Monday, February 29, 2016

Ankle Warmers--Reclaim and Repurpose Sock Tubes

*** 2/29/2016
Accompanying video now available at YouTube—"Ankle Warmers--Reclaim and Repurpose Sock Tubes"

In cold weather, sometimes long pants don't keep you warm at the ankles and parts of the shins. Ankle warmers provide a second-layer accompaniment to other socks if you're not wearing boots or high-top shoes. (Slippers or shoes already keep the feet warm.)

Got worn out socks, say, athletic or thick dress socks? Do they have worn out toes or heels? Maybe the Achilles part just above the heel? Chances are good that the part NOT worn out are the tube part, often referred to as "crew" or "cuff". The part that I'm referring to for reclaiming starts at just above the start of the heel the top of the sock.

A few weeks ago, I went to an outdoor event for several hours. Although I bundled up in several layers, my ankles felt really cold. The coldness continued even during the heated car ride that lasted for over an hour. Recalling that I had run across some worn socks that I'd forgotten about and kept, I decided to create some ankle warmers with the still-usable (and cute!) crew tops, which I can wear for future cold stays.
I also remembered that I still have some other socks with thinning toes and soles. This article shows how to create ankle warmers—gathering items, cutting the tube parts, and stitching, as the pixstrip images indicate. View my YouTube video to watch the step-by-step process.

Socks Preparation
  1. Find two socks that you definitely no longer wear because they're worn out.
  2. Cut off tube parts just above the heels.
  3. Turn tubes inside out, then fold about 3/4" at cut end parts.
  1. Prepare a large-eye needle with doubled-over thread and knotting the ends together.
    For visual contrast, I'm using a contrasting color twine-ish thread.
  2. For each tube (as in diagram), sew stitches in line with the tube (crew "lines") direction (about 1/2" long and 3/16" apart).
    The reason to stitch in the same direction as the tube is that the additional thread length allows for stretching the tube around the heel and up part of the leg.
  3. Reload the needle as often as necessary till finished stitching.
    The closest basic stitch type I'm using is a whip stitch, but offset from images I've seen. Per Sidney Eileen's article about whip stitch as a basic medieval hand stitch,
  4. It is extremely handy for tacking things, hems, and for seams where you want to preserve bias stretch.
  5. Turn the tubes right side out and try them on. You'll appreciate the additional warmth during cold times!
Reuse! Recycle! Repurpose!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Those Two-Tone Confetti Cupcakes

This article is one of my rare ones about food that is more analysis than recipe. Last month, I made Cinnamon Two-Tone Cupcakes with 1/2 box of yellow cake mix, using Wilton two-tone cake inserts. I observed that the interior columns of the cakes were blobby. This time, for the other half box, instead of a cinnamon and nutmeg mix for the interior part, I used 3 tablespoons of rainbow jimmies.

This batch came out worse looking than the cinnamon ones. The interior "columns" seem to have clumped together, some pooling at the bottom. The (confetti) jimmies look smeary after baking. I'm thinking that the combination of moistness and baking temperature partly dissolves those decorations. (A magnified pic in Confetti Cupcake Bites shows the same kind of smeariness.)


I used 1/2 recipe for simple powdered sugar glaze, omitting the vanilla. I used a fork to stir 1 1/2 tablespoons of water into a container with 1 cup of powdered sugar. With the cupcakes bunched together on the cooling rack atop a baking pan, I poured the glaze onto the cupcakes.

I had set the iced cupcakes in refrigerator for an hour or so, then "sugared" them up as follows:
  1. Poured some red-color sugar on a saucer. (Happy Valentine's Day today!)
  2. Placed each cupcake upside down onto the sugar and rotated the cake to coat its top.
  3. Placed each of the cakes right side up.
Note: The image at the top of the article shows some cupcakes with glaze only and others with glaze and red sugar.

Post-batch Thoughts

 Batter Process
For the time I spent on dispensing the batters into the Wilton inserts and achieving the blobby, bland-looking baked results, I would not make the confetti version again. (If making confetti cupcakes, blend in maybe 5 to 6 tablespoons of jimmies into one batter bowl, foregoing Wilton cupcake inserts.)

The cinnamon two-tone cupcakes, although blobby, show visual contrast and taste really good. The image at page 31 of shows more details than the image in the cinnamon cupcake article.

 Cake Topping Process
For future cupcake icing projects, I would pour the icing in small, tight circles or dip the tops of the cakes into the icing container. And I'd sugar them immediately instead of waiting till later. Why not coat with frosting?
  • I don't have any canned frosting in the house and don't want to buy any.
  • I have loads of powdered sugar I want to use up but don't want to make frosting using perishables like butter and milk.
  • I want to use up some of the many colored sugars I have in the pantry.
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