Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Shape of Beauty

...yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall/
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in...

Monday, August 22, 2011


Here's Vivian, on a dress form at the store. Doesn't match the outfit, but I wanted to show what it looks like on, instead of lying flat.

(The skirt is a crocheted skirt from Interweave Crochet. And the t-shirt: a limited edition tee for the Chicago Yarn Crawl. I love commemorative t-shirts, and my boss was kind enough to give each of the staff a tee. Yeah!)

And the back view:
I had some panicky moments while blocking the sweater. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran grows a LOT when wet, and the sweater looked to have increased at least two or three sizes. After a day of worry, I threw it in the dryer on low gentle. (There was no way it could be worn, except by a giant, so I thought, why not?) As you can see, the sleeves are still long enough for a gorilla. Ah, well. I do like long sleeves on sweaters, so that I can tuck my hands up into the sweater in winter.

Next up, sewing in an Oriental Blue zipper from Joann's. There were no oranges that matched this shade of yarn, so I decided to go with Anthropologie-influenced complete color contrast.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Boston Cream Pie cupcakes, from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.
(You can download some of the recipes from the book at this link.),

In our family, one of the traditions is to choose your birthday cake. These were my husband's choice. In past years, I've made a traditional-sized Boston Cream Pie from the Betty Crocker cookbook. These are much better. The cake is just the right amount of vanilla and pound cake-ishness, and much to my surprise, we (meaning my daughter, whose beautiful hands are icing the cupcakes in the above photo) were able to slice them in half without the cake falling apart.

The center is a vanilla pastry cream, and instead of the chcocolate ganache glaze from the cookbook, I did the old standby of a butter cream icing.

The recipe makes enough to fill one cupcake tin, plus enough left over to make an entire small cake. So now we have tiny Boston Cream Pies to finish, and then enough pastry cream and icing to make another cake. Phew. How to resist? 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If It Doesn't Move, I'm Kitchenering It

At this point with Vivian, I'm Kitchenering the heck out of every stitch in sight.

The reason is that I modified the original pattern, which calls for working the sleeves in the round and then attaching them as you work from the bottom toward the neckline of the sweater. On Version 1 and 2 of the sleeves, I was dissatisfied with (as many Raveler posters have noted), how fitted, well, just too tight the sleeves were. So, on Version 3 (or perhaps 4), I decided to work the sleeves down from the shoulder, after adding the held stitches into the body. Another dead end: working a sleeve in the round when attached to a bulky, heavy cabled sweater is not fun.

Version 4, or 5, and the ultimate choice: I worked the sleeves flat, used the stitch count from the size Large instead of my size Small, and worked the sleeves from cuff toward shoulder.

And because I was over the sleeve question, I put this all on the back burner while I tried to finish the body and hood of the sweater. This meant that I need to create a little faux top of the sleeve (about six rows) to add in when the pattern called for adding the sleeves to the body.

Time, then, to connect the sleeves. I decided to Kitchener stitch them to the little cap sleeve I'd created. Oh, and did I mention that I ran out of yarn (again)? Saved by another fellow poster on Ravelry, who sent me two skeins of the no-longer-available Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, after I'd eked out every inch left of the tiny odds-and-ends at the bottom of the knitting bag.
The result is not bad. There's a slight seam line that's visible, and I'm not sure that it isn't going to hit my upper arm instead of shoulder.

Live and learn, right? I'm now pushing along to complete the second sleeve seam, work in multitudinous ends, and sew in (yikes) a zipper. This is one orange sweater, two years in the working, with end, hopefully, in sight. I am stupified by knitters who've posted on this sweater and have completed it in a few weeks. Do they do nothing but knit? Please, share your secrets with me! And does this mean that taking on Sylvi next might be a bad choice?