Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wedding crafts and cake practise

Craft Sundays have officially started around my friends, which is crazy because none of my friends are particularly crafty. We are making flowers for my best friend's wedding - his fiancee wants the bouquets to be made of paper and origami flowers, so we spend the morning making some.

My favourites are these little paper ones - we used this amazing tutorial found on Pinterest.

I spent most of my time sticking my fingers together with the hot glue gun, but eventually the little petals became flowers.

And here's the first test of the wedding cake. I used this recipe from Completely Delicious.

My icing seriously needs work. I kind of slapped it on this morning in a rush to get out the door, but the taste was very well received by Craft Sundays!
I've seen a Craftsy class that I can enroll in to get the whole butter-cream icing thing down, so I'll have a look into that and see how it goes. Someone's wedding is a great excuse to learn more crafty and baking tricks. And buy new baking equipment. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Someone asked me to bake a wedding cake. Pressure much?

I'm not a bad baker. Generally I get positive feedback from any creations. I'm really good at cookies, and my chocolate cakes are always eaten. 
But I must admit that I don't rate my skills highly enough to be able to make a cake for a big occasion - like my best friend's wedding.
 Luckily I'm not being asked to make a three-tier wonder. The couple have asked four of their friends who are more baking-inclined to contribute one cake each for the occasion - an idea that I think is extremely cool and a great way to get close friends more involved in the special day. 
But even though there are three other cakes for guests to eat if mine is a disaster, I still need this to be the best cake I've ever made. 
I'm going to have to learn how to ice properly. No more butter knives for me. I might even have to get a piping bag. All that will be fine, but I'm more intimidated about the flavour I have to work with. 
Yep, I said it. 
I haven't really made lemon cake before. I've made a couple of lemon loaves, and they tasted great but looked much more afternoon tea than wedding reception. So I'm searching for a recipe. I like the look of this fancy one from Completely Delicious.

I've got just under three months to figure this out. 
So I'm going to be baking every weekend. 
Any recipe suggestions are welcome!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm kind of cheating, but this will be a baby blanket.

A couple of weeks ago Hannah of Han Drawn gave me these awesome knitted squares.
I thought I'd make a cushion cover, but now I've decided to sew them together and turn them into a cot blanket for a friend whose baby is due in April. 

Two of the squares aren't finished yet, so I'll do those first and then make one more, stitch them all up and hey presto - full baby blanket and I didn't have to make pretty much all of it. 
All I need to do is figure out what size needle to use....
And drink me some coffee from Espresso Workshop

Monday, February 11, 2013

Another hat

I've just finished my fourth hat of the year, in chunky Rowan Big Wool and a pattern of my own making.
I think it's come out okay - super slouchy like I wanted and really warm! A bit too warm for the current weather, but will be great in a few months when it starts getting cold!

I love mustard yellow right now, and I'm really pleased with how the cable came out.

Biggest challenges with this hat - the decreases, and making sure they didn't interfere with the cable until the end. My slightly bad planning meant I couldn't do my intended eight segments of decreasing at the top of the hat. If I did this, the first round would've meant a decrease right in the middle of the cable, and that would've been bad. 
I changed it to six segments, and it worked really well - only thing was I did an extra row before my last cable twist, making the pattern slightly off at the top.
Never mind though, I'll keep it there as a reminder to concentrate next time I cable a hat!
Now she just needs a good blocking - I've heard it's good to tumble dry Big Wool a little bit to make it just the right size - any tips?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Woollypoles, yarn shops and running out of yarn

With any summer public holiday, I like to try and get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine. A few of us headed out to Devonport, where I got to finally see Knitty Graffity's Woollypoles!

Here's one of them - there are heaps throughout the village centre.

Picture by Knitty Graffity

It's an extremely cool outdoor installation that's been in place since November's Devonport Arts Festival, and by the looks of it most have survived the summer. 

The pieces were made by people all over the world and Knitty Graffity, a Devonport local who is known for her yarn bombing, put it all together. 

Devonport is also home to Wild and Woolly Yarns, and I nearly had a panic attack when I arrived and its usual home had been taken over by a clothing store. Luckily we found it in an arcade a bit further down the road, it's new home and location for the past six months. not sure what rock I'd been under, but I'm relieved I can still get Rowan Yarn somewhere.

I got two skeins of Big Wool. I plan on making a really fat hat.

I'm going to make it while I wait for an emergency hank of my Black Damson by Dyeforyarn to arrive. Although my Rikke pattern says I need 225 yards of a DK weight yarn and my yarn tag says I have 232 yards, I'm not even half way through and I've already used at least 50 grams of my 100 gram skein.   Maybe my gauge was off a tiny bit? It still fits nicely though.

I know they dyed a few in this colourway, so I'm hoping my emergency skein is from the same dye lot. At least it's a very dark colour though - hopefully any variances will be minimal. 
Lesson learnt though - always buy more yarn!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Anna Wilkinson + the gift of knitting

Anna Wilkinson is the new cool in knitting. I've seen her patterns featured in Mollie Makes and Pom Pom, and I couldn't help myself today when I saw a copy of her book, Learn to knit, love to knit, in one of the city bookshops.

Her patterns are gorgeous.
I love the Fair Isle Band Sweater and her Simple Round Neck Sweater - I think I'll start with those. Or maybe her Moira sweater in Pom Pom. Love me some cables.

And you see those lovely knit samples? One of Husband's work colleagues, who blogs about her amazing drawing here, gave them to me!

She made them a few years ago but then started quilting, so they have been sitting quietly tucked away.
They were originally intended for a granny square blanket, but I don't think I'll be able to find the same dye lots to finish it, so I'm planning some cushion covers instead! 
They are beautifully made - in Rowan Aran no less - and I can't wait to make them up to go on the couch.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


When I was in high school I took French until I graduated. The university I went to, much to my disappointment, didn't offer a French course, so I tried carrying on my own learning by enrolling in night classes and getting audio books. It's not easy to learn a language when you don't have someone to practice with outside of class, and so eventually my enthusiasm dwindled, and my vocabulary is now pretty poor. 

But there is one word that has stuck with me since my French lessons in high school, and that is Copain. It means good friend, often used to refer to a boyfriend (or if you're talking about a girl, you say copine), but it seems to be quite interchangeable with Ami, which also means friend. The root of the word is Pain, which means bread in French, so the word Copain describes someone you would break bread with. 

It's quite fitting then that today I baked my first two flat breads and shared them with Husband, Brother and Awesome Flatmate. 

I am generally useless at baking bread No matter what I do, it always ends up hard like a rock or too dense to enjoy.

But this bread is a revolution for me.
I used Annabel Langbein's crusty flatbread recipe, swapping the mashed potato for mashed kumara (sweet potato) and it was delicious.
My mother in law recommended it to me after trying it out and saying how easy it was, and I had to give it a go.
Having a mixer with a dough hook has made my dough-making so much better.

The boys rate it eight out of ten. And they want me to make it again.
I'm going to keep testing it out with different toppings, and I think this will become a regular baking staple.

And I've done it again. I've cast on another Rikke hat, with my DyeForYarn silk/merino.

This one is for me though!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New knitting mags, tea cups, meeting famous people

I am having the coolest weekend. Last night Husband and I went out to celebrate our two-month-married anniversary. He remembered, I didn't. We met up in town after work and found ourselves wandering towards the new Odyssey Sensory Maze that's just opened in the Metro complex. Holy moly it was cool! Rooms of mirrors with tiny lights everywhere so you feel like you're wandering through stars, then you bounce your way through a room of yoga balls climb through tangled wires in dark rooms. Apparently they are also getting scents put in to test all your senses. 

Following this, we got dinner. Velvet Burger was the only way to go, but for the second time in a week (yes, I gave in twice) I ate meat. On Thursday I lost all self control and ate a Big Mac. I don't know what happened. Something just came over me. I give up trying to explain it. 
But last night, I had the Sustainable Burger. It had a venison patty, and $1 of the price will be donated to Sustainable Coastlines. See me justifying this? It was delicious! 

Next up was the highlight of the evening - we got tickets to see Alan Davies' comedy tour for Christmas. I am a huge fan of Jonathan Creek and QI, so I was extremely excited to see the crime-solving magician in real life! He was hilarious - I'm so glad we got to go.
And he did a book signing!

The only thing I can compare my excitement to is that of a 13 year old girl wanting to glimpse Justin Bieber. But less crazy.

When I got home I arrived to find a lovely parcel from Tash at Holland Road Yarn Company. Inside we the two most recent issues of Pom Pom Magazine. I read about this new London mag somewhere online, and I just knew I had to get it. 

It is one of the best knitting magazines I've read in ages. The patterns are stunning, featuring work by a range of cool designers. That cable jumper on the cover? Yeah I need to make it. This mag has a special something about it that just instantly appeals to me. The photography is beautiful and the designs are all thing I would seriously consider wearing - not just knitting. I can't wait for the next issue. It's a shame that issue one has sold out - I can get the digital copy but there is something about keeping hard copies of favourite magazines!

And yet again, I've found more teacups at a friend's garage sale. 
I have four - the blue is a great colour, but I think I'm going to keep an eye out for a cool set of saucers to jazz them up a little.
That's it. No more teacups. I have no more space.

Hope you're all having great weekend and enjoying the sunshine if you're in Auckland - only problem is it's too hot for knitting!