Monday, February 25, 2013

taking a tumble...

finished this cake today for a customer who wanted "a bear on skis, with trees and mountains?" 

I can see it in my head and it'll only take a few things...

I've recently become fixated on picture frames. Specifically, silver picture frames, which is my rather lame attempt at having a unifying theme for the family picture wall: the pictures are all in silver frames, and until recently we were all or mostly dressed formally and/or in white. I've since expanded it to include "dressed up" of all colors, but still all in silvertone frames.

This year, I've promised to utilize the supplies from my pan-crafting: I have stashes for polymer clay, miniature dollmaking, knitting, sewing and embroidery, cake decorating, pastry/confectionery/chocolate work as well as stuff for allergy-friendly baking, wood and light metal from miniature work, acrylic/watercolor/tempera/pastels...

So from that convoluted introduction, the vision in my head was to make a frame that looked like piped frosting. A visit to an art store (thank you, patient man at Utrecht) yielded a product name (Smart Spackle) but no luck with the actual product: I needed something that was viscous but airy and creamy like frosting but that would harden eventually and not chip, crack or shrink. 

A near-perfect storm of supplies from different genres: piping bag and tip,  gesso, wood, silver acrylic paint, rigid plastic sheeting, and the surprise special crossover: xanthan gum. Yes, acrylic gesso with a bit of xanthan gum pipes! and prettily.

The first is an unfinished wood frame from the craft store -- piped on, painted and sprayed with sealer. The second is (obviously) IKEA-hack with just the piping. I think I'll leave it white and use it in the kids' room. 
Would like it to dry shiny, but this idea bears tinkering with further...

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I knit when I go into the city. I hadn't been doing that as much as usual, so having a finished object is quite rare (besides which, there is a tiny-gauge project that refuses to be completed... I don't know, it just doesn't say anything to me anymore, not even, "Finish me already so you can take pictures, then never see me again."

But I made these! They're really soft Koigu cashmere and they have bows to make them girly, and to tie them to Kikay's coat.

So pretty, but this winter break we decided to go snow-tubing. The pretty kitten mittens did not pass muster from the Winter Sports Gear Expert husband, so waterproof hand-covers were called for (for both Popoy and Kikay). Now, I'm not spending $20 per pair for one day of tubing. Enter the craft stash busting resolution!

I used the small and medium patterns from Little Things to Sew, but with ikatbag's lined mittens tutorial in mind to make them fleece on the inside and waterproof on the outside. (You guessed it, that's PUL from the cloth-diaper days!)

 I made a few minor changes tho.
 First and most important, a fleece inner means you'll need to add another 1/4 inch to the pattern for the outer so there is room and it doesn't get all bunched up trying to fit two same-size mittens inside one another. Since I was making these from remnants, I didn't really pay much attention to grainlines, but it does seem to make them easier to sew and put on if the stretch of the fabrics (since they are both knit) goes side-to-side on the palm... or the longest side of the mitten pattern parallel to the selvage.

On both the fleece lining and the PUL outer, I sewed almost all the way around but left a bit unsewn from the thumb downward -- on the royal blue ones I left it on the thumb side, on the navy ones I did it on the side opposite. (I ended up preferring the thumb side, but just by a little.) This is so it's easier to make the casing for the elastic -- it maneuvers better under the presser foot.

After sewing the casing, I put the elastic through, ends poking out top and bottom. So it doesn't go back in, I put pins at the ends. 

Pull on the pins as you seam up the fleece lining so the elastic gets secured in the stitching, then cut off the excess length of elastic.

Then I went in with a 1/4" fold to sew up the remaining side seam on the PUL. 

Lastly, fold up the two layers toward each other and topstitch -- to seam the fleece and PUL together at the bottom. Although it's such a small circumference, it's easy to do this now rather than flat because it's right at the edge.

 All done!! (the royal blue ones just have a bottom elastic guide and not a full casing, because I thought it might bug her to have that thick cuff. So that's another option -- just securing the elastic at the seams so it only pulls in the fleece and not the outer.)
 Ready to go tubing...

and in action...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

sweet hearts...

Franny wanted to make something for her classmates this Valentine's Day; since they only come in for the morning, they have school breakfast rather than lunch. So we made heart-shaped scones! Including her current favorite baking ingredient, chunks of pink chocolate candy.

A basic scone mixture (this one with butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and eggs, and a bit of milk, aside from the chunks) to pat into circles.

Divide each into quarters. (We should have done fifths, as it turns out there are 14 classmates and not 12! ooops!)

Before separating the sections, slit the curved edge to make a heart shape.

Place well apart on a baking sheet,

 then sprinkle with sugar (we like red! it's Valentine's Day for 4 year olds, what do you expect?)

Bake high and fast, so they stay moist. 

Yay, ready for school!

Sweetheart Scones

Heat oven to 375 F.

Place in a bowl: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt. Rub in 2 tbsp. cold butter. 
Add about 1/3 cup chopped-up pink candy melts.
Beat 1 egg with 3 tbsp. cold milk and stir it in with a fork, just until the dough holds together -- it should be moist and a bit sticky. 
Sprinkle flour on the counter and turn the dough out onto it. 
With a bench scraper or table knife, divide the scone dough into three portions and shape each into a circle -- about 5 or 6 inches across and as thick as your finger. If it's really sticky, wet your hands to make this easier.
Cut each circle in fourths or fifths to make triangles with a curved edge, then slit the curved edge to make hearts.
Separate them and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet with at least an inch in between. 
Sprinkle with sugar, then bake about 12-15 minutes until they smell yummy, are nicely browned on the bottom, and feel firm. 
Cool, then pack up or eat!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When is a Valentine...

Blame Across the Universe, or spring, or thoughts of Central Park. But this is the least pink of all Valentine dresses for the Little; instead it is strawberries. All. Over. 

I'd bought this M pattern awhile ago but never tried it out; inspired by Liesl (of Oliver + S)'s post on a ruffle-sleeved flannel tunic, I decided that it was time to root through the stash, for a nice warm winter dress that was pretty enough for the day of hearts and flowers. Lo, strawberries! Actually, it's called Strawbeary... probably a long-ago coordinate for a twee teddy print? Bought it some years ago in the NYC fabric district. 

A bit of white eyelet made the perfect yoke, BUT. It needed buttons. Strawberries of course. (this is yet another case of, "if you could just see what I see in my head, it's perfect!" lunacy. Don't say you don't know what that's about.) But no time or inclination to go to the craft or fabric store in search of something that's probably not there when you're looking for it, KWIM?  Out came the polymer clay box, Xacto knife and a sz1 dpn. About 30 minutes later, voila!

And while I was at it, some hair doodads. because she got a new haircut and because I really am that craycray. Yes, they are mirror images of each other in gradient from dark red to pink.

the bleginning... forty and

So I'm trying Blogger. I've got a few identities floating around: LJ, WordPress, Tumblr, FB. Let's see which one sticks. WordPress intimidates me because I feel like I have to write prose, lj is flailing and so is tumblr, fb is... well, Facebook.
So: crafty-type blog with sewing, baking, some knitting and lots of random stuff that is me and the kids using up craft supplies. I've been doing a lot of these in the new year, and hope to continue.

I'm not sure what is going to end up here... basically, welcome to the jumble that is my font of insanely vague yet specific craft ideas and the varying success of their execution. With bonus appearances of small people as applicable.