About living a creative life in a small commuity approximately 300 kilometres above the Arctic Circle

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday hike

My husband and I went hiking today. For a couple of years now we have been planning to walk up to a view point in the hills behing our house. It's in the middle on the hill you see in the first picture. The place is called Raudmoldheia (Red soil heath directly translated) and it's approx. 600 metres above sea level. It isn't too long but it's quite steep so the last two hikes we've done has been to prepare ourselves for the top. As you can see, there is still some snow left, but it's no problem walking in suitable shoes. When we went out, it was quite cloudy and windy, but the closer we got to the top, the warmer and sunnier it got . We stopped halfway to the top and had lunch. (Food never tastes better than when you eat outside.) I was quite exhausted before we ate, but afterwars I felt really fit to continue to the top. The reward is view of the lovely mountains in Vesteraalen, the mountains surrounding Narvik and also Andoya, where the asfalt actually blows off the roads during winterstorms and cod blows up on your doorstep (I'm not kidding, promise!) And Mother Nature rewarded us with the best possible weather when we finally came up. I hope the photos show what a splendid day we had. We were out for more than four hours and we have more than 200 photos that needs organizing. Please check my husbands website in a couple of days to see more photos from this trip.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Finished stuff - week 2 and 3 of May Challenge

Here is the finished stuff from week 2 and 3 of my May Challenge. In the first picture you see the coasters I finished. I had made one and prepared the three others, but it has taken me three and a half year to do that. The black and white stuff are scissors cases. Originally it started out as pot holders, but the batting was too thin. The pink stuff is a jewel bag that was a tri-recs project. Didn't finish that as I planned either, so I chose to make jewel bags of the few blocks I did. The colourful stuff is a makeup purse and the red and white mini-trip-around-the-world was my summer project from last summer. It is totally handsewn

The second picture is my first handpiecing project, started right before Christmas 2002. I have made several projects with this design, but this one has taken long to complete. The small quilt on the right is what I call the Quilting Etude #1. It was merely designed to practice handquilting and I like how it came out. It's still bleeding red, due to my laziness (didn't prewash fabric) so I have to run it in the washing machine on a wool cycle with no spinning

On the last picture you see the second table mat(matching my husband's). To the right is a small wallhanging that I've called Dictator's Chessboard. I've used some of my bali stash together with black solid border. The title of the quilt? You see, if I was a dictator, I could decide how my chessboard would look like. By the way, the only pieces allowed on this board are pawns :-D. They are quilted in the border.

All pictures are taken by my husband.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Friday night

It's past midnight (Is that 12 pm or am?) and it still isn't dark. It hasn't been for weeks and the midnight sun is only days away. Where I live, you can't see the sun at 1 am (which is actually midnight due to daylight savings time), but you get an impression of how it is. Dark nights are four months away and the plants and seeds grow quite fast at the moment. I'm not a gardening spesialist, but I rely on good neighbours and a bit of luck. Maybe my garden will look good this summer?

I got a distressed call today from my mother. She had fallen and broken a bone in her shoulder. I was in the middle of a teaching class and the student had to sense that I got a bit disturbed at that moment. I called my mother back right after the classes and she told me that it was her left shoulder she had damaged. She fell over a fence that wasn't removed after the constitution day and she was going to write a complaint to the community. She is able to eat breakfast and do simple stuff wth her right arm, but dinners have to be eaten in restaurants. On Monday I will try to arrange for a nurse to come and help, but I don't know how difficult that will be. She'll maybe need an operation, and if that occurs I will go down to her to help her. It's very difficult to live this far away (930 kilometres) and I won't be easier the older she grows.

The May challenge is going fine. I will post photos of last weeks finished stuuff during the weekend.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Ask a Norwegian kid what's special about the 17th of May, and he or she will probably tell you that it's Norway's birthday. And today we've celebrated. It started early today, around 8 a.m, when we gathered in front of a stone monument raised in memory of young soldiers who fought in Gratangen in the beginning of WW2. It snowed a lot and I started to worry about the parade. We went down to a hotel in town to have breakfast before the parade, and when we sat there, the sun came through the skies. And it lasted! It's still nice weather. I wouldn't call it warm today, but it was sufficient to make our job quite comfortable. And it was also nice for the kids since they could dress up in nice clothes and "bunader", which is a traditional Norwegian costume.

For kids this day is like a giant birthday party. There are balloons, and you can eat (almost) as much ice and sausages as you please. Sodas are also available and there are games for the kids at the local school afterwards the parade.

After we finished our job, we went to listen to another ensemble that played music by Norwegian composers. And afterwards we went home to have a nice dinner. It din't go as planned, since we forgot to buy an important ingredience, but the meal was okay anyhow.

Now we're enjoying the rest of "our" birthday. Congratulations to all fellow Norwegians!!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ready for parade

Working as a musician means that you have to work on days when everybody else has the day off. Christmas Eve is one of those days, and our Constitution Day is another. Tomorrow, the 17th of May, is Constitution Day and it's alot to prepare. Uniforms must be brushed and pressed, shirts and gloves washed, collars bleached and shoes polished until they shine. We are among the first ones in the town parade, which is a school and kindergarten parade. We had marching rehearsals last week, and hopefully everyone rembembers what to do when our major commands us. Afterwards we play a concert on the town square. That can be a chilly experience, especially if the weather is the same as it was today during rehearsal. But our day starts early with a seremony to commemorate the people from the (former) local military academy who lost their lives during WW2. I just hope that we don't have to deal with snow during our work tomorrow.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

An ordinary Sunday in May

We went for a little hike in the hills behind our house today. The warm weather from last weeked had changed to windy and cold, but the sun was still shining. We took some photos to show the surroundings. In the first picture you see the church, and to the right you see the primary school of the community. Quite a good school actually. Schools are a community task here in Norway, even though our last government supported many private schools. This school is among the best in our county and visitors often come to study the education program here.
After the hike, we worked in the house and had a lovely dinner (reindeer meat) prepared by my husband. Afterwards I sat down in my studio to do some sewing, and when I looked out the window, I saw...................


This wasn't unexpected, remember this is above the Arctic Circle, and we often get snow in May. I'm just glad that I didn't buy any plants and planted outside the house yet. I only hope it will disappear before I go to work tomorrow. I'm not ready to find my boots again.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Girl Power!

Do you remember "Spice Girls" - the English pop group with five female members. None of them could actually sing, despite the fact that all of them tried to convince the audience the opposite. They where picked out after auditions by producers from the popular music business. Producers who knew which parameters that would create a number-one-hit. Good looks, sex appeal and the abillity to perform a song designed for the charts. Remember, I haven't said anything about musicality. This industry (the popular music one) isn't interested in talent, only in cashmaking.

As I've told you before, Friday is our big night in front of the TV. After a long week of hard work, it's a comfy relaxation to just vegetate and be entertained. But tonight I had a awesome and inspiring moment in front of "the Box".

Seven young musicians competed tonight in the "2006 Eurovision Young Vienna"- competition. 18 musicians from all over Europe met last weekend to compete, and tonight's competitors where chosen after a semifinal with excellent performances. Tonight's final was an outstanding event of musical performance and juvenile perfectionnism you rarely see. None of the competitors where older than 19, but their musicality was way beyond what you would expect from a professional (adult) musician.

Norway's representative was the young woman on the picture. She, Tine Thing Helseth, is 18 years old and plays the trumpet incredibly well. She has already studied for several years; she practices several hours every day and her career is going up like a rocket. Tonight she was awarded 2nd price in this competiton, only beaten by a Swede! (I'll talk about Sweden and Norway sometime later). She played so well in the final, even better than in the national final, and we are so proud of her. Congratulations Tine! Well done!!!! Your performance tonight is what Girl Power is really about!

She is actually going to play with our wind band in June. We're really looking forward to that


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Broken dishes

Alena asked for a closer picture of the Broken dishes quilt. Here it is. I pieced the center from the bargain Jinny Beyer fabrics I bought in Skien and the border is another Jinny Beyer which I had in my stash. I outlinequilted in the light triangles, and the border motif is designed with cookie cutters and a ruler. The stiches shows in the miters, because I used white thread, so I decided to quilt it with white thread also. These aren't excactly MY colours, but I like how it came out.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Finished stuff

Okay, I thought I should share the results of my May Challenge from last week with you all. It's going neatly and I manage to do stuff every day. In the first picture you see the Broken Dishes-quilt which I started during Easter. It's 12 x 20 inches, and it's handpieced and -quilted. To the right you see a placemat where the binding was almost sewn on three years ago. It needed only to be handstitched to the back. I finally got that done. The "T" in the down left corner (upside down) was the reason why I postponed it. I had a small mishap with the rotary cutter. There was a mimal slice but I didn't know how to hide it. The "T" stands for "Tom" which is my husbands name. I thought about appliqueing my own letter, but the way the slice was, made it impossible to applique an "I" at that spot. I have one more top finished, so I'm going to make one for me also. In front you see the table runner for my mother. I should have been finished last year, but at least, I got it ready for this year's birthday.

On the next picture you see a pair of mittens. Need to secure the thread ends though, but plan to do that the next day I can sit out on our veranda. In front of them you see the knitted potholders I started one year ago. The needle cushion is the "sticky one". It became sticky because I left the quilter's tape on for three years(It's not sticky allover, just outside the quilting lines). And finally the knitted head band. The only thing missing about that was the casting off. That took two years to do that.

If I hadn't got the inspiration from you fellow bloggers, most of these items would still be unfinished. Thanks to you all for the inspiration! You can follow the progress on my May challenge here.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

The most beautiful classroom in the world?

We're experiencing something quite extraordinary these days. You know, living on the 69th parallel doesn't give you much feeling with the four seasons. We have something like 8 months of winter, followed by four months of the average of spring, summer and autumn in one. But lately there has been a silent sense of surprised gratitude among the population up above the Arctic Circle. It started last weekend with nice weather and it continued on this weekend with sun from a clear blue sky and temperatures matching the rest of Europe. Yesterday, when I came home from work around 5.30 pm, we sat on the veranda for several hours enjoying warm weather and a sun that almost doesn't set any more. In the town earlier the same day, you could see people with T-shirts, shorts and bare legs in their shoes, something you normally don't see until the middle of June.

I was in fact a bit afraid that the students in my hand piecing class would not show up today because of the nice weather, but I didn't have to worry. Since it was a hand piecing class, I hoped we could do most of our work outside, and that's what happened. Today we spent the whole day outside the farmhouse/gallery where we originally should have held our class. And what a classroom we ended up with. It was sunny, warm and bright and what a view we had! The girls (aged 26 to 67) had prepared well and had made some wonderful handpieced items, both the English and the American way and they continued their work very nicely today. One girl had even made 5 of the most tricky Dear Jane blocks in two weeks. I was really impressed about what they had achieved. Today we made borders, appliqued and quilted and finally I explained how to put on the binding. We've agreed upon meeting at autumn in one of the girls's barn and I hope to see some finished work then.

The weather forecast antecipates the same weather for tomorrow and I hope to spend the day outside the house. I actually should have washed the house, but who knows. Maybe this is all the summer we will get this year, so I guess the house cleaning can wait. I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but I'll certainly enjoy it as long as it lasts.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What's inside a piano?

We had the piano guy here today. Our piano needed badly a tuneup, since it was three years since we last tuned it. Normally an A should be 440 Hz, and wind players like me and my husband prefer it to be even higher, 442Hz. Before he came today, we checked it, and it was like 437 Hz. For those of you that doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about, it's impossible for a wind instrument to play together with a piano with that flat tuning. The keys also needed adjustment, so when I ran into this guy last week, I quickly arranged for him to come. He does a great job, doesn't charge too much and is a nice person also. When he was working today I took some shots of the interior in our piano. This was the the most "crafty" pic I got, and it reminded me about what craftsmansship that is behind the making of a quality musical instrument.

Another thing I was reminded about today, was some of the rascals I went to school with at college. I majored in music, and some of the guys in my class the last year, thought it would be a great idea to have a beer during lunchhour on Fridays. It was strictly forbidden to use alcohol at the school premises or even show up tipsy, but they smuggled the beers into a rehearsing studio and enjoyed their beer there. But there was a problem, what should they do with the empty cans? A genious idea was launched: "We flatten the cans and put them into the piano". So thought, so done. The piano sounded odder and odder for every week that went, but it wasn't discovered until the summer vacation when the piano mechanic was called in to tune the piano. He took off the front plate, and out came 76 beer boxes neatly pressed flat! Do I need to say that it became noisy? The class below us was the first scape goats, and I still don't know if the real perpetrators was found.

Our piano contained only dust.


Monday, May 01, 2006

My May challenge

I get so inspired by reading about all the goals you girls set for yourself each month, so now I'm setting up my own challenges for one month. Okay, here it goes:

  1. No buying of craft related materials until next month. I have more than enough to keep me going this month and probably the rest of this year.
  2. No starting new projects.
  3. I'm going to work on two UFOs (either quilting, crocheting, knitting or embroidery) plus knitting rounds on my mittens every day (exept for the 16th of May)
  4. Finish 4 pairs of mittens plus the one pair I'm currently working on, a total of 5 pairs. 5 pairs done!
  5. Reduce the number of UFO-boxes from three to two.
  6. Reduce the contents in my scrap box to a minimum (hopefully empty).

I'll update this post to let you all know how it goes.

May 1st:

  • finished quilting and started binding my mother's tabletopper. Only some handstiching on the binding left
  • Almost finished basting a Christmas tabletopper which has been untouched for over a year
  • finished the first of ten mittens. 4 and a half pairs to go

No I'm going to baste some hexagons, while we listen to some jazz

May 2nd:

  • finished the binding on my mother's table runner - it's done!
  • finished basting the Christmas table topper from yesterday's post
  • quilted on the Broken dishes quilt started during Easter
  • knitted a wristband ++ on the mittens

So far, so good. I also managed to not buying anything despite that the Keepsake newsletter was in the mailbox today. Dangerous...

May 3rd:

  • quilted on my Broken dishes quilt
  • finished a needle cushion started three years ago. It's sticky (because I left the quilter's tape on the top) and it's not a beauty, but it's finished
  • getting to the point on the mitten that I've started to cast off

It's unbelievable how much knitting you get done in one and a half hour car driving (in the passenger seat, of course)

May 4th:

  • quilted more on my Broken dishes quilt. Quilting almost done
  • finished the first pair of mittens
  • finished a pair of knitted potholders I started one year ago. Knitted nearly one whole potholder

This is going very neatly. I'll post photos of the finished stuff during the weekend.

May 5th:

  • Finished quilting Broken dishes quilt. Prepared binding and hanging sleeve. They will be sewn on the quilt tomorrow at the second day of the handpiecing class I'm giving.
  • Made borders, border blocks and cut binding for pastel fourpatch. Also for teaching purposes.
  • Knitted 1/3 of a mitten (During driving and afterwards sitting on the veranda)

I also casted off a knitted headband while watching TV.

May 6th:

  • Doing minor stuff on three projects (Broken dishes quilt, pastel four patch, christmas table topper). Counts as one project.
  • Finishing off a placemat (handsewing the border and doing some applique)
  • Knitting rounds on my mittens. Half of mitten done

May 7th:

  • Finished Broken dishes quilt
  • Borders sewn on pastel four patch. Ready to baste and quilt
  • First mitten of second pair finished

May 8th:

  • Finished a jewel bag (Pattern from Norwegian Quilting Association)
  • Quilted on my Christmas table topper
  • Knitted a wristband on my mittens

May 9th:

  • Quilted and bound the second placemat - finished!
  • Quilted on my Christmas table topper
  • Knitted on my mitten. It's ready to start to cast off and knit the thumb

May 10th:

  • Quilted and finished 3 coasters which I prepared three and a half years ago
  • Quilted on my Christmas table topper
  • Finished second pair of mittens. Started on another pair

May 11th:

  • Machinequilted and finished a make-up purse
  • Quilted on my Christmas table topper. Quilting almost done.
  • Knitted a wristband ++ on my mittens

May 12th:

  • Finished quilting on the Christmas table topper. Binding put on by machine. Needs to be stiched by hand to the back
  • More than half a mitten done
  • Crocheted on the bed spread for our guest room

May 13th:

  • Finished Christmas table topper
  • Finished first mitten in third pair
  • Crocheted on the bed spread

My 14th:

  • Quilted on my "Dictator's Chess Board" - quilt
  • Knitted a wristband on a mitten
  • Crocheted on the bedspread

May 15th:

  • Finished quilting on "Dictator's Chess Board" - quilt. Binding and hanging sleeve put on by machine. Need to be handstiched to the back.
  • More than half a mitten done
  • Crocheted on the bed spread

May 16th:

  • Finished "Dictator's Chess Board" - quilt
  • Almost finished the mitten. Only thumb left
  • Crocheted on my bed spread

I didn't think I would have had time to do as much today, but my work schedule was altered, so I used my spare time properly.

May 17th:

  • Finished the quilting on my "Quilting etude #1"
  • Finished 3rd pair of mittens
  • Crocheted on my bedspread

May 18th:

  • Bound the "Quilting etude #1" - it's finished
  • Finished quilting and bound my miniature Trip around the world-quilt
  • Knitted a wristband on my mittens

May 19th:

  • Finished two scissors cases. Actually the were meant to be potholders. but the batting was too thin. That's why I stopped working on them in the first place.
  • Cut, basted and started sewing on borders on a table runner in autumn colours.
  • Half a mitten done

May 20th:

  • Finished sewing the borders onto the autumn table runner. It's ready for basting
  • Almost finished sandwiching the quilt class sampler from an earlier post. Only three basting threads are left ot do.
  • Finished the first mitten in the fourth pair

May 21st:

  • Finished basting ans started quilting on the quilt class sampler
  • Basted a bluework-wallhanging
  • Knitted a wristband on my mittens

May 22nd:

  • Quilted ALOT on my bluework-wallhanging
  • More than half a mitten done
  • Crocheted on the bed spread.

I did do alot today, but it has been a horrible day. I'll explain later

May 23rd:

  • Finished quilting on the bluework-wallhanging. Binding ready to sew on.
  • Finished mitten. Four pairs done.
  • Crocheted on the bed spread
  • Quilted on the sampler from quilting class

May 24th:

  • Finished the bluework wallhanging
  • Cutting patches for the border of my redwork wallhanging
  • Quilted on my sampler
  • Knitted a wristband ++ on my mittens.

Now I have four days off work, so I hope to do a lot, but I guess there will be a lot of time spent hiking in the hills behind our house.

May 25th:

  • Worked on my redwork wallhanging
  • Pieced a table runner
  • Half a mitten done.
  • Crocheted on my bed spread

I accidentally started a new project today. I didn't mean to, I swear! For the last two days I've been cutting patches for the border on my redwork, and today I started piecing them. I laid out one border and string pieced them vertically. When I was putting it up against the redwork, it looked ugly! I had to redecide about the redwork thing. So now I have 150 2.5 x 2.5 inches squares and a half pieced border. It won't add up in my project box, so I'm finishing the border and using it as a center in a table runner. It actually has the colours I'm thinking about for my new sewing room (not in the nearest future). The redwork wallhanging will have a smple pne fabric border with lots of quilting.

May 26th:

  • Pieced the center of the table runner and designing quilting motifs
  • Pieced one border on the redwork. The rest must be done when I'm allowed (by myself) to buy fabrics again :-D
  • Almost finished sandwiching a miniature quilt
  • Casted off one mitten. Only the thumb remains.

May 27th:

  • Finished sandwiching and quilted on the miniature
  • Piecing a wallhanging called "Friends" which I started more than 5 years ago
  • Finished first mitten of the fifth pair
  • Crocheted on my bed spread

May 28th:

  • Quilted on my miniature
  • Finished a jewel bag from an orphan block of an abandoned project.

Now I'm going to cast on a mitten, and then my goal for today is reached (within the smallest limits :-D)

May 29th:

  • Finished piecing the "Friends"-wallhanging (not anything to do with the series)
  • Quilted on my quilt class sampler
  • Crocheted on the bed spread
  • Knitted a few rounds on the last mitten.

May 30th:

  • Basted and prepared binding for a tablerunner in autumn colours. Now it's ready to be quilted with the silk thread I know my husband is given me for my birthday this weekend :-D( I ordered it myself)
  • Started casting off the mitten
  • Crocheted on the bed spread.

Only one day left of challenge.

May 31st:

  • Sandwiched the Friends wallhanging
  • Pieced one border on a tablecloth. Discovered that I haven't enough fabrics for the last border.
  • Sandwiched a table topper more than five years old.
  • Finished the last mitten all five pairs done!