Monday, November 21, 2011

What's making me merry?

So I've been in the process of trying to write a blog post for the past week and a half without much success. Occasionally it's hard to find a good subject to write about or that I am sufficiently excited about to do it justice. This actually isn't the case for me with this blog post. The real problem this time was that I was TOO distracted by the very thing I wanted to write about (ok, I was sick too, but that usually doesn't stop me). For the past week or so this diversion has been entertaining me is a way that I must say hasn't happened in a while. One could even say it has filled my early sunset post-work evenings with a kind of merriment.

To honor this little bit of glee that I am experiencing, I am introducing a new blog theme. Finished Object Friday, Work In Progress Wednesday and the very (and I mean very) occasional Ten on Tuesday will now be joined by...

Merriment Monday!

Ok, now I can get on to the fun stuff... :-) My current source of merriment is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Yeah I know, I know, it's a video game, but honestly, I don't latch on to a whole lot of them. In my entire life there have probably only been ten or less video or computer games that I really have loved and Skyrim is definitely one of them. more than a few years ago I played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and absolutely loved it as well, so I'm not shocked by how much I've gotten into Skyrim in just a short time.

At The College in Winterhold - outside my quarters
The game itself is just beautiful and the setting Nordic in feel and the music really fits in with the look as well. I've always been a real stickler for nice imagery and sound when I'm playing games and Skyrim does not disappoint. I would happily pick up the soundtrack and already have screenshots as my desktop background. The YouTube video below is the official trailer for Skyrim. You can really get an idea of what playing the game is like in terms of gameplay, visials and sound by checking it out.  

Although the look and sound of the game is important, perhaps one of the things I like most about the game, other than the gorgeous graphics and sound, is that you are allowed to do what you want when playing it. You want to follow the main plot? Go ahead, but you can also choose to do side quests and develop your character in interesting ways and go back to the plot later. The game itself levels with you, so you can do any quest open to you really at any time, which I find neat. Skyrim is also very rich in crafting for those that enjoy non-questing aspects of gaming.

Absorbing the soul of a dragon - they give me powers!
Well, I could wax poetic about Skyrim for awhile longer, but really, I kinda just want to dive back in to play :-) So, I'll leave you with some more screens from the game as eye candy. If you are interested in playing Skyrim, you can download it from Steam for your PC (like we did) or you can also get it for the PS3 or Xbox 360. Whatever your platform of choice, it is worth every penny!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Since I've been spending so much time weaving in the past two weeks I haven't had much chance to work on my knitting projects, there have been small amounts of progress nevertheless.  One project is a chemo hat for a friend's co-worker and the other thing I am working on is a cardigan with a simple lace pattern around the yoke that I started back in mid-October. 

I swear, this hat will never end!
I'm making the hat out of Nichole by the Schaefer Yarn Company in the Peter colorway and the pattern is Sock Yarn Slouch Hat by Sandra Bichlmayer.  This is the first time I've made a hat out of yarn this small; I'm knitting it on a size one needle...eek!  It is very slow, especially when I keep getting distracted by the cricket loom I'm renting until this weekend.  But.... hopefully it will come out nice and fit the person for whom it is intended.  I thought having so much ribbing would ensure that the hat could fit just about anyone when completed.  I plan to get this done in the next week so I can focus on some other projects with looming due dates.

Knitting peacefully in the park
Unfortunately, my poor cardigan is getting even less knitting time than the neglected chemo hat.  I don't think I have touched it in a week at least and that really makes me sad because I really love how it is coming out.  The pattern is Estelle by Linden Down and I received it as a very thoughtful birthday present last year.  The yarn I am using is Cascade 220 Superwash Paints in the colorway Vino which is just gorgeous (and also a very thoughtful gift).  It's not the softest yarn in the world, but it is a good workhorse and very well priced.  I really like working with it and it is quite warm.

The pattern is worked top down, so I started at the neck and during my vacation a couple weeks ago managed to churn out probably 30% of the knitting in just one week.  Currently I have divided out for the sleeves and am starting work on the body of the cardigan.  It's actually a really fun place to be in the pattern because if I slip the live stitches onto a longer needle I can try it on.  That's the beauty of a top down pattern.... you find out early on if you need to rethink things or can plunge ahead.

The neckline spread out so you can get an idea of the lace section. 
It's so simple and I just adore it.
Fortunately, when I tried her on, my Estelle seems to fit just right.  I had a friend take a picture of it one me, but let's just say it was less than flattering to me in general, so I'll have to take another and share later.  I really, really hope I can get back to my cardigan.  I always have a lot to do at this time of year, so it's hard to focus on a large knitting project for me.... but I would like to be able to wear Estelle on Christmas if possible.  I think that is a pretty reasonable goal.  Whether it happens or not is another matter entirely!  

Anyway kids, keep out of trouble I should have something new to share in a few days!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Learning to Weave

Over the past two Saturdays I have taken a rigid heddle weaving class at The Weaving Shed in Sterling, MA.  I had been thinking about weaving for quite some time and had even tried a bit if weaving this summer on my very small lap loom with help from my fellow FiberKnot, Loomatic Weaver.  The class I took consisted of two 4 hour sessions with a small group of others.  We used Schact Cricket Looms which are are great starter loom and only run about $150 each.  You could make scarves, place mats, mug rugs, and thin table runners on this type of loom.  I highly recommend taking this class.  It was a lot of fun, you make between 2-3 projects and the instructor Jen was wonderful!.  If you are interested in taking a class on weaving and are local to Sterling, MA you can check out her Rigid Heddle Weaving class listing.

The first thing she had us do was pick the color we wanted to warp our looms with.  Once I picked my usual purpley blue-green I pulled the warp (vertical strands or yarn) through the heddle.  She said that is best to use cotton as the fiber for the warp as it can handle all the rough treatment from having to beat (press) the weft (horizontal strands) with the heddle to make the weaving even. 

Then I held the end of the warp as Jen wound it onto the warp beam of the loom.  This is the only part that requires another person to help you out, otherwise, weaving seems to be a a one-person craft. 

After the warp was wound on, I cut and tied the warp onto the apron rod with surgeons knots.  By the way, surgeon knots are officially the best knot ever!  They loosen and tighten up very easily so that you can adjust the tension of your warp on the apron rod very easily.

Then I wove a header with waste yarn until the warp came together.  Finally I was ready to start my sampler project!

Wow!  Weaving is really fast!   A girl could get used to this kind of speed...

I couldn't believe just how much I accomplished in 3 short hours. Now I have a nice little woven piece that I can use as a display in my crafty space.  I'm pretty happy how it came out for a first project.

After finishing up my first project I had just enough time to warp my loom for a scarf to work on until next week.  Originally my class was supposed to be in one weekend, but because it was apparently Snowtober and we were supposed to get a fairly big snow storm starting that evening, I decided to come back today instead. Because of this, I had the benefit of being able to take my loom home and work on my scarf for a whole week rather than only having 1 night to play.  

That scarf took WAY less time than I had planned.  I finished it up in a little over one day of weaving at home.  It's came out absolutely amazing and I LOVE it sooo much!  I can't wait to wash and wear it tomorrow :D   Isn't it gorgeous?  Everyone thought it looked like the ocean.

Since I finished up my scarf during the week I basically had one class where I could pretty much start a brand new project and work the whole time.  Last week after looking at what I had made, hubbie had remarked that he liked the look of woven fabric much more than knitted, so I decided to start a scarf for him out of the leftover alpaca yarn from the hat I made for his last birthday.  

Now weaving is much faster than knitting or crocheting, but not so fast that I could make an entire scarf in 4 hours (much as I might have wanted to).  To deal with that fact, I elected to rent my loom for another week to finish up hubbie's birthday scarf and hopefully make another project for me before I have to bring my little cricket back home.  Needless to say, after two weekends of weaving classes and a lovely week of weaving at home... I am officially hooked.  I know this is a huge shock to you all.  Kindly don't hurt yourselves if you fall of your chair with this realization.  

So, more weaving pics to come shortly!  With that being said, back to more DS9 episodes and some more quality time with hubbie and his scarf.  G'night!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Homemade Halloween Costumes and Recap

So, this year I got crafty for my Halloween costume rather than just cobble something together in a very last minute fashion.  Oh, I still did things last minute... I just MADE them this time :-)

For my first foray into simple costume making I decided to make a Brain Slug.  If you don't know the reference, a Brain Slug is from Futurama. A couple episodes that contain Brain Slugs are "A Head In The Polls" and "Raging Bender."  Netflix streaming has seasons 1-6 of Futurama available to see for free, so if you have a Netflix account and want to check "A Head In The Poles" out, click on the link and you will be brought to the appropriate episode.  Hubbie and I have pretty much watched all of seasons 1-6 recently and we absolutely love the show. 

Anyway, back to the whole crafting thing!  I decided to make my slug becuase I needed a costume for the Halloween Party with my FiberKnots last Tuesday and at that point I hadn't even gotten our Halloween stuff out of storage (I was a bit behind you see).  The night before we were having dinner with my parents and the idea to make this cute little crocheted fascinator popped into my head.  I figured, what the heck, I can crochet THAT in a day!  So, I finished him up, attached him to a headband and voila!  The Brain Slug is a free pattern on Ravelry by Kerstin Batz and you can make one of these cuties for yourself by signing up for a free account and then clicking on the project link below.

For my second and actual Halloween costume I decided (given I had a whole week of creation time) to make myself a viking hat.  I made some pretty substantial changes to the pattern such as using another knitter's pattern for the horns, adding a stripe of rivets up the front and down the back of the hat in gray and adding braids a la Brunhilda :-)  Also, this pattern was designed for 3-6 month olds, so I followed another knitter's directions for making an adult sized hat which worked out, but really was far too big for my head and ended up making the horns more floppy than I would have liked.  I just love how my braids turned out!  They are probably my favoriate part of the hat.  As an added bonus it is really really warm.  I wore it at work for a bit yesterday and was absolutely roasting!  So, if i'm brave enough to wear it on a day other than Halloween I should be very nice and toasty.  The pattern for the viking hat is by Becky Veverka and is yet another free pattern on Ravelry.  The link to it is below.

As for Halloween night itself, I would consider it a success.  We had 15-20 trick-or-treaters in total, which I consider quite a few for us since we usually have about 5. I didn't get any photos of the roving minions who knocked on our door, but I did get some of the spooky decorating I did. 

I mostly decorate the place with candles because I think they are a more classy kind of spooky and set a really nice mood.  I'm always trying to find new neat Halloween candles to burn so the trick-or-treaters have something neat to look at when I open the door.  In addition to the candles I also play some fun music like "Monster Mash," "Werewolves of London," "Thriller," and "This is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  The music geek in me includes in some spooky classical as well with Toccata and Fugue in D minor for the organ. 

The candle above is actually one I bought last year that has finally gotten interesting.  I burned it last Halloween, but it wasn't long enough to burn the wax down and get the flickering of the light to come out the eyes.  Apparently it needed to good nights of use before it got cool.  The good news is that I'll probably be able to burn this same candle for 2-3 more years before it runs out.  Talk about getting my money's worth!

So I hope everyone had a good Halloween... I certainly did!  We finished out the night by watching the episode "Hush" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv series and an episode of Castle, which unfortunately was pretty spook free.  For some reason they decided to show the Halloween episode last week instead even though this week's was a repeat or anything.   Strange....  well, I'm off to try to avaoid eating all the candy we have left over.  Seems like that trick is on me!