16 March 2008

Happy Birthday, Dottie!

Dorothy celebrated 24 years on planet earth at the end of last month. We had two celebration-one with our Monday night dinner group and one on the actually birth day (February 28). And of course this called for two whole cakes. The first was a chocolate-guinness cake with mascarpone frosting and the second (at the special request of the birthday girl) was a pineapple upside-down cake. Both were taken from Smitten Kitchen recipes, but with some twists. The Chocolate-Guinness Cake recipe was baked in two round cake pans instead of a bundt. And in exchange for the chocolate ganache topping, I followed the Tiramisu filling/frosting recipe (adding an extra tablespoon of amaretto for good measure). I followed Deb's tiramisu cake assembly instructions, but left the espresso extract out of the final frosting and smooshed some slivered almonds into the side of the cake. The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was perfect, but I decided to try 2 tsp of cardamom (anymore would be overwhelming, I think). They were a smash success! I just wish my nighttime photography was more flattering. Cheers to Dort!

Strangely Felt

I've been needle felting for a while now. My most recent project was a purple octopus for my twin brother. Octopus are so hot right now. They're the darling of the indie craft scene. I even found him a pair of octopus boxers GAP to send along. But I've been an octopus fan since I took an Invertebrate Zoology class in college and saw this video:

They are masters of camouflage- chameleons eat your hearts out! Really, I could spend hours on YouTube looking up octopus videos!

After the octopus, I decided it was time to set aside the needles and finally try wet felting loose wool. The project: a short scarf or neck warmer. The end result was satisfactory, but the process was a bit hairy (pun intended). On the suggestion of the yarn store lady, I used a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with an edge) to try and contain the soapy water during the felting stage. However, I did not have a big enough space even to contain my little scarf. Imagine lots of water on the floor and the front of my pants. And I couldn't create an even thickness. Once the wool was felted to a certain point, I couldn't work more wool into the thin spots... Any suggestions? I think there was too much water. I did have great success using a sushi mat for the fulling process and it was easier when I could move the project into the sink (less water on my crotch).

In the end, I did use the needles to do a bit of troubleshooting. Perhaps it's a bit more difficult than the knit-and-felt, but think the color and texture possibilities are far more interesting with wet felting.

Animal Bags

What have I been doing with myself this past month, you ask? Well, I've been crafting my little tail off. Before I got out of the purse sewing business (read: laid off), I made myself a vinyl appliqué keepsake: Fox in the Woods Messenger Bag. All sewn by yours truly! I also made a Bunny Purse for Dorothy's Birthday. The animal patch brought to you by Thistledown productions. I am happy to a least have gotten some good skills out of my time at Persnickity. And a cute bag!