Monday, December 22, 2008

Wooly Wonderfuls

For free entertainment Saturday nights, we sometimes go to the bookstore and get a big pile of books to page through or read (yes, we're those people, who read and do not, usually, buy). DH and I split up, collect some books we want to look at, and meet at the cafe. I have to say, I don't expect much from the craft selection, as I've pretty much exhausted it at most stores. But Saturday, I found this little jewel of a book, Wooly Embroidery; it is worth all of $14.95. There are great instructions for all kinds of embroidery, including crewel, using wool thread, and some sweet little projects. These buttons are from the book, done on scrap linen, and the larger embroidery is destined to be a needle case. I'm proud of myself, I've actually used a craft book that I bought, instead of just look and drool!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baking Day

Yesterday, I joined my baker-extraordinaire aunt, grandma and cousin for some Christmas cookie baking. A good time was had by all, with much sampling and taste-testing. You know how it is so very hard to cleanly frost sugar cookies? Well, my aunt taught me a great technique which completely avoids messiness; it's called Flooding.

Here's what you do: make your white royal icing-like frosting, and decide which colors you want. Divide the frosting and mix your colors; then, for each color, divide it in half. Now, add a little water to one half of the mix to make it a little thinner, so that it's easily pourable. Put it into a squirt bottle. Put the thicker frosting into a pastry tube for piping. You're ready to frost: pipe around the edges of the cookie with the thicker colored frosting, then, using the thinner mix, pour some into the center of the cookie. In other words, "flood" the middle of the cookie, and, using a toothpick, spread it out to your piped barrier. It is really so cool.

If you want to add more piped decorations on top, wait for the frosting to dry. You can tell it's dry when the surface turns from shiny to matte-looking. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I decided to add some flowers to the ends of the green tendrils, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. Overall, a very enjoyable first crewel experience; I was anxious to do more.

So I did. Just a little sweet bud on some fingerless gloves destined to be a Christmas present.

Now, I must make other things worthy of embellishment.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The Not-so-Plain Jane sweater; now I'm pondering how to proceed from here. Maybe some geometric flowers extending from the vines?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thinking and planning

My beautiful crewel wool came today from Renaissance Dyeing in France, so I've begun planning my design. In some respects, I want to get the design drawn perfectly on my paper first, but in another way, I kind of want to just start the design and work spontaneously. You can see my doodles so far. I'll probably make a compromise between the two and just start with my design in mind and see where it goes. The "starting" always seems to be the hardest part of a project for me, at least in my art work. In my knitting, I have a tendency to start rashly, and never finish. What helps motivate you to finish pieces you've started?

Monday, December 8, 2008

My new go-to dessert

This pumpkin pound cake was made for the calligraphy guild I am a part of; and boy, was it good! I've made it before, but never got to eat any, so I wasn't sure how it would turn out. It has become my standard dessert for taking to parties, it is SO good. You can eat it plain (it is very nice for breakfast:), or with the delicious praline-esque sauce. Definitely not a healthful dessert, but, c'mon, what is?

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Walnut Sauce

2 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
6 eggs (!)
3 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 c. canned pumpkin


1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. dark corn syrup
1/2 c. whipping cream
2 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Ad the vanilla and eggs, beating well until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour into prepared pan, and bakc for 60-70 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto plate.

For the sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, 2 T. butter, and a dash of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the vanilla and walnuts and stir to combine. Serve walnut sauce with the cake.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Aprony Goodness

Look what I got from Shannon in the Sassy Apron Swap! This very perfect, pink and green apron. I requested something that was kind of Christmasy, but that I could wear all year too, and this is just fantastic! The bib apron is a great vintage shape, and the fabrics are kind of retro, with the green polka dots and rickrack trim. What are some of your favorite vintage-like apron patterns?

The apron was not all though: she sent the cutest handmade snowman bag, a "B" ornament for our tree, cookie cutters, recipes, a cookie cookbook, and popcorn! What a treat, this package has brightened my Christmas, thanks Shannon!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Plain Jane...8 years later

This sweater has been 8 years in the making. In high school I worked at a patisserie and had a wonderful Russian lady as a co-worker. She introduced me to top-down sweater construction. I went to her house a couple of afternoons, and she taught me how to do the math to design a top-down raglan sweater, with any yarn and any gauge. Unfortunately, the math and percentages have been long forgotten, and my notes are nowhere to be found. Cleaning out my stash the other day, I found the sweater, body finished, languishing at the botton of the box. I finished it, and now am awaiting my order from Renaissance Dyeing so I can start the embellishments, because, as is, this is a plain jane sweater.

I'm going to try crewel work, and I aspire to a finished product something like this or this. Pretty ambtious, huh? Here is my practice work, with regular worsted yarn.

The crewel wool I ordered comes in all kinds of luscious shades and is dyed using all-natural dyes in the Pyrenees mountains. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

And the winner is....

Sunnymommie! If you could please email your address to, I will get the book in the mail to you!

Thank you to all who entered, it was so encouraging reading all your kind remarks. And thanks for checking out the blog, I hope many of you will come back and visit often. Now I get to have fun checking out all of your great blogs!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Giveaway Day!

Today I'm participating in a many-blog wide event called Giveaway Day, sponsored by sewmamasew. So my offering for the event is this handcrafted journal from my Etsy shop, with ceramic covers, and an embossed star design. The book is coptic bound with teal Irish linen thread, and measures about 3 3/4 inches x 4 inches. To enter to win, just leave me a comment, and I will randomly draw a winner tomorrow! For all those outside the United States, I'm sorry, but I can't swing international shipping right now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Finished Object

I'd been starting to feel some anxiety lately. I needed to finish something. I needed to finish a substantial craft project that would be satisfying. And here she is: the completed Juliet sweater! I like it, although some of my enjoyment was diminished as I tried modeling it and taking pictues of myself in summer clothes, as it was snowing outside. But now I can look forward to wearing my new top in the spring, in my post-baby body. Although, with my body temperature at tropical levels right now, heck, I might just wear it for Christmas!