Valentine Baking Trick

I wanted to give a friend some “Valentine’s chocolate” and have it be home made. But I did not want to invest in Valentine-specific cooking gadgets I would not use the rest of the year.  So here was my solution: heart shaped brownies.


To do this, I mixed and poured out the brownie batter as usual, then after it had settled out flat, I put heart shaped cookie cutters in it.


Here is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.


The larger heart got swallowed up because it is a less tall cookie cutter.  I think with a little practice I will have fun making all kinds of shapes, without having to buy special molds or learn new recipes.  Easy!



Colors for Fall and Winter

I am presently crocheting a scarf that reminds me of fall leaves. I am using a smooth cotton.


The previous scarf I made in this pattern, was of a slightly fuzzy silk.  Its cold colors remind me of ripples across a river or pond, as you look through the blue water.


Both scarves were made with the same crochet stitch, but look very different due to the color spacing on the yarn when it was dyed.  The brown one will be for sale once it is finished, but the blue one I will more likely keep and wear.

Here, Kitty Kitty


It’s not officially a holiday, but in the United States today is Pussy Hat Day.  Time for women to break out their hats with kitty ears.  Even if you’re not into protests, they are fun to wear around town in the winter, as the colors segue nicely into Valentine’s Day.  I knitted these in everyday acrylic.



Plus Size Winter Dress


Happy New Year!  My first completed project of 2018 was this warm, loose dress.  It is made from vintage fabric of an unusual type: it is a waffle weave thermal (like “long johns” undergarments) but out of silk fiber.  So it is drapey and a bit stretchy, ready to accommodate another layer worn underneath it (or perhaps several, as the weather demands).


Of course it has pockets.  You also see here a cowl I knitted to fill in the neckline.


I would call this dress a size 18, but it is not a “standard” size; the pattern is one I drafted for this woman’s body type.  If I made this dress for you, I could adjust the garment to best flatter your size and shape, whatever that may be.


Take Joy in Re-Use


I was considering how best to display my handmade Christmas ornaments, when a great idea occured to me: this is a job for Legos! I can add or subtract bricks to change the height for whatever ornaments I make, and break it down as much as necessary in order to transport it. The tower is mostly stacked pairs of 4×2 basic Lego bricks, but substituting a 4×1 leaves a channel for a horizontal bar. In the photo I used a pair of chopsticks, but knitting needles also work.

The ornaments I made by taking blank glass balls (well actually they are unbreakable plastic) and painting them, then crocheting over them with cotton thread and beads. I chose the beads carefully to make sure their size and weight helped the crochet net hang correctly.

Here was an easier crochet project for Christmas: I used scrap yarn to crochet over a vintage wooden hanger.  This makes a nice little gift for almost anyone, but especially someone who hangs their clothes to dry.  Now the friend I gave it to can avoid the pointy shoulder ridges that come from drying on normal hangers.


3 piece Victorian suit, completed


Another beautiful outfit is finished.  This suit is charcoal grey wool.


The trousers are high waisted, designed to go across his belly button.  While they are closely fitted, there is still room for his back brace.


I based the waistcoat on photos dated 1863, and it shows off his slim physique.


Here is the back of the coat, showing the long straight lines and lack of waist seam. While I could have deduced the shape from period photos, I was glad to find this pattern drawn in one of my books: The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh.


Photos of the construction process for this project can be seen in the adjacent post.

3-piece Victorian suit, in progress

I was recently commissioned to build a gentleman’s suit circa 1861.  In my usual bespoke fashion, I measured the actor and drafted the pattern by hand to fit him.  The construction process was long and detailed, but here are some glimpses to give you an idea.


Cutting out a sleeve, by tracing around my pattern pieces


Hair canvas I pad stitched into the chest front. The reinforced area is often as wide as it is tall, but this particular gentleman is quite thin.


Placing the welt, to begin making a pocket


Setting the sleeve.  The loosely woven wool I was provided with frayed easily, requiring extra caution during most steps of construction.


Pressing the trouser hem on a roll.  The hem has a gentle curve to it, so the trouser leg is longer in back than in front, as often seen in Victorian pants.


Pressing the coat collar over a ham.  Traditional tailoring brings out many pressing tools that a non-sewist may never have heard of.