28 March 2012

FO: Blue shawl

Last year, I think, I started working on this pattern called the 'Elise shawl'. It was a pattern I had stumbled upon during my search for a shawl pattern. Mind you, this search had been going on for weeks. I came across several patterns that I liked, but they turned out to be too difficult, not my style after all, not looking good in the yarn I had in mind.. If you're crafty, you know the drill.

The Elise shawl is very simple, it has a build-up of a few rows and after that, it's simply 'repeat lines 5 and 6 for x repeats or until big enough'. Naturally, I deviated from the pattern, because I'm fuzzy-brained and can't remember simple repeat patterns, and too lazy to go look them up.

It's large enough, but not bulky thanks to the yarn weight. The edging is a simple picot border, with interchanging small and large clusters of picot stitches.

Yes, it matches my glasses! Trust me, this was unintentional, but I guess I'm just strongly drawn to these kinds of blues. As you can see, it's comfy, yet airy and light enough for spring! I have a feeling it's going to see a lot of use.

24 March 2012

FO: A Tauren for Rob

It's safe to unveil the supersecretspecialpresent now, because the recipient will not be able to read this before his birthday!

It all started with this.

Or, well, I should be honest, it started with the BF and me joining this little guild in World of Warcraft called Vintage. Fast-forward to almost 4 years later (whoa), and we've made some great friends, one of whom is turning 40. What would you give a gamer geek who doesn't want to celebrate his birthday?

If your answer was 'Something he doesn't need but that's related to WoW', you think like me. (I'm not sure if that's a good thing.) So I started sketching. And drawing. And crocheting. And frogging and unraveling and throwing away, because the process was very much trial-and-error... And in the end, I came up with this.

Isn't he cute? Don't you want to fluff his cute little mane?

He's got a nice big sword, an unfairly small shield and a massive belt, all the way Blizzard intended gear to be. I opted out of making the characteristically humongous shoulderpads that WoW-players all know and love/hate, because it got too bulky. My endless playing around with paper models for a helmet all just ended up in frustration, so I left it out as well.

The whole thing was a massive learning experience, and I'm happy about most parts and not too happy about some, but I'm determined to try this again. It's so much fun! The crochet part was mostly a no-brainer, though the body did take a few takes to look just right because I had always made the head and torso in separate instances. With this one, though, I decided to see if this was more sturdy than having to sew the head on afterwards. And it is!

The sword was the hardest piece. It's a ton of tiny pieces, all sewn and glued together around a sturdy cardboard base so it would stay straight and not flop around like a fish on dry land. It turned out okay, if I say so myself!

The belt and the shield both were built slightly different than the original model, due to colour variations and construction. The belt was a matter of material: I couldn't get the felt cut so thin that it could resemble the light piping on the original, without it falling apart in my hands. The shield was a matter of 'this sorta looks like it should be something like this, right?' And.. yeah.. let's call it 'an artist's interpretation', shall we?

"Hey there, baby!"

All in all, I'm pretty happy with mini-Grimbull! I hope he is, too!

22 March 2012

This & That: not one, but two FO's

This is a preview-This & That! I managed to finish not one, but two projects this week! One is my blue shawlette based on the Elise shawl. And yes, I say 'based on', because I suck at following a pattern when the pattern turns into 'repeat rows 5 and 6 for x repeats'. It usually turns into 'somewhat follow the pattern because the project has been hibernating for a while now and I forgot what the exact pattern was so I'm just winging it because I'm too lazy to get up and get the pattern from my harddrive'... But it turned out great anyway! I blocked it this weekend, and have been trying it out in the mild weather we are having now.

The other project is the supersecretpresentproject I have told you about earlier in a previous This & That! It's all done and wrapped in a bag and ready to go! I hope the recipient will like it. I had a lot of fun working on it, discovered some new shapes and techniques that work really well in a crochet doll and I think this is not the last WoW-related crochet doll I have made. Plus, I got to play with felt!

I'll show you both these projects in their full glory soon!

15 March 2012

Birthday cake: Carrot cake!

Oooh, carrot cake. I love me some carrot cake. My first time eating it was two years ago, when we were on holiday in the South-West of England, enjoying an afternoon tea (the hot drink-type, not the dinner-type) after a long walk through the countryside. We sat down in the shadows of a large tree in the back garden of a miller's house-turned-teahouse, ordered our drinks and cake, and sat there for a good hour and a half. Not just because it was so lovely. Also because the slices of cake they brought us were HUGE. And carrot cake, in case you didn't know, is very filling.

We're not a very veggies-in-our-sweets type of people, us Dutchies, so things like carrot cake aren't eaten a lot. I wish they were, though. It's a great cake! So I made it for my birthday this past Tuesday (I turned 24! Holy crap, 24!), and we loved it!

Walnuts. A good carrot cake needs some more texture than just 'cake', so I added some walnuts and a good two handfuls of golden raisins.

Then I grated my carrots. All my fingernails turned bright orange! (And even after washing them twice and scrubbing thoroughly, they still had a hint of orange on them... That carrot juice man, it stains!)

This is the cake batter, right before I poured (pushed, scooped, shook... It's pretty thick for a batter!) it into the cake tin.

And the cake, right after it came out of the oven! Golden brown, nicely domed and oh.. that smell... Hmm....

A good carrot cake needs a cream cheese frosting! I made this one not too sweet, because it can get so overwhelming when it's too sweet, so I just added sugar until it tasted just right to my buds.
Hmmm.. Take a bite! I know you want to...


Recipe: carrot cake (based loosely on "The loveliest carrot cake in the world" on Let her Bake Cake.)

- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup butter, melted
- about 9 carrots (medium-sized), grated
- 100 gr. walnuts, chopped finely
- a large handful of raisins (golden)

- 250 gr cream cheese
- 125 gr butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (or extra, according to taste)

For the cake:

- Preheat your oven to 175 C. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Cut a rectangle that's somewhat bigger than your pan, place it over the top of the bottom of your pan, place the sides over the paper and close the spring form. The paper is now held firmly in place by your spring form pan and you can trim down the edges!)
- Mix your eggs, sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl until it's fluffy and light.
- Add your grated carrots.
- In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches and mix until combined.
- Fold in your chopped walnuts and raisins.
- pour into your prepared pan and pop it in the oven! Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer, when inserted in the middle, will come out mostly clean (a few crumbs is no problem. A good carrot cake will be slightly moist. Mine was actually a bit overbaked and slightly dry, because I thought it wasn't done and added an extra 5 minutes to the baking time!)
- When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting:

- Mix together the cream cheese and the butter until soft and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
- Mix in the powdered sugar in small steps and taste regularly, until it is as sweet as you like it.
- When the cake is completely cooled, frost the cake.

The cake can be made up to a day in advance. I frosted the cake half a day in advance and kept it in the fridge until about an hour before serving.

13 March 2012

A tiny update to the tiny book necklace tutorial

First of all, thank you all for the great response to the tutorial! I had a great time making the step-by-step pictures, I'm glad you liked them!

Second, I got the question to show how it looks on a person. Here's a picture. Apologies, it's not the best, and I tried to remedy it but somehow all my actions have disappeared from Photoshop (I may have cried when I found this out)... And since most of my photo-editing skills come from clicking the 'Play'-button on an action, I suddenly found myself lost in the dark, not knowing how to work with my own trusty Photoshop! Sigh. I need to remedy this action-less situation soon, but for now, enjoy this not-so-actioned-up-action-shot of me, wearing the necklace.

Note that I have it hanging from a cord with two adjustable knots, meaning I can lower it and wear it waaay longer if I want to. I hope this helps! And if you have made a tiny book necklace, please, show me! I'm curious to see how they turn out!

8 March 2012

Tutorial: Tiny Book Necklace!

I promised you a tutorial for the necklace I made a few weeks ago, the tiny book necklace. It took a bit longer than I had hoped, because I was horribly busy, and because I did not have supplies to make another one. But then I realised there are many ways that lead to Rome! So without further ado, here's the tutorial. Enjoy! (and just in case: the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them)







2 March 2012

Knitting & crochet blog week 2012! Oh yes, baby!

Oh, oh, oh yes. It is ON. The Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2012 has been announced and I am excited! Last year's was so much fun and I am definitely going to try make this one extra-special!

Want more deets? Hop on over to Eskimimimakes.com for more information on the event!