Category Archives: wedding

little house shawl

The Little House Shawl, pattern by Joanna Johnson.

This project has been done for a while and the pictures are from sometime in April/May.  The first several are ones that I took to show my mom the things that Rosebud would be wearing for our Vow Renewal, the last one is from May Day.  I made this shawl as a warm layer for her to wear for the renewal and forgot to give it to anyone to hold.  Which is why during the ceremony when I was standing up front, I had a moment of motherly panic, as I heard her complaining about being cold.  I remember fleetingly thinking that maybe I should go run and get it?  I didn’t, if for no other reason than that I couldn’t move very well in the small space and huge dress and before I could even wrap my mind around the logistics, our neighbor had Màiri contentedly wrapped in her own jacket.  This is why there are no professional pictures of her wearing it on that day.

  The yarn is the same one I used for my own sweater.

After these pictures were taken, I added two sets of ribbon ties so that she could run and jump without fear of it falling off.  Which is why it’s taken me so long to post about.  I really didn’t have any true “finished project” pictures.  And I still don’t because I keep forgetting to take pictures when she wears it!  So I’ve finally given up.  Close enough, good enough, moving on!


a sweater and a dance

I’ve been working on this wrap sweater pattern, off and on, for a couple of years now.  This is actually the second one I’ve made, though it’s the first that I’ve shared.  The yarn is the very lovely Queensland Collection Joey’s Baby Silk in ‘Baby White’.  It’s a perfectly balanced blend of wool, bamboo and silk.  The tie is a nude colored velvet ribbon.  I actually really love this sweater, it’s so soft and delicate and rather romantic I think.

  Two years ago for Christmas my sister offered to watch the kids so Steve and I could go out and have a real date.  “Real date” consisted of dinner and a movie and uhm…two stops at my favorite yarn store (it’s not mean and torturous because I was wearing cute clothes at the time, see?).  I spotted this yarn on the first trip, but we were nearly late to our movie, so we came back to buy it on the second, with this very project in mind.  And then it sat on a shelf where I sometimes visited it and fingered it lovingly until, oh, like 6 weeks before our ceremony.  Because you know, I like to take it easy on myself and give myself lots of stress free time to work on projects.

Eh, all’s well that ends well.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


a handknit veil

The yarn is the now discontinued Kaido Lame by Elann.  At first I resented the twist of gold thread spun into the yarn, but my obsession with finding large amounts of mohair yarn for a reasonable price outweighed by mild displeasure.  I worked on this over the course of 2 years, as evidenced by the Wee Girl’s sweet young face!  One of those random, brilliant places where parenting and crafting sometimes intersect for me: letting the tomato sauce covered toddler play with the light colored, one of a kind, heirloom knitting I’ve painstakingly been working on.  Over the course of two years and a great many stitches, the gold grew on me and started showing up elsewhere as an accent color, until there was a touch of it in just about every decorative aspect of our day.

The pattern was a combination of a number of things.  I changed the direction I was going in 3 or 4 times in the course of working on it…first it was going to be an oval in the style of a knitted mantilla veil, at one point I was considering sewing lace to the edging, at another adding on a bridal illusion blusher.  As it came along and I changed my mind time and again, I really wasn’t certain how it was going to turn out and I just kept on knitting until around a week before.  Our photographer said that it reminded her of the intricate veils traditionally worn by Pakistani brides.  And I agree that it does have something of that flavor.

It started with a heavily modified EZ 100th Anniversary Gull Wings Half Circle.  I picked up stitches all along the top edge and worked an overall lace pattern called ‘Starlight Lace’ (found in A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker) for several feet.  Then I found a scalloped trim- though I can’t at the moment remember were- and knitted that to sew all along the top edge.

I was away over the weekend and missed posting my 52 portraits for the week.  I think I’ll just double up next weekend.

Top two photos by: Me

Third photo by: Iain

All the rest by: Dawn Joseph


lace bolero

I had such a hard time finding photos of my gown that didn’t really show the other accessories that I haven’t revealed yet!  Yes, it’s true, we’re not even close to the end of the projects yet.  Well, maybe close-ish?  This was a quick little one to add a bit more modesty and elegance to my gown for the ceremony.  I used the same Alençon lace that I used on the over skirt of my gown.  I do so love lace.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


my gown

Oh my, this was an undertaking.  There is a reason why it isn’t odd for these things to cost thousands of dollars and it has very little to do with the cost of the materials.  I had just under 2 months to design and make my gown.  I could have used at least 10 extra sets of hands.  The experience…gosh, what to say?  It was frustrating at times.  Close your eyes for a moment and imagine trying to cut HUGE swaths of ivory fabric, on the floor, during mud season, with four kids constantly running in and out.  I think that’s the highest my blood pressure has ever been in my life.  I learned very quickly that my monitor is not to be trusted when is comes to fabric shades.  The caramel colored silk taffeta that I ordered for the bodice turned out to actually be salmon.  I ended up layering several layers and types of sheer fabric over it to mute the color to the nude/palest blush pink you see here.  I didn’t like the contrast between the new color and the ivory skirt so I ordered some “Pale Apricot” tulle….when I took the bright bubble gum pink bolt out of the package, I laughed so hard that Steve knocked on the door to make sure I was ok.   Yet more layering was the solution.  I used well over 100 yards of tulle.

Sometimes it was amazing.  Elijah took an odd interest in the process, at times taking on the role of my assistant.  I’d come down from putting the littles to bed and he’d be laying out fabric swatches for consideration on the futon with a baseball game on in the background.  For his eleventh birthday he learned to lace up a corset back dress.

The whole thing was done in secret.  Steve wanted it to be a surprise.  I tacked up a sheet over the playroom doorway and only worked on it when he wasn’t around.  The picture above, of him looking so handsome in his waistcoat, was his first time he saw my dress as I walked down the aisle towards him.

I lined the bodice with old work shirt of Steve’s and used buttons from my grandmother’s button jar for the bustle, because I’m ridiculously sentimental like that.

The last photo, on the stairs, shows the full train.  It’s bustled in the other photographs, which dramatically altered the shape of the gown, giving it kind of a trumpet flair around the bottom.

Suzannah from Adventures in Dressmaking’s blog was invaluable to me, especially the posts on how she made her beautiful gown.  Reading her story made me feel just a little bit less crazy for even attempting this.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


Màiri Rose’s Floral Crown- a tutorial

(that one above is one of my all-time favorite pictures)

I loved the idea of Màiri wearing flowers in her hair.  My preference would have been for fresh flowers, but since we were doing our own flowers, I didn’t want to add in another last minute project.  I was kind of inspired by the shapes of ’50′s style half hats (also sometimes called half bonnets and probably other terms I don’t know).  But I didn’t want to go too-too far with it and have it be overwhelming.  So I kind of blended that look with a traditional flower girl halo.  As it was, I finished it and smiled because it was exactly what I had envisioned.  Then I placed it on her head and was shocked at how visually over-whelming it was on a little 4 year old head!  But I got used to it and over-all, I think it turned out pretty sweet.

I considered using a Juliet Cap frame or something of that sort, but couldn’t find any locally and eventually decided it was cheaper and easier to make the frame myself.

My apologies for the picture quality.  They get progressively worse as the project goes on!  Something about hot-gooey glue and trying to juggle a camera.

How to Make a Floral Crown:

You will need…

2 lengths of 18 gauge cloth covered wire

fine gauge floral wire

floral tape


a hot glue gun

felt (preferably wool)

fake flowers, berries and leaves of your choice

ribbon (optional)

a comb (around 3″-clear or in a color to match the recipient’s hair)

hand sewing needle

thread to match the felt

Determine where you want the frame to sit.  Take 2 lengths of 18 gauge cloth covered wire and twist the ends together at the appropriate place.  Make the wire in the back slightly shorter so that it conforms to the head.  Try it on to make sure that everything lands where you want it to.
Weave thin gauge floral wire back and forth through the frame.  Wrap any extra around the end.  Trim the ends of the frame.

Optional:  You don’t have to have ribbon ties, but I wanted them and I think it’s nice to have the extra element to secure it.  If you want ties, pass the ribbon through the ends of the frame and double knot securely now.

Wrap the ends well, ribbon, wire and all, with floral tape.
Cut a length of felt (wool works best) approximately the length of the frame and slightly wider then the widest point.  Wrap around and glue using a hot glue gun, trimming excess as you go.  It will not wrap all the way around in the middle, that’s ok.
Cut the stems off of the flowers and berries, leaving a flat base.  Begin gluing them to your frame- I started with some leaves on the ends, that I knew I would want to layer flowers over and around.  Then start in the middle and glue in flower buds as clumps or three or four, nice and close together so that none of the frame shows through.

Optional, but recommended: cut another strip of felt to cover anything that was left exposed on the inside of the frame.

Hand sew a comb to the underside of the frame.

ta-da!  All done.  The only thing I would have done differently is to set the comb further back on the frame.  It bothered me that from certain angles it showed a bit.
As you can see, she got a little wild and crazy at the reception!  But the headband had amazing staying power and didn’t even shift.

Many of the photos above (the good ones!) are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.



Another little project, with very limited pictures.  I wasn’t even going to bother to post this on, but I’m trying to get back in the habit of posting more often and frankly, because of the lack of pictures and the fact that there is not much to say on the subject, it was a quick and easy post!

I made some simple clutches for my sisters, my mother and my dear friend (who was lovely enough to come and do my make-up and hair).  I completely overlooked taking pictures of them before giving them away.  The photos above are incidental, snapped by the photographer just after they were gifted.  If you look closely, everyone in the top picture is holding one.

They were all made from different fabrics.  I tried to somewhat coordinate them with their dresses, which was rather difficult to do from afar!  Each one had a hand-embroidered vintage handkerchief inside and a vintage button clasp.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.


cake part II: the recipes

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup chocolate chopped- the better the chocolate, the better the cake

1/2 cup ghee- I use homemade ghee, I think that coconut oil might work as a substitute, but I’ve not tried it.  If you do, please let me know how it works!

3/4 cup sugar

 1/8 tsp salt

 2 tsp vanilla extract

 3 eggs

 1/2 cup cocoa

Heat the ghee and chocolate in a double boiler then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt , vanilla and mix together. Then add the eggs beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder mix just to combine. Spoon into a prepared 8″ or 9″ cake pan and bake 25 minutes at 375*.

Remove from oven when a thin crust has formed. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn onto a serving plate. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

 Chocolate Glaze

 1 cup chocolate chopped

 1/2 cup cream from the top of a can of coconut milk

 Heat together in a double boiler until smooth and pour over the cake and spread to the edges. Cool the cake again and enjoy.  The top can be dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

For our Vow Renewal cake we made 6 batches of the cake above divided between 3 nine inch pans and 3 six inch pans.  I think we made 3 batches of the glaze and thickened it with extra chocolate so that it could be spread all over the outside of the cake.  Once cooled it made a hard chocolate shell around the whole thing.


For the marzipan flowers I used this Paleo Marzipan recipe colored with India Tree food coloring.

For the caramel filling we used this Nut Butter Caramel recipe only cooked for less time so that it remained spreadable.

Dairy Free Almond “Buttercream” Icing

2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C soy free earth balance
1/2 C palm oil shortening
4 C powdered sugar
2 T coconut milk
1 T honey

1) Cream shortening/earth balance, vanilla and almond flavoring.

2 ) Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until it’s all mixed in.

3 ) Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (a bit more or less may be needed depending on desired consistency)

4) Beat in honey

5) Can be stored air-tight, in the fridge, for up to a month. Allow to come to room temperature and whip with mixer before using.

More on our fancy cake making experience can be seen here.


the cake

Considering all of our food and budget restrictions, making our own cake was a no brainer.  Besides, I wanted something that tasted GOOD!  And in my experience most bakers botch low-allergen cakes, giving a bad name to all things gluten and dairy free.  I wasn’t about to spend a small fortune on something I wasn’t even interested in eating.

My sweet sister was so wonderful to help me with this project.  She made everything go so smoothly.

So the cake….oh my goodness…it was kind of the cake to end all cakes.  I wanted something delicate and light.  Something with kind of a fresh, artisan feel to it.  Steve wanted CHOCOLATE and had no interest in anything beyond that.  Since it was one of the few things he had a clear and decided preference in, I conceded and made my flourless chocolate cake, which is his favorite dessert.  In between layers of cake we alternated nut butter caramel and coffee icing.  The whole thing was glazed with two layers of chocolate ganache, followed by almond (mock) butter cream icing and decorated with honey marzipan leaves and flowers.  It was rich beyond rich and made quite the impression.  We all laughed when the photographer sent us the link to our on-line gallery with the password: flourlesscake.  To by honest, my sister and I were a little afraid we might kill someone with it.  Not your typical plain-Jane wedding type cake for sure!

DIY Wedding Cake Tips and Tricks:

  • Make a practice cake or three or four!  Do some taste tests, experiment with different decorating styles.
  • Let a least one of your practice cakes sit out for a while to get an idea of how it will hold up while sitting out on display.  You can obviously skip this step if you are not planning on displaying your cake.
  • Take scrupulous notes on exactly what you did and how you did it: Any modifications to any recipes, baking time, number of batches, etc.
  • An extra set of hands is always nice.
  • Be flexible.  Make adjustments if a recipe or decorating method isn’t working for you.  Better to make a simpler cake well then a more complicated one poorly.
  • Your timer is your best friend, don’t forget to use it.
  • Choose a cake that is very sturdy.  The flourless chocolate cake we used is an excellent example.  Pound cake is another good option.
  • Do your math and double check it.  Figure out exactly how much batter you need to make enough layers to feed your guests.  Then figure out exactly how it should be divided into each cake pan.
  • Always grease your pans well.
  • Make as much as possible in advance.  We baked the cakes, made the marzipan decorations, as well as the caramel filling well in advance and froze them.  I froze the flowers and leaves on was paper in a pyrex container.  The caramel was also stored in a pyrex.
  • Take great care with freezing your cake.  Make sure each layer is entirely cooled before doing anything.
  • I wanted to use ziplock bags to cut down on the risk of freezer burn, but was concerned about the cake developing a plastic-y flavor.  We put each layer on it’s own cardboard cake board for support (packs of these can be gotten very inexpensively at most major craft stores), then wrapped them in wax paper, followed by foil and then into the bag.
  • Gallon bags were big enough for the size layers we were working with, check your measurements.  Make sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible.  A nifty little trick; take a drinking straw and place an end in the bag.  Seal the bag all the way up to the straw.  Suck out all the air and quickly seal the rest of the bag as you remove the straw.
  • Use common sense with freezer placement…store them flat, try not to stack anything on top of them, etc.
  • Make sure your cakes are completely thawed before trying to assemble or ice them.  In most climates, overnight on the counter should do the trick.
  • Also consider the benefits of making other parts in advance and decide if it’s worthwhile.  Our mock butter cream icing took around 10 minutes to whip up.  It didn’t seem worth making in advance and risking it separating as it thawed (I’ve read of some people having trouble with this).
  • Make a cake schedule and assign dates for each step.  Write it all on your calendar and don’t forget to include getting the cake out to thaw!
  • Again, cake boards are indispensable.  Each tier should be on one.
  • A thick bead of icing piped around the edge can help to hold in gooey fillings and also help one layer to adhere to the next.
  • Invest in or make a pretty cake stand, it can make a world of difference in presentation.
  • Take the time to measure to make sure your cake is centered on the stand and each layer is centered on the next, unless of course you are going for an asymmetrical look.  Then measure and make sure they are evenly off center!
  • Make sure nothing is going to shift.  We used a bit of painters tape, rolled on itself, under the bottom cake board to keep it from slipping off the cake stand.  You can use drinking straws to secure one layer to the next.  Just push them all the way through to the bottom and trim off the excess at the top.  To attach one tier to the next, you can use a thin sharpened dowel.  Gently hammer it through all of the layers and cake boards down to the lowest layer.
  • For our cake we completely coated everything in two layers of chocolate glaze which, once chilled, completely glued the entire thing together Making any extra measures unnecessary.  Very convenient!
  • Before decorating your cake, slip strips of wax paper under the lowest cake board, all the way around.  When you are done decorating, simply pull them out and you will have a pristine cake stand, rather then one that’s smudged with chocolate and icing.
  • Youtube has many cake decorating tutorials.
  • Craftsy now offers a wide variety of cake decorating classes, from basic to advanced, including a few free mini-classes.
  • Above all; relax and have fun!  Pick a delicious cake.  If it doesn’t turn out beautiful, your guests will enjoy it all the same and you’ll have a fun/funny story to tell.

Up next: the recipes!

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.