Sunday, November 25, 2007

Felted Mittens

I have finished the second set of cuffs for the mittens, and I just need to sew them in. I try to get over to Lawrence, Kansas for Knit Lawrence at least once a month, and I am glad I went yesterday. I mentioned to the others that I wanted to do something to give the mittens a gripping surface, and asked if anyone knew of anything. One of my fellow knitters said puffy paint, so I will give it a try.

Last night at Frances O'Dooley's (yes, I knit at the pub) I showed off the mittens to some other people and mentioned using puffy paint to make a gripping surface. One of them suggested I have them stretched while I do that.

Dad's Birthday Cake

Now that Dad has seen his cake, here are some pictures:

Dad was very impressed. He also remarked that when he said it was his chessboard birthday, he did not think I would take it literally (there are 64 squares on a chessboard, and Dad is 64). However, I had no idea that he was calling it his chessboard birthday.

I first got the idea for this cake back in August when I took Course 2. We worked with color flow icing, and I thought that it would be neat to do chess pieces. After discussing it with one of my friends, she sent me a link to chocolate chess molds at Confectionery House. I looked around the site and found the molds I ended up using for these pieces.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cake Update

Well, the cake is not going as well as I had hoped. I thought I had gotten the chocolate tempered when I was melting it, but it bloomed and looked very unappetizing. I have one set made from white candy coating setting up, and I am about to go out and buy chocolate flavored candy coating. At least the candy coating sets up more quickly.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Felted Mittens

Once I finished weaving the ends, I set about felting. Yesterday, I purchased a 5 gallon bucket, a plunger, and a package of tennis balls. I filled the bucket about halfway full of hot water, threw in the tennis balls, the mittens, and some Woolite, then used the plunger to agitate. It took about an hour, but I think they turned out really well.

Before felting:

After felting:

Now to get some Lionbrand Wool-ease to do the cuffs (so the cuffs do not felt when my brother washes the mittens).

Cake Update

I removed the first set of chocolate decorations from the molds this morning. I did two of each piece so I can stick them together with melted chocolate. A few of them broke, but I think they will be okay once I get them put together the way I want them. If not, I will go get another bag of the Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips and start over.

The second set of chocolate decorations is currently setting. This set is Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate swirled with Kroger white candy coating. They have a very interesting marbled look.

Why Hershey products? Nestle chocolate chips all seem to carry a warning about nuts/peanuts, and I am very allergic. Dad is also allergic, just not to the level I am.

My father is a chocoholic, so the cake will be dark chocolate fudge (Betty Crocker Moist Deluxe). I currently plan to ice it with chocolate buttercream icing and the other icing will be either dark chocolate buttercream or vanilla buttercream. Once it is iced, I will decorate it with the chocolates I am making.

I know the descriptions are very vague, but that is in case Dad happens across my blog. I will post pictures after he has seen the cake.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Switching Gears

Over the summer I started taking Wilton method cake decorating classes at Michael's. I took Course I in July, Course II and Course III in August, and the Fondant and Gum Paste class in September. Since then I have done birthday cakes for friends and coworkers. My coworkers were certainly more than happy to eat my class projects, as were my friends and family.

Some of my cakes:

The Happy Feet Cake

Chocolate cake with buttercream icing. Yes, the penguins are edible. I piped them out of frosting.

Course 2 Final Cake:

White cake, buttercream icing. The flowers on the left are made from royal icing. The two roses on the left are fondant ones I made in Course 3.

Course 3 Final Cake

White cake with butter cream frosting and fondant roses. My classmate in Course 3 suggested that I only do one layer when I did my Course 2 final cake, and my instructor suggested I save the other layer for the Course 3 final cake, so that is what I did. Fondant roses take a lot of work, I think they are easier than doing ones out of buttercream icing.

Gift cake:

After I did this cake, I realized I should have iced the cake with the blue and done the ribbon in white--then it would look like a Tiffany's gift box.

Tonight I started working on the cake I am taking to my parents' house for Thanksgiving on Friday (my parents have usually had it on Friday for years, although last year it was on Saturday, and the year before that it was on Sunday). I am decorating the cake with chocolates, and the first batch is setting up as I post this. I will do the next batch tomorrow, and then I will probably bake the cake on Thursday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Felted Mittens

The mittens are progressing quite nicely. I just need to do the thumbs and weave in the ends before felting.

I have not had very good luck using my washing machine to felt items, so I am thinking I will do what was suggested in the Fall 2007 issue of Knitty (Other Handy Uses for a Plunger) and use a bucket, plunger (a new one to use for felting only), and some tennis balls.

Projects on the Needles

I currently have three projects on the needles: a pair of felted mittens, a cabled afghan, and a plaid afghan.

Felted Mittens:

The Mittens are the Double Cufff Mittens from Knit One, Felt Too by Kathleen Taylor. My brother indicated he could use a pair of mittens, and since he works outside, I thought felted wool mittens would keep his hand drier and warmer.

Cabled Afghan:

This is the Cabled Throw from The Knitter's Bible by Claire Crompton. These are the four strips I have finished so far, and I am currently working on the strip with the Celtic Cable.

Plaid Afghan:

This is the afghan from the Lodge Pillow and Afghan pattern by Linda Cyr found in the Ultimate Book of Knit Afghans.