Flower Bomb

So, after more than 6 months I managed to pick up my crochet hook again to make something new. I did do a few rows of a blanket in January, when my parents were here, but I don’t count that.  It was too rushed and I just did it for the sake of doing it, not really for the enjoyment of crochet, choosing colours and pattern and thinking about the modifications!  Now I’m doing it all!
I chose the Flower Crochet Amish Puzzle Ball, a free pattern by Dedri, from Look at What I Made. It’s colourful, it’s easy and I already have all the yarn I need to finish it. But more importantly, it’s a small motif pattern, so I can get bits of it done in the short intervals between Henry’s feed-play-sleep cycle.
I’m not really changing the pattern but for one detail.  At the beginning of the petals round, I don’t start with a loop and 2 chains as the pattern says.  I do an “air stitch”. I discovered I could start a stitch with a new strand of yarn without having to attach the yarn to the work. I didn’t invent this technique, and probably not it’s name either, but I like it. Here’s how I do it.

Start with a slipknot

Start with a slipknot

Then, carefully, wrap the yarn over the hook once (or as many times as required to make the stitch you want). Keep the slipknot firmly held in place.

Then, carefully, wrap the yarn over the hook once (or as many times as required to make the stitch you want). Keep the slipknot firmly held in place.

Insert the hook in the base stitch.

Insert the hook in the base stitch.

Yarn over and pull through the stitch...

Yarn over and pull through the stitch…

Flower Bomb 7

…nearly there…

... and finish the stitch as usual.

… and finish the stitch as usual.

When making my Rainbow Blanket I used the air stitch in the middle of a row of DC and left a long tail to hide well into the fabric.  It looks secure and since the next row was also DC only, there is no visible gap between end of yarn and beginning of new yarn, but I can’t swear by it because the blanket is not in use yet. Let’s see what the future brings. It works well in the beginning of a row, with no difference from attaching the new yarn directly to the work.

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Clown’s Pants

Since I bought 9 balls of Rico Creative Cotton, one in each colour, to make baby shoes for Luiza, I’ve been tempted to play with colours. I love cushions, blankets and afghans made in colourful granny-squares I see on Ravelry. Joined together in cream or white, they have a bright and happy look, but are not too heavy on the eyes.

My problem is that I am not exactly the kind of person who matches blue and orange, or green and red and think it looks good. I’m not bold like that.  I go for the safe dark or plain coloured items. And never the bright colours, no sir, apart from some pink baby dresses and stuff like that, but always with some white or just shades of pink.

This week I had the perfect excuse. On Sunday I remembered I needed a birthday present and didn’t have a clue what to buy. I wouldn’t have time either. But the birthday girl loves tea pots and I promised her a cosy a while ago (not sure if she remembers, but I do). When I asked if she’d like colourful or plain she gave the right answer: colourful.

Well, this is what I made.

On the colourful side =D

A little flower on the top.

A button to hold things in place. 

Ok, I didn’t put as much white or beiges as I should have, but since it’s a small item I thought it would be fine like that. My other half said “it is as colourful as a clown’s pants”. Well, I have never seen a clown’s pants, but I imagine they might be, let’s say… not boring.

I’ve decided to make some coasters to go with it, as a set.

Matching coasters to make it complete

Matching coasters to make it complete

I made granny-flowers, from granny circles with scalloped edges. I like them. The colours match the sequence of colours I used in the pot cosy.

The cosy pattern I’ve found here and the coasters are from the same blog, this post.

I have detailed notes (well, on my own gibberish) on the project page on Ravelry because I loved it so much I want one, too. It is very bright, I know, but I think it goes well with the white tea pot. It was really difficult to photograph, though. The orange lit up so much I thought I wouldn’t have any decent photos to post. Lots of experience gained from this one.

=D

Picnic Cake

My experiment with colourful cake was good, tasted lovely but I’ll have to try again to get better, clearer colours. It made a good change from the plain looking (and a bit boring) cake and maybe natural colouring such as blueberry sauce or beetroot juice would make it even better. A cake that turns out more compact in texture would show the colours more vividly, too. I am very happy with it and with the new ideas this experiment gave me. Must write them down soon.
Now, before photos and recipe, one note:  as I (perhaps) mentioned in the previous post, this is a family recipe. It comes all the way from Brazil and we do thing a bit more…shall we say… spontaneously there. There are cups and grams in the recipe, so prepare your scales AND your set of measuring cups. I bought mine very cheap at Wilkinsons. If you don’t have a set of measuring cups and spoons, use a measuring jug: one cup = 250mL (approximately enough)
And finally, the tin. Traditionally, our cakes recipes back there are larger than the ones I’ve seen in UK books and sites, so think a large savain tin. I bought mine from a corner shop when I was living in east London, but I think any shop that sells kitchen stuff will have one, most likely in silicone, nowadays.

Picnic Cake
You will need:

3 eggs, whites separated from the yolks
2 cups of sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of cornflour
1 cup of milk (I used skimmed mil and it works fine)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
a pinch of salt

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Before you start, have you oven on at around 200o.C (you know your oven, so adjust if needed) and grease and flour your tin.

Start by whisking the egg whites, preferably with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks form. The ideal ‘stiffness’ is achieved when you turn the bowl upside down and the whites don’t run or fall. Do this carefully. Keep it in the fridge while you prepare the batter.

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In a separate, large bowl, whisk the yolks and the sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the butter and keep the mixer on, until creamed (it won’t get a super creamy texture, but it will be a bit fluffier).

Sift the dry ingredients together. Still beating, add the dry mixture alternating with milk. You may need a bit more or a bit less milk than the one cup. Turn off the mixer.

Fold in the whisked egg whites. Now this bit can be a bit tricky because you need to mix all the whites into the batter without losing too much air. BBC has a short video with a good technique to fold in flour, but that can be applied to fold in egg whites.

If you want your cake plain, just pour the batter into the prepared tin, then into the oven and in about 40 minutes, when the smell fills your house, it’s time to do the traditional skewer test. Before you open the oven have a peek through the glass to see if the cake is well risen and golden on top.

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If you want, you can do a marble cake (as I did) by separating a portion, or portions, of the batter and adding chocolate powder or food colouring of your choice to each portion. After pouring the plain batter into the tin, tip the coloured portion carefully, distributing the batter all around the tin. Use a fork or knife to swirl the coloured batter into the plain batter and create the marble effect.

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Another variation is to add chocolate sprinkles t the batter and turn your cake into an anthill cake (yes, that’s how we call it….). Or add flavouring, like almond or orange extract.

If you give it a go come back and let me know!

PS: I’m getting acquainted with posting photos, and my kitchen has no natural light, so I can only apologise for the poor quality of the snaps. =)