Sunday, January 28, 2007

Amy Sedaris' cupcakes

Well, it's Sunday evening and it looks like I will be at work until 2am. bah. So in the non-knitting category I thought I'd post these babies:

You know I spend all week long being "good" and then the weekend hits and I have this overwhelming compunction to BAKE. So I brought them all in to work just to officially get rid of them. They will likely all be devoured in the next 5 minutes.

On our last trip to New York in December we made a special trip to Joe's Coffee in the West Village. They are one of a new breed of artisnal coffee shops that take this whole coffee business extremely seriously (I think they were recently profiled on Martha Stewart). Though MY reason for going there was far less serious as, Amy Sedaris, one of my long time idols sells her cupcakes there, so we had to make the trip. Naturally they were all out of her cupcakes by the time I got there (sob!) so I swore we'd make some when we got back, and I'm just now finally getting around to it. I actually used Amy's own recipe (with my own personal and tacky embellishments of course...) which can be found here. Oh, and I actually added red food colouring and cocoa to about half of them just to give them a bit of a fake "red velvet" taste. Magnolia bakery look out.

All hail Amy!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clapotis tout finis

The clapotis is finally off the sticks! I finished it thursday night and it is a BEAST of a thing (and let us never speak of it again):

I've since blocked it so it's lookin' a bit better than in that photo, and apart from a flaw that likely only I can see I'm pretty happy with it. I hate blocking and try to avoid it at all costs, but am always impressed with the finished results when I do get off my lazy butt to do it. In fact I hate just any form of finishing up anything really. You spend all this time knitting and you just want it to be DONE. You don't really want to have to still be working on it for several hours afterwards. So I try to block things as a batch, and as a result sometimes they pile up and simply do not get done. The computer/craft room right now is covered in towels.

This finished cardigan is upstairs drying right now as well:

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(that's the before shot...) It's just so lumpy. I fell in love with the pattern because it's from the 1940's and the one in the pattern is 100% angora. Naturally the yarn was not even remotely affordable. I wish I could remember what it wound up being made of...some kind of mohair & wool mix, though it looks nothing like how I wanted it to. Blocking is my last ditch effort. Patterns from the forties are so short and when you have boobs (as I do...) a cardigan becomes even shorter. And I don't do "cropped", so I am desperately trying to give it some length (AND shorten up it's monkey arms) before ripping it altogether. It's making me sad.

Also finished the brown and orange Scheepjes ribbed scarf this weekend:

and apart from all the knitting, crafting, cleaning, french classes and eating out that was my weekend, there was also some serious spending. Wanna sneak peak?

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Whereas last weekend my problem was sea of greens, this week it seems to be pinks. At any rate, time to stop buying it and start knitting it. I have two new small items on the sticks which I'll try and post later on. Welcome to Monday.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Barbie & Blythe

I had a seriously productive weekend and even managed to drag myself onto the #95 bus so that I could make a special trip out to wool n things , which is a really cute store just off the Queensway. The BF made the journey as well, no doubt bored to tears, but I'm sure he figures he owes me (and then some) for all of the record stores I get dragged to--I do like records but everyone has their limits, surely. Anyway, I think she's maybe the only place in Ottawa that sells brands like Rowan and Debbie Bliss. It's kind of annoying that in such a geriatric town, likely chock full of knitters I might add, everything you actually need or want is usually impossible to find, OR requires a serious excursion. I did however drop a a lil' wad of cash there, so i'll be sure to post that haul later on once I can get some photos together. The bulk of my haul was all by fleece artist (east coast represent!) who I'll talk more about later on.

The clapotis presses on...I've finally reached the decrease rows on skein number six, so hopefully it'll be done in the next couple of days, time permitting. I'll try to post a few progress pics as well. There are currently three scarves and a pair of socks in the works, as well as an angora beret that I'm anxious to start. Though most everything is on hold until the clapotis is done.

Prepare to be inundated with photos right now:

Most of these were knit from barbie knits the red one though with the little stovepipe hat is a vintage pattern of my mum's.

The very last two are Barbie outfits that my mom knit either when I or my sisters were kids...there are MANY more, though I will spare you more photos. I love my vintage and mod barbies, but i promise I'm not one of those crazy Barbie princess collecting ladies!

Recently she also did up a bunch of outfits for my friend Marnie's Blythe and Coco dolls --she's got a pretty serious collection going these days:

and those patterns can all be found here.

Someday, if I'm feeling truly ambitious maybe I'll knit me some lil' mini clothes for all of my dawns:

Friday, January 12, 2007

break time

I've had to take a bit of a break from the clapotis . It's only been a week and I think I'm more than half done, which is great, but I'm starting to suspect that I should have seriously scaled it down. I'm four skeins in and I already feel like it's begun to take on tablecloth proportions. Perhaps once it's done and all curly I won't feel this way(?) she asks hopefully.

Plus, my orange and brown obsession just rearred its ugly head again. When I was a child overseas, and then later in Quebec, my main staple of an outfit was this chocolate brown pantsuit that was ALWAYS worn with an orange and white checkered shirt. Sounds hideous, right? At the time I loved it (and I looooved being a brownie, though not so much a guide), I'll see if I can scrounge up a photo of it somewhere. And ever since I've always been drawn to that colour combo. When I came across yarn in those same colours it was kismet. Also. it. was. on. sale. And had that incredible softness that only a touch of "fake" can bring. So, I'm in the process of cranking out just a ribbed scarf in it:

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Somehow I've managed to throw out all the tags, but it's Scheepjes by HWS (which no doubt and at first glance meens sheepies, another part of the draw), which I think is a company from Finland. It's mostly wool, and part (nylon?) which is likely the little orange pompom parts. I couldn't find an exact copy online anywhere to link it either, sorry. In retrospect I should have bought more, and likely not chosen a rib, since it's stiffening it up a bit, the the yarn is so floppy it's probably just as well. Short of the clapotis taking over I hope to have it done by this weekend, if not tonight, as well as another quickie scarf for my sister, which likely would have been done ages ago, again if not for the clap. A scarf I might add that is 100% nylon. Though it kind of is one of those ribbonny sort of deals. I'm not much of a snob about yarn, if I like the way something feels or looks I will usually just go for it, though I definitely prefer naturally fibres. My mom on the other hand is seriously old school...squeaky yarns and metal needles all the way.

I was fondling all of the Manos Del Uruguay wool the other night, and I have to say that I think I've really found my niche in the knitting industry with that one. They are a rural co-operative in Uruguay, creating jobs for women there. I may have to purchase all of my yarn from them.
the 411

Thursday, January 11, 2007

why I love winter...

...even though this particular winter has been seriously lacking round these parts, it's still the best time to get any knitting done. My knitting seems to come grinding to a halt every year around May when things start heating up. I'm kind of determined to get over that this year by a) purchasing another air conditioner for the main floor where most of the knitting happens. And b) purchasing blinds or some kind of window covering that actually keeps out the sun. I love the bright sunlight in our living room, but again it really tends to heat things up in there in the summertime. There's nothing worse that trying to knit in 45 humidex heat. It simply cannot be done.

Those are my goals this spring at any rate, because I'd like to carry the joys of winter knitting through to the rest of the year.

And by joys right now, this is really turning into a large part of it:

(the view from the sofa)

and the view from my lap:

Aebleskiver round two

So I think we may have finally got this right. Some of you may have heard about previous failed attempts at making dutch treat aebleskiver, profoundly sad photos of which can be found here, and here (note: we tried using a muffin tin over a pancake skillet in lieu of any of the correct materials --a valiant effort at any rate), but round two turned out entirely more successful with the purchase of the correct pan:

that's them on the stove, though that first batch was a little overcooked. I started gettin' the hang of cooking them towards the end, and here's how they turned out:

some of my observations on this:

--use substantially less batter. We made like five hundred thousand of these little suckers. Even one quarter of the batter would be better.
--cook over med. low heat. This process takes forever, but they won't burn this way.
--make sure they are almost wholly cooked before flipping. If the jam spills out it coats the next batch in disgusting burnt jam.
---let the batter rise *substantially* before cooking. This may be why mine weren't very round and puffy.
--use more cardamon.

Cardamon gives these a really unusual flavour, and sprinkled in icing sugar they are not unlike miniature jelly donuts. Once I figure out how to properly treat the cast iron pan (which incidentally rusted beyond belief after a first washing) these will no doubt become a regular holiday tradition for us from here on in:

(note the Ponch-man's jealous face) sometimes it is so hard to resist giving him whatever he wants...but, est verboten!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sinner repent!

I made a serious etsy splurge yesterday...I just couldn't help myself!

see how purty? I cannot wait for this to arrive. My justifications are two: 1) I need a needle bag and this is a combo one, anything I'd buy here would be hideous and at least 40 bucks anyway, and 2) I'm supporting DIY culture.

Justified, right? also, LOOK at it. It's gorgeous. Yah, I feel bad for spending the money, but not bad enough to really regret it.

The clapotis presses on. I'm half way through my third skein and am starting to think it will use up all eight balls I bought. I'm debating on shortening it. Would it just be a matter of nixing a couple sections of straight rows, or would that eff with the dropped stitch part of the pattern? I have no idea. I can knit, it's the spatial and mathmatical (is that a word?) aspects that drive me crazy about most crafts. gah. I may have to break from this altogether and get real stuff done. The house is a mess. But with the way our winter is going (or lack thereof)I'm running out of cold weather to wear it in.

Monday, January 08, 2007

calpotis, patatate

Ok that was my bad french joke. No doubt reading it makes no sense, as Clapotis is actually pronounced "clah-poh-tee", and "patati patatate"(sic?) is a French-Canadianism known to almost no one but like me and one other person.

At any rate, I have decided to knit said clapotis since apparently I am the only one in the stratosphere that hasn't, not to mention that after seeing Julia's beauty and about three thousand other raves about it on the internerd, I didn't want to be the odd man out. I'm enough of a loner as it is without the socially awkward mistake of not knitting my own clapotis.

To wit: a shopping spree at Wool Tyme. I'll post photos of that haul later on, methinks I bought too much stuff (clapotis-related and BEYOND) no doubt some of that indulgence will be going back. I'm kind of debating as to whether the full size version of the clap (yeah, I said it) will be just too big and I should re-size it, though in the last twenty seconds I think I've managed to talk myself out of that again, and will just go full-on whole-hog. Go like stink as my mom would say.

I cast it on yesterday and am just about ready to start dropping stitches on it, so i'l keep you posted on how it goes. Naturally the two other things I had hoped to finish this week have completely fallen by the wayside, though part of me is feeling like I should just get them done first so that I can stop feeling guilty about having the clap. heh.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Like sleeping on a cloud...

I really need to post some "after" shots of this catbed I knit for Archie last Christmas. He uses it all the time, and as such, it no longer looks clean and fluffy like this:

But more flat, matted and full of fur. Dare I say, borderline gross. The chair it's on is also no exception to that rule. I guess I just need to accept the fact that I'm their sugar-mommy, and they rule the roost, period.

Anyone interested in knitting it can find it in Stitch n Bitch Volume one. It knit up fast and is a great beginner project, so it's pretty satisfying. Plus that eyelash-y stuff hides all flaws, and the cats like to nestle their faces into it like it's grass.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Marimekko I heart you so

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Marrimekko, how do I love thee? Let me count the... Those who know me also know that I am OBSESSED with Marimekko, essentially the inspiration for all of the way inferior wall hangings Reckless Glue produced for our last craft sale. The fabric is next to impossible to find in here in Canada, and I've spent countless hours trolling ebay, particularly in search of vintage Marimekko fabrics and all of the truly amazing mod! mod! mod! clothing they produced in the sixties. On ebay it definitely gets too rich for my blood, though I did once purchase two wall hangings in this pattern (but pink) which, though I loved them, were clearly fabric remnants, and so effing expensive in the end.

So it was with unbridled enthusiasm that I dragged the BF to the Holy Mecca in NYC when we were there last month:
***note this is not the actual Upper East Side store...I think this photo is of one of the stores in Finland. The one in New York sadly was VERY small, and as such marginally disappointing for the basis of a special trip, but I did indulge in a few expensive purchases and some fabric, with which I also made this wall hanging over the holidays:

I love it. Our living room is lime green and chocolate brown so it works really well. I plan to order direct from them from here on in, and would encourage anyone wanting a truly amazing piece of easy art to either buy their insanely beautiful and timeless silk-screened fabrics (this Kaivu pattern I chose they've been making since 1964) or fork out the dough for a complete kit. When you grow tired of it you can just turn around and sell it on ebay for 200 bucks, it's a win-win!

reckless blues

Christmas came and went so fast i feel like it didn't even happen. Tis the season when a young girl's fancy turns to the non-public oriented personal projects she was trying to crank out before the holidays, that are now COMPLETE, and she can breathe a sigh of relief. To wit:
I knit EIGHT of these scarves in varying colours (every female on my team at work got one, as well as Marnie, myself and my sister Rhonda); and then: SEVEN of these hats in various colours as well (mostly black, natch) for the men on my team, myself, the IS support guy, and my lesbian crossword buddy (I remark on that only to denote her massive indifference to the "girlie" scarves I made that she'd turned her nose up at.)

Anyway, here's the pattern for it:

It's pretty much the perfect black watch seaman's cap, and will aptly compliment any anchor tattoo or peacoat. Also it's a nice one to crank out in an evening or two, and these hats look good on everyone.

Suffice to say that by the middle of December, and in addition to a few other projects I was working on my hands were nothing more than gnarled claws that would sometimes spasm in the middle of the night. I was feeling pretty speedy on these projects and relatively proud of my time management skills when my mother told me she'd cranked out something like 23 of those hats for the Red Cross, in addition to knitted barbie outfits she'd crammed into newly purchased barbie boxes so that any child receiving a brand-new barbie over Xmas would have a couple extra outfits to go along with. Lousy do-gooder, using her knitting prowess for good all the time, rather than evil. Doesn't she know if I had those skills I'd be cocooned in a mass of angora right now?

Hopefully I can get everyone together at work for a group photo in their new knitted duds, which could potentially be a cute photo op, that is if we could all sit still long enough not to kill each other.

Happy New Year everyone!