Thursday, June 22, 2017

Building a Suit for SDCC

It's nearly time for San Diego ComiCon, and I've been working diligently on my latest cosplay outfit for the Masquerade. Much like previous years, it's a SOOPER SEEKREET project, but I can give you details without giving away the surprise.

This costume is going to be a change for me, because unlike previous cosplay outfits, I will be able to wear this outfit on a regular basis, even for work. Additionally, I don't have to do a lot of extra custom work because I've already made parts of this outfit for other costumes, which means no unnecessary mockups and I just need to follow the pattern instructions and my own notes.

FIRST, the costume: The "costume" be a three-piece suit, which won't be quite matching in style, but I'll be using similar and matching fabric. Photos of the character seem to indicate this is the case.

SECOND, the patterns: As mentioned previously, I've already made much of this suit for other purposes, so I don't have to actually do much in terms of mockups, custom alterations, etc.  I will have to sew 1.5 items that I haven't created before, so there will be some work to do.

For the waistcoat, I've previously made the non-collared version of the pattern, but for this new one, I'll be adding the lapels. The only pattern I haven't yet made is a button-down shirt. I'm using this McCalls pattern for it.

LAST: the fabric! For this particular outfit, I'm going with a linen blend, because photos of said outfit appear to be linen. However, I chose a linen blend because I hate ironing linen --- it wrinkles if you look at it wrong.  Also, I'm choosing two different types of black linen because photos of said character show a slightly different texture/light reflection between the coat and pants.

For the jacket, I've chosen a black hopsack linen (55% linen / 45% rayon). Hopsack is a type of weave that looks like basket weave, and is not as "formal" as a plain weave. It's used for more "informal" blazers and jackets especially light summer blazers.

The next fabric is for the pants and waistcoat, which is a 53% linen / 47 % rayon, which I'll be using for the waistcoat and matching pants.

The last bit of fabric that I'm going to be using is for the shirt:

I've already washed it twice in hot water and it's turning into a very soft fabric and will make a lovely shirt.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Completed Katarina

Within the course of a week, I finished two projects! It feels so good to get things completed and to have two in one week feels doubly good.

This time around, I finished Katarina by CocoKnits out of Cascade Greenland, which is a discontinued yarn, but of which I have at least 3 sweater's worth in my Stash. I love Julie Weisenberger's aesthetic, and this sweater is no exception.

There's a seamless version of this sweater, but I chose to knit the seamed version. I don't mind seaming and I knit this in pieces as a substitute for my sock knitting at work. Because I did it piecemeal, it  meant that I could finish it a bit faster as it was always accompanying me to different places. (I also prefer having a bit more structure to my knitted garments that seaming affords).

While the body of the sweater took very little time, the garter stitch shawl collar took forever to finish and was fairly boring to knit. I also did some short-rows along the collar because I wanted the collar to have more substance and to stand a bit taller.

Consequently, I ended up working on the Viajante instead or reserved the Katarina for mindless t.v. knitting whenever we binge watched on Netflix or Hulu. However, I'm very pleased with how the collar turned out.

Here's the final sweater on me. It fits perfectly.

And the Greenland softened up considerably after washing it. I didn't quite block the sweater, but rather threw it into the dryer. It handled the dryer very well and didn't lose any of its shape.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Completed Viajante!

It's been a long time since I finished a project that wasn't sock related. I took on two big knitting projects and have been somewhat faithful to just knitting on them (except for my ever-present sock projects).

So, I'm glad to announce that I finally, finally finished the behemoth that is the Viajante that I started back in March, and I love this "shawl". Okay, let's be honest here....the Viajante really isn't a shawl but more of a fancy poncho. And I've discovered that I really like ponchos, especially in the frigid climate that is my work office.

As a recap, I used Miss Babs Katahdin, which is 1750 yards / 397 grams of wool. I used nearly all of it. I think I might have 40-50 grams left.

I also discovered that I like to add beads to things, despite it adds a multitude of time to finish a project! Because this was my first time beading a project, I didn't know what size beads to use. Consequently, I ended up using two sizes of beads: 2/0 clear-esque beads for the stockinette portion of the beading and 6/0 for the lace. For the larger 6/0 beads, I found some that perfectly matched the yarn.

The beads & lace look great, and I even bound off with beads.

Despite beading bits of this poncho, the vast majority of this project is a lot of stockinette. This poncho is huge and served as a 'blanket' while I was working on it. The neck opening is about 13" wide and the "tip" of the poncho/shawl is very long.

When worn as a poncho, it reaches down to the floor.

It can also be worn as an actual shawl when you double over the fabric, which makes it warm and toasty

I love this thing. This project definitely fell under the "project knitting" aspect versus the "process knitting". I really wanted the Viajante for use in the office, travel, and I think it's elegant enough to wear for evenings out, etc.

I'm actually contemplating on making another, but out of sport weight yarn just to cut down on the amount of time that it'll take to complete. And the next one will be out of a more solid or kettle dyed yarn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Taking a Break with Legos

This weekend was super extra busy, but not in a fun way. My Boys somehow got fleas (either it being piggybacked on us or a friends who have visited), and it was time to wash and treat the house accordingly. I'm pretty sure we caught it early enough. (Un)Fortunately, my little Dean has a fairly sensitive flea allergy so ANY flea bit will cause him discomfort whereas the other two could care less.

(Dean unhappy at being at the vet)

However, one morning, I decided that I very much needed to take a break from all of the de-flea-ing of our house and break into a Lego pack that I had been given. It was Wonder Woman and given that the new movie is coming out very soon, how could I resist?!?

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that because this a Dimensions set, all of the instructions for assembly were online as part of the Lego game, which I don't own. There were a lot of little pieces...mostly clear...for the invisible jet.

Fortunately for me, I've been playing with Legos a very log time, so I used the photo from the box to put together WW's invisible jet!
Sufficed to say, it was nice being to take a break and have a little bit of fun during an otherwise super busy weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Four Shirts: 3 T-shirt modifications.

Recently, I got 4 crew-neck t-shirts to wear as part of the staff shooter team at Pacifica Archery. I don't like crew-necks, so I decided that some t-shirt modifications were in order, especially since they were all essentially the same exact t-shirt. I wanted a bit more variety.

I decided to keep one crew-neck shirt, as is, but wanted to modify the other three. I wanted to make 2 v-necks and one tank top. There are countless instructions on how to modify t-shirts.

For the first shirt, I wanted a simple V-neck that reused the ribbing. The V cannot be greater than 2 inches or else this technique won't work; the ribbing won't have enough "stretch". The summary of the technique is as follows:
  1. Using a seam ripper, undo the ribbing from the shoulders to the front of the t-shirt.
  2. Measure out less than 2 inches from the middle of the shirt. In the photo below, I measured out 1.5 inches and drew an approximate V from the shoulder to the new spot.
  3. Pin the ribbing back down, careful to ease it into place.
  4. Sew the ribbing into place.

Here are the two shirts -- the original crew neck and the v-neck shirt.

For the second shirt, I wanted a tank-top, so I took one favorite tank tops and laid it over the t-shirt.  I took chalk and drew out lines for the front & back neck as well as the front and back sleeves. These are not symmetrical, so there are four drawing marks.

BEFORE I cut, I also added a 1/2 seam allowance, because I wanted to sew down these edges so it wouldn't unravel.

I pinned my 1/2 inch seam allowance and sewed down the edges.

Here's the finished tank top to wear for those really hot days when doing field archery.

The last shirt is probably the simplest one to make. I wanted a softer neckline. I kept the sleeves as-is.

Using a seam ripper, I removed all of the ribbing, cut a V-neckline (like above), and then sewed it down with a 1/2" seam allowance. This gave me a softer V-neckline than the one with the ribbing.

So, there you shirt, three t-shirt modifications. Now, I'm ready for a summery of archery!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Silicon Valley ComiCon 2017

Silicon Valley ComiCon was in April this year, and we had a chance to go for all three days.

If you recall from my previous blog post on SVCC, there were some issues that SVCC had to contend with last year, and I think they did an outstanding job in fixing many of their issues from last year:
  • Crowd management --- they did a lot better in terms of crowd management. The lines for getting tickets / registration seemed to be better managed. Personally, we got our "badges" ahead of time (so much better than last year), and friends reported that getting their badges went without a hitch.
  • Signage was a lot better this year and with the added functionality of their SVCC app for your mobile, it was easier to find things!
  • Food options were now plentiful. SVCC reserved the local nearby park, closed it off, and had a plethora of food trucks available. This was good for the SVCC crowd, the Science March crowd, and any locals in the area. 
  • Panels -- there were lots and lots of panels this year, and they were easily accessible. The app made them a lot easier to find.
  • Badging in & out --- For whatever reason, SVCC is still enamored with the concept of "badging" in and out of the convention center. (Nearly all tech companies require employees to use a badge to get into their buildings, so I suppose they are emulating that.)
    • They also did a bag check before you could badge into the convention (which I don't remember from last year). At the main entrance, this caused a back-up when trying to enter (with the additional badge check).
    • Badging in/out (especially in the main entrance while trying to leave). Sometimes the scanner/tablet didn't read the badge correctly, which caused further delays. 
    • LUCKILY, there were other small entrances (if you knew where they were) so you could get in/out without the crowd, but by Sunday, you were only able to badge out of those locations.
There were some pretty cool things they did this year.

They had a big tie into the Science March -- they had keynote speakers, provided the aforementioned food trucks, and reserved areas. Not only did them have a lot of STEM/STEAM panels, they had lots of interactive science exhibits for kids to do. They had hands-on exhibits from the SJ Children's Discovery Museum & Libraries, NASA ,and the SJ Computer Museum
The SJ Computer museum was particularly fun because they had a lot of "old school" computers from old Atari 2800s to Apple IIes, projectors, and the first mobile phones 

For all ages, there was an entire area of free arcade games (e.g. Pacman, DigDug, Qbert, Joust, etc) for anyone to play. They also had old school console games -- older SNES, Ataris, and PC games.
And a lending library for a variety of board games!

Of course, there was a slew of panels to attend, ranging from specific STEM/STEAM related d panels (hosted by NASA scientists, the SETI institute) to cosplay to comic book related topics to Star Trek/Star Wars and other media panels. It was all sorts of awesome. There were definitely a few panels that I wanted to attend that were conflicted by others I wanted to see!
The Over 30 Cosplay Panel

Key note panels...boy, were there key note panels. Buzz Aldrin, the whole cast of Star Trek: the Next Generation, SETI institute, Adam Savage, and Tori /Kary from Mythbusters & White Rabbit.

TESTED filmed some of their episodes with a few of their hosts. It was neat to see them work, as well as many of the props they've built.

Overall, it was a vast improvement over last year; we were very happy with how things changed. Of course, there are small things here and there that can be improved upon, but that's true for any convention. We had a blast and are looking forward to next year!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Geeking out in the U.K

Friends of ours recommended that we visit Forbidden Planet, which is just a small chain of stores around London that carry comics, SF/F books, collectibles, games, and other media memorabilia. It's just more massive than any comic book or game store than I've been to in the U.S, and they had a massive range of products. I didn't take any photos (unfortunately), but if you're in the U.K, stop by at least one store.

As part of our trip, we caught our train to Wales at Paddington Station.

And if you're familiar with that name, you might be familiar with a certain bear, named Paddington. Obviously, we had to stop and take a photo of this "little" bear.

We also had to go to Kings Cross Station to catch our early morning train to Scotland. Despite what you might think, this station is pretty modern.

And for those Harry Potter fans, we took some photos at Platform 9 3/4ths. Luckily, because our train was so early, we didn't have to wait in line to take a picture, but unfortunately, this also meant we couldn't go into the huge Harry Potter store right next door.....

We didn't make any special trips to see these "monuments". It was just lucky that we were passing through these locations. However, it did make my little geek heart sing!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Visiting the Doctor Who Experience

Earlier this month, the Viking and I traveled to the U.K for a particular reason.....the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff was closing and we had delayed going for quite some time.

We had discussed traveling to the U.K and see some friends for quite some time, so this was a perfect opportunity. So, we flew into London stayed with some friends for a few days, then traveled to Wales via train, where the Doctor Who Experience is located in Cardiff.

We had anticipated that Wales would be wet and grey during our trip. However, Cardiff was lovely.  The weather couldn't have been any better....mid-to-high 60 deg F with beautiful skies.

Did you know that Cardiff is a big sports-oriented town? Neither did I, but there were a lot of sports themed stores, art, and banners around.

We visited the Doctor Who Experience (DWE) and spent a good 3-4 hours there.

 There are two parts of the DWE. First, a Timelord guide takes you on an hour-long trip with the 12th Doctor (Capaldi's Doctor) to recover crystals to save the Universe. Amoung many of the Doctor's enemies, you encounter Daleks and Weeping Angels....

Despite it being geared towards kids, I enjoyed it...and the huge room full of Daleks and graveyard full of Angels was a tad bit scary and creepy.

The second half of the DWE is a museum of many of the props and costumes from the show ---from the aliens, to many of the companions, to the Doctors themselves, and the different TARDIS consoles. This museum is where we spent a great deal of time.

The Face of Bo

Did I forget something??

Just a few different props

And more aliens

Not to mention a K-9. (Not the original...we saw that one at GallifreyOne, but this one is just a replica.)

And so many TARDI! They had a few from different eras.

And their consoles.

I ended up taking a lot of reference photos of various costumes from the set. (I'll see about posting the others later.)

The one nice thing about the exhibit is that you could really get up close and personal with a lot of the costumes and props. They asked you not to touch anything (totally reasonable), but many things were out in the open where you could seriously inspect types of fabric, accessory choices, etc., without having to second guess through glass.

The whole thing was amazing and we had a blast. We eventually left because we really needed to get food after 4 hours! We heard that the lease might be extended, so we'll wait and see! We'd definitely go again, if just to do more research!

 Afterwards, we visited Cardiff and, of course, the location for Torchwood.

No, we aren't geeks, why do you ask?

We also visited Ianto's shrine on the Cardiff pier.

Because that's the way we roll. :-)

We did do a lot more than just travel to a few geek meccas. We visited parts of Cardiff, spent time around London, and visited Scotland, as well a local yarn shop and some geek areas, but that's another post for another time.