Tuesday, 31 March 2015

march crafting - update

Here we are at the end of the month again - doesn't it feel like the days are just melting away? But not, apparently, the weather! I love winter of all the seasons, but even I am ready to lose the two scarves and gloves...
However this week I am happy to say that I have now been blogging for a year! Woo mini party! As a celebration I am aiming to get 100 likes on my Facebook page - so if you like to read my blog and would like regular updates, please like my page and share it with your friends!

As is usual now lets take a look at how I managed to get on with my crafty plans for March

Completed - knit or crochet a laptop sleeve

I completed a knitted laptop sleeve last week which, initially, I was a bit disappointed with. It is quite flimsy and stretchy and I really need a cover that is tight fitting and sturdy. As time goes on though it has definitely grown on me! I'm really pleased that I stumbled across this lovely pattern over on Handcrafted Vintage and it is a great pattern for just protecting my laptop while it is in my room. I am going to sew myself a quilted cover that will offer the protection I want, and I decided after this knitting experience that a knitting fail is a lesson learned!

Started - design a crochet pattern based on a sketch by my mum

Unfortunately I started this project quite late in the month and I was having an odd weekend/week this week with some mild anxiety. This has meant I haven't come as far with this project as I would like. But that suits me alright to be honest because I really want to nail this because of what it means to me. I think I am on the right track though, and I think I will alter the design a bit to suit my crochet style and to make the bear a combination of mine and my mum's creation. I've also decided that this pattern might just be a free pattern for my blog rather than submitting it to a magazine, because it seems to be becoming a relatively straightforward pattern again. But we will see :)

I don't feel as if I achieved as much this month as last month, but I'm still pretty pleased with what I am achieving! Have you made anything you are proud of this month?

Friday, 27 March 2015

fo: basket-weave laptop sleeve

As I promised to you, and myself, I finished knitting a laptop cover! I have very mixed feelings about this project - why don't you read on and tell me what you think.
Yarn - Lion Brand Vanna's Choice (mustard) and Stylecraft Special DK (denim) (2 strands of DK)

You can also read about this laptop sleeve on my Ravelry project page.

I found the pattern on Ravelry and thought it was a splendid, tasteful and simple pattern with an effective colour combination. I promptly printed it off and got started. I've sort of made a private promise to myself to not buy any more yarn for a minimum of 6 months starting in January (I had a tiny slip in February, but it was £3 for 3 balls so I couldn't say no!) so I needed to use up something in my stash. This limited my colour choices somewhat but I was pretty happy with the yellow and blue. It does look a little too Despicable-Me-minion for my liking, but I think I get away with it!

The original pattern is for a 13" Macbook Pro; I have a 15.6" HP Pavillion, so I knew some adjustment would be needed. The pattern is worked in blocks of 8 stitches so I had no choice but to add 8 stitches when I cast on even though I felt fewer would be better.

Its a great pattern that works up reasonably quickly and looks very smart and effective. I did get rather bored of knitting the pattern I must admit and it became one of those projects that I forced myself to finish. If I put it down I had a feeling I wouldn't pick it up again! I also needed to work 2 further repeats of the pattern because it was impossible to tell if it was long enough. I worked it extra long to develop a flap to ensure it would cover and protect my laptop, worked in the contrast colour to avoid the minion appearance.

When I finished the cover I must admit I really did not like it at all. It doesn't look as neat as the pattern picture, and it is too big for my laptop even though I sewed the edges together more in the hopes of tightening the fit. But I slept on it and when I woke up I did like it more.

My main problem with the sleeve is that it is so flimsy and slips all over the place when I try to pick up the laptop. But I know it is mainly my expectations which make this laptop sleeve appear less than adequete; I want a firm, tightly fitting case which will protect my laptop snugly. This can't really be achieved with knitting/crochet for such a large piece of hardware.

So I'm continuing my sewing fix from the weekend and instead I will sew a case (as I am loathed to buy one with all the crafting supplies in my life!) which should give me a much sturdier cover. I will use a zip or Velcro to make a secure fastening as well.

This pattern is good and I would recommend it for a simple straightforward gadget sleeve, but it is in my opinion more suited to a small, light laptop or a tablet/e-reader. And I'm not upset that I don't like my cover - a knitting fail is a lesson learned! 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

can i call myself a superfan?

Yes, I think I would like to do that if you don't mind.

On Monday (23rd March) BBC3 aired an excellent show, Tom Felton Meets the Superfans. It was just terrific. Written and directed by Tom Felton, he was inspired by a super fan of his own (Tina) who would find out where Tom would be making an appearance (press, parties, premieres) and for 7 years would spend her time waiting in line for hours just for a new photo and autograph from Tom. She was never aggressive, never pushing, and didn't sell her keepsakes. She was just a super fan.

I consider myself a 'super fan' in my own right of many many things, and this is the beauty of being a super fan: it all fits to the type of person you are and the fandom you belong to. I say super fan rather than just fan because I don't just love my interests; where possible I embrace them and lose myself in their worlds, empathising and feeling the stories.

Daniel Radcliffe discussing obsession with Tom - image source Tumblr
Among other visits and interviews Tom went to MCM Comic Con in Birmingham of November last year in order to experience what all sorts of super fans and cosplayers love to experience. And he found out what I found out when I went to my first Comic Con last year. The feeling of comradery and excitement of dressing up as your favourite characters, admiring everyone's efforts and asking/being asked to snap pictures. Everyone feels happy and excited and just a little bit famous. Its such a wonderful community to feel a part of. 

I like to think of myself of a super fan of lots of things. Harry Potter of course since I was 7 or 8 having read the first book countless times in primary school. For my 9th or 10th birthday I had a 100% Harry Potter themed birthday, gifts, costume, food the lot - just me and my family mind you! And for the last 4 books I insisted my mum let me queue for the books at midnight.
Star Wars, Firefly, Marvel, Batman, fairy tales, Avatar the Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Attack on Titan, I can go on and on and on. All of these things make me happy, and now cosplaying and Comic Cons - just thinking about May gets me giddy with excitement!

On top of this show just recently being on BBC3, I watched Done the Impossible on Netflix last weekend which was a similar in that it was about fans and super fans. It is a show about how the support of the great Firefly fanbase rallied together to show enough support for the too-soon cancelled show that Universal supported Joss Wheedon in the creation of the follow-on film Serenity.

Watching both of these shows I just felt somehow vindicated in my love for all my interests. Not that  I need to justify my interests (and goodness knows I love them regardless of what anyone says!), but they were both just so interesting and uplifting for a fan to watch. And to feel that the people involved in shows such as Firefly, or films such as Harry Potter, acknowledged the fans and took the time to appreciate them made me feel happy that I love such awesome things! I also recently contributed $25 to the Con Man Indiegogo campaign (a small amount but something I am just so excited about I felt I wanted to give something to feel a part of it!) and as small as that contribution will ultimately be, it makes me feel a part of something that I'm proud to love.

Do you consider yourself a super fan of anything?

Sunday, 22 March 2015

weekend musings

a pile of old jeans and a load of blue thread
  • Most of this weekend I've been cutting up old jeans and sewing them together sporadically into a throw. I think it is going well - I can't wait to be finished but for now I am having a sewing break!
  • I also finished knitting a laptop sleeve as planned. I've got mixed feelings about the finished piece but I will save those for a post later this week!
  • I've been wondering about a regular weekly blog post - perhaps something like this 'weekend musings' but I'm not sure - what do you think?
  • There was so much sunshine here it was awesome!
  • I binge watched Pokemon and Deathnote on Netflix, and I regret nothing. 
  • I've started to get VERY excited about Comic Con in London in May! Particularly seeing so much about the Birmingham one on social media as that happened this weekend. 
  • And I'm getting really excited about Con Man - the new offering from Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion; I contributed $25 to the cause so I get to see my name in the credits woohoo!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

the importance of making notes

Since starting this blog I have no misgivings in admitting that I have been thrilled with how my personal creativity has thrived, or at least how I have felt it grow. Ideas keep jumping through my mind all day long –to the point that I do occasionally get frustrated at the amount of things I want to try or do! But this frustration is well worth the renewed sense of enthusiasm I gained from writing this blog and from starting to write my ownpatterns.

Having so many ideas and thoughts has made me realise just how important carrying a notebook around with me has become. Every time I have a new idea I quickly scribble it down in the book in the hopes that I will remember it later and act upon it. Of course there is so much to do (dangers of the internet and the allure of Ravelry and Pinterest) and many of the ideas I jot down do end up forgotten, no matter how many post-it notes I stick in my book that read ‘MUST DO THIS SOON’.

This is where the beauty of making notes all in one place become apparent. Having written an idea down as soon as I have it - no matter how small or large or silly it appears - I can then forget about it and move on to other things. Particularly exciting ideas naturally stay on my mind after writing them down so they will invariably be acted upon pretty immediately, but smaller lightning ideas pass out of my mind quickly. But this doesn't matter because when I’m having a day where I might not know what I want to make or design next, or I’m not sure what to write about on my blog, I can flick through my notebook and instantly have half a dozen ideas ready to go! Again leading me to the ‘frustrated’ state of mind that there aren't enough hours in the day...


My notebook I hope will also serve as a great reference on how my blogging and knitting has developed not only over the past year but hopefully many more years and notebooks yet to come. It is a comfort to know that I always have this little book brimming with creativity in my bag with me, no matter how mundane a day I may be having, to help jot down my ideas and inspire me with some old ones.

Do you keep a notebook in your bag, or perhaps do something similar?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

knitting to cheer up

the current big WIP - top down v-neck
I’m sure everyone who knits (and indeed crochets) understands how soothing and therapeutic the action of moving your yarn and knitting needles can be; particularly when you are working on something you are excited about, or with yarn that is just the right colour to make you happy.

Yesterday at work I just felt really really down. It was one of those Mondays – I didn’t want the weekend to end, I didn’t want to leave the house, and it was raining. Plus the morning at work was really disheartening. I’m currently in this place where I feel I need a change but can’t seem to find anything to change to, and the jobs that look perfect and I get excited about don’t seem to come good. I’m feeling the strain of getting upset or stressed about something I don’t care strongly about daily and want to find something I can really be passionate about, which is of course easier said than done. And so I scrapped any plans for ‘productivity’ and chores last night and told myself I would do nothing but knit and watch shows I want to watch.

I’m currently knitting my ‘make up jumper’ with unravelled yarn from the project I didn’t like last month and it felt so good to spend hours and hours working on this and seeing it grow enormously.

Knitting, cookies, and 3 episodes of Wolf Hall later I was feeling so much more positive about everything! I know it was the knitting that really soothed me, the wool that I’m using being just the right colour, and the project being one I am very enthusiastic about. I decided to knit the Simple Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck and it is my first top down sweater in the round. After some confusion with placing makers and understanding what a ‘yoke’ was I am totally in my element and I’m so happy to see the jumper growing so quickly. And hopefully this one will be the right size – all the signs certainly point that way!

So after the few hours of solid knitting (and snacking on chocolate) I felt much more positive about things, and even benefited from the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages, I couldn’t believe how refreshed I felt when I woke up! So as soon as this is up on the blog I will be repeating this tonight with Firefly. 

What do you do to wind down or cheer up after a hard day? Does knitting calm you down like it does me?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

amigurumi moogle - free crochet pattern

With this free crochet pattern you can make your very own amigurumi moogle, based on the ongoing characters featured in the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series of games. The moogle is so cute though you could probably get away making him for a friend who doesn't even play the games! And, as B's grandma pointed out to me, he has a red nose, perfect timing for Red Nose Day next week! 

Perfect for a beginner, intermediate, or experienced crocheter, the moogle is worked in the round (apart from the wings which are worked on rows) with Aran yarn, and made in several large pieces that are sewn together. All terms are written using US crochet terms (e.g. a 'sc'/singe crochet is a UK 'dc'/double crochet)

4mm crochet hook
Aran weight yarn in cream or off white, red, and purple
Small amount of black yarn - weight doesn't matter
Tapestry needle
Toy stuffing
Craft wire about 4x the length you think you will need (to hold up pom pom on moogle's head)
Needle and embroidery thread in red and cream.

Note this pattern is written using US crochet terms

with cream yarn
Round 1 - sc6 in magic circle (6)
Round 2 - *2sc in next* round (12)
Round 3 - *2sc in next, sc in following* round (18)
Round 4 - *2sc in next, sc in following 2* round (24)
Round 5 - *2sc in next, sc in following 3* round (30)
Round 6 - *2sc in next, sc in following 4* round (36)
Rounds 7-13 - sc round (36)
Round 14 - *sc2tog, sc in following 4* round (30)
Round 15 - *sc2tog, sc in following 3* round (24)
Round 16 - *sc2tog, sc in following 2* round (18)
Round 17 - *sc2tog, sc in following* (12)
Stuff shape firmly here, shaping into a ball
Round 18 - *sc2tog* round (6)

Close opening, fasten off and weave in end.

with cream yarn

Round 1 - sc6 in magic circle (6)
Round 2 - *2sc in next* round (12)
Round 3 - *2sc in next, sc in following* round (18)
Round 4 - *2sc in next, sc in following 2* round (24)
Round 5 - *2sc in next, sc in following 3* round (30)
Round 6 - *2sc in next, sc in following 4* round (36)
Round 7 - sc round (36)
Round 8 - *sc2tog, sc in following 4* round (30)
Rounds 9-11 - sc round (30)

Round 12 - *sc2tog, sc in following 3* round (24)
Rounds 13-14 - sc round (24)
Round 15 - *sc2tog, sc in following 2* round (18)

Round 16 - sc round (18)
Round 17 - *sc2tog, sc in following* round (12)

Fasten off, leaving the top of the body open and a long tail to attach the body to the head.
Stuff firmly! 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

meet my moogle! a preview

So I told you a couple of days ago that I had finished writing the crochet pattern for a full moogle, and that I was waiting to share it with you guys for a couple of days as I already posted a couple of new patterns last month. 
In the meantime I would like to share some pictures of the completed moogle so that you can decide whether you would like to make one yourself! 
modelled by the gorgeous B, also sporting his keyblade t shirt!
sitting very comfortably on my marvellous windowsill, though Mal looks a bit jealous of all the moogle's attention...

a cheeky peek of my bookshelf!
I really hope you like the moogle and you agree he is rather cute! Writing a pattern for him has timed very nicely for the release of Final Fantasy Type-O later this year as well (I cannot wait - though I will need to buy a PS4...). Click here to watch a very exciting promo video for the new game!

What do you think? Do you know anyone who would like a moogle?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

crafty plans for march

Every month I aim to set myself, and complete, a ‘crafty challenge’ – a personal goal to help improve my knitting and crochet, and to embolden me to react to all the patterns and inspiration that is available on the internet! By sharing this with you I feel more encouraged to branch out and do these challenges by the end of the same month, and hopefully you will be interested in what I am working. Perhaps it will help inspire you to try something new as well?

Last month I set myself 2 reasonably sized projects to complete, worried as I was that February might become like January with lots of unaccounted for commissions (not that I am complaining!). However last month I didn't receive any orders so I was able to get everything and more done, which was absolutely great; I really felt in my mojo with designing and blogging and just general creativity. 

So, in the hopes that this will continue this month, I am again going to set myself 2 craft challenges for the month ahead, but they are both of a good size that they shouldn't be too easy, but will also allow me to get on with other things that take my fancy, like knitting up another jumper. 

I really love how this sleeve looks, but I will probably go with another pattern - what do you think?
Knit or crochet a laptop sleeve
I don't know if you recall that in November I actually put together a list of ideas from Pinterest of some great knitted and crocheted laptop sleeves, because I had just bought myself a lovely new laptop. It is now March and I STILL haven't made anything, so I think it is high time I pulled my socks up and made one so that my laptop has more protection than it currently has. 

some of my mum's sketches
Design a crochet pattern based on a sketch by my mum
In January I shared with you some sketches for miniature bear designs that my mum had drawn before she died. They were hidden in a notebook and as soon as I found them I wanted to keep them. Although she intended them for miniature hand sewn dolls, I think she would be very excited to know that I am going to use the distinctive shapes she came up with to create some cute amigurumi. Undoubtedly I will share a free pattern for the 'bear' on here once I've finished, but I am first going to send it to some crochet magazines to see if anything picks up down that route! So this is almost 2 challenges in one :)

Have you set yourself any exciting projects or challenges for the month ahead?