It was a small wedding and everything except dinner was done by the bride and groom and their friends and family (including the bride’s gorgeous dress – which she made). Despite a thunderstorm during the ceremony (which *I* think made it even *more* romantic and intimate) the whole thing was perfect.

About a month before the wedding, Mark heard that they weren’t planning on having a cake. Mark, of course, was aghast. (He is very dessert motivated.) He *says* he didn’t volunteer to make the cake, but I’m pretty sure he basically volunteered to make the cake. So while I was away on holiday with my Mom, I started getting pictures of test cake number one.

I say ‘test cake number one’ because this was the beginning of a month-long endeavour of learning how to make a wedding cake. It was a lot of fun and I personally want to thank Youtube and Pinterest for making it all possible.

Cue the Rocky montage music …

We started by doing a little research (*ahem* Pinterest) and laying out our cake requirements. According to the bride and groom, their requests were: no citrus. That’s it. (Pretty easy to please!) So we came up with a few more requirements: no fondant, flowers would be nice, the whole thing had to be shock resistant (it would need to survive an almost 2 hour drive up highway 410 and into cottage country), it would have to be reasonably heat resistant, and – oh yeah – it should look nice and taste good.

I should probably mention at this point that we both have engineering backgrounds. We are also slightly crazy.

We were dazzled by flower cakes online (I need to single out Olga Zaytseva who was not only a huge inspiration, but her delightful youtube videos basically taught me everything about making buttercream flowers) so we decided to practice some flowers. Well, a lot of flowers.

That first cake above had Swiss meringue icing – and suffice it to say – we were not fans. The second cake had a raspberry batter and cream cheese icing with buttercream flowers. The leaves were also cream cheese icing (bad idea). Although it tasted amazing, as you can see, it failed the heat test. Spectacularly. (The ‘heat test’ involves sitting out in the direct sun at noon with temperatures around 35°C.)

The second picture above was our very first attempt at flower making! It was also Mark’s very last attempt. He left the flowers up to me from that point on.

We used the rest of that batter to make cupcakes. During that time, Mark and I got invited to a BBQ and were asked to bring ‘appetizers’. This is what they got. Lol.

Next up: our brief foray into chocolate cake. This was met with a few difficulties. First: Boo licked the cake (we marked out the licked portion with the orange arrows and just decorated over it. Don’t judge us.)

And second: another heat test failure. This time, it wasn’t the icing that was the problem…

So, for those keeping track at home – new cream cheese icing: yes, soggy chocolate cake: no, Swiss meringue icing: no, stiff buttercream icing: yes, raspberry cake batter: yes!

Well, a few more rounds of practice flowers (with mini-cakes and cupcakes) led up to our penultimate cake trial the week before the wedding – we opted for blue and white flowers for the final cake. And, yes, the penultimate cake passed the heat test with flying colours.

Last minute switch up – Mark wants two tiers – TWO TIERS!! After a perusal of youtube, Mark is convinced he can do it. It involves cardboard circles that each tier sits on and a bunch of wooden dowels.

So, the cake is finally made but one problem remains: how to transport it almost two hours away without it completely falling apart? Youtube to the rescue! Specifically, Yener’s Cake Tips to the rescue and a tutorial on how to make your own refrigerated cardboard cake box! (Seriously, thank you Serdar Yener, and your amazing cakes.)

We strapped that puppy into the car (it’s behind the blue duffel bag) and I drove the slowest and most carefully that I’ve ever driven in my life. I wanted to get a sticker that said ‘Baby on Board’ but scratch out ‘Baby’ and write ‘CAKE’. Whenever we went over the smallest bump in the road *I stopped breathing.*

But … the cake made it to the cottage with every little flower intact! Yay!

And now for the finished cake!

It was a hit! It tasted great. A wonderful and memorable time was had by all.

And thus concludes our illustrious career as cake makers.

P.S. If you ever think that it’s a good idea to eat cake every day for a month – it’s really, really not.

]]>Ah, puns.

Anyway, here is the latest shape-themed pattern. This one is a circle made from single crochet stitches in spiral rounds.

The largest circle I’ve made using this pattern is 18 rows (which is a decent sized circle), but I’ve calculated the number of single crochet increases needed in each row all the way up to 70 rows. I’m not sure what you’d do with a crochet circle that big … but that’s completely up to you.

**NOW THE MATHY BIT:**

In this simplified diagram, each circle represents a row and the spacing from one row to the next (called *x*) is the same as the height of one crochet stitch.

For this to work, I’m assuming every single crochet stitch is as tall as it is wide and that every single crochet stitch is identical.

The circumference of a circle is equal to twice its radius times π (‘pi’, which is equal to 3.14159…). So the circumference of the first circle is C = 2πr = 2π(x), which means that you’ll need 6.28 stitches. (This rounds to 6 stitches.)

Hey, we usually start circles and spheres off with 6 single crochet stitches!

For the second circle, C = 2πr = 2π(2x) = 4πx, which means that you’ll need 12.57 stitches. This rounds to 13 stitches, so in this circle, you need to increase by 7 Sc.

For the third circle, C = 2πr = 2π(3x) = 6πx, which means you’ll need 18.85 stitches. This rounds to 19 stitches – an increase of 6 Sc compared to row two.

Noticing a pattern? Every row needs 2π more stitches than the row before. Usually, when we make balls or circles in the round, the rule of thumb is to increase by six stitches each row, which makes sense since 2π (6.28319…) rounds to six. Ever notice that this sort of a circle results in edges that curl up? That’s because by rounding down to six increases in each row, you’re not adding enough stitches to make a perfect, flat circle!

**Frequently Asked Questions** (that I just made up)

*Hey, this pattern is in spiral rounds, not circles! What if I want closed circles for each row instead of spirals?*

Good observation and question.

You can totally use this pattern to make perfect little concentric circles – just crochet in rows instead of in the round. After row 1, slip stitch to the very first Sc. Chain 1 to begin the next row (this starting chain 1 stitch *becomes* the first stitch of the next row). Follow the pattern around and finish by slip stitching to that starting chain 1 stitch. Depending on how you want your circle to look, you could even turn the piece after your starting chain 1 stitch on each row so that the stitches alternate from facing back to facing front.

If you do it this way, you will have a little seam running up your circle.

*So, since this pattern will technically make a spiral, is it still mathematically correct?*

Yes it is! Ready for more math? (That was rhetorical!)

Here are the parametric equations for a spiral that models what we are making.

And here’s a graph of that spiral. The spacing between spiral rotations is constant: it’s one unit. That one unit represents one single crochet stitch. This model doesn’t represent the first row of our circle/spiral very well, but we just won’t look at that part too closely.

I would like to find the distance (called the arc length) around one full revolution of this spiral in order to determine how many stitches I will need. That means, I need to integrate. In math speak, one full revolution is 2π radians (360 degrees), and since I want to make this work for any round of my spiral, I will go from 2(n-1)π to 2nπ, where n is any round you want.

Here’s a simplification (using the parametric equations above) of the square root bit:

Here is the integration step, which I’d like to evaluate from *t* = 2(n-1)π to 2nπ.

So evaluating the above equation gives me this generalization for any round, n:

This is a bit different than when we modelled our crochet circle/spiral as a series of concentric circles (see above), but keep in mind that the inner region of this spiral isn’t a great model for what we are crocheting. What we’re really interested in is how many stitches you need to increase from one row to the next in order to maintain this nice, flat spiral shape.

So, if I take the difference in the total stitches required from one row (n-1) to the next (n), heres what we get:

We still need to increase by 2π stitches from one row to the next! Same as the circle! Woohoo!

In summary, it’s the little things that get you through the day.

]]>Just like the square pattern, you work this one in rows (every row you chain one and turn), so that all of the outer edges are nice and straight.

In case you’re wondering, if you omit the ‘turns’ and crochet in the round (i.e. crochet the square or rectangle so that the same side of the stitch always faces you), the diagonal lines in the square/rectangle will curve. (I found this out the hard way.) It only becomes really noticeable past 10-12 rows, though. The reason is: whenever you are single crocheting in rounds, with the same stitch side always facing you, each stitch is slightly offset when compared to the stitch below. (If you’re right-handed, that means it will be offset a little to the right.) It amounts to about a 9 degree offset from perpendicular. (I know this because I went down that rabbit hole a while back.)

But I digress…

And … **MATH INTERLUDE** … cue guitar solo.

Just like the square pattern, I’m assuming every single crochet stitch is as tall as it is wide and that every stitch is identical in size to every other stitch.

Every rectangle represents a row (and I’ve included the first row of the stitch diagram to give you a sense of how this diagram fits in with the finished rectangle). I’m calling the height or width of each stitch *x*. Since you can start with as many chain stitches as you like (to make your rectangle longer) I’m calling the number of starting chain stitches, N, just like in the pattern.

For the first row (the inner rectangle), the top and bottom side length is 2*x*, while one of the side lengths is *x* + N*x* + *x*. So,

P_{1} = (2*x*) + (2*x* + N*x*) + (2*x*) + (2*x* + N*x*) = 8*x* + 2N*x*

So this first row will have a total of 8 stitches plus twice your original chain length of stitches.

For the second row, the top and bottom side length is now 4*x*, while one of the side lengths is now 2*x* + N*x* + 2*x*. So,

P_{2} = (4*x*) + (4*x* + N*x*) + (4*x*) + (4*x* + N*x*) = 16*x* + 2N*x*

So the total stitch count just increased by 8 stitches.

Next up:

P_{3} = (6*x*) + (6*x* + N*x*) + (6*x*) + (6*x* + N*x*) = 24*x* + 2N*x*

The number of stitches in this row increased again by 8.

The first few rows of your rectangle will look long and skinny, but as you add more and more rows, the ratio of the side lengths will become closer to one, so your rectangle will look ‘fatter’ the larger it gets.

**Do you already know the dimensions or aspect ratio of your rectangle?**

Then you can figure out your entire pattern before hand! The whole point of the following exercise is to determine how many chain stitches to start with. Once you do that, you follow the pattern for a given number of rows, then you’ve got your rectangle exactly how you want it!

Method #1: Let’s say you already know the dimensions of your desired rectangle and you just want to figure out how to use this pattern to make it.

You’re going to need to determine the size of one of your single crochet stitches first. Start by chaining 10 and making a couple rows of single crochet stitches back and forth using the exact same yarn, hook and tension as you’ll use when making your rectangle. Using a ruler, measure a certain number of stitches across (let’s say you measure 8 full stitches across). Take that measurement and divide it by the number of stitches you measured (8, in this example). That’s the size of one of your single crochet stitches! (We will still assume your stitches are as wide as they are tall.)

Now you’ll need to find what your desired length and width are in terms of single crochet stitches (not in cm or inches). Take the desired length of your finished rectangle (in cm or inches or whatever) and divide it by the size of one single crochet stitch (you have to use the same units by the way). Call this value *L*. This represents how many single crochet stitches will make up the longest side of your finished rectangle. Do the same thing with your desired width. Call this value *W*.

To find your starting chain length: subtract the number of Sc stitches that make up the final width (*W*) from the number of Sc stitches that make up the final length (*L*). (The number of starting chain stitches is referred to as N in the pattern.) So,

N = *L* – *W*

The number of rows you will need to make is just half of your width, *W*, measured in single crochet stitches. So, the number of rows you’ll need to make is just *W*/2.

Method #2: Let’s say you know the aspect ratio of your rectangle and how many rows you want to make.

Let’s call the total number of desired rows, *n*, and the aspect ratio of your length compared to your width, *l*:*w*. (For example, if your desired length-to-width ratio is 3:1, then *l* would be 3 and *w* would be 1.)

This calculation is a one-stepper. N represents the number of starting chain stitches.

If high school math was a distant memory, here is the step by step breakdown of this equation:

- Perform the subtraction inside the brackets. (Subtract
*w*from*l*.) - Take this number and divide it by
*w*. - Take that new number and multiply it by 2, then multiply it by
*n*.

As an example, if I wanted a 10 row rectangle (*n* = 10) with an aspect ratio of 3:1 (*l* = 3 and *w* =1), this is what my calculation would look like:

So, N = 40 chain stitches.

Have fun!

]]>This is a crochet square. Now, if you crochet, you have almost certainly made a granny square before. (I think it’s one of the first things I ever crocheted while I was still learning.) This one is a little different.

This square is made in single crochet and is worked in rows (from the inside to the outside). I’ve also made sure that it has the correct number of stitches in each row to make it a mathematically ‘ideal’ square. Because reasons. (Scroll to the end of this post for more geeky details.)

You may be saying, ‘Emily, I already *know* how to make a square with single crochet: you make it bottom to top one row at a time, like a washcloth.’

Yes, that is also a way to make a crochet square/rectangle (and one that I’ve used many a-time). But, I’m not always a huge fan of the jaggedy edges. Sometimes I like the neat-and-tidy quality of crocheting in rows.

Without further ado: here’s the pattern. There are written instructions as well as a stitch diagram. You can stop at any row you like to make a smaller square, or – once you get the hang of the pattern – continue crocheting to make a ginormous square.

**NOW FOR THE MATH:**

If you are completely uninterested in geometry, feel free to skip this bit. But, if you’re interested in why I’m calling this an ‘ideal’ square, read on…

First: a few assumptions.

*I’m assuming that every single crochet stitch is as tall as it is wide.* This is an ok approximation considering that the stitches smoosh together quite a bit at the corners. In reality, single crochet stitches are about 10% wider than they are tall, but this will vary and depend on your yarn choice, your hook size and your crocheting tension.

*I’m assuming that every single stitch is the same size*. Scrunching will happen in places. Whatevs.

Second: the geometry.

Each square represents a single row. The first square has side lengths equal to twice the dimension of a single crochet stitch. (Let’s call the height or width of a single crochet stitch *x* for simplicity.) Therefore, the perimeter of the inner square is:

P_{1} = 2*x* + 2*x* + 2*x* + 2*x* = 8*x*

So the first row needs to be 8 stitches.

Each side length of the second row is now 4*x*, so the perimeter of the second square is:

P_{2} = 4*x* + 4*x* + 4*x* + 4*x* = 16*x*

So this row needs to be 16 stitches. Notice that the pattern goes up by 8 stitches each time, since you are adding two stitches to every side of the square.

For any row, N, the number of stitches required is:

P_{N} = 2N*x* + 2N*x* + 2N*x* + 2N*x* = 8N*x*

So any following row needs to have *< 8 times the row number >* stitches.

At school, we’ve started a knit and crochet club, which has been a blast! To get ready for this club, I ended up searching for videos that teach people to crochet who have never crocheted before.

So, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and make an introductory video, too! You can check it out below:

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That’s what happened when I decided to make a shawl using colourful yarn. I scoured the internet for just the right colour changing yarn, when I landed on Scheepjes Whirl. Of course, it’s nowhere to be found in my neck of the woods, but I did find an online retailer who sells it. (The website is Deramores – sign up for their emails and wait for a sale!)

Anywhoo, I started with Passion Fruit Melt and Blackcurrant Squeeze Me (I love the names!)…

… and ended up making two shawls using this wonderful (free) Edlothia pattern on Ravelry.

Here is the shawl in action:

Now with this first shawl, I ended up going off the rails on the pattern a little bit, and was really worried I would run out of yarn. The yarn gods are clearly smiling down on you when this is the exact point at which you run out of yarn:

The yarn gods weren’t so kind with my latest scarf (using Jumpin’ Jelly), since I ended up running out of yarn when I was 20 stitches short of the end.

It all worked out fine: I ripped out the final row and turned it into half-double crochet stitches instead. This pattern (also from Ravelry and also free) was Halata. (Edit: I *just* realized this is the same pattern designer – Jasmin Räsänen – as the last one. Rock on, sister!)

I’m already working on another one that I want to make into a wall hanging.

Word to the wise: once you jump on this train, be prepared to spend a *lot* of time on this. One ball of Scheepje’s Whirl contains a kilometre of yarn!

I can’t stop!

]]>I’ve watched it several times and paused it in multiple places to try and get a better look at all of the cool stuff.

One little thing in particular stood out though (poorly done screen grab by me):

*THISISADORABLEANDINEEDONENOW, *I thought to myself, completely reasonably.

A quick duck over to wookiepedia, and I found out these adorable little puffin/penguin/marmoset creatures are called porgs. (Their babies are called porglets – gah!) They are force-sensitive creatures that live on Ahch-To, the island where Luke is holed up at the end of The Force Awakens.

The porg in the screen grab above is animatronic – the hand belongs to someone working behind-the-scenes. Also, thank you for including the hand, Star Wars people, so that I know how big a porg is.

Well, I don’t know if these little guys are featured in one throw-away shot in the movie or if they have a bigger part to play – IT DOESN’T MATTER – I must be accompanied by one when I see the movie in December.

So, here is my porg, based on the screen grabs from the video.

I’m not sure what their feet look like (I’ve seen some production sketches as well, so that gave me a little more info) so I based the feet off of a puffin’s.

I’m ready for December!

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First of all, yes, I realize that a parsec is a unit of distance (3.26 light years) and not a unit of time. (But it makes for a great opening line while teaching my students about astronomical distance.) So, technically, Han is boasting about completing a hyperspace route in less *distance* than his competitors. And, yes, I know there have been attempts to explain this line in terms of ‘hyperspace’ distances, and my response to that is, ‘*MmmmHmmm*‘.

More importantly: I am a Star Wars nerd and this isn’t my first foray into Star Wars crochet (evidence here). I do love crocheting technical things, and I’ve know for a while that I just had to try to crochet the Millennium Falcon – one of the most iconic ships in Star Wars!

I’ve also turned it into a very long pattern tutorial (on sale here). It was a marathon of writing.

Even though I toiled over my Millenium Falcon for quite some time, Mark has taken full and complete credit for it. Did he help with the design? Crocheting? Assembly? Oh, no. He chose the yarn. *The yarn*.

(I will admit, Mark, the yarn is perfect.)

It’s Red Heart Aran Fleck, which makes the Millennium Falcon look like there are little rust bits on it. The Millennium Falcon has never been a slick machine, but it’s particularly decrepit in Episode VII, where it’s given the best reveal ever while languishing in a junkyard on the planet of Jakku.

For a newer-looking ship, we’ll have to wait for the Han Solo movie in a couple of years!

All the essential bits are here – the cockpit, airlock and docking rings, sensor dish, heat exhaust vents, and, of course, the quad laser cannons (top and bottom). And no, Mark, the quad lasers cannot rotate.

There’s also no retractable landing gear, so it can’t perfectly recreate those moments in Docking Bay 94… but it comes close.

]]>My Dad is experiencing some crafty patriotism – and I think it’s his fault that I’ve felt the Canada-crafty bug recently. He recently finished his part of a project called the Maple Leaf Forever Project.

Here’s the background: 150 years ago, Alexander Muir wrote a song called ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’, which was inspired by a large maple tree in Toronto. That tree stood where Alexander saw it for almost 150 years; in 2013 it was damaged by a wind storm and had to be taken down. Since the tree was so culturally significant, parts of it are being turned into some really interesting things (you can click here to read more about all of these projects).

Dad is involved with the Ontario Woodcarver’s association, so he is helping to carve a scene from Toronto’s history onto a section of the tree, which has been divided into little maple leaf reliefs. Here is a great flickr page with some more interesting pictures of this project. (Humblebrag time: since I’ve been a bit of an Ontario Woodcarver’s groupie over the past few years, I can say that I actually *know* some of the carver’s in these pictures! I am so cool.)

The big opening is on July 19 at the Ontario Science Centre, so if you’re interested and in the area you should come on out! Dad and I will be there. I may or may not be wearing my new crochet maple leaf. I will once I figure out how to turn it into something that is wearable…

Without further ado, here is the free pattern! It’s in written form and stitch pattern form. Enjoy!

The leaf ends up being about 21 cm long, including the stem. You could use it as an applique (Canada flag blanket or sweater!), or sew a bunch of them together and have a patriotic scarf. Hmmm, that does give me some ideas ….

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