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.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pussy Cat, Pussy Hat, I love You.

As part of the podcast, we encourage folks to do a bit of #craftivism by helping their local charities with things they make -- Afghans for Afghans, Knitters for Peace, 20,000 Tukes -- as well as supporting worth charities.

This time around, we're supporting Women and getting our voices heard to support Women's Rights, which include, but isn't limited to our reproductive rights, equal pay, equal treatment. So, I've been knitting a few hats using the KitKat Hat pattern.

Yarn: Miss Babs Yowza, Funny papers

Yarn: Cascade 220 - Pink and Heathered Purple

Sammy is not amused. "This doesn't look like a cat!
Yarn: Katmandu Chunky

I've got one more left to be knit using the colorway, NASTY WOMAN, by White Birch Fiber arts. I'm pretty sure I'll have it completed before this Saturday.

And just because I'm a geek....

Designed by Hayley Gilmore
Can be found at: http://ladieswhodesign.com/protest-posters/

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Target Archery Beanie

I haven't posted much about my archery but rest assured that I'm still flinging arrows at various targets.

Over the summer and fall, I was outside target and field archery. It was a blast. This is a typical target face, and each ring represents a score.

White = 1, 2 points. Black = 3, 4 pts. Blue =5&6 pts. Yellow = 7,8 pts. Yellow = 9, 10 points. 
The inner most yellow is also an X or a Bullseye.
(Bigger 120 cm targets are used when you're at least 60 yards away)

Now that winter is here, I've moved to indoor archery, and surprisingly, it's pretty darn cold in those indoor ranges because they are usually large drafty warehouses with very little insulation. So I decided to make myself some archery related gear, including this archery beanie.

When I'm outdoors, I typically wear a hat with a brim to act as shade from the sun. Indoors, I don't have to worry about the sun, but just keeping my head warm.

It looks like a target face, except for the arrows.....

I made some minor modifications to the pattern. The pattern used a lot of white (the 1&2 rings), but I am not particularly fond of white clothing, so I just opted to use a lot more black (the 3&4 rings)

This project was a great stash-buster because I had all of the colors in my stash from previous projects. All of the yarns that I used are Cascade 220!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hawaiian Waters Cardigan -- First FO of 2017!

Before we left for vacation, I started working on a new cardigan, Watercourse by Carina Spencer. 
I had the opportunity to try on this cardigan while at Stitches two years ago, and I fell in love with the sample. I knew I had to knit it.

However, it was fraught with mistakes of my own making and I ended up tinking back multiple times and frogging back at least once. But, it did become my very first finished object for 2017!!

For this sweater, I used Malabrigo yarn for the very first time. I had this yarn in my stash from an impulse buy ....to my credit, the yarn was on sale. And luckily, I had just enough for this project. I have to say, this yarn is just simply amazing to use for knitting. It has a superb hand and feel. I can see why so many knitters love this yarn.

I had a hard time getting gauge (pre-block), so I used several different sized needles. It bloomed a lot after washing, and I definitely got gauge with a US 6.

My Knit Companion app makes keeping track easy. It was only coincidence that the yarn I selected was the same color as the pattern.
I knit on this cardigan throughout our Hawaiian vacation. The blue was nearly the same color as many of the beaches we visited.

The pattern itself is well written. There are a few mistakes in the ribbing pattern, especially as it transitions from one part of the pattern to another, but if you're very careful, you can tell where it goes off and catch it quickly -- unless you're like me and aren't paying attention, and therefore have to tink back a couple of rows to fix the issue.

Or in one case, I had to rip back about 10 inches, because I put the waist decreases in the completely wrong place. I almost threw the entire project in the time-out bin. However, the only saving grace was that
  1. I wanted this sweater.
  2. Malabrigo yarn is amazing and is such a joy to knit.
After much teeth gnashing, I eventually I got to the point where I was finished with the body. I was very happy

The instructions for knitting the sleeve cap is rather clever and one that reminds me of a set-in sleeve for sewing. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough yarn to do both the sleeves and a deep enough hood, so I started with the sleeves first.

In the end, it turned out that I had more than enough yarn so I have enough for any repairs, if needed. I knew that the finished sweater would grow slightly once I washed and blocked it, and it did!

It grew slightly in length and width, but I prefer it that way.

And the hood grew slightly too, which I wanted. Many Ravelers had lamented that the hood was a bit too shallow per the original instructions so I had made it longer and deeper while knitting.

I'm so very glad that I finished this cardigan!  It's going to prove rather stylish and versatile in the office, especially with our wonky A/C and heat issues.

I love the color. It'll always remind me of our vacation.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sweater Inspirations

This is an older project that I finished back in July but have only finished writing up recently over the holidays.

About a year ago, I saw a sweater in a shop that I absolutely loved, but all of the sizing was a it too large (and much too expensive) for me. However, I thought, I'm a knitter! I can make something like this or at least an interpretation, thereof.

The elements that I really liked are the colorwork sleeves and the shawl/cowl neck. With these elements in mind, I looked for appropriate yarn & colors at Stitches 2016 (even before I knew what pattern to use). I bought enough yardage to complete whatever pattern (sans cables) that I could find.

Luckily, I made a huge swatch of this yarn -- i.e. a hat -- and discovered a problem with the yarn, which was not-quite-set red. It was heartbreaking, but at least I found out about the problem before I knit the entire sweater.

After solving the yarn issue, I looked around Ravelry for a base pattern that I could use. Eventually, I decided on the pattern On the Beach by Isabelle Kraemer.

I like v-neck sweaters that are somewhat fitted -- not quite the cowl neck and boxy look of the original, but mine would be an interpretation. I also decided to make a matching cowl, because I wanted to the option to remove it when I got warm. After all, I live in California and the weather never gets as cold as it does back East.

After some planning and sketches, I eventually came out with this sweater.  I initially had problems with shoulder increase of the sweater, but that was mostly due to my lack of understanding. I had to re-do the shoulders three times before I got the hang of the construction.

I also made a matching cowl using the Big Herringbone Cowl by Purl Soho. The pattern was exremely simple, and I double stitched the line color work going up the side (also to hide a funky beginning of the round changes).

Overall, it's a loveliy sweater, and I've gotten a few good uses out of it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Viking Wants Knitted Hats

Normally, my Viking isn't too big on knit items, because he runs very warm, so making warm things for him doesn't quite work. On occasion, he has asked for hats, but they've been usually novelty hats, like his Viking Helm or Blinky the Fish (from the Simpsons).

However, the weather around here has been dipping into the low 30 (deg F) and he generally walks to the train station, so he's asked for a few 'regular' hats that he can wear to work. I was only too happy to oblige! I love knitting hats as they are a quick easy knit and I can swap between socks and hats for work knitting.

We went through my stash and he picked out a few colorways that seemed appropriate for work and we went through Ravelry to look at various hat patterns. He picked the ones he liked, and I started working on hats for him. He has a 23" head, so I have to up-size every hat so that it fits him properly.

The first hat was made out of Madeline Tosh DK. It's a scrumptious yarn and the varigated blue matches his eyes. I used the Koolhaas pattern by Jared Flood.

The second hat is using leftovers of Cascade Greenland yarn (discontinued) that I had left over from other projects. He wanted the green to dominate. I used the Turn a Square hat pattern, also by Jared Flood.

Luckily, hats are a fairly quick knit, plus, I'm tickled that he wants them. He's worn both on multiple occasions now, because the weather has turned rather cold in the mornings. I've got more in the queue for him, but I'm running out of his preferred colors; apparently, his favorite colors differ from mine! So I'll have to pick up more yarn just for him when Stitches comes around.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Star Wars and Lego

Have you seen the new ROGUE ONE - A Star Wars movie yet? If you haven't, GET THEE TO A MOVIE THEATRE, asap!!

I won't spoil it here, but we might on the podcast so get ready for it. But, I will say this....It's really GOOD. I laughed. I cried. I loved it. And I plan on seeing it several more times in the theatre.

In celebration of the new film, my Viking and I spent a couple hours of our holiday building Legos that we acquired on sale at Target. Needless to say, we had a blast doing it.

This particular build had several different bags, and the instructions have you go through each bag -- showing what it would look like after each stage.

First thing is first, we separated all of the Lego pieces according to size, color, and shape.

Because, it's so much easier to find everything when it's all laid out well. There were a lot of different Lego pieces that I hadn't seen before. It's no longer standard sized blocks.

I wonder if you can guess what we're building. He & I took turns on each page. He'd do two pages, then I did two pages -- it was a collaboration effort, just like most relationships. It took us about two hours to build it from start to finish.

Eventually, we got through all 5 bags of different pieces.

It was a lot of pieces.

But the final effort was so worth it.

A black X-wing you might say....well, it is Po Dameron's x-wing after all, complete with a BB-8 and rebel mechanic.

And it fires off proton torpedoes! How cool is that?

Because you never know when you're going to run into a giant cat....

We also picked up our own separate Lego projects to build. I thought this General Grievous looked way too cool not to build, so I picked this as my personal project.

He's comprised of a lot of different ball joint pieces.

The build, itself, wasn't overtly difficult, but it was a lot of fun. The resulting figure is extremely posable and pretty much looks like he stepped out of the Clone Wars animation.

I think we shall be building more legos in the future. It's just too much fun.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Playing Catch-up

It's been a bit since I've blogged, partly vacation & the holidays. But also because the Blogger App that I've been using on my iPhone stopped working for a little bit and it was hard to write my drafts & upload photos. But, I wanted to say that I'm still alive and well...and even crafting at this point. So let me endeavor to catch you up on a few things.

For trip knitting, I ended up bring four projects -- my cable vest, my Dragon colorwork scarf, a pair of socks, and simple stockinette cardigan.

The plane trip afforded some quality knitting time and I got a whole TWO INCHES done on my Dragons scarf. I had a severe knitting attack and had to tink carefully back to fix my mistake -- hence why I only got two inches done.

The Knitting Companion app makes chart reading So Easy.

I also had a 'to-go' project, which I worked on while we drove around the Big Island of Hawaii or whenever we were at a restaurant. I managed to get a full sock finished before we left....barely.
(I managed to finish the second sock after our vacation.)

But, just before the vacation, I started a new project, and also ended up working on while in Hawaii. It's Watercourse by Carina Spencer. So, my attention was a bit divided between three projects. I completely ignored the cable project that I had brought. It languished in my luggage the entire time.

Why so little knitting? Because we ended up doing a lot of things, especially involving being IN water. And we know that knitting and sea water don't play well at the same time.

I don't mind not knitting as much as I had hoped while on vacation. It was gorgeous and fun. I need to factor those into my next trip knitting.

Vacation Crafting Plans

Vacations are awesome things. They allow you to get some much needed rest and relaxation; free from distractions of work and other life obligations. I love vacations, and we haven't had one in a while, so I'm very much looking forward to this one.

One of the things I love to do on vacation is a bit of crafting -- not a lot, but enough to relax. And what's more relaxing than knitting or crochet? These types of crafts are pretty darn portable, and while you do have to take precautions with your knitting while flying, it's pretty worthwhile to bring "something".

Of course, the hardest part of planning out a vacation is trying to determine the crafting projects that will accompany you on your voyage:

A) How many crafting projects you can bring with you safely. It's a Goldilocks type situation. You don't want to pack too much (that you won't ever get through) and you don't to run out of projects during your vacation. You want just "enough" to last you through your holiday. This part is hard. It's all too easy for a crafter to overpack projects.

B) What type of crafting projects should you bring?
  • We're going to be flying to our vacation location, so I will need airplane knitting. I'll have a couple of hours free to work on lace, cables, colorwork, or anything complicated!
  • Cables? Lace? Colorwork?

    I have some languishing WIPs so this might be a good time to get those finished. 
  • We're also going to be driving around, and I don't want to miss out on some beautiful scenery, so I'm going to want something easy that I can put down at a given moment. Usually that means vanilla stockinette socks, but I could go garter stitch shawls, too!

Of course, I did just get some self-striping Halloween yarn, so that might influence my decision. :-)

And of course, there's all the accoutrements that I also need to factor into planning, such as extra needles, stitch markers, crochet hooks, and the whole lot. And as I tend to break sock needles, I want to ensure that I have a back up pair in my luggage.

I also did some research on any local yarn stores (http://www.knitmap.com) in the area, and managed to find one in the entire area, which I will be visiting once we arrive there.

I can't wait to for vacation and get some dedicated crafting time!