snowy field image

snowy field image

Thursday, November 26, 2015

3D Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies (now with printable template)

Yay I'm a reindeer cookie!

I'm so excited that this actually worked!

I saw a beautiful photo a while ago of little reindeer cookies that stood up and were put together with 2 cookie cutter designs for the body and legs.  After some fiddling I was able to draw some templates and cut them on card stock to trace around on some gingerbread dough.  I ambitiously went for a third design for some antlers as well as the body and legs.

The cookie recipe is derived from this great post at

I halved the recipe and forgot to halve the spices so I ended up with some very gingery cookies.

My first attempt was a bit unimpressive but it actually worked!  The shapes fit together and stood up.

I learned a few things from these first ones:
  • My cookie recipe was good - no baking power or soda, cold dough, and short fast baking time.  The cookies did not expand and looked pretty much like they did when I cut them out.
  • Sharp corners burn!  His poor little tail!  All of my shapes needed to be rounded or thickened so they baked evenly.  
  • If your locking shapes are slightly off, you can gently cut them with a serrated knife when they are hot from the oven.  
  • If the shapes are too small, there will be weak points where they will be more likely to break.  One set of antlers didn't make it!
  • Cutting cookie shapes by hand with a knife and a template is boring and horrible.

 So... how to make your own custom cookie cutter?  I could probably order one and later I found a few very cute etsy shops that will 3D print cookie cutter designs for you.  But I wanted to make these now!  First I tried using the metal from a soda can, which proved too weak and brittle.  When you bend it at a 90 degree angle, the metal cracks.

Then I found an old cookie tin with thicker more bendable metal in the back of our pantry.  It was a beast to take apart but with some pliers and our kitchen sheers I was able to get some 3/4 inch wide strips of metal (aluminum maybe?) out of it.  With my new designs, I traced my 3 templates onto cardboard and used the pliers to bend the metal into shape.

Card stock and cardboard templates.  Looking so good!
Home made cookie cutters.  I'm freaking out, man!

It took a lot of patience and cursing to get the metal shapes right.  But finally, they came out and they actually look like the design.  I did not roll the tops of the metal down to make a hand-friendly cutter, so to actually use these, I pushed them down with a square of cardboard.  Otherwise, I would have some adorable shapes poked into my hands.  

I cut enough shapes for 5-6 cookies and "decorated" them.  Honestly they looked a lot more classy before I trashed them up but they taste great and I had so much fun digging through my decorations.  I opted not to attach all the pieces to form the deer, so they're just standing up on their own with the interlocking pieces.

Seriously my decorating is awful.  Observe these pictures at your own risk:

You can see the gingery pain in their little mini chocolate chip eyes.  Kill meeeeee!  So many possibilities for different shapes with this idea... maybe some dinosaurs next???

Here's a little template on graph paper.  Each little square is 1/4 of an inch.  If I can figure out how I might make a printable thingy but I'm not sure how to do it.

1/4 inch graph paper (each square is 1/4 inch)

Happy Thanksgiving!

EDIT: Here's a link to a googledrive document that has a printable template in two sizes.  I used the smaller size for my cookies.  This is meant to be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper and there is a scale for inches at the top.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Crochet Sugar Maple Leaves

I wanted to crochet some pretty Fall leaves but surprisingly there are few realistic leaf patterns out there.  I took a little time and made my own pattern for my favorite, the sugar maple leaf.

This pattern is worked in four rounds: 1 - a circle to start the shape, 2 - start the arms of the leaf, 3 - work around the arms to fill out the shape, and 4 - finish the shape with a stem and points.  It's not quite perfect, so it's more of a free form design with some basic guidelines.

Stitch Diagram:

And some basic instructions for the rows:  For the first stitch in each row either chain to the appropriate height or do a standing stitch.  In the second row where you are chaining and slipping into the chains, do it loosely so you can work into every stitch.  My pattern writing can be kind of confusing so follow along with the pictures and the diagram.  If you're a visual learner, I highly suggest learning how to read stitch diagrams.

The orange leaf was made with Paton's Grace and a size 2.75mm hook and the red was made with size 3 crochet thread.  You could use any yarn and hook size and color you want.  Have fun!
  1. 12 DC in a magic ring, slip to top of first DC
  2. 2 DC in the first 3 stitches of prv row.
    Arm 1: Chain 11 and slip into chains (leave the first and last chain unworked), then 2 DC in the next 3 stitches.
    Top arm: DC in the next stitch, chain 10, 9 slips back, DC in the same stitch.  2 DC in the next 3 stitches.
    Arm 2: Chain 10, slip back 9, then chain 1.   In the next 2 stitches, work 2 DC.  Slip into the top of the first DC
  3. DC in the first 5 stitches (2DC, DC, 2 DC, DC, 2DC), (here there will appear to be too many spaces, you can crochet a few stitches together to close the space) then DC up the first arm 10 DC.
    In the top of the arm, DC 5 in the same space, back down the other side, DC 4, then DC 7 together (5 from the arm and 2 from the wheel).  DC in the next 2 stitches (you can put in a few extra stitches here if the finished pattern won't lay flat).
    Then DC 4 together (2 from the wheel, 2 from the top arm).  DC up the top arm (7), 5 DC in the top, DC down the side 7 DC, DC 4 together (2 from arm, 2 from wheel).  DC in next 2, DC 7 tog (2 from wheel, 5 from arm).
    4 DC up the 2nd arm, 5 together in the top, 10 DC down the arm.
    In the wheel: DC, 2DC, DC, slip to first DC.
  4. 2 HDC tog in next 2 stitches,
    To make the stem, chain 9, slip back 8 (you can make this stem as long of short as you like)
    2 HDC tog in the next 2 stitches, DC, TC, in the next stitch, TC, picot, TC, then 3HCD, 2DC, TC, DC, picot, HDC
    Arm 1: 3sc, sc & DC together, picot, sc & DC together, in the next stitch TC, Picot, TC, DC & sc tog, in the next stitch DC, picot, HDC, then 3 HDC in the next 3 stitches.
    In between the arms: work 7 DC together.  If you put more stitches in this part in the row below, just work the middle 7 together and work extra stitches on either side.
    For the top arm: DC up the arm (5DC), then in the top 5 stitches work the following clusters: 1. DC, TC, picot 2. 2DC, 3. TC, picot, TC, 4. 2DC, 5. TC, picot, TC.
    DC back down the other side of the arm (5 DC), then work 7 DC together between the top and 2nd arm.
    For the last arm: 3 HDC up the side, then in the top 5 stitches: 1.) HDC, DC, picot, 2.) sc, DC, 3.) TC, picot, TC 4.) DC, sc, 5.) DC, picot, sc.  Then 3 sc in a row, HDC, picot, DC, TC, 2 DC.  3 HDC, in the next stitch TC, picot, TC.  TC, DC, and slip to the top of the first stitch.  (I like to finish my last stitch and then pull it through and weave it into the first stitch with a needle for a perfect edge.
Finishing the leaf: I wet blocked my examples and pulled the picots out gently to get a fine point.