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The Ninja Turtle Scarf

I was gone again all last week – sorry about that.  I’ve just been incredibly busy at work, and will continue to be so until Thanksgiving has passed.  Not a bad thing, for sure, since it keeps me out of trouble.  I’ve also been busy at home, and may even have a recipe for you this week.

Since finishing the cat and steak cakes, I’ve been able to pick up my crochet hooks again – I have, in fact, bought a set of Clover hooks, aluminum with padded handles, and I just could not be more pleased with them.  They slide through yarn like a knife through warm butter and are light and easy on my poor old, arthritic hands.  I also have signed up for a yarn subscription service, but more about that later.

At any rate, I’m now in “Christmas present” mode – literally everyone is going to be getting handmade gifts this year.   I’ve found the cutest patterns for pot holders and tea towel toppers and coasters and bookmarks, all which can be made quickly.  I’m making more stuffed toys and am learning how to make hats, because I need one to go with all the winter scarfs I’m churning out.

Like this one, for The G Man:

The Ninja Turtle Scarf

Yes, it’s a scarf made out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle heads.

The interesting thing about this scarf, besides the fact that it’s at least twice as long as The G Man is tall (oops), was the process of making it.  You see, I started it back at the beginning of summer and had to put it aside because we had G so much, especially over the latter half of the season.  Then I go caught up making other things (to say nothing of the constant weekend canning and preserving), that the few little heads I’d made stayed in their bag with the skeins of yarn, until I finally picked it up again a few days ago.

I was astounded, once I’d begun to work on it again, at how much I’ve improved over just a few months.  My stitches are so much neater and tighter then they were when I first began this scarf that I had to use my largest hook just to keep the gauge the same.  It gives me hope that when I finally do begin to make actual clothes – I have some lovely patterns for stuff that is going to look wonderful on Darling Daughter and Jolly, plus a couple of cardigans earmarked for my own personal use – that I’m actually going to make something that’s, well, wearable.

You can find the free pattern for the scarf here.  I used I Love This Yarn solids in red, navy, orange, grape and jelly bean, joined with burnt pumpkin, and a size J/6.0 mm/4 hook.

Yesterday, Oldest Son asked for a Jayne hat.  Guess I’ll be learning to knit…


The Cat Cake – and a Steak, Too

Hello, hello, hello.

I was gone all last week, and this is why:

Cat Cake

Presenting The Cat Cake, jewel-tone cascading blossoms and all.

It’s 6″, 7″ and 8″ round tiers on top of a 10″ square tier of French vanilla cake with white chocolate ganache, covered in fondant.  The blossoms are made of gum paste.

Here’s a better look at the topper:

Cat Topper

The cats are modeled after the happy couple’s own pets, and I’m not at all displeased with how they came out.  They are made from Wilton Shape ‘N’ Amaze edible modeling dough.  It was my first time working with it, and it held up much better than fondant but I think I’m going to try my hand at modeling chocolate for sculpting 3D figures in the future.

There was also a groom’s cake (which used to be a uniquely Southern tradition):

Steak Cake

The groom is not only the son of our beef farmer, he also works for our butchers.  He asked if I could make a cake that looked like a big steak – if only all requests were that easy. This cake was red velvet, filled with a cream cheese buttercream and covered with a dark chocolate ganache and then with fondant.

The thing I liked most about making this cake was the opportunity to hand paint the top of the steak (like the cats, the cutting board is air brushed).  I’ll tell you, it gives me a huge appreciation for people who do this and do it well – it’s not the easiest medium, but I am fascinated with the process now.

A word about fondant: I’ve used Wilton products in the past.  Their traditional fondant is more or less easy to work with, but tastes like plastic.  Their new stuff tastes much better, but is a nightmare to work with.  I’ve worked a little with homemade marshmallow fondant, and while it tastes great, it tends to dry out very quickly; if you’re not very experienced working with fondant it will start to develop what they call “elephant skin” before you’ve got your cakes covered.  This time I ordered this fondant, and all I can say is “SCORE!”  SO easy to work with – while it sets up beautifully, it stays nice and pliable for quite some time so you can take your time.  It also tastes every bit as good as the homemade marshmallow fondant and is reasonably priced.

As with every cake I do, I look back and think of a million things I could have done to make them better, but the bride and groom were pleased so that’s about all I can ask for.  I learn something every time I work with these new mediums and techniques and I’m just loving it, even if my hands ached and ached all day yesterday.

I’d also like to take this time to say “Thank you” to Beloved, who not only made sure I had the time to do all this by taking over dinner and other chores, but also cut the dowels to the correct size to stabilize the tiers and constructed the boxes that allowed us to transport the cakes practically worry-free.  Thank you so much dear, not only for the loving help during this process, but everything you do for me every day.  I don’t express that nearly often enough.





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