Jump many times but this was my first time getting to enjoy the museum that is located at the mid section of the jump.

Here are some pictures I took with a crafty point of view.

I really loved the detail and hand painting/carving on these old skis.  Here is some info on Skiing History from the museum.

I always LOVE to see a Bunad the traditional Norwegian National costume so I had to get this mannequin wearing one!


Here is a model of the original ski jump on the current site...boy how things have changed.

Here are some beautiful Norwegian paintings at the museum.

I love this idyllic work that includes the traditional Wedding Crown on the girl in the center of the painting.

Here is a blown-glass winter palace on display.

This little guy was the mascot named Sondre from the 1994 Paralympic Games held in Lillehammer the same year that they hosted the Olympics.

And this is the view that all of the athletes get to see when they take off down the ramp from the top.  I was just happy to make it up this high since I have a bit of a fear of heights.

I was not dressed for the weather that day...another Norwegian saying is "There is no bad weather only bad clothing."  So I finally purchased a beautiful and VERY WARM Norwegian-made wool sweater!  I will post pictures and more about that later.  Happy Thursday!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Progress Photos

This Friday Progress photo is late for the second week in a row...but I really, really enjoyed spending time with my good friend who was here visiting!  We said our goodbyes at the airport this morning and now I am back to real life so to speak so I have a chance to show you my new progress.

This week I worked on Girl With A Pearl Earring off and on but here is where I was when the week started.

And here is where I am at now!  I finished all of the Girl's flesh even though it does not look very flesh colored since this is the part of her skin that is mostly in shadow. 

And in this closer view you can see that I am this close to finishing the infamous Pearl Earring!

I hope that next week I will be very close if not done with this page of the design, but we shall see.  Also look forward to some crafty pics I took while on a recent visit to the Oslo Ski Museum last week.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Ghosts of Columbus Day Past in Kisantu

A few years ago when I lived in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) I got to go on a trip to the Kisantu Botanical Gardens a few hours outside of town.  The trip was set up to take advantage of the Columbus Day Holiday.  So yesterday on Columbus Day this year I was reminded of this trip and thought I would share some of my photos.

Here is a map of the DRC and how this park is part of their Institute for Conservation of Nature.

Here was the very still Crocodile that I thought was fake until he blinked. 

The African "walking tree."

The gardens were nice especially for Africa but gardens aren't really my thing.   It worked out that we were able to stop at the Cathedral built by the Belgians many years ago and stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places I have ever been that was very well hidden.

Here is the outside of the Cathedral with the angry rain clouds hovering above.  The story of how we were able to go inside and take a look is because one of the members in our party gave some of the workmen some cigarettes and then bam we had instant access even though they were in the middle of reconstruction work.

This is a statue outside, it made me sad that the cross is broken...

Here is the restoration job where you can see the workers perched in their jumpsuits literally working without a net.

I love all of the detailed brick work and was really amazed to see something this detailed and beautiful in the middle of nowhere.

All of the statues were placed near the altar below in various states of disrepair.  I think that with the blurred images the statues look as if they are coming to life.

Here is a detail of the statues.  Note the missing arm on the angel on the right.

And there are a lot of cobwebs and a missing hand on the statue on the right again below.

Here is a view of one of the many roadside vegetable stands on the way from Kinshasa to Kisantu.  Skol is one of the local brands of beer bottled in Congo and there is the ad located behind the vegetables.

Happy belated Columbus Day!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Friday Progress Photos Girl with a Pearl Earring

Sorry this is one day late.  I have a houseguest this week so I have had my hands full with my baby and showing her around Oslo.

On Monday I started a Work in Progress (WIP) I had started back in January Girl with a Pearl Earring based on the Vermeer painting.  I have always loved the painting and I even read the book that the movie was based on a few years ago.  I purchased this kit when I was in Moldova and it was definitely the right price and I thought it would make a great project to work on.

Here is what it will look like when it is finished.

I am not quite sure what size the fabric is but it is definitely the smallest canvas size I have ever worked on. 

This is as far as I got when I started it in January...

The gray color is the start of the infamous Pearl Earring.

This kit is by a local Moldovan company Luca-S Art Goblen, and it is great quality.  I am very happy that the charts come in large enough size to easily see and mark off what I have stitched and that the threads have all been presorted and labeled according to the chart symbol.

I decided to try out the charting method of basting threads out to mark out each square of the pattern, and so far it has helped me make less mistakes!

After only 5 days here is the progress I made...

And here is the close up.

I never realized that the "Girl's" cheek would be so orange but I'm sure it will come together the farther I get.  I am hoping to complete this page 5 in the center of the design by the end of the month or sooner!

Has anyone out there ever stitched this design before?  If so I would love to hear your tips or advice :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Giveaways from Fellow Bloggers

Well I wasn't planning on writing anything today but then two of my fellow bloggers decided to run amazing giveaway contests.  So I decided to share the love and help them promote them (it is a little selfish since they also give me 3 more chances to win myself).

Please check out the Friendship gift bag giveaway at Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe and either a $20 Gift Certificate to Heaven and Earth Designs, or 1-2-3 Stitch from Just A little Stitchin'.  I haven't bought anything from either of these great stitch sites yet but I do have a few wish list items.

Good Luck Everyone and thank you ladies for sponsoring these giveaways!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fourth Finish of 2012 & Danish and Norwegian Graduation Traditions

My fourth finish so far for 2012 is this very old WIP (work in progress) project.  The summer before I was a senior in College I was lucky enough to get to study abroad for two months with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS).  The program was very challenging (I was one of very few undergrads) and it was the first time I had ever been outside of the US or Canda all by myself since I was the first person at my college to try out this program.  I could go on and on about the experience and I might later in this blog.

While in Copenhagen one day I discovered a hobby shop and this adorable project somehow wound up coming home with me!  It is a Permin of Copenhagen design that is unnamed but I call it Danish Owl Bell Pull.  The Price tag shows the price as 154 Danish Kroner which at the time seemed expensive but with the exchange rate at that time it came in at about $20 for the complete kit. 

I bought this kit because as I'm sure you can tell by my posts I LOVE OWLS!!  And also it features the owl wearing a Danish Graduation Cap.  As I was in Denmark during the summer I kept seeing so many young people wearing these sailor type hats everywhere.  I figured that it must be something important one day when I was getting on my bus and the driver looked like he was saying something complimentary to a girl and boy wearing them.  I had to know what was the significance so I asked my host-family Dad about it and he gave the me details.  Basically in Denmark the equivalent of High School in the US is very, very difficult and after you pass your exams you receive the cap as a sign of your major achievement.  Also students ride around town on trucks on the way to parties at all of their friends houses to celebrate.  So I bought this kit to remind me of a bit of the Danish culture I saw first hand while there.

I am notorious for starting a project and then leaving it for awhile or a long while as in this one.  I bought it in 2002 and probably started it a year later.  It was left as a WIP until I found it and started working on it sometime last winter.  This is how far I had gotten on it before I picked it up on September 19th and started the final steps to complete it.  On my version I changed the date from my High School Graduation like the cap is intended to my College Graduation Date since I studied in Copenhagen in College.  Also I chose the red band on the cap purely to add some more color to the design.

The Danish Cap reminds me a bit of the whole "RUSS" experience (pronounced roose) in Norway.  Before "High School" students take their final exams they celebrate in many ways for the three weeks before they take the tests.  They wear red or blue overalls that show their field of study for the entire time, are asked to do dares, have cards made with jokes or funny quotes that children like to collect, and do some big partying.  The culmination is on May 17th Norwegian Independence Day where the busses that these kids travel on for the time park on the main streets in Oslo shutting them down and one last big party takes place in the streets.  Here are a few of the busses I saw last year.

Here you can see a bit better the RUSS overalls that the students wear.

I love learning about other cultures and their rite of passage opportunities.  I hope you enjoy seeing my finished project and some photos of my experience in Oslo. 

 Also I am very please with having so many finishes this year.  That was one of the reasons why I decided to start this blog so that I would have some peer pressure to finish up my projects...thank you for your support!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Third Finish of 2012!

My third finished project of the year is the Owl Growth Chart by Dimensions!  I started it on June 13th and finished the stitching on September 18th,  but I finally finished the finishing steps so I can hang it on the wall in my daughters room yesterday!

Here is the finished project though I am not quite happy with the results...

I had been trying to figure out how exactly to finish and hang it for a few weeks and then I thought I solved the problem by sewing on matching ribbon to hang it on a hook until I noticed that it started to curl up that way.  So for now the double hooks are a simple solution until I can figure out how to give it some more stability. 

I am proud of myself for getting this far because usually I tend to abandon a project just before the stitching is done, let alone if it needs some finishing steps like this one.

This is definitely the largest project I have ever stitched measuring in at 9" x 40" (22 cm x 101 cm) though not the biggest in terms of stitches.  One challenge has been that it was a little too big to use a hoop or frame for stability, so I stitched it all just holding onto the fabric.  That was a bit difficult at times but it all worked out and I don't feel that the fabric got stretched out by this method. 

Also I am proud that I got this larger project completed in only 3 months with my much limited time to stitch. 

I can't wait until my little girl's next Dr. appointment when I can add in her new height measurement!