TTT: Non-Book Websites

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For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here.

Er, I’m probably cheating for half of these because I’ve gone to these places BECAUSE of book-related things. Or, well, writing-related things. Or, you know, word-related things. But hey, these websites are not ENTIRELY about books, so they count, right?

Ten Websites That I Love That Aren’t ENTIRELY About Books

Litographshttp://www.litographs.com/
Hah, okay, fine. This one is totally about books, the twist being that you don’t necessarily buy books here. Mostly I put this up because it’s a place I occasionally visit just to see their lovely tote bags and posters (which pretty much is a graphic depiction of some 200 or so books using their text–which is AWESOME). I mean, honestly, half of those posters I want hanging in my bedroom, because they’re just so darn pretty. And apparently there’s a Kickstarter closing out soon that includes the addition of book-text infinity scarves… *twitches* WANT.

Society 6https://society6.com/evieseo
I’ve been browsing this super-artsy place because of Evie Seo’s bookish designs. Like, seriously, I want ALL OF THE THROW PILLOWS. Well, not all of them, but I’ve been eyeing the A Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Cinder, and A Darker Shade of Magic ones, because because. I’ll wait until I’ve read Six of Crows, though, because those throw pillows look good, too… (clearly I’m already rethinking my bedroom stuff…).

Ravelryhttps://www.ravelry.com/
Okay, first non-bookish thing here! Yay! So I’m an on-again off-again knitter, and this website is practically golden. Granted, it doesn’t always have the pattern I want to use, but it’s pretty comprehensive, since a bunch of the stuff links outside of the website. It also has some geek-related patterns, like the Mass Effect scarf and some Harry Potter book scarves/marks. Also, one might need an account to be able to see the knitting patterns.

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/
Hah. Yeah. I used to use this site to upload pictures of food and knitting from my blog, but it’s kind of just boiled down to me pinning baking recipes, fandom-related pictures (which I often send to friends so we can giggle and swoon together), and preschool arts and crafts. That’s pretty much what encompasses my Pinterest activities.

Brown Eyed Bakerhttp://www.browneyedbaker.com/
One of my favorite baking bloggers ever. EVER. ‘Nuff said.

Think Writtenhttp://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/
I’ve been going here a lot lately because this is where I pull my writing prompts when I don’t particularly have a goal. I haven’t done much of the prompts so far, only because I’ve actually been working on two short stories–and my novel–this past month or two. That said, when I want to take a break from the “heavy” stuff, I jot down a prompt and write some lovely fanfiction!

Archive of Our Ownhttp://archiveofourown.org/
Which brings me to two of my favorite fanfiction websites, hah! Actually, this one’s been my go-to place lately, because FF.net kind of has an overglut of fanfiction and is much harder to filter out particular stories. AO3 uses tagging as a way to filter out stories, and that works wonders. Also, I can actually download certain stories onto my Kindle so I can read them offline! Score!

Fanfiction.nethttp://www.fanfiction.net
Which isn’t to say that I don’t visit FF.net anymore. I still do, because honestly, there are a bunch of really good fic in FF.net that have yet to be transferred to AO3 (here’s looking at you, several Mass Effect writers…). If anything, I think anime-related fanfiction has a better hold on FF.net than it does on AO3, and occasionally, I get out of my book and/or video game-related addiction in order to read some anime-related fanfic.

Sinister Soleshttp://www.sinistersoles.com/default.asp
I was kind of sad that I lost the use of Clockwork Couture (which had been my go-to steampunk regalia site), but I suppose Sinister Soles has nice steampunky-looking shoes. That said, I haven’t actually bought anything from them, considering I’ve already got a few vintage lace shoes from CC. All the same, I feel like if I do decide to purchase another set of steampunk shoes, I’d go here.

Geeky Teashttp://geekyteas.com/
Aaaaand lastly, tea. Because I love tea. And short of heading to Alice’s Tea Cup (which, to be honest, is usually my first choice), I’m always looking for interesting types of tea packaging. Geeky teas being one of them. This one has cute names for teas, in any case.

Right. So. What are your “not-entirely-about-books” go-to places?

That Mass Effect Scarf

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At long last, the scarf is done! Cue maniacal laughter here.

But seriously, not even the last scarf I made took this long to get done. Then again, the last scarf I made consisted of one skein of thick yarn and didn’t go to over six feet tall. And I wasn’t particularly following a more complicated pattern, either.

The N7 scarf had to be made, however. It called to me like the Milky Way calling for Commander Shepard to save it from the Reapers. Besides, my N7-striped gloves needed a matching scarf to go along with it, right?

me3For those who haven’t already realized this, I’m a pretty big Mass Effect fan. Like, huge, HUGE ME fan. I was particularly glad that the entire trilogy was done well, and I was not at all disappointed by the end of it. This love may just be part of my over-obsessive fangirling of things fandom-y, but the ME trilogy was big for me in that it weaned me over to the scifi-world. Okay, Doctor Who and Farscape did that, too, but ME was different. It was a video game that I normally wouldn’t have considered because it wasn’t fantasy or steeped in a historical or superheroey context. It had a space military plot, with a Star Wars-y vibe, and while I respected that, it wasn’t something I was rearing to play as a priority. But, you know, I got to choose a female soldier character, so um…of course I was eventually going to play it.

Needless to say I have since changed my opinions on non-fantasy, non-historical, non-superheroey gaming. I pretty much play a lot of everything now, so yeah. Still, it did start with Mass Effect.

Anyway, the scarf.

I found the pattern at Ravelry.com, from a classy lady who does Bioware stuff  (though I saw mostly Mass Effect knitting patterns as opposed to the other Bioware games). I did a few changes, especially since A) I didn’t want to do the other emblem half, and B) I thought the colored stripes needed a different proportion. So for the edited pattern:

MATERIALS
At least two skeins of white and black yarn, one skein of red yarn.

scarf2Take note: It would due well to practice dealing with several skeins of yarn on a horizontal position, because that proves to be chaotic if not organized properly. At some point I had so many yarn skeins tangled up because I kept having to twist the yarn that I must have spent just as much time disentangling them as I did knitting the pattern itself. Okay, slight exaggeration, but still…

Cast On 60 stitches.
R1: (black) k all
R2: (black) k3, p54, k3
Repeat R1, R2 17 more times (36 rows total)

N7 STRIPES:
R1: (black) k15, (white) k7, (red) k16, (white) k7, (black) k15
R2: (black) k3, p12, (white) p7, (red) p16, (black) p12, k3
Repeat R1, R2 43 more times (88 rows total)

scarf3ARTICULATION:
R89: (black) k all
R90: (black) k3, p54, k3
R91: (black) k15, (white) k7, (red) k16, (white) 7, (black) k15
R92: (black) k3, p12, (white) p7, (red) p16, (black) p12, k3
Repeat 91, 92 3 more times (8 rows in all)
Repeat the Articulation again until there are 5 black Articulation stripes

Then the suggestion is to do the N7 Stripes pattern until it’s 23″ less than your desired length, but I just eyeballed it to mean “as tall as me”. My scarf got pretty darn long, though, so I might have gone overboard with that.

I did count 128 R1, R2 pairs (so 256 rows…). Yeah, it really did end up being a long scarf.

Start the Articulation pattern until it matches the first side.

Then do the N7 Stripes pattern again for 44 R1, R2 pairs (88 rows).

scarf5BLACK BACKGROUND:
R1: (black) k all
R2: (black) k3, p54, k3
Repeat R1, R2 3 more times (8 rows in all)

Then start the N7 logo (the pattern is on the Biowearables site). Working the color was…erm…interesting. There were some issues I faced where I had to deal with bringing the white or black yarn across the pattern, and occasionally I ended up using the intarsia technique. Suffice to say color-work was interesting at best, and took up quite a bit of time when it came to the logo itself. Thank goodness I didn’t attempt the emblem on the first side!

Do 7 pairs of the Black background pattern of R1, R2 (14 rows in all).

Bind off!

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Voila! Matching gloves and scarf! Totally winter 2014 ready 😀

I think, besides my teeny tiny flubs here and there (and the fact that I accidentally cut the colored yarn too early, so I had to re-add them into the knitting), my only big problem had been the mess that was the back. I mean, at some point, once I did get the method to the madness, I managed to keep the stitches on the back of the scarf relatively neat–or at least, as neat as I could make it. But one can only go so far, I suppose. There’s also the business of needing to iron out the sides, since the border keeps curling inward, which is slightly annoying (I suppose this could have been avoided if I used the same kind of yarn throughout…but clearly I do not have the budget for that…).

Too bad it’s practically burgeoning on springtime, ’cause now I’ll have to wait until winter comes along now to be able to wear both with great relish (unless it snows in May…in which case I might actually cry).

Look, Ma, I got my N7 stripes!

I should really be writing about faeries and circuses at the moment, but instead I’m staring at my knitting and attempting to make myself awesome Mass Effect-inspired paraphernalia. Priorities, right?

Sorry, I’m not sorry.

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There’s something about BioWare’s Mass Effect trilogy that puts it at the top of my favorite video games of all time list, and I really can’t pinpoint it to just one particular thing. The story was phenomenal, the characters were amazing, the locations enormously grand and detailed, the fighting system and graphics get better after every subsequent game within the trilogy. The story revolves around Commander Shepard and her (FemShep all the way!) fight against the mega-powerful Reapers across the galaxy.

Throughout the game, Shepard acquires allies and resources to help her fight the good fight, and in turn also experiences the red tape surrounding an inter-species bureaucracy (and gosh, her other enemies are frustratingly maniacal!). There was clearly a lot of work put into this sci-fi game, from species creation to worldbuilding and background histories, and to me, the entire trilogy hit it out of the ballpark (that says multitudes, considering BioWare’s other currently popular franchise, Dragon Age, has had hits and many, many misses so far).

But enough about my gushing. This is about my gloves. Which, funnily enough, sport the Alliance military’s N7 stripes.

n7Darn right I do!

Realistically speaking, I’d fail the first part of training. In the ME universe, an N-designation of any kind is roughly the equivalent of having joined the Marines and passed the arduous training regimes. N-6 probably equates to the Navy Seals, and N-7 goes beyond that, because by that point, the person with that designation is considered special forces. So, you know, not something I could physically do.

But that’s alright, because I totally got Shepard’s back. Yep.

It took some time framing the gloves, because I wanted to find a basic fingerless pattern that I could alter by putting a vertical colored stripe in the middle. I decided I’d do the pattern I’ve been doing, because honestly, it was my favorite one, and it was described pretty well for, you know, someone who only started a few months back. Not so hard, right? Well, then there’s the location of the stripe to worry about as well, because the way I did it, the placement was different from the right hand to the left, and so some math was required.

For those interested, the beginning pattern is as follows:

Materials:

  • 1 skein of each: black yarn, white yarn, red yarn–preferably something soft like Caron, but I didn’t have those handy, so I went for what I had
  • circular knitting needles or 4 dpns (don’t ask me for any more details, because I didn’t write those down…)

Directions:

Cast on 36 stitches. Split them into three of the dpns, using the fourth as your working needle.
1×1 ribbing (k1, p1) for 20 rounds

Right hand:
k24 black, k1 white, k2 red, k1 white, k until end
repeat for 22 rounds

Left hand:
k12 black, k1 white, k2 red, k1 white, k until end
repeat for 22 rounds

Increases: I pretty much followed the rest of this pattern, with the changes I made above. So, yeah. That 😀

(Yes, this is me being lazy and not wanting to explain the rest).

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Some kinks still needing to be worked out when I do gloves, but I’m taking a break from glove-knitting to make myself an N7-striped scarf that matches!

Again, sorry, I’m not sorry.

TARDIS: Bigger on the Inside

Because clearly I’m not already a big enough Doctor Who fan, what with the cookies and my poster and my mini-TARDIS and my adipose plushie nicknamed Allons-y (full name being Caius Alonso Napoleon)…

In my defense, the knitted project was for a friend’s belated birthday present. And now that he’s actually got the project, the need for secrecy is over, and I can totally post it up. Yep.

tardis1

So I may have gotten addicted to browsing Ravelry every so often for knitting project patterns. And when I started looking around for ideas on an iPad cosy, guess what lovely little morsel fell beneath my ever-active fingertips? Yes, I’m talking about a TARDIS cosy design. Which eventually led me to this fellow darner’s pattern. Couple that with the beautiful royal blue yarn I recently got at A.C. Moore, and an abundance of white and black, I set about in my crafty-ish ways and started knitting–while watching hours of movies and TV shows, of course. The Multitask Monster rears its oh-so-beautiful head.

tardis2

So far so good, right? Eventually I got up to the white windows and I realized that I’d hit numerous snags (no, pun intended…seriously…). If I’d done the pattern exactly as it was supposed to be done, there would be a problem of how far the work can stretch. Considering I don’t exactly have an iPad, I had to use the wide side of my 7″ Kindle to test out the fit. Eventually I decided to carry on, but that I would have to go back and fix the fit if it came to that.

tardis3

And then the top came along. Again, I hit another problem. 32 stitches across of black, and then some blue on the sides? Yeah, no, I decided to just knit black across to save the trouble of having to cut the black strands and weave them into the knitting. There was also the upcoming problem of the bind-off at the top, and whether I should keep it open or keep it closed.

In the end, I made the executive decision to close the top, because that way, the light would not droop on the outside, and the bottom opening would allow the iPad to slide in easily.

I also did go back to the original problem, which was the white strands inside that prevented the stretching, and after some wild postulating, I eventually went with the tedious method of cutting them and weaving them in. Really tightly. Yep. Saves me trying to find lining to line the inside.

As for the embroidery, I ultimately decided against it. Well, it might be the fact that I didn’t have any embroidery materials around. Or maybe I got really lazy and at that point I didn’t want to knit the TARDIS anymore. Or I didn’t get the chance to go to the crafts store for pre-embroidered lettering and thensome. Whatever.

tardis4

Hello, Sexy.

Some mistakes, obviously, some displays of sheer laziness, and a complete meandering from the original pattern. But that just means that my TARDIS has character. And that is probably better.

Stick them with the pointy end

I meant to share some more writing news, but I think I’ll wait until Ticonderoga Publications comes up with the cover image for their April anthology *coughs*.

That said! I have a couple projects I’m hopeful to complete this year (including something book-reading-reviewing related to motivate me to devour more books than I did last year).

But first, onto the knitting!

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For the last half of November and the greater part of December, I started to learn something new, which happened to be how to knit things. Granted, I’ve only started, but I actually am a bit more relieved that I’ve had to start over from scratch less times on each passing project. (I still mess up, but erm…it’s down to a minimal now? >>)

My latest completion? A belated Christmas present to my sister: long, fingerless gloves, themed a la Alice in Wonderland (the stripes do remind me of Cheshire’s tail, if anything). I used the pattern in Diana’s Knitandbake blog as a template, though the gloves themselves were too short for my concept idea. That, and my sister suggested I do an asymmetrical pair of gloves, so pink on black in one, and black on pink on the other. I loved the asymmetrical but symmetrical idea, so I went with it and lengthened the gloves.

Some Things I Learned About Knitting, and Needles, and Stuff Involving that Stringy Thing Called Yarn

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1) I’m generally a hands-on learner when it comes to hands-on things (which is meant to say that reading technical instruction without images and/or people showing me the how-to methods tends to go one eye and out the other). So if I see a method, I start to mimic it. This means that whatever terminology I was meant to learn I ultimately eventually learned only after repetition. Well, and a little help from my sister and friends and erm…Youtube videos (I mean, come on, garter stitches? Ribbing? K2tog, C1f&b?! WHAT ARE THOSE? I just learned how to knit and purl!)

2) There actually are several correct ways in holding one’s yarn relative to the needles in order to maximize efficiency. Knitting books do not tell me this. Well, they probably do, but they can only go so far with finger positions. Numerous Youtube videos have opened up the terms “continental method” and “English method” to me. So I tried both.

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Practice yarn. I’m trying to find a way to introduce color through intarsia for later projects, but that hasn’t happened yet, obviously.

I liked the continental method the best, but that was because I realized I’d been knitting in a similar way, only more like a Neanderthal than a savant. So obviously I had to remedy this.

3) Knitting in the round is a blessing and a godsend. Okay, so I did invest in some circular knitting needles, but I realized–to my consternation–that the needles were too long for most of the small projects I do. This means that unless I got another set of circular knitting needles–a smaller one–it would be more difficult to knit on them if you wanted to make, say, gloves. And socks. And iPhone cozies. Thankfully, I also invested in my favorite double-pointed needles, which, let’s be honest, has been my favorite needles of choice.

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They’re sharp, pointy, and blue. What’s not to love?

4) Most patterns are all a matter of knitting and purling. No, seriously. Almost everything is a combination of knitting and purling techniques, and for fancier patterns, there are tons of sites and places willing to load you on patterns (for free and not-so-free). I admit I immediately got addicted to Ravelry, because hey, it’s a source for numerous patterns, of the geek and not-so-geek variety. I’m still looking for more geeky knitting, but only some of my fandoms have been iterated onto the site. No matter, I’m learning steadily and eventually I will attempt at making simple, yet fandomy patterns!

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Albeit some not-so-glaring technicalities, I think they came out rather well!

So yes. Turns out after I finished the gloves, now my mother is clamoring for one, this time a red-and-black variety. So I have to put my projects for myself on hold again. Ah well, there’s always the baking aspect, too >>.