Sunday, October 31, 2010

Knitting up the raveled sleeve of care

I've been knitting a lot recently, it's gotten brisk out and my office is the coldest room in the house. Finishing a project as the days get shorter and the nights get colder is a very specific kind of satisfaction, and one I really love.

One of the things I've done recently is work up a variation of the Wizarding Incognito Hat that is a standard Muggle toque.  It's really very simple and works for any stitch count as long as it's evenly divisible by 8.

hat (with gauntlets), 104st, wool.

A general hat recipe after the jump.

Friday, October 29, 2010

In cake there is truth

(Because saying "the cake is a lie" has become a little tired.)

This is late, because I actually baked this cake a week ago for a reception on the 23rd. Cake is an evanescent art form, and also participatory.  I'd go so far as to call special occasion cakes performative.

It tasted really good, although it fell apart when cut due to several factors. And I should have used more syrup to moisten the layers all the way out to the edges. And I rolled the fondant too thin for the first tier I covered, so it ended up being overly pleated. 

But, cake!

The next big baking I have to do is a teetotaler's rum cake for my father's birthday banquet in December (teetotaler because we can't send people home drunk off cake, mostly), but that's only one layer, even if it's big.

Details of the wedding cake after the jump.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In other things

I haven't posted about food in a while because I became swamped with festival business and then fell into a blue funk.  I'm actually still in the blue funk but I'm working on snapping out of that.

In the meantime, one of my two favorite kinds of food needs to happen and I need to make it happen.  I like two kinds of food, which may or may not be clear by now; the really simple and delicious, and the really complicated and delicious.  Really, I just like delicious food but this falls into the latter category.  My cousin is getting married this month. I'm baking the cake.  I've had very little notice (which would be why I am baking the cake), but that's actually OK. Three weeks is actually plenty of notice given that I don't have a scheduling conflict.

I'm fond of spectacle food as long as I don't have to be too creative with the decorating.  I can do the actual baking and such, but I've never really practiced the art of compound moulding or piping or any of the delicate bits that elevate a cake or pastry into a sculptural art form.  But damned if I can't make it melt in your mouth.

He and his fiancee are stopping in today to talk cakes so last night I stayed up and baked a test run of the preliminary idea for proof of concept.   It allows me to test out how the raspberries in the filling will hold up, and quantities. It's already a good test because I've decided 2 layers is plenty per tier and that the whipped ganache holds up perfectly. It's quite fluid until it sets.

This it the 9in test run, rather haphazardly decorated as I don't have the fondant yet and I wouldn't have used it for a test run anyway.  I'm still undecided about raspberries in the filling, and I'm a little concerned that the whipped ganache is too stiff. It's as firm at room temperature as chilled buttercream (and I'm not talking those gritty powdered sugar buttercreams, but a proper buttercream made with whipped egg yolks and a boiling sugar syrup).  But I'm used to those silky room temperature buttercreams, so I could be biased.  The frosting on this cake is quite literally a whipped truffle, after all. The whole cake exhales chocolate.  The final cake will most likely be 3 tiers, 6in, 9in, and 12in, and covered in chocolate flavored rolled fondant over the ganache.  Recipes for all the components are coming from the Cake Bible, except the fondant. I'm purchasing that as making it from scratch is simply too much work for not enough return.

I've also baked a few wedding cakes in my past.  I figured I might as well put up a little gallery.  So, after the jump are some Cakes I Have Known.

Friday, October 8, 2010


First things first, the winner of this month's fibery giveaway is OneOfTheHive!  Please let me know where I should send the top and I'll get it right out for you. Thanks for all the great ideas, everyone!

Meanwhile, I've got interlocking cubes on the brain.  See, I'm supposed to do the Bazaar Bizarre Boston with KnittinK in December.  The problem?  The space is 1/4 what I'm used to filling.  For two of us.

You can see where this is going, can't you?  My own stuff fits comfortably into about 24cu.ft.  That's just my stuff. In 18 wire cubes. Comfortably.


At the height of the madness of trying to eke out some extra space without making it impossible to assist shoppers, I came up with this. Please disregard the mess that is the room and look instead at the blatant crazy.


The one good thing coming from all of this is that I'm getting really good at figuring out how to assemble these cubes without having to remove the ties and reposition them. But any more of this and it's going to be like when I got hooked on Tetris in undergrad. I started seeing interlocking cubes everywhere.

ETA:  Oh yeah, today I reached 1,000 Etsy shop hearts.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's what? It's October already? (a slightly late giveaway)

I can't even believe it. I'm not sure where September went, but since I'm wearing a shawlette I finished this week, and a sweater and socks, it must be true that it's October.

I was going to give away some fun bling from lovely Lady Sisyphus this month, but I'm going to save it for next month when we can all use a bright pick-me-up.  Instead, today I'm giving away fiber.  I think you'll forgive me for being a day late when I show it to you.

American Silksheep, in my attempt at the Poseidon colorway.  Pictured here is white roving and brown top that I wound together and dyed at the same time in the same pot.  What I'm giving away here is the top on the right, about 2oz.   The Ravelry group is getting the roving, and yes, you can enter for both.  Here's your chance to try out this wonderful fiber. Hopefully I haven't done any mean, nasty things to it in the dye process.  Personally, I want to make a bed out of it. I can't imagine anything more cushiony and cozy.

I've made a few inroads into dyeing the silksheep fiber:

Some of this was pulled into Phatfiber samples.  Some of it was divvied up for swap recipients. Some of it I'm giving away here, and some of it is destined for the shop once I dye up some more.

I have my own ideas for colorways (I always do) but I'd like to hear what kinds of colors keep other people awake at night.  Sooooo, to enter this giveaway, please comment below with any colorways you'd love to see. Remember, the roving is white but the top is brown!  Respond by Thursday, October 7th, and I'll get the random number generator to pick a winner on the 8th.   And remember to leave some way to reach you, or come back on the 8th to see if you've won!

Meanwhile, the shop is getting a little bare as I haven't updated in far too long, but I have done a few things recently that I wanted to mention. Maker Faire and knitting below the fold.  And I promise, I'll update the shop this weekend.