Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maple French Toast Bacon Cupcakes

These. Are. Amazing. If you aren't vegetarian/vegan, and you don't try these at least once, there is SOMETHING wrong with you. They are the perfect balance of savory and sweet. Plus, who doesn't love bacon?

I adapted this recipe from one I found on FoodNetwork.com. I ended up having to double it on the fly, and it seemed like the batter would have been way too thick if I had included all of the dry ingredients it called for.

Note: if you use the original recipe, do not expect the frosting to turn out like the photo. It will be much thinner.



Maple French Toast Bacon Cupcakes


Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 3.9 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. corn starch
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup half&half, room temperature
1 cup chopped cooked bacon (about 10-12 strips)


For Frosting:
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon


Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit
Prepare muffin tin with paper liners or grease and flour.
Combine the flours, pudding mix, baking powder, starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugars.
Gradually mix in the eggs and vanilla, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with syrup and half&half. Mix until ingredients are just combined.
Fold in the chopped bacon.

Pour the batter into each tin. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (the original recipe says 40 minutes, but I seem to remember it being more along the lines of 25 or 30. Start checking around 25 minutes until you think they're done.)

For the icing, blend the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. Gradually mix in confectioner's sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Mine came out a bit thinner than I had hoped. Less syrup will yield a stiffer icing, and more will give you something like a thick glaze. Alternately, you can use maple flavoring, but it will discolor your icing more than the syrup.

I topped my cupcakes with ~1/2 inch triangles cute from strips of cooked bacon, and they looked pretty cute. I'll make sure to take photos and add them in here the next time I make these!


Next post: Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese-maple-cinnamon frosting. Yum!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recipes!

Shamefully, I have been absent from this blog for too long, and I really have no excuse aside from laziness. That said, I happen to be celebrating my first wedding anniversary today. :) That's right! I have been married to a wonderful fellow for a whole year now. Since it IS our anniversary, and I have been talking about getting a stand mixer for a while, my husband told me I HAVE to get one and I'm not allowed to be frugal this weekend. As much as it pains me to spend money on unnecessary items, he's right. As much as I've been baking these past few months, it would really make things easier for me. So I ordered a Hamilton Beach stand mixer. More on that later. Stand mixer = thinking of baking= favorite recipes. So here are a couple of my favorites:


Snickerdoodles 
I highly recommend Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodle recipe from Allrecipes.com. I made some of these last month when I did "Cookies for the Cure" at work to garner donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. I had never made snickerdoodles before, so I followed this recipe to the letter. I have to say, I don't really think there is any way you could possibly improve it. It gives excellent directions, and the cookies came out beautifully. They were crispy around the edges, chewy in the center, and they had all of the sweet-tart-bite that you come to expect from great snickerdoodles. If you ever make snickerdoodles, you MUST try this recipe.

Biscuits
Another recipe sourced from allrecipes.com (one of my favorite websites, by the way), was this easy biscuit recipe. For those of you outside the U.S., what we call a biscuit here is not a dessert, but a breakfast quick bread most commonly found in the American South. I love biscuits. I love homemade biscuits. I really love my Mom's homemade biscuits, but (sorry Mom!) these are the best biscuits I have ever had in my life. I am totally serious when I say this. I will admit that I adjusted this recipe just a weee bit. I used about 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of shortening instead of 3/4 cup of shortening, because I love butter and it imparts much more flavor than shortening. Other than that, to the letter. These biscuits came out flaky and tender on the inside, flaky and crispy on the outside. Just what a biscuit should be.

Stay tuned! Up next: Bacon Cupcakes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slowly But Surely

Slowly but surely- that seems to be how I get projects done. It seems to me that it often takes way longer than it should, but I'll get there eventually. This little baby blanket I'm working on should be going a lot faster than it is; the blocks themselves work up really fast. It just seems I never really have the time to work on them. I think it's approximately 25% done. Here's hoping I'll get a strong burst of motivation and have it done in time for my new niece!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society hosts an annual fundraiser and awareness raising event, the Light the Night walk. This year's Lexington, KY walk included over 1,500 people. It was pretty amazing to see all those lighted balloons and hear the hope and joy in people's voices. My team, mentioned in a previous post, managed to raise over $1,500 all told, in just under a month. We managed to contribute the equivalent of a modest monthly income to this organization, and that gives me hope. This event has bolstered my faith in humanity, and reminded me of the generosity and good will of the people around me. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude to the Society for all they do, and especially to the donors for making their activities possible.

The whole reason I participated in this event is an amazing friend of mine, Emma. Emma was diagnosed with a pretty rare form of leukemia earlier this summer. Luckily, her treatment is going well. I have to say, when Emma first had to go into the hospital, I was really scared for her. The circumstances which sent her to the hospital were frightening enough, and then there was a period of time where they couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. It was nerve-wracking enough for those of us who care for her; I can't even imagine what it must have been like for her. After the doctors found out what was going on, everything seemed to get a little easier- they knew what was wrong, they could treat it. It would take some time, but they could treat it. I'm hoping that everything goes perfectly with her upcoming marrow transplant, and that she can get back to her vibrant, vivacious self as soon as possible.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hi-Hem, Hi-Hem, It's off to work I, uh......

Well, here is your proof. I am, in fact, alive.

Who'd'a  thunk it, since my last post was in early August. But here I am all flush with ideas. Just today I was speaking with a friend about some new curtains she is lusting after, which happen to cost way more than I could ever conscionably spend on a window covering. When I suggested that she sew her own,  she brought up the extensive amounts of cutting, pressing, hemming, and ruffling she would need to do. I admit, it does sound like a pretty daunting task if you have to hem dozens of strips of fabric to add pretty little ruffles, and you haven't been informed that there are presser feet that will do it for you. So, I informed her. Needless to say, my friend was pleased as punch, and I'm glad that I could help make her sewing a little easier.

If you have never seen or heard of a hemming foot before, they look a little like a torture device. Really, they do. There is a corkscrew-shaped piece that folds your raw edge as the fabric feeds through, so you can make a straight, even hem almost without effort. After coming off of this corkscrew, the fabric slips under the flat part of the foot, which holds it in place for the needle. If you have to make fairly narrow hems on any light- to medium-weight fabric, purchasing one of these for your machine is definitely worth it.

Photo courtesy of Kim Love.

Ms. Love's photo makes me want to purchase a pretty linen and make my own napkins! What are your favorite sewing machine attachments?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Walk

A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with leukemia, and has completed her first round of chemo with good results (yay!). She benefited from the services of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I thought it would be a great idea to give back to this organization. They offer financial and emotional support to patients and survivors, and they support research into these types of cancer. All in all, I was pretty impressed, so I'm participating in their annual Light the Night walk (September 11th is our local one) to raise funds for these admirable efforts. If you can spare just a few dollars, please go to my team's page and contribute.


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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes Revisited: Part 2

Ok, so now that we have that pesky baking thing out of the way, let's move on to the fun stuff, shall we?

When I made the raspberry filling for these, I wasn't very exact. When I want to whip something up, I often don't pay attention to the exact measurements. The good news is that if you want to try this, you'll have plenty of room for experimentation! :)

I used:
1 12-ounce bag of frozen raspberries (plain, I've seen several recipes that call for frozen fruit packed in syrup- who actually uses that stuff?)
~1/8 cup of lemon juice
~1/8 cup water
~ 2 1/2 tsp. cornstarch.

Throw it all in a pot (mix the starch with water or lemon juice first to avoid lumps) and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Allow to cool completely before use.

I just stuck the pot of filling in the fridge to chill it down. Meanwhile, I whipped up the super-easy, light, and delicious frosting.

~8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Blend cheese and sugar together


Here's the ricotta! Mmmmmmm.
Ricotta + sugar.
In a separate bowl, whip cream until it forms stiff peaks.


Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheese/sugar mixture, and pop it in the fridge to chill.


Let's mix it up! (or fold it in, as the case may be)

Okay, now that the frosting is done, your filling should be cool enough to use. Fit a piping bag (or ziploc, or parchment cone, whatever you feel most comfortable with) with a round tip large enough for the raspberry seeds to pass through. You will need a piping tip, because a bag with the tip snipped off is not sturdy enough to penetrate the cupcakes. Anyway, got your bag and tip all assembled? Good. Now, fill that bag about half-full with your raspberry filling. You'll probably want to make sure the tip is sealed with a piece of plastic wrap before you do this, otherwise it will look like you murdered someone in your kitchen. So, fill the bag, tie it off, and prepare to stab some cakes!

Push the piping tip through the center top of the cupcake and squeeze the bag gently until you feel the cupcake give a little bit. It may take some practice before you can do it without blowing out the side of the cupcake, although, come to think of it, that might be pretty neat for Halloween. :) Mmmm, bleeding cupcakes.



Look at the one in the back- I over filled it a bit and the top cracked, but no one can see once the frosting goes on. :)


When you have filled all your cupcakes, add a dollop of frosting to the top of each, and lightly press a fresh raspberry on top. All done and ready for delicious! :)



You can always pipe the frosting on, but I love the way these
dollops look!

Yummy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes Revisited: Part 1

 So, I've been up to my antics again. I liked that Ina Garten recipe, but it calls for a syrup to be poured over the cake once it's been baked. Myself, I'm not a big fan of that, so I omitted it. While the cake WAS pretty good, I thought it could be a weee bit sweeter and a little more moist, so here's my version of the recipe:

3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup lightly packed lemon zest (approximately 8 medium lemons)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 extra large eggs
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Like this:


 Cream together butter and sugar, like so:

(I love the look and smell of creamed butter and sugar! :) )


Add eggs, one by one. Make sure to completely incorporate one egg before adding the next.It should look something like this when everything is done:

Combine buttermilk, lemon juice, and zest in a separate bowl.
Add flour and liquid mixture in small amounts, alternating between the two until all ingredients are fully incorporated. You may want to make sure to scrape any accumulated zest off the beaters of your mixer and mix it in thoroughly with a fork. I find it tends to pile up there.

And here is what your finished batter will look like:


Spoon batter into muffin tin lined with baking cups. I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup, and that was just the right amount.



Bake at 350° for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Yield: approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.




 Well, that concludes the cake part! Tune in next time for filling and frosting. :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

The scoop:
I recently discovered that I have a perfect audience for pretty much anything I want to bake. Work. The people that I work with will eat juuust about anything I bring in. That's good news for me, since it means I can bake more often without having to worry about eating it all! :)

So I decided to make lemon cupcakes the other day. Then I thought "hey, wouldn't those be awesome with a raspberry filling?" After that, I could only wonder what sort of frosting would work best with a raspberry-filled lemon cupcake. The solution hit me like a ton of bricks. A light cheese-based frosting would be perfect!

My first choice was mascarpone, but the Kroger I went shopping at didn't carry it. They did carry ricotta, however. And thus was born the Raspberry Lemonade cupcake.

I used:
  • Ina Garten's lemon cake recipe (sans syrup portion, and included a weee bit more buttermilk in the batter; I think next time I'll add ~1/4 cup each sugar, buttermilk, and lemon juice. It did turn out well though.) I got 2 dozen cupcakes and a thin-ish 6-inch round out of this recipe.
  • Martha Stewart's Mascarpone Frosting recipe (obviously, I substituted ricotta for mascarpone. Otherwise, I pretty much doubled this recipe, using a 15 oz. container of the cheese, 2 cups of cream, and 1 cup of confectioners sugar.) By the way, that was waaaaay too much for 2 dozen cupcakes. Stick with the original portions unless you have a ton of cupcakes or a very large cake. :)
  • My own hastily whipped up raspberry concoction. 
    • 1 12 oz. bag of raspberries
    • somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup of sugar
    • somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • ~2 1/2 tsp. corn starch
    • Bring all ingredients to a boil, lower heat and simmer until it is the desired thickness when allowed to cool (I tested it by waiting for it to cool on my stirring utensil). I don't have exact measurements on this one, since I sort of threw it together, but I'll make sure to pay better attention next time I make it. :)

After the cupcakes and the filling were both completely cool, I filled a pastry bag fitted with a round piping tip (large enough for the raspberry seeds to pass through) with the raspberry filling. I've seen a few different methods for filling cupcakes, some of which involve cutting out a portion of the cake and spooning or piping the filling into the cavity. Here is what I did (and I have to say, it worked quite well) :
    • Push the tip through the top of each cupcake and gently squeeze the bag until you feel the cupcake give a little.
    • Release the pressure on the bag as you lift the tip out of the cupcake.
    • Be careful not to overfill them! I ended up with one cupcake that looked like it had been stabbed in the side!
I topped off each cupcake with a generous dollop of frosting and a fresh raspberry. I am really very pleased with these cupcakes. Definitely a keeper! :)

I was going to take some photos of the last four cupcakes, but they met with a sad accident that involved an unbalanced tray and a quick trip to the floor. Needless to say, I'm not too happy about it, but I do plan on making more this weekend, and will be sure to share step-by-step photos next week! Maybe this time I'll make mascarpone frosting like I originally intended!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Apologies

I apologize for having been away so long! I have been pretty busy in the interim, however. There was a trip to Austin, Texas for work (and I would love to go back for a vacation sometime, the city seemed like a ton of fun!). There were a couple of bad diagnoses for people I care a great deal about, and a generally busy Nancy. Hopefully things will calm down a bit now and I'll actually have a chance to get a bit of crochet done.

Sadly, I haven't had a  lot of opportunity to crochet in the past few weeks, but I have still been dreaming of new projects and delightful yarn! :) I have some wonderfully soft baby alpaca yarn in a gorgeous color, and I have been dying to use it! I'm thinking a lacy shawl would suit this yarn well. Here are a few patterns I've found that I like:


Photos from Caron International's website


This is such a pretty, lacy design, but I can't help but think it might be a little too open. Still, it's pretty, and maybe I could bookmark it for a nice, soft, cotton yarn sometime in the future? :)



Photo from www.crochetuncut.com, by Darlisa Riggs

I think this pattern would be gorgeous in ombre colors. Shades of blue, teal, and seafoam would make it look like waves, while shades of gold, orange, and crimson could evoke images of a beautiful autumn day.

And this looks similar, but a bit larger, I think.

Photos from Caron International's website.
This pattern seems to beg for big, bold colors. I think it looks wonderful in this burgundy.


Do you have any pattern suggestions?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It must be crochet love...

Okay, so you remember a few posts back when I was talking about pretty hexagon motif afghans? I sure do. I recall mentioning that I would love to start one, but I want to try to finish some of my current projects before I do. I am here to tell you: I fail. I absolutely did intend to honor that little promise to myself, really. The problem is that I found this beautiful hex pattern in that book I recently picked up, 7-Day Afghans. The pattern is called Ice Crystals, and it's not only easy, but gorgeous. I've already gotten two rows done on this little crib 'ghan. I am so happy with this pattern! I'm pretty sure this is what crochet love feels like. :)



I've veered from the published pattern a bit by doing this as a join-as-you-go afghan. It's much easier than joining them all together once they've been crocheted, in my opinion.

I'm not going to post the pattern here, for copyright reasons, but you might be able to find it if you do a Google search for the pattern name.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's a dirty job...

My apartment has hardwood floors. They are beautiful. They are also a bear to clean, so I got a Swiffer to help make that particular chore a little easier. Unfortunately, Swiffer cloths are darn expensive, and the cost can rack up pretty quick if you use them a lot. I got the idea for this project from a friend of mine, when she mentioned that she had seen a lot of them on Etsy.com. Yes, I crocheted Swiffer covers. I find that a good cotton yarn yields a pad that works just as well as the disposable cloths, and is less expensive than a single box of the off-brand cloths. You can also use them wet or dry, which helps a lot with the wood floors. Use one to pick up as much dust as possible, then switch to a clean one (or rinse it out), and a spray bottle of cleaning solution. I machine-wash mine, and it does just fine.

I used Peaches 'N Creme worsted weight cotton yarn in Camel (found at my local Walmart for ~$2 per ball). I got one plain cloth out of one ball of yarn, with a little bit left over. I think I'm going to make the second one nubby. I'll just have to play with it a bit, I guess. I'm also thinking about getting some fun, brightly colored yarn to make a few more. I got the camel yarn because I expect it to get dirty, and I figure this color won't show stains as much, but, really, where's the fun in that?

I also think I'm going to have to start taking more photos of my work outside. The early afternoon sun was just perfect for these!



Saturday, May 29, 2010

I think I have a problem.

And you know, they say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. You see, I love afghans. Adore them, really. There's just nothing else quite as comforting as curling up on the couch with a big crocheted (or knitted) blanket. My favorites are the heavy soft ones you can just snuggle under all day!

Just yesterday, the dear husband and I were out and about and decided to stop in at Unique Books. (I love having two independent bookstores just around the corner from our apartment!) This marvelous bookshop happens to have a small shelf at the back of the store with craft books. Sewing, knitting, crochet, papercrafts, they even have a couple of books on cabinetry! I saw several vintage craft and sewing books (and it pained me to leave those 1960's sewing books on the shelf, but we ARE on a budget), and happened across a copy of 7-Day Afghans, from 1985. I flipped through it and found several patterns that I just love. Incidentally, half the patterns are crochet and half are knit. While I don't knit, I have been thinking about trying it again, and some of the pretty patterns I found seem like they'll be just the inspiration I'll need to pick up a set of needles and give it a shot!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crochet: ur doin it rong.

(yes, that's a little LolCats-inspired humor for you)

So, I recently saw a tutorial from a British crocheter on how to do a US double crochet (known as a treble crochet in the UK). At first I skipped over it to get to the part of the pattern I was interested in, but when I came back to it, I noticed something odd. The instructions for this stitch differed from the way I learned to do it. At first I thought, "Oh, she must have gotten something mixed up!," mostly because it sounded like an extended double crochet to me. At this point, I decided to do a little research on the interwebs.

Guess what I found out? 

Apparently, I have been working the double crochet incorrectly for as long as I've been crocheting! It's pretty odd too, because it's neither a double nor a half double, but seemingly a hybrid of the two. So, here's the difference:

The instructions I found for it indicate that you should:

yarn over (yo for the uninitiated)
insert hook into stitch
yo, draw through first loop (the stitch that's on the hook, so that there are now 3 loops on the hook)
yo, draw through two loops (so that now there are two loops)
yo, draw through the last two loops.


In contrast, the way I was taught is as follows:

yo, insert hook into stitch
yo, draw through first TWO loops on hook (that's the stitch that's on the hook plus the first loop) so that there are 2 loops left on the hook
yo, draw through last two loops on the hook


Furthermore, the instructions I found for a half double crochet were:

yo, insert hook into stitch
yo, draw through first loop (leaving three loops on the hook)
yo, draw through remaining three loops

Is this just a different tradition in crochet stitches? I could swear I have seen this double crochet in some of my mother's old crochet books. I don't plan on changing the way I crochet over this, but I did find it to be somewhat odd. Does my method sound familiar to anyone else out there?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I want to crochet a garden!

Or, at least, an afghan that looks like one! I think I'll have to earmark this hexagon pattern (from Lucy over at attic24) for my next big project. Now for some eye candy: pretty photos of hexagon afghans from across the interwebs. Just tell me these don't look like lovely flower gardens!

Image from attic24.

From ZenKnit
Found on Flickr.

Also found on Flickr.


I'm not sure which I prefer, the hexagons with edges in the same color, or the mishmash edges. I think the same-color edges are pretty, but the mishmash looks more like real flowers next to one another. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Afghan Hooks and the Tunisian Stitch

Since I worked up a small afghan years ago using an afghan hook and Tunisian stitch, I've been dying to work with them again. The Tunisian stitch is simple, quick, and has a lovely texture; the afghan hook looks like the misbegotten lovechild of a crochet hook and a knitting needle, but is nonetheless amazing.

Photo from www.wrights.com
 
Combine the two, and you have a quick, easy piece of fabric.

I'd love to have several sizes of afghan hooks, so I can work up some super-quick afghans. I also wish I had time for a tunisian entrelac project. Entrelac is a technique that yields a beautiful basketweave texture, and is more common in knitting than crochet. I actually discovered it when I did a Google search for afghan hooks.  Luckily, you can do most tunisian entrelac projects with a regular crochet hook, since the squares tend to be fairly small.

Photo from For The Love of Crochet Along blog.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nine-Patch Afghan Progress

I finished the first block of my nine-patch granny squares. I'm so happy with it. Ridiculously, deliriously happy. I took some photos of the block I have finished and the granny squares for the next one. Now I just have to finish the other eleven blocks, put them all together, and put a border around the whole shebang. So, working at my usual rate, it looks like I might just finish it up around December (or, uh, maybe early next year?).


 The finished block:


 
 



Squares for the second block:


 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

On the subject of yarn

I have a long family and personal history in the textile arts. My mother learned a great deal from my paternal grandmother on the subject, and has graciously passed her knowledge and passion on to me. I have been sewing and crocheting for approximately thirteen years (since I was about ten or so), and for most of that time I have used acrylic yarns. Acrylic is generally inexpensive, easy to work with, widely available, easy-care, and comes in a huge variety of colors and textures. Since my sheep production course last year, though, I have fallen in love with wool. Sheep are fantastic creatures, with the ability to transform non-arable land into meat and fiber. Wool tends to be more expensive than synthetics, but I think the extra cost is well worth the durability of the fiber and the feel of the finished product. Wool is also warmer than synthetic fibers, hairs, or cotton, since the fiber has a hollow core. Not only is wool fantastic, lamb is pretty darn tasty, too. Needless to say, I love those fuzzy little buggers.

Since I have fallen in love with wool yarns, I have purchased several different types. My first forays into the world of wool yarns were in a couple of local shops. While I loved the experience of shopping for the yarn, I feel the local shops were mostly overpriced for the quality they offered. Really nice fibers like merino wool and alpaca were just out of the question. I still have those yarns sitting around waiting to be used, and maybe someday I'll finally figure out what to do with them. Anyhow, within the last year or so I have discovered KnitPicks.

My largest current project is in KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn. Wool of the Andes is made of 100% Peruvian Highland wool, and is fairly heavy. My colors on this project are Spruce (teal) and Oyster (cream/eggshell). I'll talk more about that in a later post, though. I'm also using KnitPicks Merino Style  in Storm as the blue in the scarf below, and Wool of the Andes in Daffodil as the yellow accent stripes. All four colors that I have of Wool of the Andes are in the floor in front of my yarn  basket below.  (I also purchased some in Sapphire Heather- which is gorgeous)


If you look closely, you'll see a little doodad on that blue and yellow scarf. Well, that's my butterfly fairy. She helps me keep projects from unraveling when I'm not working on them. If you're like me and can't help but have half a dozen projects going at once, little hair clips and the like are indispensable for keeping stitches, well, stitched. It's a bonus that she's cute and sparkly. :)



I've also decided to finish off some of my old acrylic baby yarn by making a couple of baby blankets.  I have two giant balls of mint green, and one of white. One of these projects will be a super-large granny square, and the other is my first ever ripple! One of these will go to my niece, who is due in July. The other will go to my sister-in-law, since I just learned she's incubating the spawn of Satan- er, my brother.


Well, this concludes my little spiel on yarns. Next post: my nine-patch afghan!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pretty and Pink

For the birth of my sister-in-law's baby last fall, I decided to make a baby blanket. Since the lady in question adores pink, and was having a daughter, no other color would do. Pink it would be. So I hopped on the bus and went to my trusty Walmart craft center to pick out some yarn. After scouring their selection of baby yarns, I walked away with my prize: Caron's Simply Soft Eco yarn in Blush. The color is a lovely rose, not too bright but also not your typical pastel baby color. While I love that the yarn is made from recycled materials, I have to say it is pretty difficult to work with. The recycled PET plastic fibers simply do NOT want to hold a twist, and I often caught my hook on the untwisting yarn while I worked. The upside of this, though, is that the finished piece has a wonderfully soft, full texture. Texture aside, I don't think I'll be purchasing any more of this yarn to work with; it was just that frustrating.

Here is the blanket all folded and tied with a pretty ribbon:


I ended up doing a very simple, straight double crochet baby blanket, with a shell edging. I am told that it is little Ani's favorite blanket ever, which makes me just about the happiest aunt in existence.

Closeups of the edging:

 
 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Welcome and Salutations!

Welcome to all and sundry! I do hope you're here to join me in my crafty adventures. Otherwise I think you may be looking for Underwater Basket-Weaving 101, which is just down the hall. In all seriousness though, I have recently realized that I have almost too many crochet and sewing projects in the works. I say almost too many because I firmly believe that one can NEVER have too many craft projects going on at once. :) I hope that writing about and sharing my work will lead me to work on it more often, which means I might actually finish projects at a rate of more than one or two per year. We shall see.

I'm currently working on a large granny square afghan, two scarves, a small quilt (which is temporarily on hiatus due to some seams that just pissed me off), and a cute liner for my yarn basket. I've also got to figure out what on EARTH I will make for my niece's second child. I can't let the kid get here without a lovely handmade goody waiting for it!

So who is the man (er, woman) behind the curtain? I'm a young woman from Kentucky, and have been sewing and crocheting for over half my life. I recently obtained my B.S. in Animal Science, and I'm now working as an office lackey for some of the dairy faculty at my Alma Mater. This means that I spend a lot of time performing tedious tasks that leave me feeling less than satisfied. Crochet and sewing are ways for me to fulfill those pesky creative urges so that I don't run screaming into the streets. Cause, really, my boss hates when I do that.

I will try to provide photos of my projects and progress as often as possible, but I can't vouch for the quality of those photos. Much as I would love to get a new digital SLR, there's just no room in the budget for it. So we'll see what results my five-year-old 4.1 MP point-and-shoot can yield.