Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Adventures

Today was the Easter gathering for my mom's side of the family. We had an Easter egg hunt for the little people and then a dinner afterward. I volunteered to bring a dessert and decided on cupcakes. We received the book, "Hello, Cupcake" as a wedding gift almost three years ago and I had yet to make anything from it so I decided to make the "Rabbit Holes" cupcakes.


It was quite an adventure. I decided to use the recipe from the back of the book for the vanilla cupcakes. It was the first time I'd ever made cupcakes from scratch. I'd always just used the mixes and they were fine, but this time I thought I'd try something new.

I think they turned out ok. They weren't very moist, but still passable. Anyway, the whole point of these cupcakes was the frosting design. I just loved the frosted grass and the little bunny feet sticking up out of the bunny holes. The feet were made out of white circus peanuts - and let me tell you, they are a rare item! We went to at least five stores trying to find the elusive white circus peanut. There are multitudes of orange ones, but no one seemed to carry the ones I needed. We even drove out to Cracker Barrel because they occasionally stock more unique candies but they also only had the orange ones.

I had heard about a specialty candy shop in Lancaster that said they had the white ones in a variety bag so I decided to drive there on Friday. But right before I was ready to go, I talked to our library director. She suggested I try the Country Store in Mount Joy before driving all the way to Lancaster. Lo and behold, they had white circus peanuts! I can't even begin to describe how ridiculously happy I was to find them, even if they were in a variety bag. (Just a note - if anyone fancies some circus peanuts, I have an practically full bag that I'd be more than happy to share. Just don't expect to find many white ones!)

So last night I baked the cupcakes so they would have enough time to cool.


I got up early this morning to do the icing. I wasn't entirely sure how long it would take me to get all the cupcakes done, especially since each little blade of grass had to be piped on individually. But once I got the hang of it, it went fairly quickly and I was able to get the whole batch done by noon.

I think they turned out pretty cute!


Don't worry - we'll be back to knitting in my next post. I just had to share my circus peanut adventure!





Friday, March 22, 2013

Starting Over

I was happily knitting along on my Color Affection Shawl this week when I decided to take a closer look at the picture on the pattern. Something had been bothering me for the last couple of days - the sections of my shawl didn't seem to match what was in the picture - at least with the color pattern I had planned. I wanted to have the lightest color at the top (teal) and the darkest color at the bottom (the darker blue). I cast on with the darker blue, thinking that the pattern started at the bottom.

After a while I came to the sad conclusion that I had been knitting with the colors in the wrong order. I had been worrying about this in the back of my head for quite a while, but just kept knitting... maybe I was hoping it would magically fix itself. Although the colors looked fine in the opposite order, I really wanted the darker color to be the bottom stripe - not the top. I could have kept it the way it was but I felt like I would be happier with the finished product if I took the time to do it correctly. So, we had a little moment of silence...

Here's the shawl before:


And here it is after:


So now I'm back to five little stitches - hopefully in the right color this time. Argh.



Friday, March 15, 2013

Finally Finished


The Alpha Socks are finished - and it only took 10 months! Woo hoo! I finished the first sock months ago and then got sidetracked by a number of other projects and pretty yarn. They really needed to be finished (my hubby has been waiting very patiently for them). So I made it a rule that I couldn't start my Color Affection Shawl until the socks were totally done. That proved to be good motivation. I spent the past week working on them pretty consistently. Of course, now that I'm done, all I want to do is get started on my shawl. But I still have to knit a gauge swatch before casting on and it's getting too late for me to start tonight. I find that I make far fewer mistakes when I'm knitting while awake (go figure) so I think I'll try to start bright and early tomorrow.


I'd like to have it started properly before I go to the community knitting group at the library tomorrow. I'm really thrilled - they finally have a meeting time that I can attend! It'll be nice to sit and chat with other knitters for a few hours.

A few notes about my Alpha Socks:
1. I knit the toe differently from the pattern. I used the instructions from the Business Casual Sock pattern also by Tanis Lavallee.
2. The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label Fingering Weight in Midnight Blue. I ordered it directly from their website. All of her colors are really lovely. I had a hard time selecting just a few! Some day I'd like to try some of their silk or cashmere yarns, especially the Silver Label Mulberry Silk. It looks amazing.

I hope to have lots of progress on my shawl to share with you next time!



Friday, March 8, 2013

Socks!

When I was a new knitter, I often read about people who were obsessed with knitting socks. People such as the "Yarn Harlot" (who has got to have one of the funniest blogs about knitting I've ever read - check it out here) that actually take their partially knitted socks on trips with them and take photos of the aforementioned socks to document their presence at all kinds of events. I didn't really get it. Who does that?!

Perhaps I've stepped over to the dark side, but I'm starting to see what they're talking about. It is absolutely wonderful to have a simple go-to sock project that you can pick up and take along at a moment's notice. My current favorite for travel knitting is the "How I Make My Socks" pattern by Susan B. Anderson. Just simple top-down stockinette knitting with a bit of ribbing at the top to keep them from sliding down. It's also a great way to showcase beautiful yarn! Check out my Ravelry project pages here and here and here. (Can you tell I'm a fan?)

In the last few weeks I've really noticed how much I've missed having a pair of simple socks on the needles. As I worked hard to finish my little stealth projects in time for Easter, I tried to practice some project monogamy. (I was not entirely successful.) But what do you do when you get to the point where you need to add stuffing to your project while you're sitting at the doctor's office? I have yet to figure out how to pack stuffing without needing a gigantic tote bag...and my goal is not to run around town looking like some demented lady that needs to travel with spare bits of fluff. So instead I find myself sitting in the waiting room with a partially finished creature that needs some stuffing before I can go any further. It's terribly depressing.

But happy day! Knit Picks had a sock yarn sale this week - so I have been happily reunited with my travel sock project. I got some lovely colors in the Stroll Tonal Fingering Weight collection. Here are Blue Violet, Pacific and Thunderhead.


Aren't they pretty? Now the question is, which one should I cast on first?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Just Like Losing a Friend

This week my favorite local yarn shop, Yarn Love in Hummelstown, announced that they will be closing in May after five years of business. Every time I think about it, it makes me sad. There is nothing quite so nice as being able to pop over to a little shop where they greet you by name and allow you to walk around and pet all the lovely yarn. Plus, you could get other opinions on color combinations and sit down at the table and work on your latest project while in the company of other yarn lovers.

In my dream world, I would buy the yarn store and keep it open. But it doesn't look like that is going to happen this year. So unless some other like-minded individual decides to take the plunge, we'll have to say goodbye to another beautiful shop. (My birthday is coming up in a few months...) ;)

On the bright side, they were having a 20% off (almost) everything sale and I was able to come home with these three beauties.



Aren't the colors gorgeous?! The yarn is Miss Babs Yummy Superwash Sock and Baby Yarn in the colorways "Wind Surfing," "Indigo Bunting" and "Forever." I wound them into their little yarn cakes last night and have been staring at them ever since. The plan is to knit them into the Color Affection shawl. I can't wait to get started. But first, I must finish the last stealth project currently on my needles. I so wish I could share these projects with you, but we must wait a little longer - wouldn't want to ruin the surprise!