16.2.12

Tiny Toques

I'm reached the time in my life when everyone I know is expecting a baby. At least it feels that way. Think I'm exaggerating? I know of at least six babies that are due in the next two months! I love to give handmade gifts, especially for babies, but unless I quit both my jobs, there's no way I can possibly crochet six crib blankets by April. In a moment of panic, I decided to think smaller and try my hand at some baby hats. Not only would they be faster to make, they're also adorable. Finding this pattern from hollanddesigns sealed the deal. I knew I had to try it. In fact, I tried it twice. And here you have them!

I'm not going to lie to you, it was a pretty tough technique for a sort-of-beginner. I probably shouldn't have ignored the Intermediate label. There were a lot of pulled out stitches to start and and I'm still not completely happy with the top. But I did learn a valuable lesson in yarn weights and how much they can affect the look of your final product. I bought both these yarns in Portland at Knit Purl: the blue is worsted weight 100% superwash wool and the grey is a fingerling alpaca/merino/bamboo blend. This was the first time I had ever used non-synthetic (a.k.a. "fancy") wool and there were no crochet guidelines on the labels, so I felt a bit uncertain and intimidated from the start. I was second-guessing myself the whole time. "Maybe this yarn is too delicate." "Maybe I'm using the wrong hook size." Herein lies the moral of this story: when in doubt, trust the pattern. At first I thought the grey turned out too "holey", which is what made me try the thicker wool. But now that I see them together, I like the shape and texture of the grey better. Which is what the pattern said to use. So there ya go.

14.2.12

Love Brownies


 

Valentine's Day isn't a big deal in our house. I guess we're just not a teddy bears and poetry type of couple. But we're also not the type of couple that turns down an excuse to go out for dinner and stuff ourselves with sweets. So, in the spirit of things, I decided to whip something up for my honey this year. Unfortunately, all google turned up was a million and one heart-shaped sugar cookie recipes. That just wouldn't do for my chocoholic. I remembered this cake-decorating stencil technique I pinned awhile back and decided to try out a mini V-Day version on brownies. I don't have a tried and true brownie recipe either, so decided to give this one a whirl, trusting there was truth behind the title. Aside from a couple minor changes, they turned out pretty darn amazing. So dense and moist. And cute to boot! I don't know if they're the best brownies ever, but they're certainly the best I've ever made. Give them a try and let me know your vote. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Best Brownies
adapted from allrecipes.com

Brownies:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Icing:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. Usually for square recipes, I line the pan in foil so that I can more easily remove and cut them later. To each their own.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook. Mine took a full 30 minutes.

To make frosting: combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm. I found the frosting to be very dry and difficult to mix. Try adding a couple tablespoons of milk, combine with a spoon so the butter doesn't crumble and then mix with an electric beater until smooth.


To make the hearts, simply cut a one-inch heart out of paper, place over each brownie and lightly sprinkle with icing sugar. I used a small strainer to help me sprinkle. Ta da!

3.2.12

My Creative Resolutions for 2012


Photo via HappyDeliveries

February. Huh. I wonder how many people have defaulted on their new year's resolutions already. One way to avoid that? Don't make any until the first week of February! Ha! Another way is to not make any at all. But, I actually quite enjoy the process. I tend to overwhelm myself with all the things I want to do and setting goals really helps me focus that bit of crazy in me. This year, I'm going to push that focus just a little further by sticking to only creative goals that can realistically be accomplished in the span of one year. For example, fitness and nutrition are off limits. Sound good? Well, let's get started then.

Photos via Sew4Home and Freshly Pieced.
Patchwork
Last year I made a vow to make more for me rather than just my business and learned how to crochet and cross-stitch as a result. I am so proud of the things I made and my stubbornness to make time for them and hope to keep that crafty momentum rolling this year. However, I'd also like to learn a new skill.... quilting. My grandmother was a talented quilter, so I've wanted to learn for many years, if not my entire lifetime. Mike bought me a great sewing book for Christmas that illustrates all the steps really well and I have some patterns on their way from my sweet Aunt. It's time.


Scrappy
One of the biggest things holding me back from starting a quilt is my overwhelmingly large and unorganized scrap pile. Actually, it could probably be more accurately described as a scrap heap. The basket above is only half of it. Sounds like an intern job to me. Wait, I don't have one. Hmph.

Sergio
While I'm introducing embarrassing parts of my sewing room, meet my serger. We are not friends. Yet. Conquering this machine is a carryover from last year's resolutions. But I'm determined to learn this year, or else! Technically this guy is only on loan and if I don't learn soon, I'm afraid the owner will snatch it back. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.


Screen Time
My doily tote was the first Dear Edna item to get attention and it continues to be my best seller through the wedding season, but after two years, it's due time I try out some new designs. My ultimate dream is to print my own textiles and there's no way I'm going to get there without getting my hands deep in emulsion. That sounds kind of dirty. It is... but not in the way you're thinking.

Office Space
This was on my list last year and I'm proud to say it was the first I crossed off; however, after the initial set up, I dragged my feet on the details and never finished the job. I still need better overhead lighting, curtains, and storage for my paint supplies. It seems so simple, and yet it's not done. Speaking of renovations, Mikey J and I are also planning to gut our entire kitchen this Spring. I may as well set up a tent at Ikea now.

Showtime
For all the stress and nervousness, I really did enjoy participating in my first craft show this year, the Beehive Summer Craft Fair. I was hoping I'd get to be a part of a Christmas show too, but ended up getting far too busy filling online orders. I'd like to make it a goal to participate in at least two craft fairs in 2012. That doesn't seem like too much to ask. We'll see if that opinion changes when July rolls around.

Dot Com
There's nothing wrong with getting started with an Etsy shop and a blogger account, but after two years, I found myself fantasizing about seeing DearEdna.com on my business cards. I don't know if you noticed, but thanks to my live-in IT guy, that dream was realized this week! This blog can now be found at http://www.dearedna.com/! Boom. This is phase one of a three-phase grand master plan that will take over the world. ... Haha! Just checking if you're still listening.  Really, it will hopefully eventually result in a professional, polished website, complete with an online shop all my own.



I have a few more really exciting things up my sleeves for this year, but because I'm pretty superstitious about jinxes, I'm going to have to stay tight-lipped about those for now. All I can say is 2012 is going to be big —a game-changer — I can feel it. I hope you'll come along for the ride and cheer me on! Woo!

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