Another Good Turn

Remember the Marshlands Lace Rib socks I knit, intending them for myself but realizing after they were done that they were better suited to my sister? I shipped them off to her in New Orleans, and despite the fact that temperatures there were on the verge of rocketing out of the comfort range for closed-toe shoes and wool socks, she's gotten some good wear out of them.  

In a funny twist of fate, she found herself in a similar situation. This time it was me who lucked out because these beauties

arrived in my mailbox as a result!

On April 2, as she had just finished the toes of her April challenge socks, Beth called me to talk about my toe-up adaptation of Cookie A's Monkey pattern, which she intended to use. You'll note from the picture that these are not Monkey socks. We talked about the decorative stitch and the particular qualities of her yarn for awhile, and she decided to switch to the decorative stitch used by Christine Walker in her Zigzag socks (published in Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Sock Book). It's a lovely pattern -- wonderful stitch movement but very light, without the usual density of cables.

Three days later I received the following text:
"I'll be sending u the socks I'm making now. Seem too small for me. Funny. The yarn is better suited for u anyway."
And she's right. The yarn is better suited for me. What's funny is that I never would have selected it myself if I were treasure hunting at the yarn store, but the finished socks undeniably look more like something I would wear than she would. 

It's a Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash in sport weight.  The colorway, SWS162 Green Envy, inspired her to name the socks Jealous Zigzag -- which I love! (Before I knew the name of the colorway, I thought she called them that because she was jealous they ended up being more right for me than for her -- which is, admittedly, how I felt about sending off the Marshlands.)

You'd think that a yarn called Green Envy would be more . . . green. This yarn is a mix of very pale green and very pale lavender -- and the effect, overall, in the finished socks is silvery. But it's not flat color. It's very, very cool.

She worked the entire day after sending that text. And just five days after casting on had the socks off the needles and blocked. What's more, she had them in the mail the next day! I don't know about you, but it can take me weeks to package up an item and actually deliver it to the post office. She'll deny being an over-achiever, but I can't think of what else to call it! 

Best of all, these are the mushiest, softest, most deliciously wearable socks. They spent the entire last weekend on my feet. I have declared them the best jeans socks ever. Honest to goodness!

And having shared my adoration of them with Beth, I'm pretty sure she actually is jealous now.

I need to reevaluate my sock yarn purchasing choices. Left to my own devices, I wouldn't have had a clue how wonderful this Brown Sheep yarn is.

Ravelers can link to the project page here.


C's Springtime Birthday Cake

It's not knitting. Not by a long shot. But it's how my mother-in-law and I occupied the better part of a week, and it definitely qualifies as an aesthetic entanglement! This is my kiddo's birthday cake:

Sharon has a long history of amazing cake creations -- just one of the many talents she shares with family and friends -- and when The Girlio's birthday rolls around each April 13, I get to join her in the fun. We've made cakes themed on rainbows, unicorns, and horse corrals, among other things.

This year C asked for a springtime cake with a field of flowers, a lamb, and a bluebird of happiness. She and Sharon sketched out the basics. I held on for the ride as the vision was fleshed out and expanded in Sharon's imagination, supplies were assembled, and the build was completed.

The base is a 14-1/2" round white cake made from mix (no, I'm not too proud to admit when I use a mix!). It takes 2-1/2 mixes to fill the pan, so the rest was used for cupcakes and a cake-batter cookie experiment I tried (not pictured, but the cookies were yummy, too).

Aside from all the driving around for shopping, the lamb cake is my big contribution to the project. It's an homage to a family tradition from my own childhood. My Grandma Catherine brought lamb cakes for all the kids' birthdays. My cousins and siblings and I would clamor for the head. Ironically, with this year's cake, nobody could bear to cut into the head, which is now among the last bits to be eaten. It's so cute!

When my grandma died, her cast iron lamb mold went to my Uncle Grant's family. For nearly 20 years I thought it had gone to my cousin, Brad, and I was only just corrected of my misunderstanding last year. The important thing is that it did not come to me, and I really really wanted it. Periodically over the years I'd looked for them, but I'd not gotten one. About two years ago I asked Sharon to see if she could find one for me. Because these molds are no longer made, it took her some doing, but for Christmas 2009, Sharon sent me a beautiful Griswold mold just like Grandma's.

The lamb cake recipe -- which is made from scratch -- is also from the Griwsold company. It's a heavier pound cake, and it's super tasty! Unfortunately, I wasn't on my best baking game and had to make the cake twice to get it right. I ruined the first attempt when I didn't turn off the mixer before adding the milk ... and then spectacularly sprayed it all over the kitchen when I nicked the measuring cup on a beater. I couldn't really tell how much milk actually made it into the batter, and I guess I overcompensated by adding too much because the finished first cake didn't hold together well enough to come out of the pan in one piece. It tasted fine -- and we ended up eating it -- but the great milk disaster required that I do it again if the lamb was to have a head at all.

The field is covered with 44 fondant tulips. Sharon spent two days on them. Each has a marshmallow center, a molded leaf, and painstakingly hand-formed petals. Hand mixing the colors, alone, was a labor of love! (In the image below, do you see how some have more than one color?) We originally thought we'd use gum paste for the flowers, but after investigating all our options at Home Cake Decorating Supply Co and chatting with some other patrons of the store, fondant won out.

Encircling the cake are birds nests and blue marshmallow Peeps. Lots of them.

The birds nests are one of Sharon's signature treats. We also had them at the baby shower when I was pregnant with C. Normally she uses potato sticks, but apparently potato sticks haven't caught on in the Pacific Northwest like they did in Ohio. We searched several stores but never found them. In lieu of potato sticks, Sharon used pretzel sticks this time. So the birds nests are chocolate-covered pretzels, shaped into little nests, and topped with speckled malt balls.

And did you notice the Sour Patch earthworm visible just about the Peep in the green coconut grass?! C insisted. Did I mention that she's 11 as of shortly after 2pm today?

The two bluebirds of happiness, which were also hand-shaped by Sharon, are solid fondant. One of the girls at C's slumber party ate the big one. The other is now drying and will hang as an ornament in C's room for awhile.

Eight excited girls dug into the cake at C's slumber party last Friday night. It was a great success. They made a serious dent in it, and we sent some home with parents, but there's still plenty left!


No April Foolin' Here ... Great Blog Review!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a spike in Aesthetic Entanglementz readership on April 1 ... and then discovered the reason: AE received a blog review on the Simply Knitting website!

Read the complete review here.

I'm thoroughly flattered and humbled by this review -- especially considering how few blog reviews they've done and that Aesthetic Entanglementz is featured in the company of such high-impact blogs as Yarn Harlot and Wendy Knits. Thanks to Simply Knitting and reviewer Judy Darley for highlighting my work!

Simply Knitting is a United Kingdom-based magazine that has a great accompanying website with new features posted every weekday, great resources and knitting guides, and an awesome section called "The Making Place" that's loaded with free patterns and craft instructions.

I'm particularly smitten by the timely flurry of "Knit the Royal Wedding" activity. Simply Knitting has made these awesome Will and Kate patterns available for free:

This image belongs to Simply Knitting.  I can take no
credit for either the photography or the cool project

If you haven't ever checked out the magazine or its site, I encourage you to do so! Ravelers can join the Simply Knitting group.