A puppet a week

Some of you will already know about my proclivity for 365-style projects. Recently, while looking at knitting patterns for my toddler’s upcoming birthday, I ran across some really fantastic puppets by Anne Mende of Pumora (smart lady has an Etsy Shop, Rav page, and Craftsy shop; I love it when my favourite designers are easy to find!). These two fabulous designs caught my eye as MUST MAKE (immediate thought: “Do I have enough yarn in the right colour in my stash? Can I cast on right now? Will Matt be mad if I never finish that second mitten I’ve been promising?”):

Walrus handpuppet knitting pattern PDF

WALRUS! OF DOOOOOOM (doom not included)

RHINO! Thanks to Diego and Dora, my child recognizes animals that, in general, do not make their home in snowy Canada. When it comes to our indiginous animals, we’re pretty limited by what we can see out of our window (mostly squirrels and the weirdos down the street). “Look, Mama, a Tree Frog! Oh, Mama, it’s a Kinkajou!” I was all like “No sweetie, Pikachu is not a real animal”. Thanks for making me look like an idiot in front of my 3-year old, Diego! However when I showed her some Canada Geese flying overhead, it was all “oh! I think those are Macaws!” and me smugly saying “Canada Geese, those are geese”. Boo-yah, got that one right.

I’m pretty sure I’ve got appropriate yarn in my stash, but yes, someone would be mad if I didn’t finish that second mitten. So these amazing knits will have to wait for a bit. So I was poking about to see what else Anne Mende has designed, and I came across what it possibly the most exciting (to me) 365-style project. A PUPPET A WEEK. A puppet. a week. A puppet! A WEEK. And then I scrolled down and there was a squid. A SQUID.

And then I saw this:
A lionfish! LIVINGSTON, IS THAT YOU?!?
Sadly it looks like she hasn’t made a new on in a few months, but I’m really hoping that she’ll pick this up again (and offer the patterns for sale). I wish she offered a subscription service; I’d happily hand her buckets of money if it meant she could brighten the internet with her awesomeness on a regular basis.

In which I am published and just a little bit excited about it.

So, my friends, I have had a knitting pattern published! And in Knitty, no less, a fact of which I am entirely, unrepentantly and completely excited (and not a little smug, too).  I present to you: Caaaarbs! An ode to all that is good and noodle-y…

carbs006

You can find them on Ravelry here, if you’d like to add them to you queue or favourite them, or (gasp!) leave a comment! This pair has a very large set of balls pom poms, but you can make yours whatever size you like.

carbs008

If you don’t get the joke yet, these mitts are inspired by the Flying Spaghetti Monster; an internet phenom since 2005. That’s right. I’m just THAT current with my cultural references.

Regardless, I am extremely pleased. Non-Knitters may not realize it, but being in Knitty is Very Much a Big Deal. Actually, way back when I started making and selling purses, at the very first craft show I ever did, Amy from Knitty showed up and spied my Yarn Pirate Bag. She featured it, and I sold more of them than I could ever have imagined. I really do credit her with helping to launch my sewing career! Seven years later, I’ve come full circle and actually have a real pattern published in the magazine (and photos of me wearing a colander on my head. I am shameless).

Once again I show you someone else’s work

I still don’t have anything to show for the hours I’ve been spending knitting over the last weeks, but I promise that at some point, there will be actual knitting content. Instead, I thought I’d share some of the nerdy media I’ve been consuming lately.

I’ve been listening to podcasts. Damn I love podcasts. I listen when I’m knitting, I listen when I’m sewing, cooking, and even when I’m falling asleep (which is great because then I listen to them again the next day).  I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks, but it’s always hard to find one with the winning combo of good story and good narrator. But I’ll get to that in a bit. Lately, I’ve been super enjoying these podcasts:

 

The Incomparable The Incomparable!

A semi-regular group of interesting and well-read folks chat about different nerdy things. Each episode has a theme that they follow; sometimes it’s a book, comics, movies, or tv shows. I just super adore these nerds. They’re thoughtful, well-spoken, frequently hilarious, and just really seem to have a good time recording. If you listen to a few episodes I highly recommend going back and listening to their fictional character drafts. I laughed so hard I gave myself hiccups and almost peed. For real. It would have been embarrassing  but luckily I was alone at the time. Also their epic Star Wars sessions are not to be missed.

 

http://knit1geek2.mt-pockets.org/wp-content/themes/coffee-desk/images/knit1geek2.png

Knit 1 Geek 2

Two awesome and sassy Canadian ladies talk about knitting, geekdom, and all things in between.  Funny and adorable, I actually had an opportunity to say hi to both of these fabulous gals which I was way too nervous to take.  That’s right. For some reason, my brain freaked out on me and froze it in a loop of “OMG OMG THEY ARE ON A PODCAST THAT MEANS THEY ARE FAMOUS” while my friends stood there and laughed at me. And they were right to do so. So that is the story about how I managed to not meet the awesome women of Knit 1 Geek 2. Also one time I met an awesome indie dyer, and then got all excited about it in K1G2’s forum on Rav, and then said indie dyer found the thread and was like “dude. duuuuuuuuuuuude”. It was hilarious, and embarrassing, but mostly hilarious. And if you don’t knit, that last paragraph was gobbledegook (and way more about me being a flailing nerd than anything else. Whatever. Listen to the damn podcast, you’ll love it).

 

Skeptics with a K

Skeptics with a K

Three dudes sit around and talk in English accents and say things like “take the piss” and “blimey”. So……. basically the best, ever.

Also the host is a super fan of Doctor Who. So you know. Accents, occasional cleverness, and sometimes Doctor Who. It’s like someone peeked at my Christmas list!

In all seriousness though, while I enjoy more serious science and skepticism shows, I think Skeptics with a K is my favourite Skeptical podcast. There’s something really enjoyable about listening to three friends who are all genuinely likeable chat with each other, and there is just enough structure to the show to keep it from running off the tracks while still keeping the momentum of the conversations going.

 

So it looks like my favourite podcasts all have one thing in common: a group of friends talking about something they’re all really interested in, that I am also interested in. What did we do before the internet? How did we find our people? Where were all these nerds when I was thirteen and no one in my class had seen Star Wars let alone cared about what Timothy Zahn book was coming out next (I should perhaps mention that I was thirteen in 1994, so it actually wasn’t entirely unreasonable that no one but me in my grade 7 class cared about a Sci Fi movie that had been released 15 years earlier).

I have also been listening to some audio books again, hooray! I forgot how much I missed these.

Terry Pratchett’s Snuff, as read by Stephen Briggs.

I can’t even read a discworld novel anymore. Seriously, Stephen Briggs is just that darn good at bringing this world to life. I can ONLY listen to them. You could play me a clip of any part of the book, and I’d know exactly what character was speaking. Terry Pratchett audio books are one of the greatest things about the invention of sound recording.

I actually have audio books to thanks for my discworld fandom. I picked up Going Postal from the library a few years back, not realizing that it was the 33rd novel in the series. Luckily, you don’t really need to read all of them in order to understand what is going on. In fact, I present to you this handy guide for reading order in the discworldian saga.

Whenever someone asks what this books series all about, I’m always like “well, it’s fantasy, but it’s funny, and the later ones are the funniest, but they live on this flat planet, see, that rides on the backs of 4 giant elephants, which in turn ride on the back of a giant space turtle…. but really that part isn’t important”. I am terrible at explaining things.

 

And finally, I am currently listening to Cold Days by Jim Butcher.

Guys, it’s narrated by SPIKE. YES THAT SPIKE.

Also the main character, Harry Dresden, is a wizard, for hire. Who makes wise-cracks and references amazing things like Star Wars. And Harry Potter.

Also, and I’m going to go ahead and warn you that this contain spoilers.

Seriously. SPOILERS.

One time he did this.

So, you know. It’s pretty great.

 

 

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to nerd-wise lately. Also my brother just e-mailed me to let me know that Netflix has Star Terk: TNG in its ENTIRETY so I guess I know what I’m doing for the next month, too.

 

Knitting Secrets

My lack of updating is directly related to how much secret holiday knitting I’ve been doing lately; while it is unlikely the recipients would see this blog I would hate to spoil the surprise. Especially considering how much work has been going into these pieces! Hopefully I’ll remember to take photos of everything so I can show it off after the holidays. Some of it definitely falls into the nerdy category, so you know. Relevant to this blog’s interests, and such. I haven’t even knit up that robot pattern I was working on, even though the new yarn has arrived. On the plus side, I have ideas for a few more nerdy knits, so at least there’s that. Doesn’t mean much if I don’t get them knit up, I know.

So in lieu of actual yarn on yarn knitting action, I present to you this:

5 PAIRS OF MITTENS THAT I WISH I HAD DESIGNED (because they are amazing)

These are the Chawton Mittens by Anne Blayney. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Jane Austen themed mitts are fantastic.  I just adore these; and I was lucky enough to have been there when Anne was mulling over some of her ideas for the Jane Austen Knits issue from Interweave Press. I can’t take any credit for these (though I’d love to), but it was amazing to be there when someone had their a-ha moment of designing.

These are the Robots vs. Downtown Mittens by Annie Watts. Can I tell you how jealous I am of this design? SO JEALOUS. It’s utterly genius (evil, natch). Seriously. Why didn’t I think of this? WHY. Also I’m pretty jealous of the model’s hair. And glasses. This whole thing is jealous-making. But the mittens. LOOK AT THEM. Just…….. wow.

Your Mom’s Mittens by Drunk Girl Designs. These mittens. OH PUPPIES, THESE MITTENS. When I saw these I laughed so hard I practically peed myself. Actually, I think I probably did pee a little, but we’ll pretend that I didn’t. I’m not even sure what I can say here. I am pretty sure the designer of these mittens is made of magic. (Drunk Girl Designs also has a pretty wicked Etsy Shop for all your sassy needs).

Dalek Mittens by Eleanor Kelly. They’re mittens and they’re Daleks. They’re the perfect storm of design and awesome. And I wish I had designed them.

Fancy Branch Mittens by Mia Rushton. I know these aren’t particularly nerdy, but they are so, so lovely. I’ve been a huge fan of Mia’s for years; I actually have a pair of mittens she knit when her Etsy shop was up and running (side note: I adore those mittens. They’re about five years old now and I wear them pretty much every day in the winter. Also they are bright pink so I’ve never lost one in the snow).  There is something quiet and charming about these mittens; like they would warm your hands and then snuggle up with you while you drink tea and watch Jane Austen movies by the BBC.

So those are my top 5 mitten patterns right now. Can you see the problem here? I don’t have enough time to knit them all (I won’t speculate as to whether or not I have enough yarn to knit them all. because we all know one can always use more yarn).

Coffee: A Love Affair

It’s true, I adore coffee. And I adore these mittens (are you allowed to adore something you made yourself? TOO BAD! I LOVE THEM)

The pattern is also now available on Ravelry! I can pretty much guarantee that you know at least one coffee-aholic who would love you forever if you made them a pair of these.

 

So I did a favour for someone

But really it ended up being a favour to me.

The incomparable Mandy Anne Curtis asked me to do a blog post on her fabulous blog, Chocolate and Cream Cake. Since we share a lot of nerdy interests, I jokingly offered up some possible themes:

1. So You’re Going to Travel in Time and Space (what to wear when life’s about to get timey-wimey)

2. I am a (tiny) god: making a Loki helmet to fit your finger

3. Fictional Fancies: the entire cast of SPACED

 

And then I was like SCREW IT I NEED TO MAKE THAT HELMET. So here it is:

More mittens (so far, living up to the name).

Just so you don’t think all I’ve done so far is a couple of poorly knit swatches that I’m not happy with, I do actually have a pair of mittens to show you. I was going to wait, because I’m not quite done writing the pattern up, and I haven’t taken any really nice photos of them, but here’s a peek at what I’ve been up to:

 

 

I’m hoping to be done the pattern and photos and have it ready to go sometime next week, but that really all depends on the amount of face time I get with my computer.  And how many times I end up watching this week’s Doctor Who.

As for my colour conundrum of yesterday, I’ve gone ahead and ordered a couple alternate colours to try. If they don’t work out, I’ll be trying out the two colour option.  I’ll get there eventually, I promise!

So the colour palette I was using before was thusly:

(left to right: Knit Picks Palette in Ash, Silver, Sky, and Semolina)

They look nice together, but I can totally see the problem when I line them up like this. So I’m going to try again with these options:

(left to right: Knit Picks Palette in Ash, Mist, Clarity, and Custard)

It’s hard to tell from a computer screen, so I am taking a bit of a chance, but I really hope these colours work out. I think they are light enough while avoiding the Easter Egg look.

This is one of those “sometimes”. Kinda.

I’ve been hesitating to define this new project for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I know how very much work it’s going to be, and I don’t want to set up a schedule for posting that I won’t be able to maintain. So allow me to define Moar Mitten thusly:

 

There will be mittens.

 

Sometimes.

 

In the meantime, let me give you a glimpse into the project that is currently making me swear like a fishwife wrangling a live eel.

 

It’s mittens (surprise!), but you can’t tell that yet.

 

 

looks like crap, yes? Yes. And I know why too; colour. I’ve used colours that are just way too similar in terms of tone and saturation. The light grey and blue just melt together and the eye can’t separate them easily. Not only should I already know that it won’t work, I’ve even recently attended a talk by the fabulous Anne of AnnieBeeKnits  and the wonderful Johanna of Lofty Fibres  (I’m lucky enough to know these two amazing ladies personally. You should be jealous. I’m kinda jealous of myself). They talked about all sorts of colour ideas, and problems, and how to avoid them. And I nodded sagely along, especially when they talked about not using colours that, while different actual colours, have the same depth or saturation of colour. And then I went ahead and did this.

To illustrate, I’ve changed this colour into greyscale:

 

 

A total muddle. THe yellow, blue, and light grey are a total wash, and the darker grey is totally distracting as a background stripe.

So, I thought to myself, what if I used the three similar colours in the background, and brought the darker grey to the forefront? So I knit another swatch:

 

 

This is much clearer, although I’m not entirely sure it’s doing what I want it to do. It is amazing what you can do with the same palette, yes? Honestly, I really wanted to do a stranded mitten with only two strands working at a time, and I thought it was super neat that the stripes become the eyes, belly, and mouth of the robot. This may just not pan out. But, back to the colour. The darker colour really outlines the bots more clearly than the light grey. You can see this so clearly in the greyscale:

 

 

So while this is a much better choice than the first option, it may not be the final design. I think I need to make a larger swatch, maybe in the round to see how the palm design for the mitten would work with the stripes in the background.

I do have a couple other ideas, I could knit it up in the light grey and darker grey, and leave it in only two colours. I could knit it in two colours, then duplicate stitch the eyes and bellies on (I’m already planning on duplicate stitching the little hearts on the bellies). Or I could use an intarsia technique to do the colour sections. However, the last two techniques would be pretty time-consuming, and I’m not sure anyone but me would be interested in a design that takes so much finishing (and that much intarsia might kill me). I may release both a multicolour version and a two colour version, though that would mean knitting up an inordinate number of mittens.

Another option would be to get lighter shades of the yellow, blue, and even the light grey. This would increase the contrast between the background colours and the robot outlines. Since I love colour, that might be the best solution? Maybe these will end up being multiple option mittens. And maybe they will take until 2015 if I try to do that.

 

 

 

First!

There will be some stuff here soon. Like… soonISH.