Saturday, May 30, 2015

Play-Doh for adults

Sometimes I am slow on the up-take. I admit that freely. The subject of today's post is one of those times. I just discovered fondant which is really just Adult Play-Doh.  More than that, I just discovered that you can make your own marshmallow fondant that is pretty darned tasty. And furthermore, if you discover that your Play-Doh modeling skills are a little rusty, you can just melt those marshmallow fondant sculptures in a nice hot cup of cocoa.

Never mind that it's HOT here in the Kingdom today, with very high humidity. Not really hot cocoa weather, but I tried to ignore the heat by sitting in the breeze from the fan and playing with the fondant, with no one to scold me if I blended the colours.

Cats!! I left the teaspoon in the photo, so you could get an idea of the scale. These cats are intended for the tops of cupcakes. I was going to bake some, but that would involve more heat in the kitchen, and I don't really need the calories anyway.

In the end, I decided anybody who reads this blog probably has a pretty good imagination. Just imagine these on a cupcake. Except maybe for the extra big one. He was the first one, and he got a little out of hand. Imagine him on a cake. His very own cake.

As for the Smiley Sweater..... I've added beads to the 'Say, "Cheese!" ' text and I'm continuing with the mouse. Hot and humid is not really a great combination for a wool sweater, but it's hard to put down.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Watercolour cookies and a smiley sweater update

I spent a few minutes this afternoon painting cookies. I've never taken to watercolour painting. It just doesn't come naturally to me. However, the idea of painting on cookies is one that won't let me go, so every so often, I get out my food dyes and my special food-only brushes, and have a go at it. Maybe I'll get better at it, but even if I don't, it's still fun, and the cookies taste just as good.

On the Smiley Sweater front, here's where we are:

It occurs to me that this is much the same process as getting a tattoo might be....especially those full sleeve tattoos. I'm adding bits and pieces of images and text that appeal to me, in a sort of collage. A wearable collage. The only difference, I suppose, is that I can remove my 'tattoo' any time I want.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Here's to fresh starts

News flash! From the desk of our intrepid reporter, I give you ... the new project!!

Remember all last winter when I was knitting mittens? I was trying to find some flat space to embellish with wool embroidery and wool appliqué.....and it had to be practical, ie, useful, because I'm a practical girl. Mittens seemed like a good choice. More recently, the baby blanket served the same purpose. Somewhere along the line, I began to think that knitting the mittens (or the baby blanket squares) was kinda the price to pay for having something to embellish. After the first pair, knitting mittens over and over again is not the funnest thing to do. That's when I got my fabulous new idea. If I could find something already knitted and waiting, I could eliminate the not-so-fun part. So, I made a quick trip to the Goodwill store. What I wanted was pretty specific, so I wasn't sure I'd find it on the first outing. I got lucky! I found a beautiful 100% wool sweater, plain as all get out (good thing). 100% wool is fairly common at Goodwill, mostly I think because people buy those sweaters and then realize they can't be machine washed and it's expensive to have them dry-cleaned. Of course, some of the sweaters at the Goodwill HAVE been machine washed (unfortunately), and they're shrunken and fulled as proof. This particular sweater had not been fulled. It has a full length zipper down the front which would have buckled if the sweater had been fulled. It's still perfect. 

And the colour!!! SO perfect! 

Of course, there's always a fly in every jar of ointment, right? See those sleeves? Does any human own arms that long? I think not. Maybe it was a fashion statement to have turned back cuffs, but for this project, the sweater fits me well, and I don't want another sweater with clumsy cuffs. The solution? Well, it's not for the faint of heart, but I've done it before. I removed the sleeves from the body of the sweater, and took out 3-1/4 inches in length from each sleeve, and then re-set them into the armhole openings. Again, this was only possible because the sweater was well-constructed. The seams were not overcast, and came apart quite easily. Replacing the sleeves allowed me to remove a little of the shoulder cap as well, which was poofing in a sort of out-dated way, and you know Grandma Coco is all about being fashionable. :) From the excess sleeve cap that I removed, I was able to unravel a good-sized ball of yarn which will probably come in handy somewhere in the project. Bonus!

Unlike the baby blanket, this project is going to start out with a moniker. The Smiley Sweater. The name will explain itself fairly soon, but for now, I just had to settle on a colour palette. This is what I came up with.

New beginnings are so exciting! There's so much promise and I haven't messed anything up yet. 

Who's for pie?

Before we get to the new project, I thought I'd share a photo of something miraculous that happened yesterday.

Yes! Rhubarb Custard Pie. My mother's recipe. My mother, my grandmother, my aunts.....probably every woman (and quite likely, every man) who took a beautiful, perfect meringue pie from the oven has thought, "This is it. This is the time that the meringue won't fall." And in my experience, they always fall. Yesterday, I took this pie from the oven, expecting the eventual and inevitable deflation, and while it did fall a TINY bit, this is the result! Amazing! I had to get photographic proof. And here it is. (I may never make another meringue pie in my lifetime.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A celebratory cup of tea ...

... and a cookie, of course!

After the giant cats of last week, these are a dainty change of pace.

The un-named baby blanket is complete. It measures 30 inches x 40 inches. Cascade 220 Superwash purchased online from Wool-tyme in Ottawa. (Great service!)  4.5 mm needles. I started this project in late March with a pretty vague idea of where I wanted to end up. I am unusually happy with the end result.

And for anyone who might be curious, here's what the back of those blocks looks like. Those embroidery stitches get swallowed up in the worsted weight wool, and it is surprisingly neat back there.

It is time to move on to a new project, and it's going to be fun!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Progress on the baby blanket

I've been working away on the edging of the baby blanket.  It seems a little strange to me that the baby blanket never got its own nickname. Almost every other project around here seems to get one. However, this particular project has always just been 'the baby blanket' in my mind. And that's the kind of weird thought that flits through a knitter's head as she's staring down a seemingly endless job like this edging. If I were Kate, I'd have told you exactly how many rows that edging was, and how many stitches that represented. However, Grandma Coco hasn't the heart for that. The number would be crushing. At any rate, without further ado, here's what the baby blanket looked like this morning as I dumped it unceremoniously out on the table for blocking.

Blocking is magic, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it all blocked once I release it from its wires and pins. I rolled it up in a dampened towel before I put the wires in, and stretched it out. Then, I spritzed it with a little more water. I'll let it air dry.

See that little bit of yarn in the lower left corner? That's all I had left of the 2nd skein of Cascade 220 Superwash.

And then, there are the waste yarn bit to remove and about a million little ends to darn in. Surprisingly, I quite like that part of the process, but it may take me a while to get that accomplished.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rainbow Trout

Cookies, that is. I was thinking of fishies when I asked what other images you all saw in the over-sized cat shapes. Karen saw fishies, too. I've used up all the pre-baked cookie blanks. Monique's owls and Karen's hot air balloons will have to wait. Kate's penguins will almost certainly get made. Penguins in knitwear! Who could resist?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pincushions revisited

I'm still fascinated by pincushions. Clearly. I've discovered various pincushion facts. For one, the Victorians had a thing for them, and there are many antique pincushions from that era. They liked to collect them. Two...pincushions can't just be a blob of stuffing. If there's too much stuffing, you run the risk of losing your needle down in the middle of your pincushion. Here's my latest:

Very small. Just intended for my embroidery needles (which I really wouldn't want to lose) and a couple of pins.

How small, you ask? Well, here's the Kingdom of Coco's own Vanna White to illustrate:

Built on a wooden ring that's been hanging around my workroom since the age of macramé. With felt flowers and embroidery.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I couldn't see the forest for the trees

My friend Karen remarked that if you took the long view on the cat cookies, they could be giant cat heads. When I looked at them again, I thought, "Of course!".  (She's so smart!) So, in honour of Karen, here are a few giant cat head cookies.

Some are even wearing sun glasses.

I'm curious. Here is the naked cookie. What other cookies do you see in this shape?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Border patrol

The squares for the baby blanket are all joined. Now it needs a nice border. I decided to add a knitted-on garter stitch border. It's 9 stitches wide, and I think it's looking pretty good. The corners are a simple case of mitring with short rows. It's just more of the same for while. Not really good blog material, but necessary. And satisfying.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Care for a cookie?

The wheel turns, and we're back to cookies!! If you're going to be in the village of Lyndhurst, Ontario, at the giant plant sale and yard sale, this coming Saturday morning (May 16, 2015), be sure to drop by the Lyndhurst Feral Cat Project's table to get yourself a cookie! There will be all sorts of interesting things on offer like crafts and home baking, but you're going to want to get yourself a cat cookie! All proceeds (from the Lyndhurst Feral Cat Project's sales) go to the cat colony. The sale starts at 8:30.

And if these cool cats look familiar, it might be because you saw them here first:

The   Say, "Cheese"! quilt!! Cassie's sittin' on most of them, but you can still see one or 2. This image is one of my favourites, and it's going to show up again soon, I think.

Monday, May 4, 2015

I am a dope

And here is the proof.

After knitting 3 (THREE) joining strips, I flipped the work over only to find that the back of the joining strips looks really nice. I mean REALLY nice. That's when it hit me. I like the back side best, don't you?

The original strip is on the left. The upside-down strip is on the right. No contest, right?  (Ignore the faint turquoise line on each side of the joining strip. That's just my lifeline that I'm leaving in place for the moment.)

In my defense, there are a lot of variations possible in this process. If you slip the stitches that need slipping in a purl-wise fashion, the result will be different from what you get if you slip them knit-wise. If you join with a slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over manoeuver, it will look different from joining by purling 2 stitches through the back loop (from the back). There's a lot of trial and error and a lot of just doing it the way you like best. There's no absolutely right way to do any of this.

For those who are still wondering about it, this insertion is a little like adding an edging to a knit shawl. There is no grafting involved, nor is there any sewing. I don't have anything against grafting or sewing, but I find this process very intuitive and pleasant and versatile.

Once you figure out which side you're on.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Joining the squares

I had done some rough calculations based on a bit of swatching. I had a 'sorta' plan. However, I really wouldn't know if the plan would work until I actually did it. I like that kind of spontaneity, and I like it best when it all works out.

You'll remember that each block is worked in the round. It's a squared circle. That means that the stitches at the edge of each square are live. My plan is to pick up the live stitches and join them with a strip of knitting in between. Specifically, I thought a band of garter stitch would make for an interesting textural detail.

First I tried a strip of 12 stitches, but it was too wide, I think. This strip is 6 stitches wide, and, just like Baby Bear, I think it's just about right. I started the strip provisionally, and I left the ending stitches on a length of waste yarn. That gives me live stitches on each end for joining the rows together.

I think it may just work. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fasten your seat belt

Lots to show today. Hold on! It's going to be a bumpy ride!

#10 is a raccoon

#11 is a blue elephant

#12 is a fishy

and a re-do on the chickie/ducky because, in the end, it was the only one done with a felt appliqué. I like the embroidered wing much better anyway.

So, here they all are. Twelve 8-inch squares all laid out ready for assembly.

I am so excited to start putting them all together. 
I sure hope they go together as well as I think they ought to.