About Me:

About Me: I've been knitting since I got bored one summer in college and made a raglan sleeved rag-wool sweater that still almost fits. My favorite things to knit are Scandanavian colorwork and lace. I don't like to knit socks or sleeves. Some years ago, I completed the Level 1 Master Course with The Knitting Guild of America. That's as far as I got, but I did learn a lot and I recommend it highly.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yule Log Cake Convergence - Marzipan Mushrooms & Acorns

In a moment of holiday convergence, my sister and I both made yule log cakes for our Christmas dinners.  This made for a hilarious Skype moment the other day.  Hers had espresso filling and was frosted with ganache, but mine had little marzipan acorns and mushrooms.  Here are some tips on making these shapes.


Acorns:  roll a ball of uncolored marzipan.  These were smaller than a cherry, but a little larger than one of those really big Michigan blueberries.  Now that I think of it, the size of an acorn describes it perfectly.  Once it is round, flatten out the sides to make more of a cylinder shape.  Gently pinch one end to make the tip.  It's not so much of a point as it is a little nub.  Next, take another similar sized ball of marzipan.  These were colored brown using regular food coloring - 7 drops of red, 4 drops yellow, 1 drop blue, and 2 drops green.  Flatten the ball into a disc, then gently shape it around the top of the acorn.  Pinch a tiny stem, and using a knife or toothpick, make "hatch" marks.

Mushrooms:  start with a small ball of uncolored marzipan, then shape it into a cone.  A second ball of marzipan flattened into a disc becomes the mushroom cap.  If you've colored the cap red, I like to put little white spots of marzipan on top.  The pictures above show that I also made a little snail, and a green holly leaf with little red berries.  The acorns and the mushrooms turned out the best.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spoonflower!

Here are the tea towels I bought during the Spoonflower fat quarter sale.  They were a great bargain and so very very pretty.  I got them as gifts and didn't even know who was getting which one at the time because it was too thrilling to shop for them.  Feedback:  they arrived on light-weight cotton, not linen, which I knew, only now I see that they are also available on linen (maybe linen wasn't part of the sale, note to self for next year).  Also, it took quite a long time for them to arrive - maybe because they only print the fabric on order - but I didn't get the notice that my order had shipped for maybe two-three weeks.  The anticipation just about killed me.  Luckily it was worth the wait!

Wildflowers, pattysloninger
Birds & Berries, lisaekstrom
Here is the first one.  And here is the second one.  As you can see, was just too excited to take the photo that I didn't care the corner was hanging off my dining table.

The last one was a total bargain.  I have a passion for all things bicycled, and when I put a fat quarter of this towel fabric in my cart, the smart designer somehow popped up a message that said - buy a full yard and you'll get four calendars, plus two of them will be in a second colorway that is not available if you just buy one fat quarter.

Here is my prep for these pretty babies.  Cut the yard.  Wash, dry, and iron -- something I hate doing normally.  My advice here is to get an iron you will not swear at, and some kind of pretty ironing accessories so that it's not a total chore.  I always put on some cute movie to watch while I iron.

Tandem Bicycle - pattysloninger
Then hem them puppies.  I looked up a few how-to websites on hand-rolled hems but I also have the sweetest Singer featherweight with a special hemming foot that makes a very narrow sort of rolled hem.  I am going to use white or pale yellow thread especially on the hand-rolled hems because I don't want them to look ugly when I do a lax job.

Now just wrap up with a ribbon and sit back to accept the compliments.

Update!  Because the fabric I purchased was the quilting weight cotton, hemmed narrowly the towel was barely bigger than a large handkerchief.  I ended up using bias tape instead:  the color helped set off the image better and made the towel appear slightly larger.  An alternative would have been to use my wide hemmer attachment rather than the narrow.  But anyway, these were great gifts to make and give.  I will be back at Spoonflower very very soon.

Craftable Christmas - Greeting Card Garland

Holiday Greeting Card Garland
One day I was looking for a way to use up holiday greeting cards and I must not have had any tape.  This prevented me from making interlocking loops and I had to think of something else.  I came up with this idea, which I love because since the garland is not taped together it is easy to adjust it to whatever length you need.

So now I have a couple of things that I do each year with the holiday cards I receive.  One is throw them into a box as I pack up the ornaments.  Some of them are still in their mailing envelopes, because I receive them from people like me who don't get their act together until the holidays are practically over, and they arrive pretty much when I've moved on to the most important birthday season of the year (late January - all hail those born under the sign of Aquarius and at the end of the Chinese Year, especially the Hinoe-uma Fire Horse).  But I digress.

By packing the cards away, when eleven months later I get out my Christmas decorations again, the stack of last year's cards represents all the people I will be sending this year's cards to, since I already have their addresses right there.

Secondly, I use last year's cards to add to the holiday garlands I hang in doorways, on the lintel, along the mantel.  It is a great way to keepsake any images you are really fond of.  And it's not a complicated craft, so the gratification is pretty instantaneous.
The paper clip-shaped cut

Here is the link to the Instructables page I made on this craft.  The steps are basically (1) cut out a bunch of circles and (2) make a u-shaped cut in opposite sides of each circle as if you were creating an un-folded paper clip and (3) slide the circles together.  They will stay linked like a paperclip chain.

Since posting, I advise against using 3M double-stick hanging squares.  I thought these would be an improvement over regular tape, but over the last several weeks I've had to re-hang my garlands almost every other day.  I don't know why it is so difficult to keep them hanging.  Perhaps the wall is too textured, perhaps the card is too glossy, perhaps the garland is too heavy, maybe there is too much air flow from my heating system.  Anyway, at this point I recommend using a heavy-duty stickertape or tacks.  You might tear one or two of the circles when you take it down at the end of the season, but do whatever it takes so you only have to hang it once.

I hope you like playing around with this idea.