24 January 2011


This weekend was Portland Chocolate Fest and I had the very lovely surprise of being able to see my friends Aaron & Karl of Intrigue Chocolates, based in Seattle. In addition being able to see these guys in person (which hasn't happened in a few years, I just realised!), I was able to pick up a sampling of the yummy truffles that had available for the show.

Here's my little box of assorted colorful truffles. Aaron uses interesting spices and liqueurs in his truffles to create flavors that are (wait for it....) intriguingly subtle and ever so delightful.

This isn't a "you never know what you're gonna get" kind of box of chocolates. I was able to choose which flavors I wanted and how many of each. Naturally, I got at least one of each of the available flavors (I think they were out of the Orange You Glad truffles) and two of the ones I really liked. You can see from this color-coded legend that several of these flavors are unexpected, to say the least. Douglas Fir Brandy, anyone? Aaron has an amazing gift for choosing and balancing flavors, thankfully. The Tannenbaum truffle (flavored with brandy infused with douglas fir buds), for example, doesn't taste at all like you're chewing on pine needles--which is what a lot of people expected when they heard the flavor description! "It's not like you're eating pine-flavored chocolate; it's like you're eating chocolate under a pine tree," Aaron explained. It's very true; the flavor had only the tiniest hint of pine 'flavoring'. In fact, it was more like I was tasting yummy chocolate and happened to catch a faint whiff of pine--almost more of a fragrance than a flavor.

I think my favorite of this group would have to be the Tasmanian Pepperberry. The flavor is as delightful as anything you'd expect from Intrigue Chocoloates, & it's something that those of us who live outside of Australia aren't likely to be able to experience very often. The spice is from Southern Australia & isn't imported to the U.S. very often. Aaron found a source in Seattle and used it to create a really lovely truffle. The name "pepperberry" definitely fits the flavor. The peppercorn-esque warmth & lovely berry flavor are deliciously unassuming in this truffle, though not as understated as the flavor of Tannenbaum. This truffle still gives the sense that you're experiencing a flavor to revel in, as opposed to popping candy in your mouth.

Unfortunately, I was too saturated with chocolate (yes, it is possible!) after sampling chocolates at the festival to think to open one of these to enjoy tonight. I promise you can look forward to pics of the actual scrumptious truffles soon, though!

11 January 2011

The Intimate Nature of Handmade Goods

Earlier tonight, I was winding some yarn in order to start swatching for some projects I have in mind. I was struck by the gorgeousness of the colors in each skein of yarn that I wound. This is to be expected, since I personally chose each skein. Some of them didn't have a specific project in mind when I bought them, others did. I had a sudden thought that I wanted to make out with my yarn & decided it would probably be a better idea to just take pictures of the yarncakes and put them on the internet. So here ya go. :o)

Here is some lovely Socks That Rock lightweight yarn in colorway "Valkyrie". It's one of the Raven colorways, and I think the lovely variety of colors in this skein (not all of which are visible in this picture--my camera isn't fantastic and...well, I'm impatient) is definitely fitting for that line and definitely lives up to its name.

Another colorway from Socks That Rock, this yarncake is "Mustang Sally" in their heavyweight yarn--something like a heavy sport weight, I think. I love reds, I love semisolids, I love the subtle variegation in this yarn. The name inspires me to knit something saucy from it. We'll see how this goes.

This Malabrigo pure merino sock yarn in colorway "Alcaucil" is undoubtedly the most subtly hued of this group. The blues & greens remind me of water and call out to be knit into something cozy & subtle.

More Socks That Rock! This is "Puck's Mischeif" in their heavyweight yarn. I love the riot of colors here and I definitely feel like this calls to be knit into something bold and playful. Would Puck want anything less?

09 January 2011

Sweaters in all sizes!

Some knitters always have at least one pair of socks going. For me, the can't-stop-knitting projects are sweaters--you may have noticed. Lately, I've been all about knitting sweaters for some of my vinyl & resin "kids". I still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 or 4 sweaters for me in various states of completion, but doll sweaters are awesome because they're super portable compared man sweaters. Also, I just like knitting for my dolls.  :o)

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Universal Yarns Classic Worsted Holiday 
in 'Silver Bells' (white with a strand of silver plied in)
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in size US7

Here is my American Girl Dolls Josefina in a pullover I knit from a ball of yarn leftover from the Belacqua Cardigan. I wanted Josefina to have something warm & cozy to wear and who doesn't love a bit of sparkle in their wardrobe? I'm not super excited about the collar here. I was thinking of re-knitting it, but this is almost a year old & I haven't yet, so we'll see what happens. The idea for the collar 'looked' different in my head... maybe I'll take what I learned from this & make some changes on an upcoming design, who knows?

Here's Chico in a little Teddy Bear hoodie I've started for him. You can tell by the unwoven ends dangling about that it's really not quite finished yet, but the Malabrigo Sock Yarn is completely snuggable, still!

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in colorway 'Cordovan'
Needles: Hiya Hiya bamboo DPN's in size US0 
Addi Turbo Circular needles in size US00

He definitely likes the earthtones, and the earthtones like him! As I was working on this little pullover for him, I reminisced back to the days when I thought I'd never never ever knit with anything finer than worsted weight yarn and absolutely never would I knit on needles smaller than a US7! 

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Universal Yarns Pace in color 'Chocolate'
Needles: Addi Turbo Circular needles in sizes US0 and US00

Now, I find myself shopping for sock yarn, fantasizing about finding the perfect colors and building my own stash of fingering weight yarn that will never be knit into a sock. There could be worse fates, no?