Decorating Your Cake, and Eating It Too!

Yeah, I’ll drop all presences and state unequivocally that I enjoy decorated cakes and cupcakes largely so that I can enjoy the fruits of my labour.  Yes, with knitting, I get to wear the finished product, but with cakes, I get to EAT said products!  …I have a major sweet tooth…

My parents hosted Easter dinner this past Saturday, and for dessert, I made my go-to dessert, cupcakes.  A few years ago, I made mini cupcakes, each topped with a few Mini Eggs for a spring/Easter look.

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2013’s Easter cupcakes, complete with chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies

I didn’t alter 2013’s cupcakes too much for this year, again keeping with a spring theme, topping each cupcake with grass and flowers.  Wilton also sells these fun cupcake wrappers which make the cupcakes look even fancier than they are, and the white picket fence was the perfect way to finish my floral garden cupcakes.

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2015’s Springtime cupcakes

They tasted pretty good too.

Because of the Easter weekend and because April is shaping up to be a busy month at work, I am right now on day 4 of 5 days off in a row, so I have also got a lot of knitting done! I am more than halfway done my second Gryffindor scarf, I finished my ‘camouflage’ socks, and I have finished the leg to my self-striping turtle toes socks.  Lots to keep me busy!

How can you even see my toes with the camouflage yarn?!  Nice warm toes in nice warm socks
How can you even see my toes with the camouflage yarn?! Nice warm toes in nice warm socks
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Escaping Into a Good Book

Is there anything better than a good book, to be able to be transported into different times, places, utopias and dystopias?  Perhaps one of the best gifts I have even received was my e-reader.  I was skeptical at first (because there is nothing to compare to holding a book and physically turning the pages), but now my purse is not complete without my e-reader inside it.  At any given time, I have over 100 titles to choose from, over 100 adventures just waiting to sweep me away with them.

If I’m not perusing Ravelry and searching for knitting patterns, I’m often online on Goodreads.  My sister introduced me to it, describing it like ‘Twitter for books.’  Perhaps both Ravelry and Goodreads show that I seem to be searching for inspiration, whether for creativity or for a literary escape.

It is so comforting to re-read certain series; I have re-read Harry Potter more times than I can count, I can usually blow through the Hunger Games trilogy in a weekend, and I have re-read Anne of Green Gables about once a year since I was 10 years old.  The outcome is known, the endings are happy, and our hero/heroines evolve, change, and are ultimately victorious, either over Voldemort, Snow and the Capital, or their own stubbornness and they FINALLY forgive Gilbert.  I will forever ship Anne and Gilbert.

I’m also happy to discover new books and series, and for 2015, I’ve ‘challenged’ myself to read at least one new book every month.  Goodreads allows you to set up challenges for yourself, and this one is mine.  The act of finding new books and getting into them can often be challenging for me, but so far I’m on course for the year.

In January, read Laurence Hill’s Any Known Blood, and I couldn’t put it down!  This wasn’t the first book by Hill that I’ve read; back in 2011, I read The Book of Negroes (or Someone Knows My Name as it was published in the USA).  Before reading this book, I was somewhat familiar with Hill and his family’s history, so when I began reading Any Known Blood, it was clear that the author used his life’s story as inspiration for this tale.  It told the story of five generations of a Black family, all through the protagonist who was searching to know more about his family.  It utilized different narrations and often had the present day in contrast to the past.  As I said, I couldn’t put this book down, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

In February, I quickly read The Farm by Tom Rob Smith.  I’m part of the a Ravelry Knitters group on Goodreads, and this was the recommended group read for February.  It sounded interesting, so I gave it a try. Again an interesting tale, this time told through the eyes of a mother, and while reading it, I found myself questioning the tale if it is true or an invention of an unsound mind.

Finally, and this is going to make me sound bad, but I forced myself to read The Chrysalids… Yes, I know! It’s a classic!  I found myself struggling to truly connect to the story and to follow the narrator.  But, I read it, making it three new books I have read in the first three months of 2015.

What’s next?  I’ve just started Oryx and Crake by the incomparable Margaret Atwood.  It usually takes me a few chapters to get into an Atwood book, but once I’m in, I cannot put it down.  If you haven’t read Handmaid’s Tale or Alias Grace, stop reading this immediately and go read Atwood.

I’m always looking for good book suggestions – have you got one for me?

My First Crafting Love

Like many other crafters, I don’t knit exclusively.  I’ve enjoy creating and have enjoyed it since I was young.  I think I was still in elementary school when I found my first crafting love, cross stitch.  Mum did it, so I thought to take it up.  It was fairly easy to learn, just make little ‘x’s using the perforated fabric, but there are so many other little tricks and tips I learned over the years.  You should have seen the back end of my first project, a star shaped Santa Claus ornament, which I believe my grandmother still has to this day; I just decided one afternoon that I wanted to give it a try, found a pattern and some aida cloth, and started making little ‘x’s.  Because I took it upon myself to learn (apparently that’s the way I do things), no one told me you had to weave in the ends at the back!  They say you can tell a lot about the skill of a cross stitcher not by the front of the project but from the back, and thank goodness over the years my skills improved.

Before I was knitting, cross stitch was the creative outlet that kept me sane.  During university exam season, I was cross stitching when I needed a sanity break from studying.

I very rarely cross stitch these days.  I find that it requires much more attention to detail, following the pattern, than knitting does.  I can passively knit and purl away at a scarf or sock while watching TV, but when I try that with cross stitch, I barely pay attention to anything else around me.  But on those rare occasions when I pick up a much smaller needle and DMC Thread, I’m in my wheelhouse.

On sites like Pinterest, I’ve noticed the trend seems to be keeping the finished project inside the hoop, and I really do like this look.  Within the past year, I’ve finished two projects, and rather than ‘framing’ them, I’ve kept the hoop as the frame, a more rustic finish.

For my sister, to whom I owe my addition to Supernatural, I made her this:

A Dean Winchester quote and the Supernatural Anti-Possession Mark
A Dean Winchester quote and the Supernatural Devil Trap

And for my mother, who I am sure loves our Border Terrier, Tucker, more than her children*, I made this:

Border Terrier Sampler
Border Terrier Sampler

Very simple, self-designed projects, both bringing me back to my first crafting love.

*Please accept this for the sarcastic, not at all serious comment that it is!  Although, if you’ve ever met my dog, you’d understand why he does rank fairly high for our affections.  He’s pretty awesome.

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Sockspiration

I got home from work on Tuesday, and all I could think about was my Turtlepurl yarn.  I bought it a few weeks ago in Toronto, and it’s been waiting patiently for me, alluring, perfectly wound into a cake.  The colours, the possibilities… So naturally, I got home, made a coffee, turned on the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which I have been unashamedly marathoning), and started searching Ravelry.

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Yarn, coffee, and Ravelry – what else do I need!

 

I’ve had two sock patterns in my queue for quite some time, the Hermione Everyday Socks, and the Petty Harbour socks, but neither of them seemed quite right for this yarn.  I thought long and hard about the Petty Harbour pattern – I liked the pairing of a Canadian dyed yarn and a pattern named after a place in Newfoundland, but ultimately, with a vibrant yarn, I felt that I needed a subtle pattern, and I decided on Laura Linneman’s Afterthought Heel Sock, a basic sock which won’t disrupt my stripes at the instep.

The thing is, I really shouldn’t be starting another project.  I am more than two-thirds of the way finished with Gryffindor Scarf #1, and I really want to finish it within the week, and I have two other pairs of socks already on my needles! I have a very simple, plain sock that is excellent for when I’m travelling into the City, and the other is a more detailed, intricate lace pattern, which required full attention and only a few rows get done in one sitting.

But when you have yarn as pretty as my Turtlepurl is, just sitting, waiting to become something even more beautiful, the cast on was inevitable.

Just look at that sweet self striping action!
Just look at that sweet self striping action!

New Post Blahs

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the fact that Daytime Savings Time just arrived, my least favourite weekend of the year, but I’m feeling tapped for inspiration for a new post.  Life has been quiet, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I’m working away on Gryffindor Scarf 1 of 2, making good progress, my job is steady and keeping me busy, and I haven’t had any major excursions of late to share.  For where I am right now, everything is as it should be.

I have been happily wearing my mid-winter cardigan, which I finished a week or so ago.  My wonderful co-worker took a few pictures of me wearing it last week, so here they are.

Mid-Winter Cardigan - aka the sweater I haven't stopped wearing
Mid-Winter Cardigan – aka the sweater I haven’t stopped wearing

I repeat, life, right now, is good.

Mrs. Weasley Must Have A Spell For Knitting…

…after all, she did knit anywhere between 5-10 jumpers as Christmas presents!

A spell for knitting would be lovely for projects like scarves, long and repetitive projects.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love them, and I love seeing a scarf take shape, but impatient me always wants projects like this to knit up faster!

A few weeks back, I cast on a Gryffindor scarf; the pattern is from Alison Hansel’s Charmed Knits, which really is a lovely book filled with lots of sweaters and projects inspired by either the Harry Potter movies or the magical books they are based on.  The book has two patterns for scarfs, a simple block stripe pattern seen in Philosopher’s Stone, and thin stripe pattern as seen in Prisoner of Azkaban.  I am making one of each for my dear friend’s children, in Gryffindor colours.  I started the Year 3-4 scarf first, and it’s slowly growing in length.  These scarves will be the focus of my knitting for some time now, and I know the perfect thing to read while knitting them

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Perfect chance to re-read for the 394th time!

Midwinter Project

My Midwinter Cardigan is almost complete.  It’s in that stage where it’s so close, but there’s still enough knitting left to keep me busy.  One sleeve.  That’s all.  It’s testing my patience because I want more than anything is to set in the sleeves and wear it, but… one sleeve.

Wet blocking my midwinter cardigan
Wet blocking my midwinter cardigan

Last night, I blocked the body and the one finished sleeve, and I’m working on getting that sleeve finished.  My goal is to be wearing this cardigan by the weekend, and with how cold it has been in southern Ontario, having a warm sweater to wear will be delightful.

I have loved everything about this project, from the bulky yarn it called for, making it a quick knit (I used 7 hanks of Berroco Vintage Chunky), to the cabling down the front, which made knitting long rows more interesting.  I managed to get gauge with using 7.5mm needles, a somewhat awkward size.  To make the sleeves, knit in the round, I tried my hand at the Magic Loop for the first time.  It took me a while to get used to this new-to-me technique, and it also was an adjustment to not get ladders where the stitches were divided; ultimately I got used to this method and sleeve number two is knitting up like a dream.

Finally, I love that the yarn I bought for this project was the first yarn I wound on the swift my father made for me.  I bought the yarn a) for this project, and b) so that I could use my new knitting toy, hand made by my amazing father.  This cardigan will always remind me of that beloved Christmas gift.

Now excuse me while I continue to work on this sleeve…

Sleeve, slowing approaching completion!
Sleeve, slowing approaching completion!