Doodler Success!

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I’ve posted so many photo’s about this to my Instagram feed – I’ve absolutely loved remaking this, despite the fact that it came from my first ever knitting cock up (I felted the original, if you remember). I meant to write about it when I finished it, but forgot.

So I picked up the stitches from the original Doodler – this was the section from 3 and 4, so the final sections. I really wanted to avoid unravelling this section as I found it the most labour intensive section. I used a smaller sized needle and managed to get all but three of the stitches, which I then put on waste yarn until I was ready for them. Plus, the orange was Wollmeise to wanted to save absolutely everything if I could.

The plan was then to knit up sections one and two – the wing and the cable section – and then reattach that final section to the main body.img_2212

In the end I choose different yarns to the one I made originally made as I didn’t want a repeat of the felting. I’m sure that I can make something else with the remaining yarn that I have in the brand, but what, I’m not entirely sure.

The white and coloured section is a Cuddlebums yarn, “snowy rainbow” on a bamboo and merino blend. The blue is an Easyknits yarn called “Bigger on the Inside” – and then of course the orange Wollmeise to finish it off.

Everything worked out so well doing it. The knitting – excluding the massive yarn barf I had that took be around TWELVE HOURS to fix. No word of a lie, so much time spent sorting out that mess.

The bit that I love the most was when I was attaching the old to the new. I picked up the stitches along the edge, and per the first instruction in section 3. I then lined up the two pieces – having checked and double checked how to Kitchener stitch (I refresh my mind every time I do it, just to be on the safe side). Then the magic happened! It took a good few hours to attach both pieces completely, but it worked out so, so well! I put markers in every 50 stitches to make sure that I was working evenly.img_2211

What I like about this project is that I problem solved it myself. I think if this was me a couple of years ago, I perhaps I would have thrown the whole thing away and maybe cried about it. I solved this from the moment the problem occurred. And it worked out!

I’m definitely on a high from this project!

Have you got any success stories? Care to share?

Kialtho

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Book

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I read this a few weeks ago now. It’s pretty much a one sit wonder, which isn’t a surprise considering that it’s a screenplay. I just haven’t made my mind up how I feel about the book which is why this blog is a bit late in coming.

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I think my problem with the book stems from the fact that I grew up reading an awful lot of fanfiction. I would spend a lot of time online reading them, the good and the bad… and this book definitely reads like some of the fanfiction I read. I wholly believe that seeing the play will be an entirely different experience to reading the book, and I’m super looking forward to seeing it next year, but perhaps the book could have been a book rather than a screenplay?

We’re introduced to Harry’s youngest son, Albus Severus, who just doesn’t fit in. Given his ridiculous name, and the fame of his dad, he’s got a lot to live up to. The other two kids seemed to do alright – although they are barely mentioned and perhaps needn’t have existed? James’ purpose was to bully Albus in the brief encounter we had with him, and I don’t recall Lilly around at all.

The main plot point deals with Albus and his identity – being a Slytherin, being friends with Scorpio [who was actually the best character in the story] – and them trying to be a hero by saving Cedric Diggory through some timey-whimey wibbly-wobbly magic. And a Time Turner.

I understand the kids motivation, and definitely enjoyed seeing some of the alternative histories – the one with Snape still alive was my favourite.

I don’t want spoil what happens for those that haven’t read it yet, but I just felt like something was missing from the book. It didn’t hold the same charm that the original stories did – which I suppose is to be expected. I’m older, and have had different experiences since I first picked up the magical series. I just think that the book itself could have been better.

I am looking forward to seeing the show, and I really hope that does justice to the wizarding world…

This is one of those ones where there’s so much that I want to say, but I’m having trouble articulating exactly what it is that I want to say…

Have you read this one? Up for some discussion?

Kialtho

OWL Mittens and a Rabbit

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Continuing on from yesterday’s blog, today I want to write about a couple of finished knitting projects. One was so minor it wasn’t worth taking a whole blog with it – that I didn’t get a great picture of it anyways, and the other was for a pair of mittens which – if I do say so myself – are awesome.

Let’s start with the mittens.
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I have a few great loves in my life, and it’s always awesome when they combine – this time it’s Harry Potter and knitting. A couple of years ago I got the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine sent to me by some lovely American friends. It’s full of Harry Potter goodness. This time I choose to make the mittens. One said has a parliament of owls, and the other has several spells – a great remember if you’re in a hurry and need a spell quickly perhaps. I knew as soon as I picked up the needles that these were going to be a gift for my best friend, especially considering the release of the Cursed Child happened around the same time.

These gloves were super easy to make. It felt like it took forever to get through the ribbing section, and I had quite a few false starts. When I looked up the yarn information online [instead of just using Ravelry – why didn’t I just go to Ravelry??] it listed the yarn as Sport weight. So I duly cast on using my sport weight yarn, thinking that it was too big. Went down a couple of needles sizes and tried again – same problem. THEN went to Ravelry to find out that actually, it’s a fingering weight yarn. So dug out through the stash again and decided on what I could use – I ended up with some Regia Fadig 4ply and some MadTosh – possibly the sock yarn version, possibly the vintage? I’m not sure as I don’t have the label any more and apparently I don’t keep as accurate project notes that list that sort of information.

Once I got started again these gloves went by swimmingly. I corrected the couple of spelling mistakes – Repairo became Reparo, Sonorous became Sonorus, and then Leviosa became Nox because I wanted to have the spells somewhat match rather than have a random Leviosa in there without the Wingardium bit first. It wasn’t hard to map out the changes – and I can sort of understand how the spelling mistakes got there in the first place, but a simple check of the HP Lexicon or wiki could have prevented it in the first place.

These were actually my first pair of mittens! I’ve made loads of fingerless gloves before, but these were the first pair of mittens.

The second project was a quick and easy one. Using the Alpaca Highland fino from the original Doodler project before it felted, I made a bunny. It’s a simple knitted square, sewn in a particular way to create the dimensions of a rabbit – stuff and sew and done! I made this for Artie as he kept attacking the yarn and trying to run away with it when I was making the Doodler – I assumed it was because of the sheep/alpaca smells, but now I think he’s just a yarn thief as he’s trying to do it with my current project as well.
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Things still to come: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [book] review, 1984 [play] and probably more knitting stuff.

What’s on your needles? Hook?

Kialtho

Doodler Progress, of sorts

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I have a few blogs to write, and I’ve been neglecting them. I’ve been keeping a list of what I want to write about – Cursed Child, for instance – and some knitting projects that I’ve completed. Today, though rather than talking about the completed projects I want to write about a project that I’m working on at the moment. And more specifically, the yarn.

As you may remember from my last blog regarding my knitting projects, I had made a Doodler, that sadly felted in the wash. I had decided that I was going to save the orange section by picking up all the stitches that connected it to the main body, then reknit the original body with the same yarn as before. But after speaking with my mum – who is also the recipient of the shawl – we decided on a different yarn to help prevent this from happening again.

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Or at least, it was. Until I had a yarn barf that about about half the size of the cake.

It took around about 12 hours to sort out the entire tangle. The picture shown doesn’t portray at how bad it really was – there was another nest to come out after that little lot. Naturally, this happened at 10pm so I spent a good four hours trying to sort it out the first night. But, I was victorious over this mess! The ball is now a part centre pull ball, and the rather large barf is wrapped around the outside – I don’t even know that the name for that would be.
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As it stands I’m on wedge 15 of the 17 required, and it’s going super well. I’m very much in love with this, and could be tempted to make myself a second one in the other skein of this yarn I have. It’s so squishy and bouncy and huggable. [It’s a Cuddlebums yarn, “Snowy Rainbow” in a merino/bamboo mix, I believe].

Here’s a picture of Artie enjoying the felted mess, once it had been cut away from the rest of the project.
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I’ve seen that Stephen West is launching the fall MKAL to start in October… I’ve queued the project, but I’m not sure yet whether it’s one I’ll join. The Doodler was one of the few patterns that I really liked of his. At least, if I do decide to do it, I have a fair amount of sport weight yarn in my stash!

I will write about my other projects and the things that I need to write about over the coming few days – but will schedule the updates so it’s not so spammy.

The Girl in the Box Series, Books 1-3: Alone, Untouched, Soulless – Robert J. Crane

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This was offered in a trilogy as an introduction to the series on Amazon for free a while back – a quick check shows that these first three books are indeed still free. I downloaded them because the synopsis sounded like something that I would enjoy, and free, so why not?

Synopsis:

This is a collection of the first three titles in The Girl in the Box Series, which are about a teenage girl who develops powers far beyond those of a normal human, and her battles against those who would use her against her will. (Approx. 185,000 words total.).

Alone – Sienna Nealon was a 17 year-old girl who had been held prisoner in her own house by her mother for twelve years. Then one day her mother vanished, and Sienna woke up to find two strange men in her home. On the run, unsure of who to turn to and discovering she possesses mysterious powers, Sienna finds herself pursued by a shadowy agency known as the Directorate and hunted by a vicious, bloodthirsty psychopath named Wolfe, each of which is determined to capture her for their own purposes…

Untouched – Still haunted by her last encounter with Wolfe and searching for her mother, Sienna Nealon must put aside her personal struggles when a new threat emerges – Aleksandr Gavrikov, a metahuman so powerful, he could destroy entire cities – and he’s focused on bringing the Directorate to its knees.

Soulless – After six months of intense training with the Directorate, Sienna Nealon finds herself on her first assignment – tracking a dangerous meta across the upper midwest. With Scott Byerly and Kat Forrest at her side, she’ll face new enemies and receive help from unlikely allies as she stumbles across the truth behind the shadowy organization known only as Omega.

So we have three books. My initial thought after finishing that last one was really, they could have been condensed into one book. A quick check of the authors webpage reveals to me something that I thought was fairly evident during my initial read of the books: the author is self published. For me the clue here wasn’t just the writing, but the need to add in how many words were in the first three volumes. Why is that necessary? And also, for three books, that’s not a lot of words.

These books are more like novella.

Of course, being self published isn’t a bad thing at all, and fair play if it’s something that you can make work for you, but there’s the lack of refinement that comes with reading something that’s gone through the hoops at a publishing house.

I want to touch briefly on each of the books.

Alone – we’re introduced to Sienna, a girl that’s been left at home by her mother. Her mother hasn’t been seen for about a week, and Sienna isn’t allowed to leave the house. Ever. Or there’ll be punishment [a box/coffin type imprisonment]. Her mother is abusive – there’s no other way to put it – but that doesn’t stop Sienna wanting to find the only person she’s ever known. There are strangers in her house, so she opens some kick ass martial arts, and goes on the run.

This book felt very one dimensional. It was essentially Sienna vs Wolfe – a super strong metahuman that wants to capture Sienna. No one knows why, and she gets taken away by those shady agents that turn out, maybe, to not have been quite so shady.

I actually kept forgetting that Sienna was called that, her name is uttered so infrequently.

Untouched – in this one there is slightly more going on than Sienna vs Wolfe – we have to start dealing with consequences. Well, sort of. Maybe not. The author tries to sort out what happens when Sienna’s mutant/Rogue powers are in effect, but then ends up having her drugged rather than really deal with it. We have a new threat, again wanting to take out Sienna, but only because she’s in the way this time. There’s a lot of death and destruction, but no real, tangible way to deal with the consequences of the actions that our characters take.

Again, a lot of the other characters like Zack, for instance, feel extremely one dimensional. They don’t have a lot going for them. Human, beat up, boyfriend etc. There’s not a lot of character development, or development to make you want to care for these characters.

Soulless – In this one, I do think the writing improves a bit. There’s more storyline, there’s more development and characters, and finally some progress on the longer story arc. But it was very predictable. We see chapters from the POV of “someone else” that I felt was quite obvious who that person was. We also see how easy it is to manipulate Sienna through her aunt Charlie, and a guy called James. I won’t put in spoilers as it’s not fair if you intend to read the series.

So… would I read the rest of the series? No. Well, I wouldn’t pay for them, that’s for sure. At times I did feel like I was reading some X-Men fanfiction, and at other times I thought that it was ridiculous. This is one of those series that you would enjoy if you liked to have lots of action scenes, and not a lot of consequences – for example – girl spends years trapped in her home, not able to leave, not able to have friends, her mother the only company she ever has. Her mother trains her in martial arts, schools her, beats her up a fair bit too. If Sienna disobeys the “rules” she gets put in a metal box, sometimes for a week, without being let out. She doesn’t come out of that damaged – and that would damage someone that would need years of therapy to get over. Nope. We have no consequences to that sort of thing.

These are good if you want a light read that requires not a lot of effort in the long run. I’ll leave the series here though.

Have you read this series? What did you think?

Kialtho

Doodler, Doodler…

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*sigh* I’ve been putting off writing this blog for a couple of days. It should have been filled with the awesome high of finishing a project – which I did finish and feel the high on – but in reality it went downhill not long after. Mainly because I’m an idiot.
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I finished my second Doodler. It looked amazing. The colours, the drape, how it all worked together! I sewed in the ends – didn’t cut them though – I do that after the blocking stage – and put it in the wash.

And that’s where I went wrong.

The yarn did specify hand wash only, but my machine has a “wool wash” that basically soaks the item, turning it once every 5-10 minutes or so – and only once. So essentially, a hand wash. I put it on a cold wash as well, so nothing should have gone wrong, right?

Can you see where this is going?

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Nothing destroys the high of finishing a project that’s taken about 6 weeks to do, that putting it in for those finishing touches and ruining it completely.

The thing is, I don’t think it would have done either. But, in my haste and perhaps that finishing high, I put the washing machine on the wrong setting. The dial was one click away from being the wash that I needed. It went on a silk/cashmere wash – you wouldn’t think that there’s much difference, would you? But there is. Time, for one – you would have thought that I would have noticed that, but it was 3 minutes difference.

No. I think the washing machine agitated the product too much, so instead of simply soaking, it spun. I also didn’t let the machine cool down from the previous load [it’s a washer dryer, the last load had been dried].

BUT!

I have a plan.

Only the blue and white section felted, so the plan is to remake that bit. Then pick up the 300 stitches for the orange, then go back to the original and cut away the felted bit, pick up the corresponding 300 stitches and graft them together with either Kitchener Stitch – magical, magical (long winded) stitch, or use a three needle bind off to seam the two products together.

By doing it this way I don’t have to sacrifice all those weeks of work – just a few – and save the Wollmeise segment – and my mum can still have an awesome shawl for when winter comes.

On the plus side, this has been my first mistake like this in the 4 and a half years that I’ve been knitting, so I can’t really argue or be angry about that, I just feel a bit like an idiot more than anything. I wanted it blocking so that I could give it to my mum the next day when we were meeting after work.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions for this, that would be great!

I’ll write a blog once I’ve conducted the reconstruction and repair… but first, I’m going to make some mittens. I’d like some gratification back. I will also knit a test square and wash that on the wash that I know usually works fine just to be doubly sure before I hand the new finished item over. But first, mittens.

Feel sorry for me, (or not, maybe)

Kialtho

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 30: What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why?

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Yes! Ravelry is my favourite website. When people mention knitting to me, I always have to bring up how awesome the Ravelry database is. My name over there, like everywhere on the internet [except YouTube as I made that account before this] is “Kialtho”. It’s a name that I came up with some years ago when I first started this blog, actually. I took one of those memes on Facebook that was all about finding your Star Wars name. Add in an extra letter, and there we have it! I love this name, and it’s unique – always available on the websites I want to sign up to.

Ravelry is awesome. I know I’ve spoken about it before, so won’t rehash what I’ve said before.

This post marks the end of the 30 day challenge. I haven’t done particularly well at posting every day – I just haven’t made the time to write the blog entries. I’m disappointed by that, but real life does take precedent.

I’ve nearly finished my second Doodler. Artie loves to try and “help” which has hindered when I can do it, but it’s nearly there. For some reason my right hand is hurting at the moment, in the fingers. I assume I’ve done too much somewhere along the way – work at the weekend was a bit of a nightmare, so maybe I’ve done something there, alongside hurting my back.

Anyway, that’s all for now – thanks for joining me on this journey!

Kialtho

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 29: Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?

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Hmm. For this one, I would suggest the following:

1. Take your time with your work. It will take time to learn things like evening out your tension, so take your time with your projects and enjoy the process. Don’t get stressed out about it – it’s not worth it.

2. Read a pattern all the way through, several times before jumping in. It allows you to become familiar with the designers writing style, to know what to expect and where. Additionally, any instructions that are “at the same time” can be expected, and save a lot of frogging time.

3. Utilise Ravelry. This one for me is key. Whether it’s the forums and requests for help, or using the pattern pages to see what other people have done, whether it’s modifications or fixing mistakes.

4. Use YouTube. There are some excellent bloggers out there that can demonstrate pretty much any and all techniques in the realm on knitting [and crochet]. My personal favourite is VeryPinkKnits. Her videos are clear, concise and explained in a simple way.

5. Experiment with different needles and types. Use straights, DPNs, circulars of all materials until you find the set that you like the most. I’ve spent a fair amount on needle sets and have a whole set that I just don’t use as I don’t enjoy the material.

To be fair that’s about it. I think if I hadn’t discovered Ravelry I wouldn’t have been as into knitting as I am. It’s such a great resource. It’s probably the only website that if they asked for donations/subscribership I would do it without question.

Any tips or tricks up your sleeves?

Kialtho

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 28: Do you do any other crafts besides knitting? What are they, and did learning to knit come before or after learning these other crafts?

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I used to do a lot of cross stitch before I knit. I worked on a wolf pattern for the longest time, and was super proud of it once I’d finished it. I had decided that I didn’t want to do the back stitching as it was like a year and half long to get to that point in the first place. I’ve done a few others, and have a panda on the go, but it doesn’t appeal to me in the same way that knitting does.

I learnt to knit after the cross stitch. I’ve been cross stitching most of my life – starting with a hard plastic “fabric” and thick wool when I was just a kid. I always made a mistake somewhere though.

I also crochet a little bit, but it’s a developing skill. I wouldn’t say that I’m great at this, I don’t do it often enough. It’s sort of a cheat including it and it sort of goes hand in hand with knitting/yarn crafts. I learnt to crochet after I learnt to knit. It feels weird to do, and hurts my hands in a way that knitting never has.

Looking forward, there’s the sewing that still screaming to be tackled. I’ve made a few items, but really need to dedicate a decent amount of time to this. And space. Which is more the issue with that one.

What other crafts do you do?

Kialtho

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 27: How do you acquire most of yarn? Online retailers, local yarn shops, swaps, or large chain craft stores? What’s your favourite?

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Hmm… this is a difficult question to answer because the answer is basically “it depends”. It depends on what yarn I’m buying. If it’s the Women’s Institute yarn – which is my go to yarn, and is available from Hobbycraft, I’ll go in person. I don’t tend to buy things like Rowan, or Debbie Bliss, or Stylecraft particularly often so a normal yarn store is a bit redundant for me. I love my indy dyed yarn – Countess Ablaze, Cuddlebums, easyknits.co.uk etc, so these ones get bought online.

I used to use Deramores a bit for online buying, but really, I prefer to support the indy dyers and buy as direct as I can. I would love a yarn store that sold them all and be able to go and see them in person, and you know… have a feel of the yarn or what not, but there are only a few shops that sell yarn like this, like Loop, iKnit or Yak [Brighton] so it makes it a lot harder to go and find it.

Ultimately, I use online stores for my more high end yarn. But I’m not opposed to going to a big box and getting yarn from there, but like I say I don’t tend to use the middling brands. I hope that this makes sense!

What do you do? How do you buy your yarn?

Kialtho