Colorful Cake Pops

Earlier this year a few friends and I bought vouchers to take a Cake Pop class. After some scheduling mishaps we finally took the class this past weekend. While the place was less than desirable we still had a fun time nonetheless and all learned how to make a new treat. Although, I think I’ll be tweaking the directions the instructor gave us when I attempt them on my own.

I ended up making a total of nine colorful cake pops. I stuck with the simple technique of dipping them in thinned-down dyed frosting and putting sprinkles on them as opposed to some of the fun creations my friends made. I’m sad to say that I actually didn’t try them after my friends tried some of their “casualty” pops – they fell off the stick before or after being dipped into the frosting – and they said that they were really sweet. While I do love my sweets anything overly sweet is just not my cup of tea. And considering the amount of frosting we used to bind the cake together in order to make the balls for the pops and then dipping them in frosting I was sure that they were a super sugar rush.

Craft Fair

A few weeks ago I participated in my first craft fair. While I didn’t sell as many pieces as I would have liked, it was a fun time nevertheless. I spent the weekend with good friends and it was learning experience for future shows I may participate in.

A full view of my entire collection.

A nice assortment of earrings and bracelets.

A full range of necklaces.

A close-up view of my Swarovski crystal pieces.

In preparation for the fair I was feverishly working to get earrings, necklaces and bracelets done. Below are a few pieces that were among my favorites.

Crystal and Seed Bead Wave Bracelet – Made with fuchsia crystals and yellow-tones seed beads.

Flat Even-Count Peyote Bracelet – Made with transparent ivory, turquoise and topaz 1.5mm cube beads stitched in a haphazard pattern. I used an actual button for the clasp.

Pink & Gold Necklace.

Freshwater Pearl Necklace with Crystal accents – I actually saw a similar necklace in a recent issue of Stringing magazine but it was strung from silk cord. I initially did use silk cord but didn’t like the way the necklace fell so I opted to use gold chain instead.

Glass Pearl Beaded Ball – This was an experiment gone right. I normally make beaded balls using crystals but saw it one day made with glass pearls so I decided to give it a try and was very happy with the outcome. Up close the ball almost looks like it’s comprised of small flowers.

Forty-Two Squares

I recently finished a baby blanket for a friend of mine whose baby girl is due later this summer. While I started back in April, which did give me plenty of time to finish it before her baby shower, I of course got sidetracked while working on it and was working feverishly the week before her shower to finish it up. I basically had all of the squares done; I just needed to stitch them all together.

I used the crochet pattern Beginner Crochet Baby Afghan from the Lion Brand wesbsite as a basis for the blanket but made a few tweaks. Instead of using the yarn they suggested – Lion Brand Jamie Yarn – I opted to use Bernat Softee Baby Yarn which was the same weight as the Jamie yarn and available at my local craft store. Also, instead of each square being 13 rows I opted to make them 17 rows.

The colors I used were Mango, Soft Peach, Soft Red, Soft Fern and Antique White.

While the pattern called for only 20 squares after crocheting up the initial 20 I felt that the blanket would be too small so I opted to add more. In total I had 42 squares to stitch together. Before beginning to stitch them together I laid out the squares to ensure that I would be following the pattern correctly.

After a few hours on a few days the blanket came together.

I was happy with how it came out and with the tweaks that I made. Maybe one day I will follow a pattern perfectly but sometimes throwing in a few changes can make such a difference.

A Colorful Assortment

A yarn and bead shop near me had a closeout on their entire bead inventory so I took the opportunity to stock up on some bead colors that I normally don’t gravitate towards – different shades of blues are always a sure bet with me. And while I did buy some blues, I was happy with the other colors I picked out as well.
 
Then it came time to put these new colors to good use.
 
The blue wave bracelet was made by starting with a five bead ladder stitch and then embellished with curves consisting of Swarovski Crystals and Size 8, 11, & 15 size seed beads. The double curve bracelet was made with Tila beads (flat square beads that have two holes) and size 11 and 15 seed beads. It was my first time working with Tila beads and while I was looking forward to using them I doubt they will become one of my favorites to work with. I didn’t care for how flat the bracelet was once it was finished. And finally, the earrings are made by starting with a ladder stitch of bugle beads and size 11 seed beads then embellishing it with size 8 and 11 seed beads. I like how these earrings look, but, I just find making them to be way too time consuming.

Necklaces Galore

I find inspiration for the jewelry I make in many different places. It could be from flipping through a magazine, seeing different colors together or from other pieces of jewelry. My biggest problem though is that I tend to buy the components I need to make a piece but then never get around to actually making it because I get caught up with making other things. Recently though I buckled down and finished a few necklaces that I have wanted to make for some time.

Tigerskin Focal and Semi-Precious Chip Multi-Strand

For this necklace I used a 40x30mm Tigerskin faceted glass bead as the focal point and Amazonite semi-precious chips, glass bicones and yellow stone nuggets for the rest of the piece.

Without a definitive pattern I strung the Amazonite chips along with the bicones and stone nuggets on three separate strands of gold beading wire. The only thing I did make sure of was that the stone nuggets were placed along the three strands so that they wouldn’t be next to each other. I then had the three strands go through one of the larger yellow stone nuggets, the Tigerskin glass bead and another larger yellow stone nugget and then continued in my haphazard pattern of stringing the chips, bicones and smaller nuggets.

I was really happy with the final product. It was exactly what I was envisioning.

Coral Semi-Precious Chip Spiral

The idea for this necklace changed quite a few times before I actually completed it. I even changed the design while I was working on it. At first it was just going to be the coral spiral on a gold chain but then I came across some ceramic blue-green beads that I thought would be a nice addition.

Using a basic spiral rope chain technique I strung the coral chips along with clear glass beads in a size 6. I then decided to use small yellow-brown stones I had along the ceramic beads to create the focal piece.

I connected this piece to the gold chain by using size 15 glass seed beads and reinforcing the thread a few times to make sure it wouldn’t ultimately break from use.

Glass, Shell and Metal Multi-Strand

Using black glass beads, white shell beads, two different size gold link chains and wire I created this multi-strand necklace.

Shades of Blue Multi-Strand

When I saw a necklace like this one while flipping through a magazine last year I was determined to make something similar. It took some searching to find the exact components I needed to complete it, 30 strands of beading wire and a lot of counting, but, it was all worth it. This is by far my favorite necklace from this group.

Swarovski Crystal Jewelry Sets

Recently I used different beading techniques to create jewelry sets with Swarovski crystals as the focal point. The set on the left was made with 4mm bicones in Olivine and Vintage Rose (O&VR) while the set on the right was made with 4mm bicones in Blue Zircon and Padparadscha (BZ&P).
 
To create the bracelets for both sets and the necklace for the O&VR set I used the Right Angle Weave technique. I’ll be honest; when I first learned how to do Right Angle Weave I didn’t like it. The finished product was nice, but, I had a hard time just getting into the flow of doing it. I would always forget my place and end up with my thread coming out of the wrong bead. Thankfully working on these bracelets and necklace I didn’t have any issues like those. The one problem I did have was that my thread broke a few times while working on the necklace. I used 6lb Fireline thread which is strong enough but I think that the Right Angle Weave technique weakens the thread after being passed through the beads and crystals so many times. I tried to minimize the problem by not pulling the thread too tight as I added on each new crystal.
 
For the earrings I followed a pattern that I came across in the Bead & Button magazine from June 2011 called Star Power. The technique used is a basic Netting technique. While the link doesn’t provide exactly what I did, the concept is more or less the same.
And finally, instead of creating a Right Angle Weave necklace for the BZ&P set I opted to make a beaded ball using the Cross-Weave technique. Which I learned is actually a form of the Right Angle Weave using two needles instead of one. This is actually the first bead weaving project that I learned.
Notes:
Right Angle Weave Bracelets & Necklace: For the O&VR bracelet and necklace I also used Miyuki delicas (size 11) in metallic light bronze and for the BZ&P bracelet I used Miyuki delicas (size 11) in steel.
Star Power Earrings: Unfortunately Bead & Button doesn’t provide the pattern for free, but, it can be purchased here. I modified the pattern by only using two stars as opposed to three. As for supplies, along with the crystals I also used TOHO seed beads in size 11 and 15 in the color bronze and 2x4mm peanut seed beads in matte metallic light golden brown for the O&VR set. As for the BZ&P set, I used silver-lined crystal seed beads in size 11, TOHO seed beads in silver-lined gray in size 15 and 2x4mm peanut seed beads in matte hematite. FYI, the only place that I have been able to find peanut seed beads is on Fusion Beads. Fusion Beads also has a full list of supplies here for the earrings.
Beaded Ball: I also used Miyuki delicas (size 11) in steel and a 10mm round crystal to create the ball.

Byzantine Chain Maille

I was never really interested in learning how to do chain maille until I saw a pair of earrings that I thought looked pretty cool. So, I searched for a pattern similar to the one I saw, Byzantine, to attempt to make them myself. Since I wasn’t sure how much I would like chain maille I bought an inexpensive pack of 5mm jump rings to get started.
After a few attempts I finally got the hang of it but realized that the jump rings I bought were too small. The earrings were coming together but it was hard to see the pattern. When I put them up to my ear there really wasn’t anything to them. The other issue I had was that the pattern wasn’t staying together. In other words, when I would lay the jump rings down the pattern would completely fall apart and when I would pick them up I would have to move one jump ring so the pattern could take shape again. I wasn’t sure if that had to do with the jump rings or something that I may have done wrong with the pattern.
I decided to take them apart and try again another day with larger jump rings and maybe a different pattern. All in all chain maille isn’t bad. What I found most annoying was taking apart the jump rings and closing them again since I wasn’t happy with how my project was coming out. But, I will say it is better than bead weaving in the sense that there isn’t any waste; when I have to take something apart with bead weaving I always end up wasting thread.

Tangerine Lacy Scarf

Scarves are one of my favorite things to crochet (or knit). They work up fast and I view them as shoes, you can never have too many of them. I usually gravitate towards the same colors when I make scarves – shades of blue, green, purple and gray – so when I was asked to knit a scarf in orange it was a nice break from the ordinary. At first I had my doubts that orange would look nice but a shade of orange called tangerine from Red Heart produced a scarf that will definitely be an eye-catcher.

I used two skeins of yarn and an I-9 size crochet hook and followed the Crochet Lacy Scarf pattern from Lion Brand.

After using up one of the skeins of yarn I had about 48 inches of the scarf completed, which is definitely too short for any adult to wear.

I used about half of the second skein of yarn and ended up with a scarf that was approximately 66 inches long, definitely long enough for an adult to wrap around their neck to keep them warm during the winter months.

The best part, the intended recipient was very happy with the finished product!

Crochet Lacy Scarf (from Lion Brand Yarn; www.lionbrand.com)

Ch. 19

Row 1: Dc in 5th ch from hook (first 4 skipped chs make turning ch-sp), dc in next ch, *(dc, ch 3, dc) in next ch, skip next ch, dc in next 2 ch; rep from * across to last ch, dc in last ch – 3 pattern reps at the end of this row

Row 2: Ch 4 (for turning ch-sp), turn *(3 dc, ch 3, dc) in next ch-3 sp; rep from * across to turning ch-sp, 3 dc in turning ch-sp.

Repeat last row until almost all yarn has been used. Scarf should measure about 76 inches. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Abbreviations:

Ch(s): Chain(s), Dc: Double-crochet, Sp(s): Space(s), Ch-sp: Space previously made, Rep: Repeat

*Please note that this pattern is written for 2 skeins of Lion Brand Hometown USA yarn, since I used Red Heart Soft Yarn which is thinner in weight (Super Bulky (6) vs. Medium (4)) I started the scarf by chaining 27 as opposed to 19 to obtain my desired width.

Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake

I’m a little off-season in making this cake, but, a few weeks ago while organizing my baking supplies – I guess I have too much time on my hands – I came across a Bundt pan and remembered that I specifically bought it to make this cake after finding the recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine last fall. Every October I go apple picking and I always like to try a new recipe or two with the apples, but,  before I got a chance to make this cake I had used up my apples baking a few Apple-Raspberry Crumb pies and enjoying an apple a day.
I started off by toasting the walnuts and caramelizing the apples. I’ll be honest, when a recipe calls for toasting walnuts, or any nut for that matter, I usually by-pass that step. I did like the flavor of the toasted walnuts, but, I am not sure if it will sway me one way or another to toast them in future recipes. My apples came out a little mushier than I would have liked, but, they tasted great.
While my apples and walnuts were cooling I got to work on making the batter for the cake. I started off by sifting the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt together. The recipe called for freshly grated nutmeg which I didn’t have on hand so I used regular ground nutmeg. Once that was done I got to mixing the brown sugar, butter and eggs in my stand mixer. Once they were blended together well I added the flour mixture, alternating with milk, per the recipe directions.
I folded in the caramelized apples and walnuts by hand so the apples wouldn’t be further broken down by mixing them. I must say, cake batter doesn’t look very appetizing sometimes. I poured the batter into my prepared pan and baked it for about 50 minutes in a 350 degrees oven.
And voila, a not-so-appetizing looking cake batter turned into a delicious spice cake that filled my house with a nice aroma while baking. And while the recipe did call for an apple-cider glaze on top of the cake I opted not to do it because I am not a big fan of how sweet icings can be.
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 Minutes
Serves: 10
Ingredients
For the Caramelized Apples:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 tart green apples, such as Granny Smith, cored, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
For the Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Coarse salt
1 3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons apple cider
Directions
Make the caramelized apples: Cook granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in apples. Cook, covered, until softened, about 6 minutes. Slightly mash apples with a fork until broken down but still chunky. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl.
Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix in caramelized apples and the walnuts.
Transfer batter to pan. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack, and let cool completely.
Once cake is cool, make the glaze: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and cider. Drizzle over top of cake, letting it drip down the sides.
Cook’s Note
Storage: Glazed cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Agate & Jade Necklace

After making the Teal Multi-Strand Necklace that took a few mishaps before getting right I decided my next necklace should be something a bit simpler. So I opted for a basic stringing technique to string semi-precious dyed agate oval beads and dark green dyed jade nuggets using natural silk bead cord in carnelian size 8 – even though you can’t see the thread I still like to use a color that’s complementary to the beads. I also used gold-tone beads as spacers between the jade nuggets and some left-over metal pieces from my Necklace Makeover as spacers between the agate beads.

I was quite pleased with the finished product.
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