A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

FO Friday: OMG more socks

Fresh off my knitting needles is a new pair of socks for my mum, to replace the last pair I made that met with a messy washing-related end. Washing instructions with handmade gifts are a must.

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Pattern: Vanilla Latte, available for free on Ravelry
Yarn: 2 skeins of Regia Mosaic, with quite a bit left over

I really love this sock pattern. It’s simple and the ridges of garter rib provide just enough stretch that mean the sock doesn’t get baggy around the ankle. It’s very easy to memorise and an ideal travel project. Saying that, I am still considering branching out for my final ball of Stray Cat Sock yarn. I’m keeping an eye on Ravelry to see if any patterns catch my eye.

Sunshine on my cutting mat

I’m still plugging away with my craft knife and most recently made a small piece for a friend’s thirtieth birthday. The more I hear about turning thirty, the more I like the sound of it. I decided to emphasise the sunny aspect of growing older and wiser in the cut.

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I wonder if this also represents an unconscious response to the feedback that my thesis celebration card was ‘too dark’. Ain’t nothin’ dark about a lovely sun, right? Right?

Here’s what the card looks like finished and backed.

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The heart is totally there just for cuteness, and not to cover up a mistake I made right near the end.

FO Friday: Little Wave Cardigan

Well, it turns out that mid February truly is the season for love, and I am delighted to say that I’ve fallen head over heels for the cardigan I just finished knitting. Behold.

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Ignore my fringe, a gust of wind disturbed it during the extremely brief photoshoot.
Here she is laid out flat.

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I’m so pleased!
The pattern is Little Wave by Gudrun Johnston.
The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Purple Mistery. I used just over five skeins. It’s knit up beautifully soft and snuggly. Time will tell whether it wears well.
This is an advanced pattern. New techniques I learnt from this cardigan:

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Red Velvet Cheesecake Birthday Cake

I may have responded overly aggressively to a couple of people who asked whether this was a Valentine’s Day cake. Maybe I was asking for it by daring to make something red in February, but people need to know that I don’t do VD. It is the reason that I have had to call about ten restaurants to get a reservation on my birthday. I still don’t have the reservation, and the core of bitterness buried deep within my heart only grows bitterer. Or something.
Here’s the cake money shot.

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Yep.
I’m not going to post the recipe today. I will say that the cake was extremely well received and I was the most popular person in the office for a day. People are so fickle when they’re hungry. I really liked the combination of flavours and the cheesecake in the middle gave the cake a delicious velvety texture.

I found it via Pinterest here, though I think this is the original post.

Although the cake looked and tasted pretty good, I wasn’t entirely happy with the actual cake part. It was a bit dry and not as red as I would have hoped. The layers also didn’t stick together well, so it was difficult to cut and take nice pictures.

I’ve got a hypothesis about this matter. I think it’s the European Union. No, I haven’t turned into a frenzied Daily Mail reader in my age and decrepitude. I think that you’re not allowed the same crazy food colourings in the EU as you get in the States. Even though I put in the suggested 1/4 cup (1.5 bottles!) of red colouring, the cake just wasn’t red enough. I added additional quarter teaspoons of red paste colouring until it began to look redder, but I do think it left the cake with a more chemical taste than it ought to have had. I tried making red velvet cupcakes for my birthday four years ago and I had the same problem. At the time, I thought it was the recipe, but now I’m not sure. Have any English bakers had the same problem?

I’m also having a minor ongoing issue with my cream cheese frosting. I realised that part of the problem was that I use 300g tubs of cream cheese rather than the standard 250g, which was part of the reason it was coming out too soft. I’m now wondering if the generic soft cheese I use is part of the difficulty. Next time Philadelphia is on sale, I may experiment.

There are recipes for red velvet that use beetroot and raspberry juice to colour the cake rather than chemicals, and I think I’ll try one of these next time. Here are some process shots of the cake if you’re interested.

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Here is the middle layer of baked cheesecake. This was my first attempt at baked cheesecake and I really liked it. I was quite lucky though as I was a bit cavalier with the foil and only narrowly avoided having loads of water leak into it from the bain marie.

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Even though I made the cake and cheesecake in pans of the same size, I had to trim down the cheesecake. While the cake layers shrink a little after baking, the cheesecake layer spread. It’s very easy and quick to do, though.

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This is the crumb coat. I refrigerated the cake for about an hour at this stage, before putting the final layer of frosting on.

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Sealed With A Loving Lump Of Wax

Hm, I wonder why the landed gentry of the past never wrote SWALLOW on their letters, like WWII soldiers writing SWALK. The mysteries of history.
Anyway, for Xmas I was surprised and pleased to receive some sealing wax from one of my best friends. We used to write to each other all the time when we were teenagers and I briefly lived abroad, and I’m sure I would have said then that my dream was to use sealing wax.
Although I am tempted to start signing off all my reports at work with a golden wax seal, I feel it might send a confusing message so I decided to reserve it for personal use.
I recently went on a brief sojourn to the Americas and decided that postcards would provide an ideal opportunity for trying out my stamp.

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Waluigi’s a Wiener Parte Deux

I got something very exciting through my door this week. Without further ado, I would like to present this absolute beauty.

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Yes indeed. It is a stand mixer. Like what they have on Bake Off. Life ambition achieved.
It came with stuff.

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All the things!
The winning photo was one taken on the marshmallow workshop I did last year. I don’t think I posted about it in the end, but I did write about their extreme garnishing workshop. Anyway, feast your eyes on this.

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And soon I will be feasting my stomach on treats I’ve made using my new baby.
Watch this space!

WiP Wednesday: Yet more socks

On my knitting needles at the moment I have a bulky cardigan that is nearly finished and therefore impractical for taking on public transport. On my recent trip to Gloucester I was able to visit Hobby Craft for the first time. Omg, I think I have discovered my spiritual home. I also picked up some very nice Regia sock yarn and decided to cast on some new socks for my mum after the last ones I made her met with an unfortunate fate. NEVER give someone a handmade item without washing instructions.
Anyway, here is how the first sock came out.

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I hope mum will like the colours, otherwise I might overdye the socks.
Having some mild second sock syndrome this week. But then I spied this at Universal Studios.

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Can’t decide if they’d be a wonderful time saver or if they would take the artistry out of knitting…


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