Seed Stitch Cowl


The Finished Product

Here’s my latest knitted thing: another cowl sort of thingy. You wrap it around twice when you wear it.

The cowl in action!

I realize my knitting isn’t exactly a thrilling topic, but it is something I’ve come to find pretty enjoyable, and I find that with each thing I make I really do push myself to pick up new skills.

I found the pattern (free!) on Ravelry, and it was my first attempt at ribbing, moss (seed) stitch, and knitting in the round, which is where you actually knit a seamless tube.

The biggest lesson from this one? When knitting in the round, make sure the stitches are straight when you do the second row, as I had to rip out the first 12 rows (2400 or so stitches) and start over when I found I was knitting a möbius strip instead of a column.

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Noble Pig’s Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies


The very tasty finished product.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t already made it to the top of the foodie pyramid, as God knows, there was an entire quarter where I couldn’t attend a dinner party without someone bringing up chocolate covered bacon.

Makin' Bacon!

I made these cookies for a dear friend, Oscar, who is a serious baconophile.

Given that I was pretty confident that I wasn’t a culinary pioneer with this idea, I asked google for a recipe, and I found one, from an aptly named source: Noble Pig Vineyard & Winery. Their site is well worth a visit, as it’s full of recipes for things I really want to eat… I mean, make!

Their recipe is available here, and it comes complete with lots of tasty work in progress pictures.  (Yes, you have to look at their site to get the recipe, that’s only fair).

The dough

Our version required a few modifications. I’ve never seen maple smoked bacon in a UK supermarket. British bacon is different from American bacon in that it comes from the back, rather than the belly. So, we just used British bacon. We also couldn’t find maple extract, so I added a bit of maple syrup!

I could eat these all day. If they weren’t a gift, that plate would already be empty.

Vera’s Birthday Cake


Happy!

Today is my friend Vera’s birthday, and naturally, I saw this as a fine reason to inflict some cake on her.

Honestly, a lot went wrong along the way. I share this primarily to show how serious I am when I say that making a cake look pretty isn’t as hard as one might expect.

Mistake #1: I used a cake mix, purchased by my husband in an attempt to save my cake fail-ed Tetris cake project. I decided I might as well use it, rather than throw it out, and rationalized the decision by focusing on all the extra decorating time I’d have.

Just a bit battered.

Problem is, it yields a really domed cake, and had I really leveled it, the sponge layers would have been too small. So, I just leveled it a bit and went ahead. This is the critical stage where I should have stopped.

Mistake #2: Chock full of denial, I went ahead and iced it, but because the layers were so uneven, there was a pretty big gap between the two sponges. Despite my husband’s assurances that everyone loves icing, I have doubts here. Thing is, I couldn’t pick it apart without just ruining all progress to date.

So after a bit of refrigeration, it was sugarpaste time. After coloring it yellow, I rolled it out, and I tried to apply it. The paste broke in two spots, right near the big gap that I had tried to fill with icing.

I managed to patch that up well enough that my cake looked like it actually survived a tumble down the stairs.

That’s when I remembered something very important- flowers fix everything!

Now to serve it and see how much people do like icing. Surely one can’t do better than chocolate butter cream, though!

Undercooked Cake = Fail


FAIL.

We were invited to a Russian New Year party, and the invite suggested that guests of Russian heritage bring something Russian.

We lack Russian heritage, but we decided to bring something reminiscent of a beloved Russian export: Tetris! in cake form!

I used my new 10″ square pan and this chocolate cake recipe from BBC Good Food, not only because it not only looked good but it was a good match for the chosen pan. All the comments mentioned how big the finished layer was, and they weren’t kidding.

At 1650, The alarm went off for the oven. I thought it was due out at 1730, but I tend to easily lose track, so the timer is much more reliable than I am. I checked that it was done using a cake tester, which came out clean, and removed the cake.

After that, I mixed up some chocolate buttercream while waiting for my behemoth cake to cool. Unfortunately, the cake takes an age to cool because it’s so big, and I’m an impatient person, as I tried to take it out of the pan too early and minorly cracked it. oops.

As impatience rules supreme, I put it in the fridge to help the cooling process, once the pan was cool enough to handle. Much clock watching followed. It took more than four hours.

My second attempt to remove it from the pan revealed that the center was a tasty chocolate stew, rather than cake. This is when my husband and I realized that there was a reason why the timer seemingly went off earlier than planned… my dear husband set the timer for 1:50 – 1h 50m, not 150 min. I had removed it from the oven 40 minutes early!

Grasping at straws, I crammed it back in the oven and read numerous websites telling me that I should just abandon all hope. I was still optimistic that if I could bake the center, I could just cut off the outside of the cake, eliminating the overbaked bits, and still have enough to cover in fondant and decorate.

60 minutes later, it seemed more done with a few checks, yet picking at it revealed a smallish spot that still was very underdone. It seems you really can’t salvage an underdone cake. Cake Fail!

Knitted Shawl


I made this shawl for my friend, Vera, who recently had a baby.

My thought was that this would be pretty handy to keep in the bottom of a pram, as one could wrap up a baby in it, use it for a bit of privacy whilst feeding, etc.

The pattern came from a book of my mother’s from the 70’s, which she showed me while I was visiting her. It’s all knit stitch, using two different needle sizes. It also gave me an opportunity to make my first fringe, some of which had to be redone due to the cat’s love of chewing on bits of yarn. All it took was a minute of inattention for her to turn a pile of carefully measured and cut potential fringe into a slobbery mess.

 

Christmas Cupcakes


Getting festive, cupcakes were made. Yay Christmas!

What did I learn from this experience:

1. Edible Glitter fixes everything. It makes everything a bit more pretty. I also learned that just because edible glitter is edible, doesn’t mean it’s digestible.

2. Using liquid fondant is much easier then I expected, but you have to work quite quickly as it hardens within minutes. I think the hardest part is not overcooking it and making it into a rock.

3. Piping icing is much easier if you aim at 90 degrees. Doing it on a slant results in offroad icing.

4. When filling the cupcake wrappers/ tins,  less is more, as if you overfill, whatever you put on top won’t have the wrapper to help it along.

5. If you want the cupcakes to come out flattish on top, use margarine. Butter will yield a dome-shaped top, which you’d have to then level.

6. I can eat two of these before feeling vile.

Blackberry Snood


All Done!

Blackberry Snood sounds like something to eat, not something to wear.

Me in Snood

Anyway, I made this based on this pattern from The Guardian, and it is the first thing I’ve ever made from a pattern. It’s garter stitch (which is alternating knit and purl rows) and I had to decrease the number of rows as I went, so lots of new things. (Admittedly, I messed up a bit and forgot one of the decreases and just fudged it later.)

If you know me and you ask me to make you one, I’d probably say yes. It only took me two days. You’ll need to pick your color, though. (Mine is blackberry.)