Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ready, set, go!

Finally ready to assemble the quilt. It's quilt-as-you-go, remember, so all the components are appliquéed/embroidered  (as required), layered, quilted, and trimmed to the precise and exact sizes needed. Even the borders. It's an engineering feat as much as an artistic endeavour.

Say "Cheese"!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

So you wanna decorate cookies?

Boy, do we have the book for you! Judging from the reaction we get when we post photos of our cookies, there are lots of you out there who are just dying to jump into the cookie decorating pool. When we first got interested in cookie decorating, we spent a lot of frustrating hours searching the internet for how-to's and information. There are a lot of great cookiers around, and lots of info shared, but it's pretty hit and miss. Now, we're excited to share with you that we have found the perfect book for anyone who'd like to get started.

Julie Anne Hession has written 100 Best Decorated Cookies, and it is loaded with all the info you need. The good folks at Robert Rose sent us our very own copy to review. It was a bitter/sweet experience reading it, because we really could have used this book a couple of years ago when we were starting out.

This book starts at the beginning (as any good book should!) and tells you all about the equipment you'll need, and the basic techniques. There's a dynamite selection of cookie recipes that goes beyond the basic sugar cookie......  Peanut Butter Sugar Cookies..... Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies.....even Vegan Sugar name just a few. And lots of info on getting the icing just right. That's probably one of the most important factors in successful cookie decorating, and Julie's got that covered. Did we mention there are photographs? Lots of 'em. She shows you step-by-step how to achieve her designs. She says she's a 'type A' personality, and since we are, too, we appreciate that she even shares tips like 'create a timeline', so you know what you're doing and when. That was one thing we found difficult at the beginning.....figuring out the order of the icing, and how to end up with finished cookies on the day you need them. :)

There are a couple of techniques that Julie uses that caught our attention. One is that she uses fondant in addition to Royal Icing on some of her cookies. You can see an example in the straps on the flip-flops in the cover photo above. Genius!! We never thought of that before, but we're dying to try it out. The second is marbling. She uses marbling to simulate knitted fabric, and you all know how that would thrill us! Cookies + knitting = teaming up 2 of our most favourite things in this world. Julie uses marbling and its cousin feathering, to make some really beautiful cookies. Here's an actual spread from the book, where she shows how to marble the wings of the butterfly:

Excerpted from 100 Best Decorated Cookies by Julie Anne Hession © 2013 Robert Rose Inc.   Reprinted with publisher permission.
Isn't that gorgeous!! Notice that on the left is a list of what you need to make this cookie, like which colours of gel paste, etc. are required. Then there's a list of the techniques she's using and the page in the book where you'll find them described. There's a 'Getting Started' section that tells you how to divide the icing and what colours to mix up. Then, over on the right there are a few tips and suggestions. Add to all that, the step-by-step photos and it's all there.....everything anyone would need to know.

But more importantly, like all good teachers, Julie hasn't just given us the info to make this one cookie design (or even the 100 cookie designs that make up this book!), she's given us tools (in this case, it's marbling) to use in our own designs. We've said it before.... the mark of a good teacher or book is that they inspire the student/reader to use their info as a jumping off point. We can hardly wait to incorporate marbling in our next cookie decorating session.

Apart from being an excellent primer on cookie decorating, this book is full of inspiration.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Some things never get old

Pretty? Our hand quilting isn't perfect, but with the brilliant October sun shining on it, we think it's quite alright. We see more quilting in our future.....and maybe even some cookies!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More bracelets

Last week was so hot and sticky, that nothing much got done around the Kingdom. It was too hot to even move, let alone cook. This week's cooler, drier temperatures are a welcome change. We've even begun to think about creative pursuits again.

Today, we have 2 new micro macramé bracelets to show. The first is called Black Currant. All purples to match a polymer clay bead we made ourself. It's definitely an imperfect offering because you can see our finger print in the surface. (No extra charge for that!)  Exactly 8 3/8 inches long from the loop to the inside of the button.

Edited to add: SOLD! Thank you. This one went fast.

The second bracelet is a lovely combination of pale green and coral. The closure is a lampwork bead made by Nikki of  The bracelet measures exactly 7 1/2 inches from the inside of the loop to the closure bead. Please note that this is intended for a slender wrist. Very dainty. Very pretty.

As always, these bracelets are for the benefit of the kennel kitties at the Gananoque Humane Society. $22. each, including postage. Payment by Paypal. Of that, we'll donate $20. for each bracelet sold. The bracelets will be mailed via Canada Post. Thanks to everyone who's helping us in this endeavour.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Change is good

We've been collecting polymer clay supplies and tools for a while now. It's hard to just get started. Finally, we realized we needed a bit more guidance. Since we don't have any teachers or classes nearby, we bought a tutorial.... Rustic Beads and Components from Polymer Clay by Ginger Davis Allman from The Blue Bottle Tree. The tutorial is great. Very well written. However, we didn't have one of the tools she suggested, so we substituted another technique. This means the beads don't look much like the ones in the tutorial. However, since we were looking for a jumping off point, we got exactly what we were hoping for. A good teacher ought to show you how to do something, but more importantly, s/he ought to give you the creative boost to go in other directions. Ginger Davis Allman succeeds admirably at doing both.

Our beads are big..... an inch and a quarter long, or so. Two of them have embedded metal loops. The round one has a hole through the centre for stringing. We love that they changed from step to step, and we had no idea where they'd end up. We think they're like digital photos. We need to make a whole bunch of them and keep only the very best. But then again, isn't all art like that? You just keep playing, and you only show your very best efforts.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Knitting for the kitties

Today, another offering from the stash of stuff we're putting aside to donate to the Gananoque Humane Society ........... This time it's a beautiful shawl, handknit by moi (as Miss Piggy used to say). It's a fairly small shawl, more of a triangular scarf really. A shawlette.  Lovely and soft, it's knit of fine soft green pure merino yarn. It would make a warm and pretty scarf at the neck of your winter coat. It measures 38 inches wide at the top, by about 17 inches deep at the centre of the V and features dainty white beads.

It's the product of a lace design course we took through Craftsy earlier this year. We learned a lot, and we had a lot of fun as we tweaked our design. Now,.  if the Gananoque Humane Society can benefit by turning it into cash for the care of the kitties, that will be icing on the cake!

If you'd like to buy it, just leave a comment here, 
or send us an email at covillewood (at) gmail(dot)com    
$28.   (through Paypal, please) 
We'll send it off to the buyer by Canada Post.
There's only one soft green   Falling Leaves Shawl,   so first come, first served.
Thank you for helping us support such a great cause.
Edited July 9/13:   SOLD! 
The total raised for the Gananoque Humane Society is now a whopping $45.  Thank you!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Big socks take a long time

We finally finished the man-size Tipsy Stripey Socks. 
Now that we've made them in kid-size, and lady-size, and man-size, 
we think we may finally have got this design out of our system.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Still in an orange sherbet frame of mind

First of all, many thanks for the great response to our very first attempt to raise money for the Gananoque Humane Society. Thanks to Elaine for (so quickly!) buying our bracelet, and thanks to others, like Maria, for sharing our photo on Facebook and helping to spread the news. We very much appreciate you all.

We seem to be drawn to this particular shade of orange just now.....which is kinda weird since it's not a colour we would ever wear. Yesterday, it was beads. A couple of weeks ago it was some lovely salmon-coloured laceweight yarn that we just couldn't resist. Today, it's socks! We had a ball of Austermann Step yarn in our stash. It's been there a long time. Self-striping. When we first came up with the Tipsy Stripey Sock design, we knew this is what that yarn has been waiting for. It's a lovely yarn....SOFT! and infused with aloe. And we love the slightly drunken staggering stripes!! Don't you? They blow the 'boring' right out of self-striping yarn. :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Anyone for a little orange sherbet?

As we've probably said once or twice before, we have a soft spot for the Gananoque Humane Society. We've started setting aside a few things to drop off to them. They have sales from time to time in an attempt to raise funds, and we're thinking maybe a bracelet here or a knitted lace shawl there might fetch a few dollars. As a no-kill shelter (filled mostly with cats), they do really good work. As we all know, there are LOTS of homeless cats. A sad fact.

Since most of you live a long way from the Kingdom, you probably won't be able to attend one of these sales. We had the brainwave that maybe we ought to give you first dibs on these items. Just in case.

First up, is a little macramé bracelet. Orange Sherbet. This one just glows with the copper coloured cord and the peach and orange beads. Tiny blue beads add interest. It is exactly 8-1/2 inches long and will fit up to an 8 inch circumference wrist.  Only $22 (including shipping)! Twenty dollars will go to the Gananoque Humane Society. Payment by Paypal. The bracelet will be mailed by Canada Post. Please drop us a note at covillewood (at) gmail (dot) com, if you're interested. First come, first served.

Holey Smokes! Edited to say SOLD!!  Thanks, everyone. We'll be listing more stuff in the days to come. Please check back.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Birthday cookies

The whole kingdom is caught up in birthday preparations. 
We dare not say whose birthday it is. 
(She's one of the few who reads this blog.)

If it's your birthday, too, we wish you a good one!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A swing and a miss

More cats. More problems with the consistency of the icing. :( 
More practice required.

Mr. Coco thinks they look a little spooky-alien-like.

But they still taste good.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Remember that old joke? The answer is "Practise, practise, practise." It was a little humbling to make yesterday's cookies. After such a long hiatus from decorating, we were definitely a little rusty.

The only thing for it is to make more cookies! For today, we used the leftover icing to practise. We practised getting the consistency right, and then we practised the muscle control. A little like learning to have to 'give it some gas' when you're going into the curve and know when to let up again. And when to anchor the little blob of icing to the base. And it all has to be second nature.

Anybody else old enough to remember practising writing with a pen this way in school? filling notebooks with endless lines of loops? Endless, pointless lines of loops. Who knew we'd one day require this of ourselves? Life is full of surprises.

If you're lucky.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


We haven't made cookies in such a long time. We have a whole bunch of ideas, but we need to practise to get comfortable again. We like to use wax paper cones for piping the icing. We found the trickiest bit of the whole process may just be getting the consistency of the icing right. And getting the colours right. And, now, working around the humidity. We dragged out our old food dehydrator. It seems to do the trick.

We had a general idea of what we wanted to 'paint', 
but we didn't worry too much about making all the cookies identical. 
Spontaneous is more fun!

Here's the sketch:

These are big cookies. About 4 inches wide!
My grandmother's shortbread cookie recipe.

Have a sweet day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Need a cute egg cosy?

Finally got the Cupcake Egg Cosies Pattern written up. You can find it here on Craftsy. A pretty good use for leftover sock yarn.

After Mr. Paypal takes his cut, the rest of the money goes to help me buy yarn and supplies to knit/create things to donate to my favourite causes. So, if you buy the pattern, you're really helping me support great organizations like the Gananoque Humane Society and Afghans for Afghans. A dollar here and a dollar there can really add up. Thanks!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Polymer clay play

There are about a million ways to go with polymer clay. 
That's one of the great things about it, and also, 
one of the things that makes it hard to just get started. 

There are SO many options. 
We're pretty stuck on how easy it is to cover metal jar lids. 

We needed a pretty jar to store our tea bags in. 

We love the texture, and the totally spontaneous way the colours show up.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Domesticity in the Kingdom

Mr. Coco and I like to cook together. We have mastered bread. This is 100% whole wheat bread. Nothing but real, honest-to-goodness whole wheat flour. Not the squishy, soft bread you buy in the store that SAYS it's 100% whole wheat but really isn't.

The secret to a light loaf, even with all whole wheat flour is in the kneading, and that's why bread machines work so well. We scoff at bread machines. Actually, we wore out several of them. Now, we start our bread in an ancient Mixmaster that my dad bought for my mother for Christmas many years ago. It was a gift that wasn't very well received, since his goal was to 'help' his wife cook like his mother. (All the women out there are shaking their heads, I know.)

We have our hearts set on a brand new mixer with dough hooks, in candy apple red, or maybe shiny jet black, but this particular one (avocado green, of course) continues to chug along, and we find it really hard to toss out a machine that works simply for the crime of being an out-of-fashion colour. I figure this is a pretty good omen, since a man who can't toss out a mixmaster for a younger, more energetic and prettier model, is probably in it for the long haul with his mate, too. :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Someone to watch over me

Once she decided Paddy didn't really have cooties, that is.

Sweet Dreams, little Cassie!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cool cats in the mail

Imagine our surprise (and delight) 
when we opened an envelope this week to find them inside! 
A gift from Kate.

Cats playing guitars and saxophones. 
Just our style.

Thanks, Kate!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tipsy Stripey Socks

Sometimes it seems we have the most fun when we use up our odd balls of leftover yarn and just go for it.

Here's a case in point. We had some very loud self-striping Kroy socks, and we had some green Kroy socks that was leftover from the Corduroy Roads Socks we made for ourselves. They were made to go together.

This pair is sized for a child with 8-inch long feet. (They almost fit us....Ladies Size 6....just a touch snug.) They're destined for Afghans for Afghans for their current campaign. We are told green is the colour of Islam. In our eyes, green is definitely the colour of hope. If you're interested in knitting for the women and children of Afghanistan, this is a very easy way to do it. Any sock with a foot length between 6-1/2 and 10 inches is welcome. Use up your leftovers. Slip the socks into an envelope. Slap on a couple of stamps.

We're adjusted the comments setting yet again because a number of people reported blogger was being 'difficult'. Hope to hear from you soon!