Sunday, February 24, 2013

Everywhere Blue!

This poor cake. It went from being a two-tier cake with an adorable family of owls to this:

I kept the outside purple so that the reveal would be a surprise. And I really want to take a course to learn how to cover cakes neatly! But in the end, this humble cake served its purpose:

A cuter couple you never did see. He was beaming from ear to ear, and she was hopping up and down with excitement. The really adorable thing was, they both knew already, but their families did not. He chopped into the cake, cameras flashed, silly string's a boy!

A few quick notes:
I used this cake recipe from Sweetapolita. Instead of dividing the cake into 6 pans, I coloured all of the batter light blue, scooped out a third of it into a 9" pan, coloured the rest a bit darker, filled another pan with half of what was left, and then tinted the rest even darker for the last layer. Americolor Gel food coloring in Royal Blue gave me a good blue colour that wasn't too light or too dark.
The Swiss Meringue recipe that accompanies Sweetapolita's cake recipe uses a crazy amount of egg white (I'll buy pasturized egg whites next time), but the mellow flavour and ultra-smooth texture are worth it! I made the recipe twice but didn't use all of the second batch. The first batch was enough to fill and crumb coat it all perfectly.
I used this fondant recipe from Bake at 350. It's quick and long as you don't forget the 3 tbsp of water. Oops. I wrestled with that lump of goo for far too long before realizing what the problem was. Luckily, adding the water after the fact works. It's just a lot more work.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wise Little Owl

I get to make a gender reveal cake for a colleague, and I'm pretty sure the only people who are more excited than I am are the parents! So I broke out the gum paste and gave modelling a try today.

(I used the whisk's handle as a rolling pin. Time to buy a wee fondant/gum paste rolling pin.)
So after a bit of colouring and re-colouring, shaping and re-shaping (what's the secret to rolling spheres that don't crack?), I came up with this wee one:

I'm having to be very very careful about my pronouns here. This little owl's wings are purple, so as not to give anything away. It's just a prototype (I'm still toying with the idea of making the baby and the parents flat, like cookies) but it wasn't awful for a first try. It's a good thing the local Wallymart carries Wilton supplies, because I have a feeling there will be a few more prototypes before I'm happy enough with the result to use it on a cake.
Get ready to say hello to Baby Falk!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wee Catch-All

I'm starting to run out of my Rowan yarns and the next yarn run isn't on the schedule for another week or two. So I grabbed some old dark red yarn, found a straight-forward crochet basket pattern on Ravelry, and started hooking.

I got to the top and decided to try a fun border. The following is a brief tutorial. You'll need some basic familiarity with crochet terms. If you know what sc, dc, and front loops and back loops are, you'll be good.

First, crochet the basket according to the original tutorial from Barb's Patterns but do not complete the last round with the slip stitches. Instead...

  • Add 2 or 3 extra rows of sc. If you'd like a taller vessel, add even more rows.
  • Ch 1. Up to now you've been crocheting in the round. Now turn your work and sc all the way around, in the back loops. (Each round of sc's will be 48 stitches long.) ((You will not need to turn your work again.))
  • Continue once more around, keeping your sc stitches in the back loops. Finish by slip stitching into the first sc of the round.
  • Now it's time to scallop. Dc into the 2nd sc (no more back loops. Now your crocheting the regular way.) Dc 4 more times into the same hole. Skip 1 sc, slip stitch into the next. *Skip 1 sc, 5 dc, skip 1 sc, slip stitch.* Repeat the stuff between the *s until there's no more room to continue.
  • Ok, if you're a perfectionist, this will bother you. There will be a bit of space between your first and last scallops. This doesn't bother me, so I finished off the yarn, sewed in the ends, and lived happily ever after.
  • If you must even things out or be forever traumatized, you have a couple of options:
    • Chain a bit of a string and form it into a hanging loop. This basket is the perfect size for a thread catcher.
    • Crochet a flower or other small embellishment and hide the gap. 
    • Turn the gap towards the wall. (Ok, that one's not so brilliant.)
    • Do the math and figure out how to crochet the scallops evenly. Math is not my forte, which is why I didn't go this route.
Kinda cute, eh?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

WIP: Purple Ripples

I have a finished blanket to show you once I've hidden the ends. For now,  here's some purply ripply goodness for you.

I'm using Attic 24's ripple tutorial (you can find it on Ravelry). It's a treat, and this isn't the first - or the last - time I've used it.
Naturally, the yarn is a Rowan Pure Wool DK. What else? On a 4mm hook.

It's heading towards becoming a rather large baby blanket. I'll probably finish it next month once I've bought more of the light purple yarn. (I bought 4 at the end of January. No more till next payday!) The debate raging in my head: what kind of border?