And Now, The Real Reason You Come Here
Crafting! Not only that, but an easy to make recipe, and a simple wire crochet craft project!
I mentioned the other day that I was going to a Halloween party on Wednesday night. Truthfully, it was a Samhain gathering, something of a celebration of a New Year and new beginnings. This particular group does a prayer circle, and exchanges gifts.
And at last, one of the secret projects of recent weeks can be revealed. My gifts to the other ladies were these pendants made of Swarovski crystals and seed beads:
The pattern was from one of the bead magazines – I can’t remember if it’s Beadwork or Bead & Button. As published, it was meant to make a holiday ornament in the shape of an icosahedron using long bugle beads and seed beads. But if you substitute 4mm bicone Swarovski crystals for the bugle beads, and put a clear round 8mm bead inside before you close it up, you get these cute little balls. I’ve seen them called Temari Ball Pendants before, because they bear a resemblance to the elaborately decorated Japanese thread balls.
We also brought refreshments to share. I alluded to mine the other day, and here is the photo I promised:
Gingersnap, Caramel, and Chocolate Cookies
These were quite well received by the circle. There were many loud exclamations of, “Oh, Jen, these cookies are terrible!” and “My god, these are simply awful cookies!” By the end of the evening, they’d been officially dubbed Jen’s Terrible, Awful Cookies.
The concept is simple. You buy some Swedish style gingersnap cookies at the supermarket. There are two brands I usually see – Anna’s, and Carriage Trade. Buy at least one extra box in case of broken cookies. You’ll need two of the gingersnaps for each finished cookie.
Next, from a craft store that has a Wilton Cake Decorating supplies aisle, you want caramel. This is sold in a plastic tub. You gently heat it in the microwave to make a pourable, dippable, spoonable caramel.
Note: “gently” is the operative word there. Follow the instructions on the tub, but be cautious if you decide you need to re-heat to soften the caramel back up again. If overheated, it will bubble over and spread all over your microwave.
Lay out half of the unbroken cookies on some waxed paper or plastic wrap. You want the bottom side of the cookies facing up. Put a dollop of about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of the caramel right in the center of each cookie, then put another cookie on top of the caramel, bottom side down.
You now have a caramel and gingersnap sandwich cookie. These are quite tasty as they are, and you could certainly stop there. But if you want the truly Terrible, Awful experience, you need to go the extra mile.
When you buy the caramel at the craft store, also pick up a bag of milk chocolate melting wafers. You know the stuff – those bags of chocolate discs that you can melt in the microwave to form your own chocolate candies. Following the package instructions, melt enough of the chocolate in a bowl that you’ll be able to dip the gingersnap/caramel sandwich cookies into it.
Cover a cookie sheet or two with waxed paper. No need to be fussy about this, it’s only a surface to set the chocolate-dipped cookies on while they set up.
I like to leave about 1/4 to 1/3 of the cookie uncoated. This gives a clean gingersnap handle to pick it up by, in case you’re fussy about chocolate coated fingers.
Allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl, and maybe even scrape the edge of the cookie a little. You’re going to set the chocolate-dipped cookie down on the waxed paper covered cookie sheets, and if there’s too much chocolate, it will spread out on the paper and maybe stick to the next cookie over.
If you want to decorate these even further for a special occasion, shake on some sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. For this event, I used a mix of black and purple jimmies with little white ghosts that I found at Target.
I put the cookie sheets in the freezer for about 15 minutes to let the chocolate set up, then I layer them in a storage container or cookie jar with pieces of waxed paper between the layers.
It Was a Costume Party, Too
I sort of copped out. Having been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), my wedding was in medieval garb, and though I’ve gained weight, I still fit in my wedding dress.
Sorry, no picture of the dress, and I don’t seem to have our wedding picture on this computer yet. I’ll have to fix that.
Edited to add: Aha! Found the wedding photo. My dress is a simple lavendar and pale green weave in an approximation of a late 12th century French style. Gryphon is wearing his fancy velvet court robes.
Rather than feel like a total cop-out, though, I made a last minute decision to create a totally new piece for the costume. Having lots of wire of many gauges in the house, plus beads of all sorts, plus multiple sizes of crochet hooks – well, I put it all together and came up with this:
Forgive the stern look – do you know how hard it is to take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror without getting either the camera or a reflection of the flash?
And here’s a closer look at the work:
I didn’t have any pattern to follow. This was one of those projects where I get a picture in my head, and then manipulate reality until I get there. I can give a general idea of how I worked, though. You’ll need to adjust these instructions as you work to fit your own head and materials.
I used a size I crochet hook. The wire is copper, 22 ga. The stitches are all ordinary crochet stitches – chain, single, and half double – worked carefully to keep the wire from kinking. U.K. readers, take note – I’m referring to the American versions of those stitches. Our “chain stitches” are the same, but where I say “single crochet”, you would say “double crochet”. And for the “half double”, you would use a “half treble”. A great guide to American/English crochet conversions can be found here.
I made a chain stitch band that went around my head at the forehead, leaving a gap of about four inches in the back. I then single crocheted into this for about three inches; half double crocheted until three inches from the other end, then single crocheted to the end of the chain. I cut the wire here, and pulled the tail through the last stitch. (All cut ends got carefully tucked and crimped into the work with a chain nose plier.)
I then strung nine 10mm round fire polish crystal beads onto the 22 gauge copper wire. I attached the end of this wire about six inches from one end of the crown base.
Single Bead Arch: *One single crochet, chain three. Then make a nice loose chain stitch that has one of your beads in it. Chain three more, and skipping one or two stitches, work a single crochet into the base row.* This makes one Single Bead Arch.
Repeat between the “*”s two more times. You now have three Single Bead Arches.
Central Bead Arch: Work another unit just like the Single Bead Accent, only where you put one bead into a loose chain stitch, use three beads in a single chain stitch instead. Skip about three stitches on the base row before working a single crochet to anchor the other end of the Central Bead Arch.
Next, work three more Single Bead Arches. Cut your wire, and pull the tail through your last anchoring stitch before tucking and crimping the end in.
You’ll probably find your crown a little floppy at this point. What I did next was take a 26 gauge wire (thinner than the 22 gauge I crocheted with). Attaching this a little before one of the Single Bead Arches, I then whip stitched across the top edges of all the arches. This stabilizes the top edge, and helps to hold the arches together, so that your crown doesn’t just fall over on your face.
To wear your crown, cut a couple of lengths of ribbon. Attach one to each end of the base row of the crown – I like to double them over and use a lark’s head knot. Position the crown the way you’d like to wear it, and tie the ribbon securely. There should be no need to untie and re-tie the ribbon again – you can now just slip the crown off and on.
Overall, this crown took me about an hour and a half to make – at most. And that’s when I didn’t know what I was doing yet, just making the pattern up as I went. Even a beginner should be able to make one of these in time for that last minute party!
Yeah, I know – I posted an awful lot today, didn’t I? I hope you enjoyed it, though, and I hope you have a great weekend. And those of you lucky enough to be at Rheinbeck – please try to visualize me being there next year. Maybe we can make it happen!