Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Effect of Knitting Different Stitches

If you've ever purchase a Miss Babs Yowza skein, you know that this skein of yarn is GINORMOUS....
560 yards of yarn!

The above is a photo of a different colorway of a skein of YOWZA, but you get idea of size (each square of the grid is 1x1 inches).

I made a hat for myself....

....And there was a ton of it left over. I decided to use a herringbone stitch to make myself a cowl. I wanted to use as much of the yarn as I could before I got too bored or it got too big to use. I ended up using Purl Soho's Big Herringbone Cowl. (I made one previously, but it was much too thin for my liking!)

The pattern is fairly easy to follow, but does require that you pay a bit of attention to it. It is not quite extreme lace knitting, but it's not mindless knitting either. I continued knitting on this hat until I felt it was big enough to use comfortably.

It ended up being the same height as my hat.

One of the things I love about knitting is that you get different variations of color simply by using slightly different stitches.

It's close enough that it matches in color and tone, but isn't exactly the same as my hat.  And the best part about this stitch is that it's almost as thick as double knitting and gives you a nice thick fabric.

It kept me warm when walking about downtown Seattle for Emerald City ComiCon! Plus, I still have quite a bit enough of it left over to use for maybe a pair of fingerless gloves.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Attending Emerald City ComiCon for the First Time

My Viking and I have attended a fair number of comic book conventions over the span of several decades, from WonderCon in Oakland/San Francisco to the Anaheim/San Diego ComiCon to the latest additions of Silicon Valley ComiCon, ComicFest, or BigWow!

However, this year was our very first year to Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle, Washington. A few of our friends attend, and we wanted to see for ourselves as they very much enjoyed this convention.

The convention is not as big as SDCC, but much much larger than Silicon Valley ComiCon, and we had an amazing time! It also helped that the entire crew of the Animaniacs were there in attendance! I'm quite the fan...snarf!

One of the highlights of the whole show was the Twisted Toonz event, where various voice actors for a variety of cartoons read the script for Return of the Jedi. It was so hilariously funny that I cried tears of laughter and one of the voice actors fell off his chair!  I suggest checking out the ECCC versions as they did all three of the original Star Wars Trilogy!

Aside from the main events, we also attended quite a number of the smaller panels. I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity and depth of many of the panels. And there were quite a few that I couldn't attend because there were too many attendees to fit safely into the rooms. The ECCC app was a worthy download and help me keep track of everything I wanted to attend.

I went to a few cosplay-based panels, such as styling wigs, prop building, etc. There were a few writer workshops as well.

The Dealer's Room was fairly massive and including some big names like Weta and Dark Horse, as well as some smaller local shops, such as Mishu from Seattle.

The Artist alley was also huge! Just when I thought I had finished it up, there was another one around the corner (three in total). We might have purchased a few prints....
(Photos taken with permission from the artists)

I got to see some of my favorite artists and get a few things autographed. Artist alley was just as extensive as the Dealer's Room.

The cosplay was incredible.

(Tefiti from Moana) 

There was an huge parent/child cosplay contigent. This father and daughter duo in the Weapon-X series is awesome.

And even some unborn children got into the act too!

There was also quite a number of panels dealing with cosplaying with your children and exposing your children to geek culture. There's some good parenting done there!

And some of the entries into the cosplay contest were pretty stunning.(The Lion Armor took first across the board)....

A nearly life-size tauntaun was pretty cool, as was all of the armor entries.

As for myself, I wore two previous cosplay outfits as I really didn't have time to make anything new --- Shego and Go Go Tomago. I neglected to take photos of GoGo's outfit, but I did run into another Shego while we were running around the convention. It was nice to see another Shego!

Sufficed to say, we had a BLAST at Emerald City. We got to hang out with our Pacific Northwest friends and family and seriously enjoyed ourselves.

We will be returning to ECCC. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to experience a large comic book convention without going to a mega-con like San Diego ComiCon.

Monday, March 6, 2017

GallifreyOne 2017

It's been a helluva year so far (for many reasons), and I've been keeping myself super busy between work, archery tournaments, and going to Conventions. Consequently, I'm behind on nearly everything, including posting about the various things I've been up to the past month. I'm posting these reports out of order, because I won't get to them otherwise.

In addition, the graphics card on my computer died in the past 3 weeks and Amazon has yet to send the replacement part we ordered, which means I can't actually get to any photos except for those on my mobile phone. If I continue waiting to get the actual photos, these reports won't get posted.

So, back in mid February for Prez Day Weekend (Feb 17-19), my Viking and I drove to Los Angeles to attend the Doctor Who convention, GallifreyOne, that we've been attending for quite a number of years. Unlike most years, I had been travelling non-stop for several weekends, and I went into this convention extremely tired and a big haggard.

How haggard, you might ask? Well, because I didn't have much time to sew any new costumes, I opted to cosplay from my closet. I chose to do one major cosplay outfit for the weekend, and had it all packed and hanging next to the luggage ready to be taken out to the car when it got packed. Can you guess what happened next?

The costume didn't get put into the car.

I didn't realize it until we started unloading our luggage into the hotel! DOH! Ah well.

I did, however, pack a number of Dr. Who themed t-shirts in my regular luggage, so all went well. The whole convention was a nice chance to relax and see a few people, including our beloved co-host ESPA√ĎA who was there with her hubby! We managed to record a podcast, which I will post soon! (I promise).

I attended quite a few panels, including the Iron Costumer panel that is based on Iron Chef. Two groups of costumers (Team Rassilon and Team Omega) go head to head to sew and create a costume that would fit in the classic Doctor Who series in under 60 minutes!

Both myself and the Viking were on a couple of panels. I sat on a panel of 5 for Doctor Who crafting, as well as a cosplay photography panel. It was quite fun.

Of course, there was plenty of cosplay at the Convention. There was plenty of new Dr. Who characters, including this wonderful 4-year old who cosplayed one of the Weeping Angel Cherubs. And a wonderful Cleopatra

And there were plenty of old Dr. Who characters. Some of them were quite as hokey as you'd imagine!

I wish I had more photos to share, but as mentioned above, they are on my main camera body but my computer is unavailable for me to download. I shall share them as I am able.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Stitches West 2017

Once again, Stitches West happened in the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. Unfortunately, due to some timing of some archery tournaments and other things, I was only able to attend one single day!!

Since the LYS I frequented the most closed last year, I had been a very good knitter and had been knitting (mostly) from my Stash, except for some sock yarn purchases when I was running low. And, for this Stitches, I intended on stocking up!

I was even very good and went through my Ravelry queue and made a list of all the projects I wanted to do and what yarn/yardage I needed.....

....except that I left it at home and had to go by memory!! I only missed one or two things, but I managed to get everything else.Yay for carrying the Intranet in my pocket!

There were a lot of sweater quantities that I needed, in addition to more sock yarn. 

And as a special bonus, there were some especially Geeky themes this year! A lot of the vendors, such as Fresh from the Cauldron, really stepped it up with some of their colorways from Marvel, DC, Supernatural, etc.

She had some amazing Geeky colorways:
Wonder Woman


She also had a couple of amazing ones for Black Widow, Iron Man, Batman, etc. But, I had to actually choose a couple instead of buying ALL THE YARN!

White Birch Fibers had this colorway for Harry Potter fans, called "Resisting Voldemort".

Dizzy Blonde Studios had some great Doctor Who themed ones.

For fun, I stopped and got a Mystery Bag at the Buffalo Wool Company. The cost was about $20.00

I came away with a luscious 50-50 blend of Bison and silk, in MY COLORS. The skein is worth more than the $20.00 that I paid for it, so I was extremely happy.

Of course, while I was there, I was duly inspired to increase my Ravelry queue by quite a bit, including Martina Behm's Viajantes, for which I might have purchased the yarn.  It wasn't all about the yarn. I did pick up a few amazing buttons and I might have splurged on a Romi Hill shawl pin.

There were just so many talented knitters and artisans there that it was quite inspirational. Overall, it was a good Stitches. I got to hang out with some friends, spend a bit of $$, and came home with more than enough to continue knitting for quite some time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The LA Garment District: Fabric Mecca

If you're in California and are a costumer or a cosplayer that creates their own costumes, the Los Angeles Garment District is a mecca for any type of fabric that you might need. We recently ventured down to the District just before we went to GallifreyOne (the Doctor Who Convention). Both my Viking and I were in need of some specific fabrics for some upcoming cosplay outfits, and what better place to go??

The District spans several city blocks and is wholly dedicated to fashion and fabric, both wholesale and retail.

(You can find a list of all the fabric vendors here.)

Nearly every shop has a host of fabrics -- furs, vinyls, upholstery, dance & swimwear, brocades, silks, wools, and so much more.  There are literally piles of fabric pretty much everywhere -- as far as the eye can see. There are even a few 'tours' hosted by the local costumer guilds. A full day of fabric shopping will only give you a taste of what is in the District.

Many a costumer designer for movies will come here to source their fabric for their creations. One of my favorite stores sourced some of the fabric for a specific movie -- cough The Force Awakens cough -- although he is bound not to disclose that too publically.

Some of the shops are small, piled floor to ceiling with fabric, where you can get fabric for as little as $1.99 And some, like Michael Levine's, are much larger stores, where you pay a little bit more.

Levine's will also sell you fabric by the pound, if you want.

It's also just not fabric. There are sewing supplies, notions, buttons, trim, beads, and anything and everything having to do with sewing. We might have picked up a few things, besides fabrics.....

If you love to sew, costume, make, or create something out of fabric, I highly recommend going to the LA Garment District. Just bring a friend to share the oohs and aaahs. Wear good walking shoes. AND bring a list of fabrics that you need, otherwise, you might just get a touch bit overwhelmed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Squeee Moment -- The Joy of Being an Adult

I often get packages delivered to my place of work, because I don't get home until sometimes late at night. I was summoned up to the front desk by the receptionist for a package.

However, for the life, of me, I couldn't remember what had been shipped. I cracked opened the box and had an extreme SQUEEE moment. Hell, my boss came over to see why I had just erupted in fits of squee-dom...and then SHE squeed herself. (I love my boss. She's as geeky as they come....)

For this is what I got in today's mail....

When I was a kid, I DESPERATELY wanted the entire Voltron set. Heck, I would have been somewhat satisfied with just ONE of the lions, especially the black or red lion! I remember seeing them displayed at various toy stores that I walked by, but my family said they were much too expensive. (Back then, it was at least $20 for one lion, which was a lot of money).

A friend of mine posted that he had recently purchased this set online, and I KNEW that I just had to have it and fulfill an old childhood desire.

Because one of the best things about being an adult is when you can afford something you really really want.

Now, I just have to wait until I get home to play with my new toy.....(although my boss and I might have taken a small peak at the toys....)

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Art of Phone Photos

I haven't done a Friday Photo post in a while, so I thought I would go over some of my process. This was an impromptu photo shoot. When I was making tea in my new teapot, I wanted to get a photo of it, but didn't want to take too much time to set up.

I don't like taking the big camera out too much, and my iPhone camera takes a halfway decent photo, plus many of the various camera apps with their filters will do in a pinch. The best camera is the one that you have on you.

The following photo took about 3 minutes to take, process, and upload, which is about the same amount of time it took my tea to steep enough to drink. So, it might seem like a lot of steps, it really isn't.

As readers of this blog might be familiar, my dining room table usually has a protective board on it or cats. Neither of which are appropriate backdrops for my image, despite the cats being super cat regardless.

For the background, I grabbed a piece of scrap fabric nearby so as to give it a bit more ambiance. Unfortunately, the fabric was all wrinkled and I didn't want to pull out the ironing board. I hoped that maybe some post processing would minimize the wrinkling in the background.

I opened up the blinds on the left side  (you can see more light shining on the left side), which would give me a bit of natural side lighting.

Original Photo

I was going to post this on Instagram so I knew that it'd have to be cropped accordingly. I shot the photo in a regular frame, capturing the elements I wanted --- the spout, the bottom of the board, the cover of the tea, the tea leaves, and part of the teapot handle. 

I didn't want to use the "SQUARE" option because I wanted to control what was shown. I took this photo, then rotated it slightly so that the square board was level and cropped.

Important Elements

The cropping took a lot of the distracting wrinkles out. The tea leaves were a bit too dark, so I increased the exposure. I also increased the contrast , black point, and saturation by a little bit to make the red pop and the handle a bit darker.

Cropped photo

At that point, I took the photo into Prisma, and used one of their base filters. I wanted it to give the impression of a drawing, but I did lower the opacity of the filter to about 15%.

After the Prisma filter @ 15% opacity

I took that photo into Instagram and used  another one of their filters at a lower opacity. Then I increased the contrast and saturation to give a better distinction between the reds & golds. I also used a radial tilt shift and a vignette to downplay the wrinkles a bit more.

The wrinkles still bothered me QUITE a bit, but it would have meant that I needed to find another non-wrinkled piece of fabric or iron the one I had, but that would had meant more work plus at that point my tea was ready to drink.

I suppose I might take this photo again in the future and set it up properly, but for what I had, it worked well enough.