Monday, February 27, 2012

How To: Wear Bobbles

Oh, poor bobbles.

This much maligned knitwear design element strikes fear, hatred, and disgust into the hearts of many.

Even the most fair-minded knitter can fall prey to the bobble prejudice, and I really don't blame them. Bobbles are tricky things to get right.

This post is an attempt to make a case for the bobble. Particularly, because I think it's wise to explain how they're best worn before I show you how to make them next week. Responsibly.

Please note: while I understand it's really quite useful to have images to illustrate something done wrong as well as something done right, this blog will refrain from naming the guilty.
You'll know them when you see them.

Here's the Rules for Wearing Bobbles

Watch the placement.
Cluster carefully.
Keep yarn weight in mind.
Combine with other design elements sparingly, if at all.
Contain bobbles visually in a motif or other restraining surroundings.

Now, let's see how these talented designers apply these rules, in variation, to their successful and really very tasteful en-bobbled patterns.

Big Bobbles, Little Bobbles

Yarn weight is very important: obviously, heavier weight yarn's going to give you larger bobbles. This, though, isn't necessarily a bad thing. See the large bobble used in the Woodland Mittens.

© Bethe Galantino

It's the weight of the yarn that makes these bobbles great, adding visual interest and texture to these otherwise basic mitts.

Socks, and their attendant weight of yarn, make a great backdrop for bobble play. The Bacchus Socks (photo © Interweave Knits 2008) are one of my favourites (I totally made a pair for myself, I love them so).
Here, the bobbles are well-placed, and not overwhelming to the garment, even though there are a fair number of them. Using bobbles as part of a logical motif (in this case, grapes on a vine) helps to restrain, contain, and maintain order with a knitwear element that could, let's face it, get easily out of control.

Many Bobbles, Few Bobbles

Let's compare two similar items, and see how bobbles are tastefully applied to the design.

First there's the pretty and slightly whimsical Orchids and Fairy Lights.


Bobbles are used in an all-over motif but aren't overwhelming. This is achieved through a variety of means: first, they're visually restrained within the motif. Second, while there are a lot of them, they're balanced out across the hat. This creates a rhythm, where your eye is drawn through the design equally, waving slightly up and down with the bobble placement. It's a pleasing rhythm, one which is the central interest point in the hat. It's not cluttered by loads of other elements (lace, tassles, thick cables, and so on).

© Vogue Knitting/Rose Callahan

The second example, Bobble Cap, utilizes this element sparingly. There's a visual rhythm here too, but one that isn't dominated by bobbles. Rather, this design has them take a back seat to the more eye catching cables and textural stitch. It's the cables that lead your eye around, not the bobbles. They're just there, clustered in little contained areas, to add a punch of design interest.

Bobble Placement

The garments we've looked at so far don't really run the risk of anatomically-suggestive bobble misplacement.

This is certainly an issue to keep in mind with bobbles on sweaters. See here some examples of it done right.


Look at what the Breena cardigan does: rounds of bobbles and cables (again, contained within a motif and balanced out carefully with other design elements) draw the eye upward to the wearer's face. Always a flattering design tactic. These bobbles are reasonably sized, and kept away from any particularly "bad" placement.

The Grown Up Girl cardigan sprinkles bobbles on different parts of the design, creating a balanced and interesting piece of knitwear (this might be, incidentally, my new pattern crush. I just think it's awesome).



Keeping the different bobble placements visually separated (between the back, front and cuffs of the design), keeps the fun and surprise level of this piece really high. Again, note that it's within a motif, combined sparingly with other elements, and carefully clustered to create popping points of interest.

Bobbles on Items

So far we've focussed on en-bobbled clothing. It's also worth pointing out that they're a great, and very fun, element to apply to non-wearables.

The Winterberry hot water bottle cover follows the same successful bobble rules as all the above-mentioned garments.

see the designer's blog here

The adorable whimsy Sea Urchin takes bobbles and visual motifs to the next level. The bobble become so much of what describes the urchin shape, it's really very charming (

see the designer's blog here

Hope this defense of the bobble has (maybe? possibly? hopefully!) won over some previous bobble haters.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sugary Learnins'; Or, Cupcake Decorated Part Cinq

PhotobucketThe springtime edition!

This week we got to create our own little army of bunnies.

What you need

-pink decorator sugar
-white icing
-jelly beans
-pink or red wee heart candies
-shredded coconut
-red decorator's gel
-black licorice lace

How you do it

Ice cupcakes.
Roll in plateful of shredded coconut.

Using scissors and cutting on a diagonal, chop marshmallow in half. Dip into pink sugar.

Artfully stick ears atop head (adding a bit of icing to the bottom of the ears helps them to stick. Plus, you get even more icing on the cupcake. Yum).Photobucket

Now add the face: cut jelly bean in half. Tip: the face looks cuter if the eyes are juuuuust a little far apart.
Plop heart candy onto bunny face, upside down, for nose.
Chop 1" lengths of black licorice, and place for whiskers.
The mouth was drawn on with red decorator's gel, but I'm not sure how happy I am with it. They were kind of better looking without it.
(and, as you'll notice on the bunny here, I added a wee tongue sticking out with some pink icing. I couldn't help myself :p)

And here's the last one I made, on purpose, to look goofy.
Cupcakes - on blog

And we got a little side-lesson in basket weave.
Now, I didn't do all too well with the weaving, but it was certainly fun and delicious!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Indie Designer Revisited

PhotobucketDesigner: Linda Wilgus
Blog: Woolly Mammoth Knits
Rav ID: linw
Some Great Designs: linw's Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: April 24, 2009

My my, the things you can do in three years!

When I first profiled linw in 2009, she had just under ten patterns published. Taking a glance at her body of work, you'll see a wide range of techniques and pattern types: a truly versatile designer, linw has successfully applied her skills in many different publications.
She's been featured in Knitty (twice!), PopKnits, Yarn Forward and Creative Knitting, to name a few!

She has so many new designs, it's difficult to choose where to begin, but I'll reign myself in with four:

Maratea (pictured, and featured in her 2011 ebook, Knit, Block, Love) is a geometric and eye-catching shawl. Worked from the centre-top down, it has my favourite shawl construction: every row is getting shorter!

Peggy Sue is a very wearable wardrobe item, and one that would make for a great process knit. This free pattern was inspired by 1950s cardigans, and features delicate cables and a cropped waist.

Meanderlust is an adorable buttoned cowl, including fabulous texture, fun cables and interesting lace edging. For a great quick knit, this is a go-to pattern (also fantastic for showing off your favourite pair of buttons, methinks).

Ripples is a chunky weight beret, featuring pretty lace details. I love the combination of lace and chunky yarn!

Before I go, I want to also point out linw's Ravelry group: here you can find pattern support, but also knitalongs and pattern giveaways.

This designer is so talented, versatile and prolific, I can't wait to see what the next three years produce!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What is This?

In one of my jaunts to the goliath Value Village (no judgey - they have cheap housewares and very cheap books and mags!) I came across this, still shrink-wrapped.


It's absolutely adorable, but, what is it?

My current theory is that it's a phonetics game, and likely a Dutch one. It also came with a punch-out cardstock sheet with, what looks like, vowel combinations.

What it is and how it works is a mystery to me, but I thought perhaps someone could smack their eyes on it and know immediately.

Can you solve this mystery?

ps: You know I had to pick it up: sheep appear on it twice, they have a very cool goat, and a couple sweet dogs! Oh, and the pigeon. And the kitty. And the creepy-as-hell clothed monkey.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How To: Respond to Rude Comments

PhotobucketI'll tell you a story.

Picture it: mid-summer, sudden downpour. Carless employee arrives to work after five minute walk from bus stop. Thoroughly soaked.

Sitting in back room, knee socks peeled off, feet resting on shoes. Miserable and wet. Minding own business.

Another employee enters room, saunters passed soaked employee and loudly exclaims, "Wow! You have really wide feet!"

This, friends, is a true story.
(I'm totally the soaked employee, and ever since this incident several years ago, I've been self-conscious about my feet.)

I wish I had been prepared with a great response to this person. I know he didn't mean to be hurtful, but he was hurtful nonetheless.

Of course, directly after this encounter you know I researched "how to respond to rude comments"!

Here's what I wish I had been prepared with on that day.

Maintain YOUR dignity, even if the other person does not
According to Miss Manners, it never pays to be rude, no matter how rude the person is to you. Your dignity is maintain through the shield of your politeness. Deflect the rudeness with this shield.
Some retorts could be: "Why do you ask?", "I'm sorry, am I offending you somehow? I do apologize".

Responding with politeness puts the ball back in their court
Retorting with "Why do you ask?" allows you to avoid the question and put the burden back on the rude inquirer. The idea here is that this will make them see that the question was not appropriate, or at the very least not welcome. At worst, you can just nod in response to whatever they have to say for themselves.

Responding with a witty retort
Unfortunately, I'm not a quick-witted individual. Miss Manners often suggests responses to rude questions that contain a bit of cheeky humour. I like the idea of this, but unfortunately... (see above comment).

Of course, not only will your dignity be maintained with this route; if this person is someone you'll have to see every day, then you can feel confident that 1) any splash-back from this encounter won't stain you with any sort of office gossip, or worse, work-place reprimands, and 2) you can deal with this rude person without necessarily feeling embarrassment.

And, how did I respond to that rude comment, lo those years ago?
I was so taken aback by the question; things were running around in my head, so many things. "What? I have wide feet?" "I never thought I had wide feet?" "God, I'm so miserable and soaking wet", "Hey, who the #@*% does he think he is saying that to me!"

All I could get out was a very loud "WHAT?!"

I'm sorry Miss Manner, I'll do better next time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sugary Learnins'; Or, Cupcake Decorated Part Four

PhotobucketOh my my...

Well, as you'll notice, there's only one, really rather sad, cupcake photo to represent my fourth class at the community centre.

This past week was something of a... wash...
The ellipses will be used with impunity in this post, because I generally hesitate to complain or speak negatively about people.

Suffice it to say, our cupcake class instructor is an (apparently hard-working) college student (likely about 18 years old). She's a busy gal, I'm sure. And I suspect that teaching five grown women how to decorate cupcakes is likely at the bottom of her list of Very Important Things to do in a week.

That's ok; I get a great deal for my (very small) financial input. But I feel the need to explain this sad little cupcake...

It's supposed to be a flower. I think that might have been made more clear if the icing was yellow. The green jujube and red smartie are, of course, wee leaves and a ladybug.

Something interesting I did take from this class? Rolling out jujubes, cutting them up, and then forming them in to various shapes is pretty fun!

And, I got an extra oreo to eat at the end of class. Mmmmm... oreo...

Here's to hoping week five is a smashbangPOW awesome-o funtime success.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Christina Werge
Blog: Herrlichkeiten
Etsy Shop: Herrlichkeiten
Rav ID: schneefloeckchen
Some Great Designs: schneefloeckchen's Rav Designer Page

First off, this designer's blog is attractive: clear, crisp, interesting photographs laid out with a great design. It's a hint as to her pattern design aesthetic!

I've chosen to feature her Sailor Blouse photo
because its clever twist on an otherwise simple, stockinette, bottom up top, make for an appealing and interesting piece. The cute collar edging adds such personality. It's fantastic.

I would say, however, that you'll have to get a look at her other patterns here to get an idea as to the other side of her design "personality". That is, fine detail and texture.

First here's the Drop Dead Gorgeous Loop & Hat, a cowl and beret set that utilizes delicate, all-over texture wonderfully. I dig the seamless way the ribbing dancing up and across the top of the hat, and how the cowl/loop is such a simple, yet very versatile shape.

Knit sideways and in one piece, the elegant Elinor Shawlette is a great little knit for just-that-bit of scarf/shawl goodness surrounding your neck and shoulders.

And, in a return to her simple-and-clever design "personality", there's Gardening. Love a good zippered sweater? Look no further. The cables a placed perfectly, skimming along your torso, creating the very right amount of texture and interest.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Knitting Schedule; And The Winner Is....


The Random Number Generator has spoken, and the winner of the patterns giveaway is Denise! I'll be in touch with the patterns shortly.

And in other news:

I've been finding it challenging as of late to find time to knit.
I know perfectly well that I have the very same amount of time as I've always had. There's some sort of force, I'll call it eeeevil, that is using its magical evil powers to drain my knitting time away into other ventures.

And suddenly, poof! The time has been stolen.

I'm wondering, do you go out of your way to schedule knitting time? Is the (really rather pesky) rest of life get in the way to the degree that you have to make yourself a schedule?

This issue is getting me to the point of scheduling my days up into micro-managed chunks.

How do you keep the eeeevil time-stealing forces at bay?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Touch the Art; Or, Give Me Some Point of View

PhotobucketYou might know I work in an art gallery.

Unlike some of my colleagues and friends, I didn't grow up familiar with galleries. My parents weren't the type to bring me to those sorts of places, and somehow, I never had a class trip to an art institution.

I'm not sure where my awareness of art gallery etiquette comes from; it seems like I've "always known" how you're expected to behave in thesesuch surroundings.

So, this post is a request for some information. Enlighten me.

Is it common knowledge that you're not supposed to touch artwork in art galleries?

I would have thought so. I assumed so. But my day to day existence is peppered with the statement "Please don't touch the art", "Please step back from the art" and my current favourite, "Please don't pick at the art".

Now, for those of you who are tactile learners, or just perhaps really keen to pet artwork, I understand the appeal. Let me tell you, there's a few artworks with some great, thick impasto paint that are very difficult for me to resist.

But touching it? Don't people know you're not meant to?

Granted, there are no velvet ropes, no barriers, and in some cases, no glass to "protect" the pieces, and I have to admit, I like it that way. It's nice to walk around and not have your experience hampered by physical obstacles that shout "we don't trust you to have common sense!".

Buuuut... is it common sense?

You tell me! Please leave a comment. Tell me about your art gallery experiences, if it is indeed common knowledge that you don't touch artwork, and especially, give me your opinion on the topic!

Monday, February 13, 2012

How To: Shovel Snow

PhotobucketSnow shovelling is no joke, and certainly not for the faint hearted. No kidding: people die each year from heart attacks related to shovelling snow.

You can also easily injure yourself if you aren't careful when undertaking this, well, let's face it, fairly stressful workout.

Taking a few steps with ensure that you stay safe and clear your sidewalk, driveway and other footpaths safely.

Stretch before you start

It really is a workout! And you always stretch beforehand.

Dress warm, but not TOO warm

Being a workout, you need to dress for the job. Just keep in mind that you'll likely start sweating in no time, so layering is a good idea. You don't want to get soaked in sweat.

Take breaks

It might be soul crushing (oh, I know it can be very...) to look out and see over 2/3 of that, now suddenly vast, expansive and huge, driveway to clear. You need to get to work! It's cold! I hate this! But taking breaks is important.

Try to keep your shovel under-loaded

It's tempting to fill up that shovel, but it's best not to. Muscle strains are no fun, and you can easily hurt your body in a variety of ways.

Moving the snow: don't twist, don't move it twice

That is, find the most efficient way to clear your space before you even start. You're essentially dealing with a rectangle to clear, so just move the snow to the closest edge. It gets heavy after only a few minutes, and you'll have greater snow-shovelling stamina if you enter with a plan first.

When you dump the snow, try not to twist your body. You're carrying a heavy load, and one that's not close to your body (which is the best practice when carrying loads), so twisting your body is particularly treacherous.

If you can, get a head start and a hand

It's easier with help! Enlist people to grab another shovel and help clear, if you can.

Getting a head start, while the snow isn't too thickly laid on the ground, will make you a happier camper later (after the other hours of snow have come to rest on your preciously cleared walkways). *frowny face*

Keep your neighbours in mind

Let me tell you, you can raise the wrath of those around you if you put the snow somewhere it shouldn't be! Don't shovel it onto the road (I see so many people doing this... it's not cool), know your neighbours are trying to clear their sidewalks and driveways too. Putting your snow there, also not cool! And, a bit of kindness: elderly neighbours, or people otherwise unable to shovel, you'd be doing them a solid if you did their sidewalk. In some municipalities a homeowner will be fined if snow is not removed within 24 hours (or however long the bylaw states).
Also, keep in mind that this snow will melt at some point: piling it against the house isn't the greatest plan, unless you're cool with the possibility of water in your basement.

Shovel safe!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Instant Pictures: Fun in the Minutia

Instagram Icon - on blog

That old timey (read: 1970s) camera icon is meant to represent a superfun new (to me) app I've downloaded for me iPhone. It's called "Instagram", and it allows for pretty awesomely instant uploading of pics. Not only that, it has pretty funky filters that you can place on your images. Makes them look all profesh. Or nostalgic. Or atmospheric. Or just plain neato.

Follow me here to be in on the stuff I, for whatever reason, deem to be photographable.

You'll likely catch the fever too.

If so, let me know your username! I'm keen to follow your daily ins and outs and pretty photos too.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Jennifer Thompson
Blog: Fern Knits
Rav ID: fern1knits
Some Great Designs: fern1knits' Rav Designer Page

I've had my mind turn to all things floral lately. Delicate green shoots were unexpectedly spotted sprouting up in my garden just days ago. I was aghast.

That lovely delicate beauty is something that I see in the patterns by this week's designer.

I picked her cozy colour worked Botanical Doubleknit Caplet as the featured photo for this post. This newly published piece already has a few FOs listed on Rav. I'm really digging all the different colour choices! This caplet is a wonderful piece, but the next few items by fern1knits I'll be discussing demonstrate her designing strength in other areas.

Namely, delicate lace. First, here's Zest Cardigan. Another recent design, this piece combines open lace work and solid cables so wonderfully, you have to look twice to see them separately. They blend so well together, and the lines all interweave so precisely, that this design leaves me in awe. Oh, the planning that must have gone into those barely-noticeable details!

Ooo shawls. Lacy, lovely shawls. There's no shortage of the lovely with this designer. First I'll point out Dreaming, a triangular piece that looks wonderful draped across your shoulders, as well as scrunched up around your neck (incidentally, this is one of my personal "good shawl pattern" sign posts).

Also, there's the (free!) Roadtrip Shawl. I'm particularly in love with the modular, shoulder-wrapping shape. And the great use of a ruffled edge (such an easy design element to get wrong! But, done wonderfully here. That in and of itself is virtuosic!) Oh yes, and the combination of solid knit, textured areas, and lacy yarn overs. Yes! I'm particularly in love with many/lots/all of this shawl.

And all of this designer's aesthetic! Check out the linkage above for more of her work.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

This is for the Commenters

I'd like to take some time out to salute, thank, and otherwise recognize all you wonderful readers /commenters on this blog.

To show my appreciation, I'd like to give away to one winner their choice of one (or, if you like them all, I'm happy to forward each!) of my for-sale patterns:

Just comment to this post (and let me know how I can get in touch with you if you win!) by 11:59 pm on February 15th.

I'll be drawing the winner via random number generator on Thursday February 16th.
For the winner, I can email you the pattern, or gift it to you on Rav.

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Musings on SABLE and the Like; Or, How I Nest

We all have our talents.
We also all have our desires.

It seems like those two might be the same thing.

They're not.

I'll tell you, a friend of mine, in her teenage years, was a gifted athlete. She was encouraged to pursue this talent, join teams, win prizes.
She hates athleticism, and revels in the joyful Piscean pursuits of food, relaxation and general lay-about-ness (and no, it's not me. Though that list of traits is really rather accurate!)
Her desires lay outside of (at least one set of) her talents.

A lucky number of people do have their best and brightest talents align with their true and most heartfelt desires.
I hope you're one of them; I'm beginning to think I might be myself.

The desire to nest, to perfect my surroundings, make them the most beautiful, comfortable and welcoming reflection of myself that I can is something that I certainly like doing.

Any you might not believe this, but I think I can relate this back to the beautiful monster stash.
Watch me try.
Here it goes:

Yarn and knitting mean (most likely) something different to every knitter. Personally, the attraction lies, to a great extent, in the fibre, the colour, and the hope of possible handmade beauty that can come from these raw materials.


Surrounding myself with beauty, as noted above, is something I like doing, and seem to be decent at.
Yarn, in its raw, unknitted form, is certainly beautiful. Its potential is beautiful.

Therefore, my desires and talents have happily aligned in a collection that has likely reached SABLE1. And I mean, it reached that level several yarn festivals ago.

My nest is populated to a great extent by yarn. Most of it lives hidden in a large cedar chest, but some of it sits prettily on display, like so many delicious photos I've spied online. You know, those ones that yarn shops use to make their yarn look its beautiful best?
I like to put my yarn under glass. Gives me the mental security that there's at least some sort of layer of pest-protection. Plus, I can see the glorious stuff.

All this is not to say that I continue to be (or maybe even ever was) an irresponsible yarn purchaser.

To a very great extent I've cut back on gluttonous yarn binges.
Not to jinx myself, but I'm hoping this is the Year of the Stash.
And even if it is the year of the stash, my sweet little SABLE filled nest need not worry.

They don't call it SABLE for nothing.
1 Chances are you're well aware of what SABLE means. But, just to keep everyone up to date, SABLE is an acronym which stands for Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy.

Monday, February 06, 2012

How To: Deal with Negative Ease

What is ease?

In a knitting pattern, ease refers to how loose or tight a garment is. Designers write their patterns with a particular "fit" in mind, and will base their numbers for each size on whether they want their garment to be loose, tight, or otherwise.

How do you know what ease a pattern is written in?

Any good pattern will have a garment schematic. Referring to this garment schematic will show you the numbers the designer has calculated for the finished size of the garment, not the human (or dog, cat, bird, reptile, and so on!) who will be wearing the garment.
A designer may also choose to add notes or suggestions to the pattern. Check these as well for any ease information.

How do you choose your preferred ease?

Each pattern and person will be a different case, but as a general rule, ask yourself these questions:
-Do I like the way the garment is fitting the model in the pattern photograph?
-Do I want the garment to fit me in the same way that it fits the model in the pattern photograph?
-What information does the designer provide/suggest in any pattern notes?
-What do the garment schematic numbers tell me?

What does negative ease look like?

A negatively eased pattern is a garment that is designed with dimensions that are smaller than the intended wearers' actual body size. Negatively eased garments can, of course, run the gamut from body skimming (just an inch or so less than your actual measurement), to snug (up to around 5" smaller than your actual measurements) to really rather tight! (generally, 6" or more smaller than your actual measurements).
The number of inches of negative ease will also, in some cases, be effected by the gauge of yarn being used (for example, extremely bulky yarn, in a elastically-inclined fibre, will want even up to 10" of negative ease in order to fit snugly).

For illustrative purposes, here are a few images of the same sweater pattern, Corona, in a variety of negative ease sizings:

astrahl and her very slightly negatively-eased sweater.

luvnary and her moreso negatively eased Corona.

impostinator's negatively eased Corona.

LonghornDiva's negatively eased Corona.

What does zero ease look like?

Zero ease is a garment that has the same numbers as your actual measurements.
If the schematic shows that the cross-bust measurement is 16”, and you happen to be a 32” bust, then the finished garment will be the very same size that you are (that is, it will have zero ease).
Zero ease garments hang close to your body, without being snug or tight.

See examples of the same Corona pattern, but knit with zero ease.

bamboonumner1 and her zero-eased hoodie.

SophieAnn's no-eased Corona.

What does positive ease look like?

A positively eased pattern is a garment that is designed with dimensions that are larger than the intended wearers' actual body size. Positively eased garments can range from almost-body skimming, to loose and comfy, to definitely over-sized.

Here, a selection of the same sweater to demonstrate a variety of positive ease.


WorstedKnitt's positively-eased Corona (blog here: WorstedKnitt).

2muchfun's positively eased sweater.

jiva's positively-eased Corona.

What if a pattern is written with negative ease, and I want zero/positive ease?

This can be an easy fix.
Firstly, check the garment schematic. Sometimes it's as simple as going up a size or two. You can do this by checking the numbers you see on the schematic, and comparing them to your own body measurements.
If this solution isn't a possibility, you have other options:
-going up a needle size/yarn weight
-doing some math (any good pattern has the basic tools you need to do this, including gauge and the garment schematic)
-and, the always fantastic and helpful Ravelry. If you're lucky, there's another knitter out there who's posted their modification notes - perhaps you can even ask them yourself!
-and certainly, the designer can be of help her/himself.

Any other questions about negative ease?
Please check out CanaryKnits on Facebook, or ask here. I'm always happy to help!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Sugary Learnins'; Or, Cupcake Decorated Part the Third

The third week of my cupcake decorating class was a bit more challenging than the first two.
And I'll show you why.


What the sugary hell is that?

Oooo, a DUCK BUM!

Indeed, it is.

See him with his brethren.


I'm not particularly proud of these ducks, delicious though they may be have been.
But, here's how I did it nonetheless.

What you need

-a cupcake
-a timbit (what do people actually call these? Canadians, we know what timbits are. Are they "balls of fried dough"? "Spherical doughnuts"? Help me out here people. I'm flailing and failing)
-wide-mouthed bowl for icing
-white chocolate wafers (about 5 per duck)
-lollipop sticks
-icing (white, yellow, and an optional orange)
-raisins (for the eyes, but I think a chocolate chip would be MUCH more delicious. Just sayin)

How you do it

Chop your timbit in half. Dab a wee bit of yellow icing on the cupcake (where you want the head to go). Place the timbit here, securing it with a couple inches of lollipop stick.
Chop a chocolate wafer in half. This will be the bill. Dab some yellow icing between them to make a sandwich, and affix this to the front of the duckie face with, yes, some more icing.

Slide a chocolate wafer on each side of the duck body for wings, and one in the bum area for the tail.

Now, here comes the fun/scary part.

Nuke the yellow icing so it's all liquidy. Holding your breath, and going slooooowly, dip the whole duck in to the icing. This is the technique that makes them look all smooth.

Once this dries (and it doesn't take too long), dab some white icing onto your raisin/chocolate chip and affix to front of duck head for eyes.

Now, as for the bill, we all had a bit of a fail.

The nuked orange icing just made a hot mess. It's next to impossible to spread a non-nuked icing onto the beak without ruining it. The only other option was orange sprinkles, but I didn't care much for that look.

So, as you'll see, each of my three ducklings have different bills.

But they all have the same mama.

Cupcake number two!

What you need

-icing (blue and white)
-piping bag (with "star" tip. If this sounds stupid, I apologize. I'm not an expert!)
-chocolate icing (if you so choose, but I'll explain later)
-two white chocolate wafers
-two raisins (and again, I prefer chocolate chips!)

How you do it

Super easy, my friends.

The blob of chocolate icing with sprinkles on top is supposed to be a cookie in his mouth. I'm not seeing it. At least, it's not readily apparent. While I love chocolate, and this seems so very counter-intuitive to type, I'd skip the blob of chocolate icing and just draw on a mouth. Or maybe not. Haven't decided what I would theoretically do.

With your piping bag filled with blue icing, dab dab dab dab across the whole surface of the cupcake.

Stick the chocolate chips to the top of the white wafers, slide into place for eyes, and tada! You're complete!

I've been told next week is all about making the actual cupcake ourselves. I'll have a report on the deliciousness index, and deliciousness-to-workload ratio.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Lorna Pearman
Blog: Peargirl Knits
Etsy Shop: Peargirl Knits
Rav ID: peargirl
Some Great Designs: peargirl's Rav Designer Page

Looking for a way to brighten your day? Add a bit of pretty and a bit of cheer? The patterns from this week's designer are sure to please!

You can see her style at work in the pictured knit, Enchanted Arrows Hat. Making great use of some lovely yarn, the motif staggers out the colour changes quite nicely.

I don't usually feature knits for children or babies, but I couldn't resist the A Sky of Honey Hat. Just click on the link. I'll wait.... Ok, had a look? Isn't it adorable! (plus, there's actually a size for growed ups too).

I've always loved the leaf-lace shape, and here it's used to perfection in Idrial's Elvish Slippers. You can't tell me those aren't awesome. I particularly like the attention paid to the ever-so-slightly pointed toe. Fantastic! I'd say these are elvish without necessarily being childish.

Oh, and speaking of children... the last piece I'd like to point out is peargirl's Clown Fish Love Anemones Earflap Hat. Again, great use of colourwork. Comes in kids' size; I love Nemo enough to dig one for myself!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

How To: Embarrass Your Dog

PhotobucketYeah, that's poor Ellie.

She's not too pleased with this handmade, lovely couture addition to her wardrobe (which really only consisted of a collar. Otherwise, she's always naked. Shocking!)

This post is dual purpose.

First, to share this adorable picture (like how I snuck that one in there!)

Second, to announce a new feature I'll be regularly posting: How To.

I've toyed with this idea for a long time, and have held off because I feel like I lack expertise on so many levels.

But I do have a degree of knowledge in several areas, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to share!

I'd also like to "learn along" with you all. There's so many things I'd like to try. And I'll do you all the favour of making the horrid mistakes. I give you permission to laugh and point.

I'm looking for them to begin regularly every Monday starting next week. It'll be a grand variety of stuff. Admittedly, it's also another thing for me to research. I love researching. Man, I enable myself!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

New News!

PhotobucketI've done it, folks. I've entered the 21st century (about twelve years too late) and now have a FB page for all things CanaryKnits. Check it, linked to this wee pic.

You may be wondering why, and let me tell you: while I love me this blog, its got some great strengths, and its very good for serving its particular purpose, its weakness is in the lack of an (easy) way to get in touch with any readers. I'd love to be able to respond to comments (easily), ask a quick quiz, post a fast update (see my Twitter page, which is getting much more action lately!). The Facebook page will facilitate a conversation between us all in an efficient manner.

Also, got the blog all profesh and stuff by purchasing the domain name CanaryKnits. I'm told that all your old bookmarks should just forward you from the old dot blogspot addy.
The makes me smile. Don't know why!

Oh yeah, and I (finally) have a feed! Subscribe for automatic CanaryKnits funtimes (linky above, in the right-hand column of blog).

Hope to see you round the interwebs some time.