We are a people in the pursuit of making things with our hands & analog tools. Many of us enjoy it as a respite from our virtual worlds and digital displays. We shall share updates on our projects, craft resources, inspiration, & other news.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Knit for the GOLD!

If you're into the Olympics and looking for a new knitting project, I found a couple of books for you:

Or if you're just a Brit-lover, there's also this:

If you're on Instagram, I'd also suggest following @deadlyknitshade -who's doing a Olympic-themed knitted Pigeon series lately:

I hope whatever you knit or make is better than the opening ceremonies were. Poor Danny Boyle. It's a curse to follow up the spectacular & beautiful Beijing Olympics by Zhang Yimou & Cai Guo-Qiang. Ooh, that reminds me that I need to see Cai Guo-Qiang's "Sky Ladder" at at the Los Angeles MOCA before it leaves in September!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Baby Blanket Success!

Finally, here are some additional pics of that knitted chevron baby blanket I had started in May for my friend's baby.  I finished it just in time, too!  I was on the plane to California, squished in the window seat, frantically knitting the last two color swatches.  And when we landed, I turned on my phone and found out that my friend just had her baby, on Father's Day!  What a sweet coincidence :)

Here are some pics of the blanket in progress - I tried to take a picture after each color swatch, but obviously couldn't take pics while I was on the plane.  The good thing about doing this kind of project on the plane was that I was using circular needles, so I never lost my needles.  During my return trip home I was using double-pointed needles on another project, and I dropped a needle at least three times.

Three colors!

Four colors!  Here you may be able to see how there is a border where the color swatch changes - in this photo there is one between the 1st and 2nd swatch, and the 3rd and 4th swatch.  If you follow the pattern exactly, normally all of these borders would appear on the same side of the blanket, but because I could not cast-on the same number of stitches the pattern called for, I didn't have the same number of rows of stitches for each color.   So I ended up changing the color on opposite sides of the blanket, resulting in borders on alternating sides. Which looked fine!

Five colors!

Six colors!

And... ta-da!  The finished blanket!  It turned out to be bigger than I thought it would be.  Partially because I added one more color.  If I did just a few more colors, this blanket would be big enough for me to snuggle under!  It's really soft and squishy - I'm definitely thinking about making some adult-sized versions in the future.  It wasn't hard to make, either, just takes time!

I do recommend Blue Sky Alpaca yarns for the project.  They're a little pricey, but they are so soft and come in a range of beautiful colors.

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Friday, July 06, 2012

Making friends with magical Mochi Cake!

Last year, I had the pleasure of discovering a simple dessert called "mochi cake," at the end of a meal at the New York restaurant, Fatty Crab. I mentioned this to a friend, and she said she could make it! So at my next house party, she brought her version and everyone loved it.

If you've had regular Japanese mochi, it's got that same squishy, stretchy, chewiness in the middle, but "mochi cake" has a crumbly, cookie-like outer texture that adds a nice contrast. The sweet taste is subtle, but the consistency is very dense, so it's served in little squares, like brownies, rather than traditional cake slices. Plus this dessert doesn't require any pounding in preparation!

All it requires are the right ingredients, mixing, and a longer cooling time. I don't even really bake much, maybe only once or twice a year. But now that I've discovered this recipe, I may bake more often, because people seem to love it. The versions I've made aren't so pretty but nobody seems to care, and it doesn't require frosting.

Last month, when I was in Toronto, I decided to try out the recipe at the Imaginism Workshop but  used an alternate brand of sweet rice flour that didn't come in the right portion as the "Mochiko" brand in the recipe. So I guessed on the conversion based on weight. It came out okay but it appeared to sink a little bit. Nobody seemed to mind, because we finished the cake. It does stick to the pan quite a lot, so the clean-up is a bit of a drag. I might grease the pan next time, even though the recipe says not to do so.

Anyway, in Toronto, I experimented with adding chopped fruit. The first time, I threw in some chopped pineapple & chopped strawberries, in the version pictured here:

mochi cake w/ strawberries & pineapple

You can see a big bubble emerged in the middle and it looked like it was going to overflow! But it evened out at the end and didn't spill over, thank goodness! The fruit was good but it was very subtle.

So a couple weeks later, I tried it again, but with blueberries. I read on another blog that the blueberry taste didn't come out so well for them, so I decided to crush the blueberries before mixing them in, and I used a whole box of them. And on a whim, I threw in chocolate chips that we found in the kitchen. It was SO GOOD! I will have to reprise it at some point.

Anyway, if you're afraid of baking, and you can find Mochiko sweet rice flour, I highly recommend trying this recipe. If you don't like coconut, honestly you don't taste much of the coconut, but you can search "mochi cake" to find an alternate recipe that uses evaporated milk instead. It's nice to bring to parties because you don't put frosting on it, and it can be piled in little blocks. Just make sure you have enough time for the cake to cool before you travel with it!

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Crafts of July, including Patriotic Boy-toys.

I'm still recovering from a whole month of painting, drawing, and lost sleep (in between foosball, Insanity workouts, violent films, & large quantities of pasta) at the Imaginism Workshop in Toronto. I made some great friends and learned a lot of technique & professional advice (and foosball technique) from the talented Thierry Lafontaine & Bobby Chiu. Even though it was usually sunny outside, the house we stayed in was pretty cold, so I got a lot of use out of my Rocket Popsicle scarf!

Scarf #2 of the year completed

 As shown here, when I stepped outside to document a foosball match before a bbq dinner:

This is how dorks get outside

Hey, I match the little foosball guys! Anyway, while I was there, I did find some time to crochet some cupcake tops, out of that fluffy white Lion Brand Homespun yarn, from Twinkie Chan's book. So I should work on finishing that through the rest of this summer. I'll add red cherries later.

I even participated in Worldwide Knit/Crochet in Public Day and crocheted a cupcake top on the Toronto subway.

Now that I'm back home, I'm eager to get back to my sewing machine & stash of summer fabrics. For July 4, I ironed out this steamy print... should I make an apron, pillow, or both!?

Life, liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness

Hello, drummer boy. Bang that drum!

Hello, drummer boy

I'll also use some patriotic starry & striped fabric as an accent for this patriotic beefcake print.

AND, San Diego Comic-Con is coming up in about a week, and I'm going to attend for the first time! I already have a Wonder Woman costume I can wear, but part of me is tempted to sew an additional costume to wear... maybe something from "Adventure Time!"

But I'm afraid that may be a bit ambitious, in between more important things I should do between now and then. Well, maybe if I get revved up sewing the patriotic fabric, we'll see if I have momentum to start a costume! If not, I also have that spacegirl quilt & the tropical print dresses next on my list. TOO MANY THINGS TO MAKE –story of my life.

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