Rosettes (or Funnel cakes?)

I found a rosette/timbale set at the thrift store the other day! I was so excited, because my grandmother used to make rosette cookies every Christmas (although we called them funnel cakes...), so now I can make them.
I decided to try the savory "party cracker" recipe, with tasty results. These things are deep fried and just terrible for you, but they are soooo good. They kind of remind me of tempura batter, or when they are sweetened, like thin elephant ears (or "beaver tails" if you Canadian).

Recipe for Savory Rosette Crackers

1 tsp garlic, onion, or celery salt
1/4 tsp tandoori seasoning and
1/2 tsp sumac and
1/4 tsp mustard powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup white flour

Grated cheese for topping (parmesan is good)
Enough oil to fill up fryer or saucepan 2" deep.

Special equipment: candy thermometer, rosette molds

Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit*. On my oven, I set the heat right below medium.

Combine seasoning and all other ingredients in a bowl. Try to stir out all the lumps.
When the oil has reached the right temperature, submerge the rosette mold(s) in the oil to heat them up. If you're using a pot for frying, you can set a mixing spoon or spatula across the rim to balance your rosette wand (see image), otherwise you'll have to hold it the entire time.

Dip the mold about half its depth into the batter and lightly shake the excess from the mold. Completely submerge the mold in the hot oil until the bubbling slows down and the cracker is a golden brown.

Remember that a lot of oil will be in the cracker, so turn it upside-down when you lift it out of the oil and empty out the excess.

Be sure to keep a long handled instrument like a fork or chopstick handy so you can pick out crackers that slip off the mold and fall into the hot oil! Pick these out quickly, or they will burn. Once again, turn them upside down to empty out the excess oil.
Move the cracker to a cooling rack or paper towel and sprinkle on the cheese.

These crackers cool quickly, so you can pick them up after sprinkling them with cheese and shake off the excess. If you want to save the cheese, work on a paper towel or piece of tissue paper.
The oil will absorb into the paper, and then you can funnel the excess cheese into a bowl for reuse.

Serve the crackers ASAP, because they will get soft and spongy if you wait to long. If you have to make them ahead of time, you can re-crispify them in a 300 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. To store, keep in an airtight container, stacking crackers no more than 3 deep. They can be frozen.

If the batter keeps falling off the molds, your oil is probably too hot.
You can cool the iron off a little bit, or quickly cool your cooking oil by submerging your pan in cool water. Don't get any water in the oil, however, because it will splatter and burn!

If you're still having problems with the batter not sticking, you can simply peel off the batter bits with a spoon and try again.

The partially solidified batter bits will mix back into the batter, but you should keep from mixing it back in more than a few times. The more solidified batter you mix into the regular batter, the lumpier your batter will become.

If your cookies aren't crispy enough, it means your batter needs more liquid. Add more liquid a few tablespoons at a time to achieve the right consistency.

The oil will cool when you add batter, and the temperature will drop quite a bit as you work. After making the first few crackers, you may want to turn the heat up on your oil slightly, or just take a break and let the oil reheat.


Distracted - Kumihimo

With all this i-cord stuff, I've been wanting to do some kumihimo as well.

Kumihimo is Japanese cord-weaving, usually out of fine silk thread, like that featured at the Hirai Kumihimo House. They even feature a series of videos showing the ages-old process of spinning, dyeing, and weaving the silk. Very cool.

First of all, you need a loom. For the basic round braid, I found a couple of nice tutorials with slightly different approaches:
(offering a printable template)
Joanna at Friend Sheep

Both offer detailed instructions and simple patterns for your basic braid. provides a nice little pattern to make your own out of cardboard. Here's a nice little introduction to the basic braid, with more links for inspiration.

Braids by Uniktissima

Once you've figured out the basics, you're ready to move on to other shapes, like the flat braid. For this, I found an awesome tutorial by The Satin Cord Store. I haven't yet tried this one, but it looks very cool.

Flat braid by The Satin Cord Store.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the number of colors you use, and the order they are braided in dictates what the braid will look like. There are many more variations out there. These are just what I was able to find with a simple web search (and after looking through some less inspiring and much more lackluster tutorials.)

And finally, here are some kumihimo from my own collection. I got them at a thrift store in Japan:

The top two and fourth (black/white and pink) are two seperate cords that have been sewn up along one side to make two flat braids that are twice as wide, and then they were joined with a knot to make a single, two-tone (or three-) cord. It looks very pretty when it's tied.

The third cord is a simple flat weave, done around three fat cords to give it shape. It's pink, blue, and white.

The bottom cord is also flat. It's blue on one side and pink on the other.


Knitting an I-cord

I've been working on knitting up some felted wool bangles, so I thought I'd post a little tutorial. To start, you need to knit an i-cord. I-cords are like knitted tubes, and you can make them with two double-pointed needles.

There are a ton of tutorials online, and here is mine:

Here's what you need:
2 double pointed needles

Note: Make sure you pick a needle size that works with your yarn. If you are unsure what to pick, I suggest going with the size suggested on your yarn's label. A general rule of thumb is that your knitting will shrink by about a third, but you should do a tester first, or felt them more than once.
For the 1/3 rule, your i-cord, after felting, will be 2/3 of its original size (you can multiply your desired length by 1.5). So if you want a cord that's 8 inches long after felting, you'll need to knit a cord that's 12 inches.

  1. Start by casting on a small number of stitches. The more stitches you cast on, the thicker your i-cord will be. I recommend 3-6 stitches.*
  2. Normally, when you end a row, you turn your needle and begin knitting (or purling) the next row. Here, however, you will slide your work from the left end of the needle to the right (if you are a left-handed knitter, it's right to left).
  3. To make the first stitch of the new row, insert your needle as normal for a knitting stitch and bring the yarn behind your knitting.
    (For a right-handed knitter, this means bringing your yarn from the right side behind and over to the left. For a left-handed knitter, it will be from the left to the right.)
  4. Pull the yarn tight, and it will close the tube. Finish the row, knitting normally, and repeat steps 2-4 until you read the desired length. Cast off!

*If you have yarn that breaks easily (such as a single-ply lopi), cast on a smaller number. The farther you have to pull the yarn (See step #4: the longer your row is, the farther you will have to pull it), the more likely it will break!


Fun felting finds

Here are some cool fiber arts projects from around the web. Please check these people out.

Cute pincushions by Felt Like Knitting

Awesome awesome awesome felted cats and dogs from Kay's K-9s

Wow. Crochet by Mitsuko Tonouchi


Owl softie!

Hooray! In finished an ornament for that dang exchange this weekend. It's a little owl softie made from a felted sweater and some other odds and ends. The only new materials are the button eyes and the blue felt. I know owls are the trendy thing now, but I was actually inspired by the cool old owls my grandma collected.
I'm going to try making a bunch of these little friends, and perhaps adding them to my soon-to-be-opened etsy shop.



Argh! I'm going to a cookie/ornament party this weekend, and I STILL haven't figured out what kind of ornament I'm making for this year. I knew this would happen, as it does every year, that I would wait until the last minute.
Normally I wouldn't have this much trouble, but there's a theme for the first time ever this year: “Wings.” What the hell am I supposed to do with that? I'm not going to do an angel or something so, I'm sorry, so banal...
I'm trolling the blogs for inspiration, and here's a sampling of some possible ideas:quilling paper leavesquilling paper leaves, tutorial by Craft Leftovers

quilled paper gift tagsand more quilling: This time gift tags by Estefâia Cabeça de Papel

Gold-winged bird ornament made of recycled aluminum by
by Jong Jong Boutique

fabric owl ornaments by Zemphira

bottle cap fairy by Wisp of Whimsy

Dillilah the Pickle Angel from A Little Character

eyeball on a wing - Knot by Gran'ma

peppermint fairy wings by Tiara's Boutique
(okay, it's not really an ornament, but it's still very cool)

"the reader" by CoriD

sheet music bird garland - Dove Grey

Feathered dinosaurs would make awesome Christmas ornaments. Perhaps out of felt? All of these are by Peter Shouten, and you can see more at his website or in his awesome book (that I want). Ingenia yanshini, above.

Bambiraptor feinbergiConchoraptor gracilis


Japan Paper Museum

Yes! This is made completely out of paper! And yes, you can make one too!

So, I recently found out about the Paper Museum. As far as I can tell, it's designed for children, but they have so much cool stuff to print out and assemble, like this "Japanese Style Room," complete with rush mats (tatami), floor cushions (zabuton), and other assorted pieces.

All told, there are printable dollhouses, food, vehicles (and a town to put them in!), ornaments, gift boxes, animals, and awesome insects and dinosaur skeletons.Their website is entirely in Japanese, but you can muddle your way around easily enough with their cute, reasonably understandable picture menu. You can also try a version loosely translated into English by Google. The first page, however, is still all in Japanese.


purple yarn Taking Laura's advice, I decided to cannibalize some sweaters and other wool items for their yarn. The yarn from my thrift store afghan (a pretty wool number with jewel tones) is all gathered up and made into nice little balls. As much as I would have liked to have kept it for a blanket, it was really an inefficient design – there were huge holes knitted into the pattern, so it held in virtually no heat. Fortunately, it came apart easily, so now I have oodles of single ply, worsted weight wool yarn. Aside from the pink on the mittens, all the loose yarn pictured was reclaimed from the afghan.

I'm really excited about these little mittens I made for the bazaar from felted sweater bits. The blue ones are made from two sweaters – one I felted and the other “unknit."

I'm working on some more mittens in a couple different colors, including brown and bright green, although the trimmings are not yet decided. I've experimented with some different pallets: brown with tan or purple and green with cerulean. I have a couple nice red wooly sweaters, but I don't know if I have a good color to trim them with. I'm thinking white, for a peppermint sort of effect.

The wallets are a bit tougher to finish up... The grasshopper design turned out well (a combination of applique and machine embroidery), but they were really labor intensive.

Each of the wallets has a different combination of outer and liner fabrics. I'm finding it more enjoyable to pick and choose the combinations than finish the things. Ah, well.