So, winter continues… bringing the usual burden of snow and seasonal illness and waiting-for-springtime-blues. Here are a few things that have been keeping me warm lately.
Learning to knit! (Again) After several people over the years attempting to teach me the skill, it finally caught this time. Witness my first completed knitting project! (Note that I don’t count the ugly garter stitched scarf I made the last time I learned to knit. That wasn’t knitting – that was cruel and unusual punishment. For me and for the scarf!)
See, this time around I am exchanging my knitting lessons for sewing lessons that I am giving to my friend M – if you can call my instruction teaching! I feel more like a fellow traveller than a teacher. It is a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, swapping tips back and forth and problem solving each other’s projects.
I made up “the pattern” for the cosy as I went, deciding only after I had made a looong rectangle that maybe I could make it something useful. Frustrated with the idea of having to unravel half my knitting to get back to the point where I wanted the bottle neck to slip through, I made one little surgical snip at the right location, then carefully slipped the yarn out of about 4 inches of one row, being careful to pick up the now free stitches on either side of my wound with double pointed needles. I was going to just bind the slit off at that point, making a sort of button hole for the bottle neck to slip through, but M had the excellent idea to knit a few rows around first to make a little turtle neck. I’m sure that I didn’t just invent this technique, but boy was it exciting to get the scissors out and unravel the middle of my work! Does anyone know if there is a name for this technique? M watched skeptically the whole time — but see, it worked out great!
Other things that keep a snowed-in girl with a cold feel happier include chocolate cake.
Especially chocolate cake that is decorated to look like the above. I conjured this up for a sort of anti-valentine’s day party we had last week. I used a chocolate ganache to cover the cake first, then piped a pink cooked icing all over to make the veins. It is the same kind of icing that I have used to make my dessert sushi – it’s made with a cooked base of roux, essentially, rather than all butter. This makes a pliable decoration that can be piped like buttercream or shaped and molded like fondant or marzipan, but that’s inexpensive and still very tasty. The finishing touch was brushing raspberry jam “blood” all over the cake to make it wet and shiny. Isn’t it just gruesome? *laughing maniacally*
And then there has been a bit of sewing to keep me warm… I wish I could have kept this project myself, it was so soft and cosy – but alas, it was a reconstruction commission that had to be popped in the mail. The original garments were a knit peasant style dress (the brown material) and a fuzzy angora blend sweater, neither of which fit my client right but that she couldn’t bear to part with. I cut the dress in half, using the material from the skirt to line the bodice and give it more heft, since the two source garments were a very different gauge and weight of knit. Then I cut the dress of the center and created a placket to transform the pullover into a cardigan. I used pieces of the angora sweater to extend the length of the brown body and to make a collar and cuffs. I added slits in the long cuffs to slip your thumbs in, and a mix of salvaged and vintage buttons to finish it up.
I think my favourite detail is in the flexibility of the large soft collar, which can worn buttoned up or loose for a very different look. I didn’t want to put in conventional machine stitched button holes in the soft knit because I suspected that they would be a bit stiff and affect the collar’s awesome rumpliness, as well as being a risk to the integrity of the knit. So, I frogged a leftover scrap portion of the sweater and then used that salvaged yarn and a tiny hook to crochet a delicate row of button holes right along the edge of the collar. Because the yarn I used came from the sweater itself, it’s a totally harmonious and invisible match against the knit. (I used the same idea to make the button holes on the hot water bottle cosy, above)
So, that is a mini update for you all… I trust you are keeping warm and happy, too. I’m going to head back to my pot of ginger tea now and see if I can’t finally beat this bug!