July 2022 Round-Up: Socks and Cake Again

The summer is whizzing by! If you can believe it, our kids start school again two weeks from today. July was hot, and the kids enjoyed a lot of outside play. I got out when I could, but my schedule was driven by lots of baking! Scroll to the last section for cake, but in between all that baking and decorating, I did a lot of collapsing on the couch to knit at the end of the day.

Knitting

The last three posts cover these socks, so I won’t say much. It feels very good to have completed this batch of handspun socks from the yarn I spun in the first half of the year. These are the combo spin socks:

These are the first Hill Radnor/Analogous color study socks, solid carded batts spun into cabled yarn and knit into Seussian stripes:

And, finally, these gradient socks, which were an interesting color experiment.

With these socks off the needles, I’m back to secret knitting. That will be my go-to until the next couple of sock spins are done.

Spinning

Thank God for Alide, otherwise I wouldn’t be spinning at all! However, just spinning at her place on Tuesday nights, I’ve gotten 2/3 of the way through the next sock spin.

I’m not spending a ton of time at my wheel right now, but there are exciting things afoot in the spinning sector. I can’t say more now, but stay tuned for the fall.

Sewing

In one of those quiet, in between stretches between cake orders, I managed here and there to sew Dooner’s quilt blocks together. I’m now attaching the borders. I’m literally six seams away from this quilt top being completely done. When I hit publish on this post, I’m beelining to my sewing corner to finish it!

Cake

It was another huge month for cake. It felt like there was more ebb and flow to the cake making; I got several days off in a row a few times, and other days were more intense. I addressed how intense it was getting, and how stress can affect me mentally and physically even when I’m having fun. I had lots of happy customers, and I had to issue my first refunds following my mistakes. I paid myself for the first time. Initial interest is waning, I think, and I’m looking forward to continue this side business at a more sustainable pace as the school year starts next month.

Without further ado, here are the cakes I made in July! They’re in chronological order, so prepare for randomness.

First off, two cakes that were made out of extra layers that I had saved. I wanted to try making a cake that was checkerboard inside, but that I could take a picture of the inside (can’t do that when I sell a cake of course!). I also wanted to try using salted butter to make buttercream. I tested both of those things with this fun cake I brought to church, topped with chocolate ganache to match the inside.

This one I sold as a just-for-fun cake, not made to order, just sold on facebook. Someone bought it as a surprise for their parents.

This was a special one, a made-to-order chocolate cake for a first birthday for a little boy. They sent a picture of what was probably an airbrushed fondant-covered cake with printed sillouettes. I did my own version with yellow buttercream, used color dragging to make the sunset, and cut the sillouettes out of black fondant. There are characters and trees all around, you’d need to see a video to get the effect! They had their own blue topper to add, so I cheated the handpainted Simba decoration to the front a bit.

This was the first of a few “character cakes” that were requested. I thought Minnie came out OK; her eyes are too small though.

I had a request for a redux of my “Taste the Rainbow” design. I swapped the color order, did lighter stripes, and made it rainbow on the inside as well (because fun!).

This is a big favorite. I had a request for a unicorn cake, and the picture I was sent had a gold horn and ears. I had luster dust ordered for another cake (below), so this was a great first chance to play with it. I learned that, when it comes to fondant, luster dust covers a multitude of mistakes!

The best part about these unicorn cakes is the mane. I put the colors in an assortment of tips for practical reasons, but I love the effect created by all the different sizes and shapes of rosettes and stars.

I had a request for an LOL cake, which was a unique challenge. I found a coloring page of one of the most popular original dolls, sized it to the cake, printed it, and cut it out, then used it like a stencil to draw an outline for the character. There was some strategery involving which colors to put down in which order. I’m not so great at getting the flat parts really flat. But the hair turned out awesome, and I think the overall effect is pretty good for just working in buttercream. If I had to do it again, I’d use fondant for the eyes at least.

I had a request to redux the “Geometric Rainbow” cake I did for Dooner’s birthday. The cake came out taller for some reason? And I was running out of yellow and green, so I did some creative scrambling with the color order. I think it still looks cool.

A neighbor was selling some XL cupcake tins (are they still tins if they’re made of silicone?). I made a big batch as a thank you gift, but then we couldn’t find the recipient, so Jared shared some with the fire department and we had the rest, haha.

A lovely elder wanted a cake for her granddaughter’s birthday, without a lot of specifics on design, so I went with a different floral look. I got the idea to do these cascade-like designs from watching cake compilation videos on YouTube, and this specific look was inspired by the Sugar Geek redoing her first wedding cake. I love how they look so dramatic and sophisticated without doing something over an entire cake. The randomness also makes them very forgiving.

I went with a similar look for this cake, which was requested in trade for something Jared wanted on facebook. A just-for-fun look, in a size you could share with your family.

The request for this one was a “moon and stars” cake. For the first time, I tried color dragging on the top of the cake instead of just the sides, and I was surprised how well it worked! The moon I made out of buttercream, then froze before transferring it to the cake.

This was a birthday cake, the request was for a “simple red velvet cake.” I hope this was simple enough!

Fun fact, it is really hard to get Swiss Merengue Buttercream really red. But cream cheese buttercream does not have this problem, nor does fondant. Go figure!

This order was for a spiderman cake. I found this design by searching google for spiderman cake ideas, and approximated it my own way with piping and fondant.

This next one is a larger version of the Minecraft creeper cake I did in June.

Just for fun, I did the inside in checkerboard too. Because Minecraft, right?! We were invited to this party, for a cool neighbor kid, so I got to cut it myself and photograph it.

This request was for an Elmo cake. I’m so pleased with how this came out. Fondant for the face details makes it look much more professional. The grass tip I bought takes some real practice, but I did well enough for monster fur. This is all in cream cheese frosting too.

Finally, this epic cake of epic-ness was a request from the daughter of a friend who threw her own birthday party. She’s an awesome party planner, so I was very flattered when she asked me to make her cake.

I got the dark reds for the bottom two rows of flowers by making the buttercream and dyeing it in advance. Somehow when you do that, then whip it up again after it softens, you can get a really dark red. The third row of flowers from the bottom is the darkest red I could get when dyeing the buttercream on the day of. Wild, huh? I’m so curious about the science of why that is.

I know this looks impressive (and don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of it), but the interesting thing is, this was not that hard to decorate. It’s a design (not mine, the customer sent a picture for me to emulate) that is driven by what the tools can do, not by a specific look. This was a lot easier to do than, say, the Spiderman cake, or any of the character cakes. It was still plenty of work, just in terms of having to make all that cake and buttercream, dye it, and put it on, but it wasn’t hard. If you know what I mean.

That concludes the crazy month of July. We’ve been running at full tilt, and learning from it as we go.

The weather suddenly cooled yesterday, and it feels like fall is coming. It’s been gorgeous. It’s been good. What’s next is next!


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