13 May 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I had planned to post pictures of the shawlette I knitted for my mother, because it came out beautiful. Naturally, I forgot to take pictures of it before I gave it to her. Whoops.

At least I've now been able to start making a sweater for myself. Nothing worth taking pictures of yet, but there will be. Stay tuned.


12 March 2012

A Very Merry Birthday... of a sort

Buttons & Buttercream is a year old today! Can you believe it? I very nearly can't!

I don't have much in the way of new projects to present for such an occasion, so I've decided to share with you all tonight a plan for the next year of craft blogging, a 'new year's resolution' if you will. In this next year, I hope to share with you all, in no particular order:

  • The completed shawl for my mom (five more rows!)
  • Some throw pillows for my son's room 
  • A hand-knit sweater for me! 
  • A purse made out of an old pinstripe jacket of my husband's
  • A summery day dress 
  • A hand-knit sweater for my son's birthday
  • Homemade Christmas decorations
I hope to accomplish all of this, and then some! I've got a lot more sewing planned for this year, and I hope to make it all a reality. The throw pillows are only the first of many projects I plan to do for my son's room, but I'd like to see what kind of curtain's I can find before I start to think about sewing some. Maybe I can make co-ordinating bed sheets! Precious! I also can't wait to attempt to make my own dress. Nearly all my dresses are either too professional, or formal, and the two day dresses I do have have been worn to death!
Only two new knitting projects planned right now, but they're two big ones! Hand-knitting a sweater for myself is an exciting challenge that I look forward to, especially since I already have the yarn for it, yarn that just stares at me, begging to be used! As for my son's sweater, I've already done it once and I hope to make a tradition for his birthday every year!

Another big all-consuming project I look forward to decorating my home! We're moving into a larger place soon, and this is the place we hope to settle into, so it's going to get an individual touch in every room! Decorations, sewing, oh my!
There are some things I'd like to acquire in the next year as well. You all know I love books, and here are some I hope to have on my shelves within a year (my husband asked why I need more knitting books; I reminded him that I have just one knitting book): 

  • Lotta Jansdotter's Handmade Living: A Fresh take on Scandanavian Style - I fell in love with Lotta's work when I bought her baby sewing projects book. Fun stuff indeed, and with a new home to decorate, I could use some fresh inspiration! Coincidently, I'd also love...
  • Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing - Because I love sewing that is simple!
  • Knitting Lingerie Style by Joan McGowan-Michael - It's more lingerie inspired things, like blouses, but there are some actual lingerie patterns in here. My husband isn't too keen on the idea (he thinks the result will be like those macrame bikinis in the '70s), but after a year of nursing bras, some handmade feminine things would be really nice, and a little different!
  • New England Knits by Cecily Glowik MacDonald - I love MacDonald's work from KnitScene magazine, and there are some wonderful patterns in this book, including a skirt and a hat with whales on it! I'm also a big sucker for New England fashion, or at least my perception of it. 
  • French Girl Knits by Kristen Giffin-Grimes - I can't help but flip through this book covetously every time I see it at my LYS (that's Local Yarn Shop for you non-knitters). So pretty, so feminine! I think there's a skirt pattern in here too... don't ask me why, but I love the idea of a knitted skirt!

That's my projected year of projects. Happy Birthday, Buttons & Buttercream! Thank you all, dear readers, for joining me and my sister this last year as we began our adventure in cozy, yummy goodies, and I hope we'll see you around for the next year! 


04 March 2012

Baby Hats

Greetings, good readers. I realize that both my sister and I have been absent for a time from here. I hope you'll allow me to divulge here today what's kept me away: Frankly, I just haven't taken the time to sit down and craft a post. Sad, but true. My absence certainly hasn't been from lack of productivity, because in the past three months I have completed two knitted baby hats! (Note: These hats are not represented with 100% authenticity, because that's not a baby Pac-Man, but a ball, modeling them.)
The first one was crafted using Frog Tree Yarn Alpaca sport weight that had originally been meant for another project that didn't make it past conception. That turned out to be all right with me, because my boy got a cute little floppy hat out of the deal! I adapted it from the Blume Hat by Connie Chang Chinchio, as featured in Knitscene Fall 2010. When I say 'adapted' I just mean I decreased the number of stitches to shrink it down to baby size... although I didn't shrink it enough, as it turns out, but that means he'll be able to wear it next winter too! I also forsook the darling ruffle edging because boys don't wear ruffles!

I like to call this hat 'The Doppler Effect.' Isn't it fun? The orange and white combination really pops, don't you think? The second hat is one made from leftovers of both Blue Sky Alpaca skinny cotton and Mission Falls 136 washable merino. I'm especially pleased with this one because I did the stripe pattern all on my own without a pattern. Yes, it's a relatively simple stripe pattern, but that makes The Doppler Effect is a quick knit - it took me under two weeks!

Right now I'm working on a shawl for my mom. Here's a little preview:
The picture doesn't do the yarn justice, in my opinion, but as you can see, it's got some interesting lacework... move leaves, like my last shawl, but in a completely different fashion. Lacework at this level is somewhat new for me and I just had to take out nine rows (argh!) I am progressing slowly. I have just 14 rows left, but it's taken me two months to get to this point! I know it'll be beautiful in the end. Wait and see!

Glad to be back, and I hope to be sending more posts your way soon!


P.S. Wow, in a week, this blog will be a year old! 

27 November 2011

A Sneak Peek into the Season of Giving!

Hand-made gifts are delightful, especially when they’re done with sincerity, true care, and love. True, they’re not always the slickest or most beautiful gift, and they may not be that new techno-whatsit that was on the top of your list, but they’re special and thoughtful, and will hopefully always looked upon year after year as a treasured belonging.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I’ve been trying to work on a few hand-made gifts for family this year. I won’t mislead you – not all gifts I give this year will be hand-made. I wish! Sadly, I just didn’t have the means (i.e. time) this year, but what I have managed to make in time for Christmas, I’m really satisfied with! I wish I could share here all the neat little gifts I’ve worked on in preparation for Christmas, but I worry that the surprises would be ruined for most of the gift receivers…

… however…

… there is one item I have no worry about being leaked, so I can happily share it here before the holidays! For my mother-in-law, I decided to knit something special, because she’s the sweetest woman I’ve ever met in my life, and accepted me into the family the moment we first met, before we could ever have known I’d someday be her daughter-in-law.
I spent two months diligently knitting a shawlette, a beautifully simple crescent-shaped wrap with a cedar leaf trim. Quite proudly, I say that my patience paid off in the end, because what resulted was (I think) my most beautiful knitted work to date!
Isn’t it lovely? It’s lightweight and comfortable, and I love wearing it myself!
I instantly fell in love with this pattern when I saw a display of the shawlette at my local knitting shop: a beautifully simple crescent-shaped wrap with a cedar leaf trim. It looks simple, but as most simple-looking things are, there were hidden complexities, tiny details that took time. There are 30 of those leaves! Well worth the effort, though. 
I used two yarns, Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo (in Bayberry) and the Cascade Alpaca Lace that I untangled months ago. The pattern, found here, is by Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting, and I guess it’s one of her best-selling patterns, so maybe some of you knitters out there recognize it!  
I know my mother-in-law will love it more than I do, and is so deserving of a beautiful hand-made gift this year! I can’t wait to see her wear it!


28 October 2011

So snuggly!

Wouldn't you imagine that one of the best things about being a new baby is that you are nearly always being snuggled? It's just about ideal, the thought of being wrapped up tight in warmth and love, letting the rest of the loud, fast-paced, and indifferent world just melt away. Newborn babies must agree with me, because I have never seen a baby resist being swaddled!

Indeed, my own baby wanted to be swaddled until he was 10 1/2 months of age... Had I known how loved swaddling would be, I would have taken the time before giving birth to make a swaddle for him rather than buy one. As it is, I have a friend who is one month away from giving birth to her first baby, so it was the perfect excuse to make a cute swaddle for that baby to get cozy in!
I had been dying to use this pattern from my baby sewing book, and am so happy with the outcome! Rather than use the suggested fleece for the lining, I used flannel to not only make it more suggestive of bedtime (because who has fleece sheets or pajamas?), but also because winter nights where I live don't get cold enough for heavy fleece.
I originally wanted a more modern prints for the outside, since this particular friend is a modern minimalist, but she's opted to not find out the sex of the baby, and most modern prints that were gender-neutral were also ugly. Now that it's complete, I couldn't be happier with the plaid. You really can't go wrong with a good plaid.
I just gave her the swaddle today and she thought it was a beautiful gift. I'm so happy! I hope she and her baby get a lot of use out of it. I had a lot of fun making it, and it was nice to reflect back on when my baby was a newborn...*sigh* He could have used a swaddle like this!


09 October 2011

The Story of a Cake:

I baked a cake for my husband, as a way of saying thank you for all that he does for me, not least of which is working hard so I can stay home and raise our baby. So I had firmly in my mind's eye a beautiful six-inch designer cake with layers of deep chocolate, and fluffy, creamy strawberry buttercream; a baked work of art that we could cut into romantically and enjoy together with a hot mug of tea, the baby asleep, and our worries temporarily set aside.

It was to be a beautiful cake, indeed, with all the fresh, fine ingredients mixed together…
A cake that was to be poured into pans prepared with butter and dusted cocoa, and baked to near-perfection. A cake that was meant to be leveled and layered (almost) expertly…
A fine artisan cake with rich, cheery frosting mixed enthusiastically, and piped on in alternating tiers of pink and dark brown….

Yes, this cake was certainly magnificent in my head. Simple, understated in its construction, but clear in its message: “You take care of so many details in our life together, so I’m going to take care of every detail in this cake to make it perfect for you.” A wonderful sentiment.

But... what my husband got from me instead was: “I baked you a cake while you and the baby were bugging me. I’ve never made a layer cake, dang'it, nor have I piped frosting on anything bigger than a cupcake. Here’s a cake, anyway... eat it! Next time, turn off the TV and take the baby out for a long walk. Let me work in the kitchen in peace. Your ever-lovin’ wife, Sara.”

23 September 2011

Like a Rollin' Stone[ware]

Recently, my thoughtful husband decided the thing to do was to search for a special gift that would compliment me, as his way of saying “Thank you” for putting up with him, changing the baby’s poopy diapers, being an amazing mommy, and all-around great wife.

The gift he found was this artifact of folk-art loveliness:
A painted stoneware rolling pin! Isn’t it simply gorgeous? I think so, and it works great; I already tried it out on some simple sugar cookies.

I want to take very good care of it… but I do not have a rolling pin stand, nor do I have a canister in which to store it. What to do? A few days ago I sewed up a little make-up bag using this tutorial, and my husband suggested “What if you make [the bag] longer, pad it, and make a sort of ‘rolling pin cozy’?”
I thought that sounded like a great idea, kind of unique, kind of playful, and totally fun, so today I went out and got some charming colorful fabric worthy of protecting my rolling pin, and cut very long 7.5”x43” strips.
After that I did some dedicated sewing, smooth pressing, and then some careful stuffing…

… And voila!

A rolling pin cozy! A soft pouch in which to safely store my folk-art rolling pin when it is not hard at work rolling pie crusts or sugar cookies!

21 September 2011

Gluten and Dairy Free Almond Cake!

Hey! Someone had a birthday! It was my mom and, as the title of this post may lead you to believe, she can not have gluten or dairy. While a little more difficult, it's not impossible. In fact, I love baking for my mom because it gives me a challenge.

So I made an almond flavored cake with coffee flavored buttercream. Mmmmm. Delicious. I mixed the gluten free flour myself and it contained white rice flour, millet flour, tapioca flour, almond meal, and flax seed. I found the mixture recipe in a vegan cookie book I own. It worked very well as a cake flour. The cake itself was very delicate but I think that had to do more with the fact that there were no eggs in the cake. Mom can't eat eggs, either. 

Instead of eggs I used a combination of applesauce and baking powder. It works well enough, and makes it very moist, but does anyone have any other suggestions? I know that vegan egg substitutions are mixtures of starches but I'm not sure which ones and what the ratios are... help a girl out?

Coffee is not my favorite flavor, which surprises people because I'm a barista, but this frosting was amazing. I brewed some ridiculously strong instant coffee and used it for the liquid content of the buttercream. Seriously, this coffee smelt burnt and was undoubtedly disgusting but combined with enough sugar all was well. It's one of my favorite frosting flavors I've ever made.
As for the piping pattern I just thought it might be a fun challenge (it was) and something my mom would like (she did.) I wish the pictures were better but they were not taken with my camera so it's hard to see some of it. It's not perfect but I'm very happy with the colors, although I was having a little trouble with Wilton colors not blending well with the vegan buttercream. I've heard that Wilton does that with real buttercream too sometimes so I may start replacing my colors with other brands as they run out.

Oh, and see the cursive up there? I've never done much cursive piping before so I gave it a try. It's good to know and now that I'm decorating cakes for work I should learn how to do it right? What you see in the pictures was probably my 5th try. I had to wipe away buttercream so many times. But I got it eventually. At least enough to be legible. That has to count for something.