Snowflakes and Christmas Trees

I had a killer day of cookieing yesterday, doing about eight hours of icing. Got a bit of hand owwies today when I squeeze my right hand into a fist from all that work but it’ll be right tomorrow. And I did complete a lot of cookies for gifts for some old workmates and others.

I’ve got a mini tutorial for you I guess, showing how I did the snow on the Christmas trees. First you want to do your green base and let it dry for an hour or two, until it’s firm. Pipe on some white icing as below. With brush embroidery, the name of this style, being messy can work in your favour! You want the icing to be piping consistency, so quite firm, so that it holds its shape. If you thin your icing too much as if to flood, it will spread and you won’t get the definition you need and want.

Grab a paint brush, that you only use for this purpose, don’t be daft and mix paint and icing, that’s a big no-no. Quickly drag the icing away from where it was piped, with your brush.

Super quick and highly effective design I think! This technique has always been a favourite of mine since I learned it.

Here are my trees complete with their bright red pots. These were done with my usual vanilla sugar cookie base.

I paired the trees with some adorable gingerbread snowflakes. I’m quite proud of these because I made up the piped design myself and I think they look great. Jason said that snowflakes are meant to be individual at which I promptly stuck my tongue out at him.

That’s one of my weak points I think,….if I haven’t planned the cookie design and I just try to improvise, it usually turns out disappointing to me. Not today, my friends!

The silver was achieved by piping a pale grey icing onto the snowflake and painting with edible silver luster dust mixed with vodka. I think I need to pick up some cheaper vodka….I cringe each time I use my Grey Goose for this purpose, even if it’s only a few drops.

It took three goes to get this level of cover on the silver cookies.

Apologies for the shoddy photographs, as the cookies had to be packed up last night to leave the house early this morning for their recipients, I had to take them at night and obviously haven’t learned yet how to do that better.

I’d like to share some feedback from one of the eaters of these cookies today, that made me laugh a lot.

“You’re not a baker, you’re a dealer!”

Ahhh cookie crack, I love it 🙂

I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to share with you this week, having finished a sewing project, a knitting project and more Christmas cookies. Hope you stay tuned for those!

Until next time, have fun!

Baby Blankie Number 1 Complete

Yesterday I handed over my gift of baby blankie number 1 to my dear friends Angela and Jay who are about to have their first baby any day now. If you’d like to read up on my first post of this project, you can do so here.

Looking back, it took me about eight weeks to create this beauty, but that was a lot of hours of work, with a minimum of eight rows per day for almost every single day of that. But I made it and I’m so proud of it. Luckily they love it too 🙂

This was my first foray into lace knitting, and starting with a thick yarn was probably a really good way to start. You can see the lace grow quickly and can see the stitches so much more easily so that, I feel, you learn to read the stitches quicker. Once you memorise the pattern and can read your stitches, it knits along quite fast, even for something as wide as this blanket.

The pattern I chose was Ingrid Aartun Bøe’s Pine Forest Baby Blanket pattern. You can find it on Ravelry for free here.

There was a super hot day last week and I knew I had to take advantage of the heat to wash and block the blanket due to the thickness of the yarn. I cleaned out my laundry sink because my little soaking bucket wasn’t going to do the job for this monster, washed and soaked it for ten minutes. I laid out half my towel collection on the tiled bathroom floor and rolled the blanket up in them to squeeze out as much water as possible. Wow, they were quite wet after.

I then laid out my blocking mats, of which I have nine. They are about 30cm wide. I laughed a lot at my foolishness that I even for a second thought it would fit on those.

Here a picture of it drying on the clothesline. Surprisingly it blocked out really well using just this method, I just pulled it into shape and then left it. In 35C heat, it dried extremely quickly.

And here’s the finished product, all folded nicely and tied up in a pretty ribbon.

Changes made to the pattern:

  1. Cast on 179 stitches instead of 123
  2. Slipped the first stitch of each row and purled the last stitch of each row, to create the neater chain up the sides.
  3. Did 23 repetitions of the lace pattern between borders instead of 15
  4. Used 12 ply yarn and bigger needles

My blanket ended up 125cm wide x 155cm high after washing.

Yarn used: 6 x 200g balls of Bendigo Woolen Mills Stellar 12 ply, approx 1560 metres/1706 yards
Colourway: Tourmaline
Needles: US9/5.5mm circular needles with a 60 inch cord.

This lace pattern is called Gull Lace, I guess due to it looks like flocks of gulls flying with wings stretched out wide. Each lace repetition is just seven stitches and only four rows in the pattern. As this was my first time knitting lace, I put a stitch marker between every set of seven stitches. I knew if I didn’t have seven stitches after each section knit, I’d done something wrong, and could easily find it and fix it.

Things I learned:

  1. YO – yarnover – bringing the yarn over the needle to make an additional stitch and to create a hole in the fabric
  2. Chain edge
  3. That I can take on a really large project and see it through to completion.

I really really really adore this blanket. It’s so soft and squishy, but not too heavy, thank you bamboo content, but will be deliciously warm in winter, thank you wool content! Due to the sheer size of it, this lucky little girl will get many years out of it. I can picture her as a bub under it come winter, or snuggling on the couch in five years time watching cartoons, or reading on her bed at ten. Well, I can wish!

And now, I guess I better get knitting baby blankie number 2!

Until next time, have fun!

Christmas Cupcakes

Welcome, welcome, it’s the 1st of December! A month for sparkly lights and pretty baubles and required family gatherings 😉 Oh, and presents! I like those.

It’s also a time for much treats. So to celebrate the first day of December, and impeding Christmas (at least for me), have some cupcakes!

img_0819

I had a lot of leftover buttercream from the Castle Cake and fortunately it’s not crazy hot so it’s behaved a lot better. Can’t say the same for tomorrow’s forecast. Today’s also the first day of summer so, sorry for the potential future complaining of heat!

I added some LorAnn oil in Butterscotch flavour to the buttercream to change it up from the cake earlier in the week. These are super concentrated flavours that you only need a drop or two of. That’s good because they come in miniscule bottles. And there are sooooo many flavours. I’d really love to try them in some macarons some time.

img_0821

I coloured a very small amount of sugarpaste (fondant) green and red, also colouring my fingernails quite green in the process. I have a decent selection of sugarpaste cutters stashed away so I thought I’d pull them out and have a play.  Same goes for the cachous and pariels. You might know them as dragées or just those little hard balls of candy. Luckily only my silver ones are rock hard, the other are quite pleasant to eat.

img_0830

Both of these plates I picked up at a local op shop/thrift store a few years back, for a couple of bucks each. You’ve heard the saying: What is one person’s junk is another person’s treasure!

img_0832

I like this recipe for vanilla cupcakes from my Woman’s Weekly Cupcakes book as it makes a quite reasonable eight cupcakes. Much better on our waistline with just the two of us.

img_0837

The snowflakes and holly leaves were cut out by rolling sugarpaste thinly, then using some plunger cutters. Love plunger cutters, press them into your sugarpaste, press the plunger to imprint any design it has, lift and press the plunger again and out pops out the shape. I left the shapes overnight to dry and painted some of the snowflakes with edible silver dust mixed with vodka.

img_0845

Hope you enjoyed today’s cupcake journey and you aren’t craving them too much. Stayed tuned during December for many Christmas themed cookies!

Until next time, have fun!

Castle Cake

This week, Jason celebrated his birthday. If you don’t know exactly when it is, then too bad as I’m not allowed to tell you because he’s a bit funny about it. For fun we had burgers and beer at a local brewery and watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And played some Diablo 3 together. Good, clean, mob slaughtering co-op fun 🙂

I also made him cake!

I was cleaning out my upstairs linen closet earlier this year which also doubles as my cake supply cupboard. He had seen my Wilton Enchanted Castle cake pan and had told me, jokingly, “I want a pretty princess castle cake for my birthday!”

img_0809

I remember when you say these things! It also had never been used. Wilton released this pan in 1998 and it still endures today which is pretty awesome.

Now I could have gone the pink and purple castle but I didn’t want to make him cringe too much, so I went for a ivory and gold castle instead.

img_0793

Now mind you, it’s warming up dramatically here, and it has been a hot and humid week and completely unacceptable weather for making buttercream icing and baking.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my go to, it’s just utterly delicious and I’m certain I’ve mentioned that before. I use this recipe and guide from Sweetapolita.

You can see the buttercream melting in this closeup 🙁

img_0794

These are the piping tips I used to ice the cake. From left to right, PME 2.5, PME 4, PME 13 star tip and some very random leaf tip i found in my stash and doesn’t even have a brand name on it.

img_0807

The ivy was an afterthought because I’ve never used a leaf tip before and I just winged it on the spot but I did think the castle needed a little something extra to break up the ivory and gold.

To wrap up, I have very mixed feelings about this cake with its semi-melty buttercream. I obviously couldn’t take my time with  it due to the weather, the buttercream was starting to melt even a few minuts out of the fridge so it’s below par for what I feel I can usually achieve. But then I shouldn’t beat myself up about it because I can’t control the weather and unfortunately we don’t have air conditioning. I might just need to make a point of not playing with buttercream between November and March.

But I do still sort of love this cake despite its flaws, it is pretty cute. It also tastes great regardless of what it looks like.

Until next time, have fun!

Epic Pokemon Cross-stitch Update 26/11/16

It’s been just over five weeks since the last Pokemon cross-stitch update. I’ve knocked off another page of the pattern, leaving eight remaining. Just eight, out of thirty.

Here are the latest Pokemon. I think the Veno’s are adorable, even for poisonous bugs! And I love the extravagant tails and hairdos of the fox Pokemon, Vulpix and Ninetales, they are so fancy!pokemon-update

I’m also going to give you a look at the journey so far. It’s looking pretty great.

img_0814

Until next time, have fun!