Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wee Tiny Socks and Loopy Ewe Goodies

Last night I made my wee tiny sock for the swap, tomorrow morning this sucker will be headed off to the UK and its new home.
It's Cascade Fixation in Italian Ices # 9955 out of the Jennifer's Mini Sock pattern I've used before.

This one is for me, it's the same yarn but using the Keychain Sock Blocker Sock pattern that comes with the mini sock blocker. (used size 4 needles with the fixation) Very nice pattern. This is my second mini sock blocker, I had a Loopy credit and I used it to get another one of these for my knitting bag (the first is on my keychain)
and to get this
it's a kitchener stitch dogtag! This ingenious little thing comes from Knitcellaneous the same people who do the mini sockblocker keychains. Here it is at the Loopy Ewe, unfortunately they are out of stock at the moment but I'm sure there's more on the way! Oh, I see they are still available directly from Knitcellaneous. But if you're working toward Groupie status, cough cough... I am also in deep love with Sparkle the Peacock and really want one. But I'm holding off because Sheri said she'll be getting them and you know, I'm a groupie wannabe. ;-)

Here it is again in it's new home attached to my sockmonkey sockbag. Just what I needed to keep the steps in my head!
One more goodie from The Loopy Ewe, this time a freebie! This purchase put me one step closer to being a Groupie and got me this little treat from Sheri!

Fitting into the tiny sock theme, it's a Loopy's Red Sock Kit! Since I can't make it myself (wool) my friend Katie has offered to make it for me. yay!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A finished Danica and a bunch of cupcakes!

First, my Danica is finished!
yay! I love it. It ended up being 5 feet 4 inches long. I have a small ball of yarn left, but I don't think it is enough to do another pattern repeat - can't say for sure. I couldn't trust going to the length stated in the pattern before doing the ending triangles because the Cherry Tree Hill skeins are smaller than the ones specified in the pattern. I was really tired of it by the end but that's just because I don't have the project attention span for scarves, I really did enjoy the pattern.

On to the cupcakes, I've had a cupcake post in the works for months now and I've amassed quite the collection so I decided it was time. If last summer was the Summer of the Pancake, this was definitely the Winter of the Cupcake (not that the cupcakes will stop any time soon).

At Thanksgiving I made Pumpkin Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Ice Cream. They were fantastic. I don't have a recipe really, use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe or mix and fill all the cupcake tins/liners halfway to start with. Mix up the pumpkin filling - I took a small can of pumpkin and did a pumpkin pie sort of thing just to taste - I added a splash of milk, a bit of sugar, and then your favorite pumpkin pie type spices. Put a dollop of the filling into each cupcake and add more batter on top of the pumpkin. Bake according to the recipe! Top with cream cheese frosting and serve with pumpkin ice cream! This is my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe (and I've gotten a lot of inspiration from the Cupcake Bakeshop!).

Then at Christmas I made Chocolate Cupcakes with Cranberry Orange Filling. Again, use your favorite chocolate cupcake and only fill halfway to start. For the filling, all I did was dump a bag of cranberries in a bowl, add a few splashes of orange juice and then microwave it. For my berries and my microwave, it was 5 to 6 minutes. When I took them out I smushed the cranberries with a fork and added sugar to taste. I wanted chunks of cranberry but if you wanted it totally smooth you could do the same thing and just puree it instead of forking it. One bag of cranberries made almost the perfect amount for 24 cupcakes - there was only a spoonful leftover. Fill the cupcakes and top with the rest of the batter. Bake as directed. I used the same cream cheese frosting recipe except I added a teaspoon of orange juice and some red food coloring. After frosting I topped each cupcake with a craisin (actually they were an organic version from another brand which I liked better than the Ocean Spray) As an alternative, you could chop some craisins and stir them into the frosting. Oh, I also had added a teaspoon of dried orange peel to the cupcake batter but I do not recommend that. The filling and frosting were great but the cupcakes tasted "burnt" even though they weren't. Since it was a good cupcake I'd used before I decided that was the orange peel. So if you want to try to orange up the cupcake as well, try some orange juice or fresh zest instead.

Next up on the agenda, the vegan cupcakes I made for a bachelorette party a few weeks ago. Some of you may be thinking, ew, vegan? And I hear you. But last year I tried a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and then I knew it was possible to have yummy vegan cupcakes! At last year's slumber party we made the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and they were great. This time I made Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake and topped them with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting. The chocolate cupcakes were amazing. The frosting I only recommend if you really need the vegan - it had an off taste to me. (the chocolate buttercream last year was literally the best frosting ever so either the chocolate covers it up or the brand of vegan margarine I bought this year isn't as good as last year's) The second batch of cupcakes was an adaptation of a recipe in the book - it has a recipe for Margarita cupcakes and frosting and I adapted it to be a Mojito recipe to fit with a personal favorite of my friend the bride. Since Margaritas and Mojitos are both lime, we were on the right track. Here's the recipe with my many changes:
note: this is a different type of cupcake, dense and extra moist, just be prepared

Mojito Cupcakes - makes 12
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest
1 cup soy or rice milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 tsp rum extract and 1 1/2 tablespoons water (or 2 tablespoons light rum - I didn't have any and the liquor stores were already closed)
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350'. Grease muffin tins or use cupcake liners. Mix in a large bowl: lime juice, zest, soy milk, oil, extracts and water or rum, sugar. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and mix. Fill tins 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick is clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Cool before frosting.

Mojito Frosting
This was so delicious I will be making it again for other cupcakes!
1/4 cup vegan margarine (you'd think all margarine was dairy free since it isn't butter but most still has milk products in it) softened (or butter if you don't need it to be dairy free)
1 tablespoon soy or rice milk
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon light rum and 1/4 tsp mint extract or 1/4 tsp rum extract, 1/4 tsp mint extract and enough water to make 1 tablespoon(ish)
optional green food coloring
2 cups confectioners sugar

Blend margarine until fluffy, add milk, lime juice, extracts and rum/water. Blend in confectioners sugar until smooth and yummy. Add more sugar if needed to make it your desired consistency. Chill until needed.

Oh, perhaps you are wondering about the decor of the cupcakes? It was a March 15th wedding so the bachelorette party had a light Ides of March/Roman theme. ;-)
yes, those are the club sandwich cocktail swords :-P but they have the loop ripped off to be more dagger like

Easter brought another cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World - Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cupcakes. Instead of baking the pineapple on the bottom, you put a cooked pineapple topping and cherry on top after they are baked and cooled. I wasn't thrilled with this cupcake, but the topping was good. I think I'd rather do the topping on a yellow cupcake. This cupcake had ground pineapple right in the cupcake it was a bit much for me.

O.k., the last cupcake was not baked by me, just purchased and eaten. We went to the CIA for lunch the other day and of course stopped at the bakery to get some goodies to take home for later. This was their "cupcake of the day" - it was chocolate but I'm not sure what else exactly. It was very good and very moist, it might have even had a filling of sorts? Not sure, but it was good. And how about those decorations! The frosting was ganache (yum) and then it had some multicolored dragee kind of things with handmade sugar flowers. I'm not a sugar flower fan but Trevor said they were tasty. Neither of us ate the dragees (silly little rocks really, but they are pretty). Oh, and what an awesome liner! The nifty cut paper thing was put on after it was baked, there was a regular silver cupcake liner underneath. I'd love to buy some of those paper lace things, I'll have to see if they are available anywhere.

There you go, six cupcakes and a scarf!

edited to fix a link

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two quick things...

  1. My progress on Danica - I'd say I'm 70 to 75% done now? I'm guessing I have about a quarter of the yearn left. And it is just over four feet long so it should be a good size when I run out of yarn. I am kind of working on this all the time when I should be making progress on other things because I want to get it done so I get to wear it this year before it gets too warm!
  2. Wee Tiny Sock Swap! - If you don't do sock swaps, like me, (too much work to swap away, the wool thing etc.) consider the Wee Tiny Sock Swap from yarnmiracle - all you do is make ONE tiny sock, send it off to your assigned person and get one from someone else in return! There's a flickr group, there's a ravelry group... You have to sign up by this Thursday, you'll get your assignment on Friday, you mail the sock on Monday. Emily has a pattern (pdf) you can use or use any tiny sock pattern - if you have the mini sock blocker that has a pattern, or this is the one I've used in the past. These things are quick so the weekend is really not a bad deadline. Or, get started now! Info here, sign up here

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top secret projects!

I have been knitting, for real. I just couldn't share it. But now I can! This

is the baby kimono I made for a future bebe! Two of my very good friends are expecting a lovely little one coming this September. And I was happy to be the first to give them a baby present.

This, I can't take much credit for at all - I only made one boring Grandma's Favorite patterned square and other people made all the gorgeous squares. But isn't it (a wedding afghan for other wonderful friends) beautiful?
not the best, complete picture - the thing was huge!

We spent this past weekend at this wedding and bachelorette party and just having wonderful fun with wonderful friends. It was the best weekend in a long, long time. :-)

Another secret project was for the wedding as well, embroidery instead of knitting this time. Using the Sublime Stitching iron-ons I made them a pirate pillow

and two pirate tea towels

this one is my favorite

I've used a lot of different Sublime Stitching iron-ons over the past five years or so and they are really great. There's really no other option for cool, fun iron-ons! They also work great - they say one iron from each design is all that's guaranteed but I've used them multiple times. Even if it gets paler it just needs to be dark enough to stitch over!

To wrap this up I give you a group of my best friends at the wedding. The lovely bride, Kate, is missing since she was busy just being married and all. And Erin, um, sorry you are totally hidden, oops. Note that I'm wearing the frankenstein shrug! A few of my friends are wearing knitted/crocheted beauties as well.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A long overdue FO

I started this Ballband dishcloth way back in July and then it got set on the back burner. I lurve this pattern and I lurve the way it looks in my favorites pink and green. I'm thinking about making a bag out of the pattern (sometime, down the line) - I saw somebody on ravelry who did one but that one was felted. I'm thinking of just two rectangles seamed up for the sides and a smaller rectangle for the bottom...

In other FO news, I have something very cute done but it is a secret and I can't show it off just yet.

And, one more thing that's a wip, and will be for quite some time I think. An entrelac scarf! I did take that short little entrelac class a few weeks ago. It was o.k., but the class was too large so a few of us got forgotten a few times and I made mistakes. I was a bit unhappy after the class, then a few friends said how easy Danica is. Well, I thought either I'm kinda dumb about these things or maybe, just maybe (there'll be fruit pie!) this is a screwed up pattern. So I frogged the little bit I had and started over. Bingo, I haven't had any problems since I switched to Danica!
There is a long way to go to turn this into a scarf especially since I am working on it a bit here and there in between other projects. But I like it. The edges are straight but the needle pulls it a bit and it will need a smidge of blocking (not too much, or it depuffs the squares too much). The yarn is the Cherry Tree Hill North Country Cotton that I got in the No Sheep for You swap a while back.

Made by Lena