Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cake, cake, cake, cake

Today is going to be so much about cake! Because there was just soooo much cake in my life this weekend!  Also, please be aware that this post is going to be very photo-heavy. 

But first, my knit FOs:

I finished a cardigan for the birthday party, with two days to spare. But I forgot to take photos, because I didn't wash it until the day of the party.  Oops.  But I do have a pic that I snagged from Facebook:

This was knit out of an unknown yarn - it was some stash that I inherited from my grandma, and it really wanted to be a baby thing.  I used the same pattern that I used for Columbo's Cardi a couple weeks ago, from the 'We Like to Cardi' pattern in the fall 2013 edition of KnitSimple, using US 4 needles. I'll get a photo of the little girl wearing it sometime soon.

I also finished my stripey socks, which are no longer for me.  However, they are about to find a new home as a birthday gift!

These were knit out of Patons Stretch Sock in Spinoni Stripes, on US 3 circular needles. It was my first time trying two-at-a-time, top-down socks on a single circular.  It was interesting... I'm not sure I'll do that again any time soon, but I may try magic looping one sock at a time.

Finally, I finished my first pair of handwarmers for the Knitting Samurai Plus 1 Color KAL! 

The yarn is Basic Sock from Inspiration Dyeworks in The Knitting Samurai Plus 1 colorway. It only took 20g for this pair, so I'm totally making more. I used my standard handwarmer pattern (one that I made myself), with a row of YO, k2tog at each color change in the yarn. These were done on US3 needles.

I also worked on Mum's Moonlight Shawl, Tara's Shawl, and I cast on my second set of handwarmers for the KSP1 KAL.

And then, I worked on the cake.

One of my good friends asked me to do a cake for her daughter's birthday.  But not just any cake:

She had total confidence in my abilities, which is both lovely and terrifying. But if she thought I could pull it off, then by gosh, I was gonna pull it off.

The cake physics had me worried, I'll admit. I mean, I've watched all of 'Ace of Cakes' and lots of 'Cake Boss,' but I don't do this for a living. I don't have all of the tools and supports to do this. However, I do have access to awesome people who like to build stuff.  Between my beau, the daddy, and the handyman at work (hi, Ray!), my friends helped make the support system in my brain actually take shape.

Once the support was ready, it was time to bake. And bake. And bake. I started on Friday, after work, around 6:00. I got all of my supplies laid out for a photo op:

Yes, I used boxed cake mix. But I modified them to make them slightly more dense, to better support the weight of the finished cake (hence the pudding and three dozen eggs).

There were seven different flavours of cake. From bottom to top, we had Triple Chocolate Fudge, Lemon, Red Velvet, French Vanilla, Strawberry, Butter Yellow, and Funfetti, plus a smash cake in Funfetti.  That's a lot of cake.  

I went to bed around midnight, and had ten of the sixteen layers baked. I also had the broom started - I used crispy rice treats to mold the sweeping part of the broom.  That was... A mess.  I don't know when I forgot how to properly make that stuff, but it was really gooey, and I couldn't keep it from sticking to my hands, and I definitely needed my beau's help to keep from getting the stuff all over the kitchen and dining room.

I started again on Saturday morning around 9, baking the remaining cakes and doing the first layer of frosting. By about noon, I had frosted the broom, and was starting to do the final frosting and stacking.  Boy, that was a messy job!  The edge of each layer got a thick layer of white frosting, then got threaded on to the centre support.  Once in place, I heated some purple frosting in the microwave, then drizzled it over the layers so it started to look drippy.

I took pictures of the first few layers as I added them, then realized that I needed to hurry up! I put ten layers in place before we moved it from the dining room table to my car.  The remaining four layers, the smash cake, and my decorating kit all piled into the back of my car, and I sat on the back seat, holding onto the center support with one hand, and the panic handle with the other as my beau drove the 1.3 miles to the party location.  That may have been the most stressful car ride of my life.  

But we arrived in one piece, I finished the stacking and frosting, and voila! The cake was ready before the party started at three! (If you didn't do the math, that was about 12 hours of baking and decorating.)

It turned out well, I think.  Well enough that someone at the party wants me to make a cake for her next party ;)

And that's the story of the cake.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Holy stash, Batman!

The big project this week was cataloging my yarn, putting it into Ravelry and taking photos of all of it. I have added all of the yarn that lived in my office, with the exception of about a dozen half-or-less balls that don't have any ball bands or other identifying features. I still have some yarn in the basement, but that's just going to have to wait.  As of right now, I have 132 different types of yarn in my stash.  And there are many of those with multiple skeins.  So.  I'm probably going to try a yarn diet.

Except that I bought more yarn today.  But it was on sale! Sugar and Cream cotton for only $0.97! I got five balls.  But that will all get used up for Christmas presents (I hope).

I also got my yarn for the Knitting Samurai Plus 1 knit-along! It's from Inspiration Dyeworks, and it's soooo pretty!

I do have a couple of finished objects this week.  First, I finished my Cherry Sour socks:

These are my personal vanilla with a 4x2 rib and a Fish Lips Kiss heel, knit out of Patons Stretch Sock in Cherry Sours on US 3 needles. I used my Clover Takumi double-pointed needles.  I love the way they look, but they're just a little bit too big for my tiny foot. I only cast on 48 sts, but they didn't work out. I think it might be because of the stretchiness of the yarn. I'm going to try the same formula with some less-stretchy yarn, and see how that works.  Luckily, both my mum and my sister have feet just slightly bigger than mine, so one of them will be getting some socks!

I also cast on and finished this little guy:

He's knit out of Knit One, Crochet Too's Babyboo, leftover from my iPad cover a few years ago, on US 4 needles. I used my Clover Takumi dpns - I think I prefer using bamboo or wood these days.  He's based on a free pattern I found on Ravelry for The Lorax, by Rachel Gallegher-Miller. He's destined to be a birthday present for a first birthday party this coming weekend.

What else am I working on? I'm glad you asked! 

I started my handwarmers for the Knitting Samurai Plus 1 podcast knit-along.  If you don't watch it, you should go check it out! http://knittingsamuraiplus1.blogspot.com

This is a variation on my usual handwarmers - cast on 36 sts on US 3, knit a bit of 2x2 ribbing, knit until I like the length, cast on extra stitches for the thumb hole, then decrease gradually to the wrist, and end with some more ribbing. Because of the circulation problems in my left hand, I'm supposed to wear gloves to keep my hand warm and keep the blood flow optimal. And because I knit, I'm always working on new handwarmers. Most of them are pretty plain so far, but now that I've got a good stock built up, I feel like I can get more complicated.

I cast on for a baby sweater yesterday, because I felt like the monster alone wasn't going to be enough of a gift, so I'm rushing to get that finished by Thursday night.  And if you're observant, you might recall that I said the party is this weekend.  It is.  It's on Saturday. But I'm also baking the cake for the party, and that's going to be... Big.  There will be photos next week, because I'm not sure if the cake is supposed to be a surprise.  But suffice to say, there will be at least 12 layers baked on Friday night, frosted on Saturday morning, and assembled Saturday afternoon. And it's going to be AWESOME!  There is no sweater photo, because I'm too busy knitting it to find a place to lay it out, make it pretty, photograph it, crop, and upload. And I'm lazy. 

I'm also still working on Mum's Moonlight Shawl.  I decided to make it a bit more fancy, and have added seed beads to the garter stitch rows, and so far, I really like the look, even if it is a bit of a pain to work with.  I think it's going to be worth the trouble.

And Tara's Shawl is still getting some love, though only at work on my lunch breaks.

I've turned the heels on the stripey socks, and decided to give them away. I'm about halfway down the foot (these are top-down instead of my preferred toe-up), and I need to get the recipient's foot length before I go much further.

I thought that I had a photo of Nora's legwarmers on my Photo Stream, but I guess I was wrong.  I'll try to get that for next week!

Whew! That was a lot.  Hope you enjoyed seeing what I'm working on!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cleaning = knitting?

I attempted to continue my clean-up this week... and attempted is the key word here.  I pulled out my bag o'baby hat yarn. This was all bulky, pretty stuff that I had purchased specifically to make baby hats from the book Welcoming Home Baby. I had made several of them in the past, but they didn't make it into Ravelry, so I can't be sure when exactly.  In any case, I pulled out the bad and started weighing all the partial skeins to enter into my Ravelry stash. As I was going, I realized that there was very little leftof a few of them, and that I could quickly use them up.  So I did!

The Criss-Cross hat:

The Chunky Beanie:

The Dashing Through the Snow hat:

Even more exciting than the baby hats, though, are the socks for my beau! I finished his TARDIS socks!  They're knit mostly out of Malabrigo Sock in Impressionist Sky, and I loved working with this yarn!

I also finished Nora's legwarmers, but totally forgot to take a photo, so I'll try to include one next week.

So those are off the needles. Still in progress - but without photos because they look almost the same as last week - I have my stripey socks, Mum's Moonlight shawl, and Tara's shawl.  

And because it feels wrong to have just one pair of socks on the needles, I started my Cherry Sour socks (named for the yarn, not the pattern). I'm trying the Fish Lips Kiss Heel again, and it looks better this time. It turns out that I've been wrapping the yarn wrong for my purl stitches since, well, always. I think that's why the first pair looked wonky.  Here's what they look like so far:

I'm debating starting a new pair of armwarmers, but I feel like I should finish some of these other things first.  Maybe I'll let myself cast on once I finish a pair of socks.

Where does that leave me in terms of my goals? Not too bad!

- I want to finish my beau's socks by Sept 14, which is the next time I'll get to see him face to face.  DONE!

- I want to finish Mum's shawl by Sept 30, because then I can enter it into the My Sister's Knitter's KAL on Ravelry. WORKING ON IT

- I want to finish my stripey socks by Sept 30 to keep on track for the 26 Pair Plunge. ABOUT TO TURN THE HEELS

- I want to finish Tara's shawl by Oct 18, so I can send it to her without extra postage costs. MAYBE BE ADJUSTED TO DECEMBER...

- I want to start and finish the legwarmers by Sept 30, so I can get credit for my HPKCHC class. DONE! Just need to post them.

- NEW: Finish Cherry Sour socks by Sept 14, to keep on track with the 26 Pair Plunge and then let myself cast on some armwarmers. 

And that's what's going on in my craft world!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Slowly cleaning up

I have started the process of cleaning out my office. Most of my family is coming to visit in a few weeks, so I need to have room for everyone to sleep.  I've got an air mattress to set up in the office, but right now, my office is kinda covered in yarn... I started reorganizing my stash a few weeks (or months) ago, then got distracted trying to knit all the yarn.  Tonight, I pulled out all of my fingering weight yarn and entered it all into Ravelry. That... Took a while.

This is all of my fingering weight yarn, spread out on my bed. You can see, there's a lot of it. I've got several pairs of balls, because I like to knit two socks at a time when I can manage it. I've also got a Baggie full of little balls, ones that are too small to make much with. They're going to be used for my sock yarn blankets, I think, or maybe lipgloss cases. 

In addition to organizing my yarn, I have been knitting! First, finished objects! I started a baby sweater last week, you may recall.  I knit the 'We Like To Cardi' baby cardigan by Vickie Howell, from e Fall 2013 Knit Simple magazine, and i made the 12 month size. I used the mill end yarn that I ripped out of a blanket - I have no idea what it started as, but I used 73g of it.  I knit the sweater on US 6/4.00 mm needles. It took me four days. Four days! That includes weaving in ends and sewing on buttons! Ready to see it?

I also started and finished a pair of handwarmers from the leftover Lorna's Laces Solemate in Zombie BBQ. I think I used about 30g. The pattern is one of my own making - I cast on 36 stitches on US 3/3.25 mm needles, then improvise as I go. I wish I had been better about updating Ravelry as I made handwarmers last year, but I'm pretty sure I've got at least two dozen pairs now.

I've still got lots on the needles. I turned the heel and got past the gusset decreases on my beau's TARDIS socks:

I finished another color section of my stripey socks:

I got a few more rows done on Tara's shawl:

And I'm about 12" into Mum's Moonlight Shawl: 

I really SHOULDN'T start anything new, but... I'm a Not-Quite-First-Year in the Harry Potter Knitting/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry, and there's an assignment due at the end of September, so I think I'm going to cast on legwarmers for my niece.  

But! I do have goals!

I want to finish my beau's socks by Sept 14, which is the next time I'll get to see him face to face.

I want to finish Mum's shawl by Sept 30, because then I can enter it into the My Sister's Knitter's KAL on Ravelry. 

I want to finish my stripey socks by Sept 30 to keep on track for the 26 Pair Plunge.

I want to finish Tara's shawl by Oct 18, so I can send it to her without extra postage costs.

I want to start and finish the legwarmers by Sept 30, so I can get credit for my HPKCHC class.

Think I can do it??