Monday, October 15, 2012

Cable Knitting

Okay, I know I've been posting about knitting a lot, but it's a fairly new skill for me, and I'm super proud of the fact that I'm teaching it to myself.

I've "mastered" the basic stitch, that is a "knit" stitch, so I figured it was time to learn the other basic stitch, the "purl". This did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. To knit a stitch, you place the needle behind the existing stitch, to purl, the needle goes in front. This was apparently mind-boggling to me. I could not understand this very basic concept, and it drove me up the wall.

So I set all of my knitting aside for a few months. Fast forward to Friday. I came across a lovely pattern for something called a Cable Knit scarf. I was intrigued. It was soooo pretty, and when I looked at the pattern, it looked like something I could actually do! It was only knit and purl stitches, that's simple right?
Oh right, I have no idea how to purl. Oh well, I thought to myself, how hard can it be to learn? Haha-haha-haha... Oh, I'm so dumb sometimes. :o)

I sat down, grabbed my knitting needles and some grey scrap yarn and stating knitting. The pattern I'm working off of calls for 42 stitches, so I cast them onto my needle and got started. And surprisingly enough, the purl stitches weren't that bad. I was so busy concentrating on the pattern that I forgot that I suck at purling. 

After a few rows of very intensive knit and purl work, I had something that looked like this:




I know it doesn't look like a whole lot, but I was super proud of it. Until I got to the third row and discovered that somehow I had 43 stitches. Shit. Now what? Pull the whole thing off of my needles, start over. Okay, I can do that, it's not a big deal. 
Cast on 42 stitches again, start knitting. Mess something up, unravel the piece, cast on again.
Repeat this about 7 times.

The 7th time I restarted my piece I actually made it all the way to row 8, which is the cable row. To cable knit, you need to take a few stitches off of the needle and hold them out of the way while you knit the stitches behind them. Then you bring those stitches back up and knit them. This gives you a really cool crossing-over look. The first row of cabling was dificult and the stitches probably came our a bit too tight, but I did it!



I put the arrow in so you can see exactly where the stitches cross over. Isn't that cool? I was so happy that I was able to do the cabling, that the next set of rows went really well. To make this scarf, there is a pattern of knit and purl stitches that repeats for seven rows, and the eight is the cable row. Then, you simply repeat those eight rows until the scarf is as long as you want it to be.

So, after I successfully completed my first cable row, I started back at row 1 to repeat the pattern. I made it all the way to my second cabling row. It was harder than the first one, but I thought I'd done it well, until I realized that I had added an extra stitch... again.

Arggg!!! Unravel the whole thing, start over, again...

Fast forward a bit to attempt number 9. I've made it through two cabling rows, and once again, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this scarf. I might actually finish it one of these days! Plus, I'm at the point where this is actually staring to look like a scarf:




I'm psyched to finish this one up and start wearing it. The way things are going around here, I'm going to need it. Cold is coming.

Okay, that's enough of that, don't you think? I'll be back soon with more new and exciting posts about what I'm knitting, or reading, or watching, or other boring things like that. I kid, I kid, I know you guys love this stuff, don't you?


*UPDATE*
I think I've finally mastered this pattern, what do you think?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reading A Metric Ton of Books

Okay, maybe not a metric ton, maybe not even a regular ton. But I've been reading a lot. And I thought I'd share some of my more recent books with you guys. Aren't you lucky ducks?


Four Past Midnight  - Stephen King
★★
I've always been a big fan of Stephen King. I picked up a copy of 'Salem's Lot back when I was a wee little thing of 12, and I've never looked back. His novels are fantastic (and fantastical), but his short stories and novellas are not to be neglected. Four Past Midnight is a collection of four novellas, each centered around the theme of time, and how time affects us all. 
The first story, The Langoliers has been made into a movie, and it was easily my favorite in the collection. The story is about a small group of airplanes passengers who wake up in the middle of a flight to discover that everyone else on the red eye flight has vanished.
Next up is Secret Window, Secret Garden which was made into a main-stream movie starring Johnny Depp. Believe it or not, I haven't seen the movie yet, but the story was great. It's about a novelist who gets accused of plagiarizing a short story, and how he deals with the increasingly bizarre consequences. 
The Library Policeman is a great case for returning your books on time, and will probably scare the crap out of any of us who might have kept a book out of the library a little longer than we should have.
The last story, The Sun Dog reminds me a little bit of an old episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? It's about a Polaroid camera that seems to be taking pictures of another dimension. One that houses a very terrifying and angry looking monster-dog.
Like I said, I've always been a big Stephen King fan, and this book didn't disappoint. I loved all of the various characters and the different stories. While I love sitting in for a long story, and getting all of the juicy little details that can only be revealed in a longer novel, I also love getting to know a character in the short snapshot of biography that's allowed in a short story.


Christine - Stephen King
Another Stephen King novel? Shocking. Just shocking. But seriously, I have so many Stephen King books sitting around my house it's embarrassing. I keep telling myself that I need to read some of the books I already have sitting around before I start buying more of them. So, over the summer I made a real effort to cut down that list. Christine had been sitting around for a long time, both the book and the car, which is fitting, I suppose.
The book's about a junked-up car that slowly takes over the life of a teenage boy. It's spooky, of course, but it's more than that. While the book might be short (for a King novel, anyway) but the way that the story draws out and builds tension is masterful. The story centers around a teenage looser, you know the type, "Every school has two". But this looser finds a car, Christine, that makes him into something much more.
If you're looking for a quick thrill, this probably isn't it. But if you're looking for a story that will draw you in and scare you at every turn, look no further.


Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains one of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries - Molly Caldwell Crosby
 
I'd picked this one up at Barnes and Nobel a few months ago when I had some time to kill. Medicine has always been a hobby of mine. I'll read just about anything I can get my hands on if it's about medicine or the history of medicine (which is a favorite topic of mine). So when I saw this at the store, I knew I had to read it. I grabbed it off of the shelf an sat down in an overstuffed chair to read. I devoured the first few chapters, and I was hooked, I knew I had to read the rest of the book. Which is exactly what the first few chapters should do!
I ordered a copy of the book on amazon (it was too expensive at the store) and read it over a vacation to Boston. It's a non-fiction piece about the history of Encephalitis lethargica, better known as Sleeping Sickness. The disease reached epidemic proportions in the 1920's in the United States and elsewhere in the world (though the book primarily focuses on America). The book talks about how the disease affected not only the patients who had it, but the doctors and facilities that treated them. From soldiers in WWI to children in sanitariums across rural New York, the disease spared no one. And the most terrifying aspect of the disease (and the book) is the fact that the survivors of the disease were left forever changed, some of them doomed to spend the rest of their lives literally frozen in mental institutions. Oliver Sack's book Awakenings (and the film with Robbin Williams) focuses on the after-affects of this terrible epidemic.
Overall, I liked the book, though there were some things about the author's writing style that I didn't much care for. Her transitions were almost non-existent and she tends to jump from topic to topic with little warning. If you are interested in medicine though, especially the history of disease, then I would recommend this book, the story is compelling and the history is almost unbelievable. 


There's more that I've been reading lately, but this post is already getting ridiculously long, so I'll have to save the rest for another post. Keep checking back, and as always, your feedback is always appreciated!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Making a Quiver

 Heads up folks, this is going to be a long one. :o)

At the beginning of the summer, The Boyfriend and I started going to this fantastic little semi-local archery practice. I had shot a handful of times (most of them three years ago) and came with my dinky little fiberglass bow and my loaner arrows. But everyone there made me feel comfortable and welcome. It's a great practice, and I should write more about shooting at some point.

Anyway, The Boyfriend decided that I needed a quiver. Since his quiver is handmade, and we wanted mine to match, we went online to start pricing out leather. It turns out though, that leather is expensive unless you're buying in bulk. And since we didn't really need 100+ yards of leather, we decided to ask around at the archery practice, to see if anyone had any resources for buying smaller chunks of dried out cow skin.

The Forrester who runs the practice (and owns the range) told us that he happened to have some leather sitting around. Turns out that he's the kind of guy who has a little bit (or a lot) of everything laying around, ready to be shared or given away. It was a nice big piece of leather that probably cost about $50 or so, so The Boyfriend and I settled on a trade. We would get the leather, and in turn we would make a quiver for the Forrester. Deal.

So we took the piece of leather to The Boyfriend's house and got to work. This is what we started with:


The next step was to look at the leather we had, and try to envision a quiver. Since The Boyfriend had made a few quivers before (and taught a class on it) he knew what we had to do. He had me get out some paper and start the design work.



You can see some of our design work in this picture. We dug out the box of leather scraps to see if we would be inspired. In the end we decided to make a simple black leather quiver with a tan stripe down the middle where the lacing would go. Next we got some newspaper and started cutting out pattern pieces. It's always important to measure twice and cut once, and doubly so when you're working with an expensive (and tough) material like leather.

We laid the pattern pieces on the leather and carefully cut everything out. We measured the pieces against each other to see how the finished product to see how it was going to look.



Not too shabby, huh? The Boyfriend had the tan leather laying around, and since it looked so nice we decided to add another stripe across the top of the quiver. The next step was to sit and use a leather-punch to punch holes up and down the sides of the pieces so that they could be sewn together.
My hand did not like that particular activity...



After all of that punching it was time to start the very tedious job of lacing all the different pieces together. First the sides:


Then the bottom piece:


  Then the decorative stripe across the top and the strap that would allow someone to wear the quiver over their back:



Don't I look cute? And finally, it wouldn't be one of The Boyfriend's projects without a power-tool involved, so he got out the drill to add some final holes to the top of the quiver.



And that's how you make a quiver! Or, at least, that's how we make a quiver. Here's the finished product from the back, and being modeled by my FFIL (Future Father In Law):






The quiver was a ton of fun to make, and I really think that The Forrester was impressed with it when we presented it to him. He said that he definitely got his money's worth in terms of our little trade. Eventually, we'll use the considerable amount of leather that we have left over to make my quiver. Which, if you'll remember, was the entire point of getting the leather... Oh well, I'm sure we'll get to it eventually...

We worked on a few other projects throughout the summer (we built a back-top for The Boyfriend's archery target), and I hope to be able to post about them some time soon. But for now, I hope this little post will hold you guys over.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Knitting... Again

Way, waaaay back when, at the beginning of the summer, I decided that I wanted to get back into knitting. But I had forgotten most of what I had learned about casting on and making stitches and all of that other important stuff. 

So I sat down and watched a couple of how-to vids on youtube and got knitting.

Right now I'm working on red a white striped scarf. Okay, so it's cream and crimson, but let's not nitpick, shall we?

I learned how to knit stripes at the beginning of the summer, and I was super proud of myself. I'm not the best when it comes to knitting and crocheting, and I don't usually have the patience to really practice at it. So I was psyched to realize that I can just sit down and teach myself something. 

Fast forward a couple of months... I hadn't worked on my knitting in quite some time. My summer's been fairly busy, between other projects, archery, starting a new job and getting engaged, my free time's been pretty well eaten up. But fall is just around the corner, and winter will be coming after that. It's high time I get back to some of my craft projects, and what could be more timely than making a scarf?

Well, that's it for now. I just wanted to post something to get me going again. I'm also working on a post about making a quiver, so hopefully, that'll be posted soon...
Until then...
Happy knitting!

By the way, this is the video I watched to re-learn how to 'cast-on'. It's by knittingtipsbyjudy on youtube, and I found it super super helpful!


Monday, May 28, 2012

To Sell or Not To Sell?

     Over the last few weeks, I've been getting back into some of the craft projects that have been sitting around my house for god-only-knows how long. You might have read about my adventures in card-loom weaving (I still need to finish that project), and I've been knitting a lot too. I'm feeling pretty happy about it all.
     Right now I'm unemployed, mostly. I graduated with my BA in English about a month ago, and I've been looking for work, but it's slow going. I'm sending out resumes like crazy, but haven't actually heard back from anyone yet. In the mean time I'm working part-time doing medical billing, but that's only for about 6 or so hours a week. I'm also going to be getting into some volunteer work soon (more on that when it happens), but that still leaves me with a lot of free time to fill.
     I've been reading more, and I love that. I've been watching some great movies on TCM, and I love that too, but mostly I'm loving the fact that I've gotten back into my crafts.
     Knitting and weaving gives me something productive to do with my time. I love the fact that I can take a simple ball of yarn (or maybe two or three) and turn it into a scarf. My skills aren't great right now, I would still classify myself as a beginner, but I'm having fun with it.
     The problem is, the scarves are starting to pile up. :o) I've got at least three finished ones, and two more that I'm working on. Over the past few days I've begun to wonder if anyone out there would be interested in buying them. I've been a fan of etsy for a long time now, and I really love the idea of selling my scarves online (and making a little bit of money). I'm not really interested in turning this into a business, but it would be nice if I could sell a scarf or two and make enough money to keep funding this as a hobby. 
     The quality of my scarves isn't great though, like I said, I'm still a beginner. But I'm thinking of trying to sell them anyway. I figure as long as I'm honest about the quality of my goods, and my pries reflect that quality, it shouldn't be a problem.
      I'd love to hear what you guys think. I need some pros and cons here, and if you guys have any thoughts, please please please leave them in the comments!

Thanks! :o)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, I accidentally committed myself to writing a novel this summer... Yeah, don't ask. 

I know I've blogged about NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy before, so now it's time for me to talk about CampNaNoWriMo.

CampNaNo is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It's a month of noveling madness right in the middle of  the summer (or winter if you're way-down-south). Last year, Camp was held in two sessions, one in July and one in August. You could pick either month (or both!) to write a novel in. 

I chose July because it fit into my schedule, and took 31 days to write most of a novel. It was called To Be Human Again, and was about a vampire traveling cross-country with a pickpocket on a quest to find a mad scientist who might be able to cure him of his vampirism. It was a lot of fun to write, even if it never actually got finished.

This year, camp is being held in two sessions again, but instead of back-2-back camp, one session will be held in August, and one will be held in June. As in, this June. As in, next week. Yikes!

Am I ready to write a novel next week? No, of course not. I'm never 100% ready when I head into a project like this. But really, that's part of the fun of it. I love when I start out with just a vague idea and get to watch a real story unfold before my eyes as I write. Doesn't that make my procrastination sound really awesome? I swear I'm not lazy, I'm inspiring!

At least I already have my vague idea for this summer's novel. I took a mini road trip to Cedar Point, and I got the idea to write about a haunted amusement park. I know, how very unlike me... I've been hashing out ideas on my own and bouncing them off of my boyfriend, who apparently enjoys listening to me ramble on and on. Go figure. I'm thinking that this story will be something like The Beast meets Freaks (1932).

Ideas are forming, characters are starting to emerge. I won't be 100% ready to write a novel come next week, but I think I'll be able to make most of it up as I go along.

So, wish me luck! And more importantly, it's not too late to sign up to write your own novel! Just go to www.campnanowrimo.org (or click on my banner link) and start writing!

Get excited campers!

EDIT:    If you'd like to support this wonderful event (and more like it), you can donate to CampNaNoWriMo's parent org, The Office of Letter and Light. Or, if that's not really your thing, there's a ton of really cool camp merch in the shop, so check it out!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Trying to Weave...

What am I doing? I'm weaving! Err, well, I'm really trying to weave... 

A few years ago my boyfriend made a card-weaving loom. It's awesome. I got so excited about making straps and trim, I started working on it right away. Then I did what I always do, I set it aside telling myself that I'd get back to it soon, and forgot about it. 

Fast forward a few years... I decided to pick up the loom and start weaving again. With a card-weaving loom, after every pass of the string (I'm sorry I don't really know what the different parts are called, I'm still learning the whole process), you need to turn the cards either toward you, or away from you before you can make another pass with the string. I often forget which way I need to turn the cards, but that's okay, I have fun with it anyway and I can usually fix any mistakes that I've made. 

 So, anyway, I was weaving along, having a great time, when I broke a string! Arg! Noooo! How did this happen? My life is over, and everything sucks forever...
 Okay, well, maybe not forever... I called my boyfriend and he told me how to fix the torn string. He told me to get some thread, and tie it to either end of the tear, making sure that it would be taut. Okay, that doesn't sound so bad, I think I can do that...
 Voila! My repair actually looks pretty good! Awesome! I rock! This is great, okay, weaving again... I go back to what I was doing, paying careful attention to which way I'm supposed to be turning the cards. The repair is holding and everything looks great. Then the strap that I'm weaving is getting long, and I need to turn the loom. Okay, I can do this, I'm awesome, right? I turn the loom and keep weaving, no problem... until the string breaks again...
What? Why does this keep happening. And yes, it's the same string. Only this time it was nice enough to break before it passed through the cards, so now, not only do I have to tie it off again, but I also have to figure out which card it was supposed to go through and re-thread it... Grr... Okay, not so bad, I can do this, I can figure it out.
And I did! I got it re-threaded and tied off. And I'm pretty certain that the only reason it tore was because it was too loose after I turned the loom, and I don't have to turn it again for a while, so I should be fine. I can go back to weaving and enjoying my art project and... Oh...
 
 
I freakin' give up....

 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Script Frenzy-ing!

It's April again, which means that once again it's time for Script Frenzy!

Script Frenzy is NaNoWriMo's sister event in the spring. Every April, 10s of thousands of people give themselves the challenge of writing a 100 page script in 30 days. They write movie scripts (like I'm doing), scripts for television shows, or graphic novels or even stage or radio plays. If you're really interested, you can can get some more information about the event here: What Is ScriptFrenzy?

I'm participating in the event for the second year in a row, and I'm in it to win it!

Last year I wrote 102 pages of a horror movie script loosely based on the legend of The Slender Man. My story was about a small town detective who gets in over his head when he starts to investigate the disappearance of a local kid. In the end he has to convince the town that something serious is going on in time for them to save an entire bus load of kids from a horrible fate. I had a ton of fun writing my script, and I was even able to use it in a screen-writing class I took at my university last fall. (I took the opportunity to edit and write my second draft).

This year I'm writing something a little bit different. My story this year (called Finding Peace) is about a young man who goes across the country to meet his sperm-donor father for the first time after his mother dies. He and his best friend take this journey and have some interesting adventures and encounters along the way. My main character Mark ends up learning more about himself than his father, and makes some life-changing decisions. The ideas aren't 100% solidified yet, this is only a first draft after all, and I'm only about half way through.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to show what the power of Script Frenzy is. Without this event I never would have known that I could write a script at all, let alone a 100 page one! These are wonderful ideas that I never even knew I possessed until I sat down and started to write. And really, it's all thanks to Script Frenzy.

And I'm not the only one either. 16,014 writers are signed up for the event this year alone, and 3,788 of them are kids! Isn't that just the coolest thing you've heard all day? Almost 4,000 kids are putting aside their video games and TV shows to sit down and write something. For fun. Not because they have to, but because they want to.

Isn't this something that you want to be a part of? It might be a little bit late in the month to sign up for the event (but come write a novel with Camp NaNoWriMo this summer), but you can still be involved. For the first time ever, I've set up a page to be sponsored through http://www.stayclassy.org/. What it is, is a way for people to 'sponsor' me and my script. You can donate through that page and the money all goes straight to The Office of Letters and Light (ScriptFrenzy and NaNoWriMo's parent organization).

So far I've managed to raise a whopping $10 for the OLL, as you can see by the ticker on the side of the page. My goal is to raise $100, though as the close of the event draws near, it doesn't look like that's going to happen. That's fine with me though, I'm just happy for the opportunity to raise any amount of money for an organization that I really love and respect. OLL brings writing to the world, and most importantly, they help kids see that writing isn't something that has to be a chore, or strictly homework. But that writing can be fun and fulfilling.

So, if you'd like to help out this truly wonderful cause, just go ahead and click here. You can donate any amount that you choose, so even if you only have a dollar or two to spare, you can still help out.

Thank you, and happy writing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bustle Skirt Day 1

My friend Colleen (@AssignmentEarth on twitter) got a sewing machine for Christmas. She then decided that we should make Bustle Skirts. What is a bustle skirt you ask? Why, this is a bustle skirt:

(picture © Becca K. on www.cutoutandkeep.net)
Did I mention that neither of us knows how to sew? Yeah...

So, since we're actually doing this whole bustle skirt thing, I thought I'd blog about it and provide instructions on how to make a bustle skirt!


STEP 1:
Realize we don't know what the fuck we're doing


Colleen brought her sewing machine over, and we got it all set up (or at least, plugged in) and then proceeded to stare at it for a good half hour.

"Does it bite?"
"I don't know, it looks like it has teeth..."

We decided that we probably wouldn't need to use the sewing machine for a while anyway, and that we should probably figure out the pattern. 
We stared at the pattern for about half an hour trying to figure out what the heck it said. It's another language, I swear, and neither of us really know how to read it. We then got distracted by looking at pictures of other beautiful bustle skirts that we'll never be able to make.
At that point in the process we realized that we didn't actually have all of the supplies we needed. So we took a trip to Michael's to get thread and tailor's tape.


STEP 2:
Get locked out of the house....

Yeah, this step's pretty self-explanatory...


STEP 3:
Call in the Engineer

At this point in the process my boyfriend came over. He's studying Civil Engineering and approaches problems very differently than I do (I'm an English Major). He suggested that we cut the pattern pieces out of newspaper before actually making any cuts in our precious precious fabric. He helped us set up a system of measuring and cutting, which leads us to....


STEP 4:
Actually get shit done!

We got all of the measurements for my bustle skirt and cut the pattern pieces out of newspaper. We laid everything out and suddenly the pattern made a lot more sense. (We also read over it again more carefully). This is going to be a multi-day project, which we knew to begin with. Though it looks like it's going to take a lot longer than we originally thought. We still have to get the measurements and pattern pieces for Colleen's skirt and cut the fabric and ruffle the pieces and... and a lot. We probably could have gotten a bit more done today, but we ran out of newspaper and decided to skip right ahead to:


STEP 5:
Make french fries!


We made fries! It's a very important and delicious part of any project. We were all a bit tired of cutting up newspaper and fries just sounded like a really good idea. (Which they were).

The bustle skirts will get finished at some point. We have to wait until both Colleen and I have time off at the same time, so that we can work on it. It's probably not the best project for easily distracted beginners, but it's been a lot of fun so far, and if we manage to make something wearable and kind of pretty, I'll be really proud of us.

If you'd like to see the actual instructions for the bustle skirt, check them out here:
http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/burlesque_bustle_skirt