Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nail Varnish Needles

I make no bones about the fact I'm not a stasher. The thought of piles of unknitted yarn littering my pristine palace of a flat fills me with horror, if I can't stick it in my knitting basket then I'm not keeping it! However there is something I will hoard: nail varnish! I have about 30 bottles of nail varnish in every shade of pink, purple, red and blue-ish that you can think of. So when I saw a post about using nail varnish to paint the tops of your wooden knitting needles, I felt I was more than prepared to have a go...

And here are the finished needles. I only have two pairs of wooden needles, so I used my favourite shade of purple on the 5mms and magenta on the 4mms. Don't they look pretty?! The nail varnish looks really good and as though I actually bought them that way.

And here they are again posing in a pretty dish with some divine ribbon I picked up in Liberty recently.
Its probably lucky I don't have more plain wooden needles or I think I could have got really carried away...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cupcakes Galore!

I decided to make some knitted cupcakes for my new cake stands, so I set to work with the cupcake pattern from One Skein by Leigh Radford. Initially I didn’t find it a total ‘piece of cake’ (excuse the pun) because knitting in the round and decreasing into a circle is not easy with fluffy novelty yarn, but eventually I really got into it and discovered how stupidly satisfying they are when finished! Seriously, they are oddly addictive. I put it down to the fact that if, like me, you enjoy baking, this is a way to admire your work for a lot a longer…Here is my first attempt:
Having knitted four of the cupcakes according to the pattern, however, I decided that while cute, they were slightly mushroom-like. So I set about trying to make a more cupcakey-cupcake, and eventually I produced this cupcake pin cushion for my friend Nicky for her birthday.
First: For the base, I did just plain knitting for the first two rounds and then began the rib. For the top, after round 6 I did a round of plain knitting and then the final row (row 7) of decreases. These mods meant that the top of the cupcake base/paper (the green bit) was a touch wider than the bottom of the base/paper and the topping/frosting (the white bit) raised up a little in the centre. I also knitted the top with two strands of yarn, one thick fluffy yarn and one fine knobbly green one (which was the same colour but not the same yarn as the base), giving the frosting a two-tone look.

Second: When stuffing, I put lots of stuffing in the bottom of the base/paper and as I got to the wider part at the top I sort of pulled the stuffing apart a few times width-wise to take advantage of the wider top. I also put a dollop of stuffing on the top of this to take advantage of the way the topping stood up, and then I sewed it together. I then made the whole cupcake slightly damp by wetting my hands and I molded it into shape, making the very bottom narrow and the top full.
Last but not least I put pins in it and wove a little ribbon in and out at the top - without pulling it too tight - and put it in a cake box!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Jane's Birthday

It was my boss' birthday today and I made her this cake, which is Nigella Lawson's Birthday Custard Sponge (from Feast). The sponge has custard powder in it, as does the butter cream filling, and then you made a runny chocolate icing which your pour all over the top till it runs down the sides in dollops....mmmmmmmmmmm!!!
And I also made these soaps. They are the basic coconut oil and cocoa butter soap that I find easiest to make, scented with sandalwood and, although you can't see it, they are half blue and half white. They were supposed to be marbled but the mixture was too thick to marble properly so they are actually just unevenly blue and white, which looks pretty anyway - thank goodness. I have called them Once in a Blue Moon, as I promised Jane some homemade soaps almost a year ago!