Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hallowe'en costume and crafts

I'm a bit behind the times, but here's what I did and made for Hallowe'en.

Shoddy nail art! I'm pretty happy with how the right hand turned out, given that I'm right-handed and used the easy ones on my left hand.

The first pumpkin I have carved in years! I carved it the Friday before Hallowe'en, then forgot about it until Hallowe'en night, by which time it had gone too soft to lift the lid off and light a candle inside for full effect. Woops.

Cupcakes! The recipe is from the Moosewood recipe book, with added almond and raspberries, the icing is vanilla buttercream, and I bought the toppers in Fallon and Byrne. This was my first time using food colouring in a good many years, and I added to much to the red, but this had the result of making it look like viscera while not tasting or feeling any different. Accidental success!

I dressed up as Harry Potter! I couldn't find a red and yellow tie, so I got a red one and wound a yellow ribbon around it. I got green contacts, which had a fairly narrow gap for the iris, obscuring my vision, and borrowed a pair of my mother's old glasses, which blurred my vision even without the contacts, so really I think the fact that I didn't drop or break anything is a success story.

I used rigid collodion for the scars, after becoming smitten with this tutorial. Because I did it in a rush, and the scars I was applying were rather fine, it didn't turn out quite as well, but I was happy enough. I used lip-liner to draw the scar on the back of my hand, and concealer for the lightning bolt. Apart from the shine, which I couldn't fully take away with powder foundation, they looked quite good.

I should probably end this with "and on to Christmas knitting!" but I have most of my Christmas knitting done, actually. Not to brag or anything. Just saying.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Octobirthday presents.

Like... presents for birthdays happening in October, not eight birthdays, or a birthday shared by eight people. You know a joke is hilarious when you have to explain it.

K-9! He doesn't quite balance, but he is supported by his associated on the shelf of things I have made for my boyfriend. Remember the time Giles was in Doctor Who? That was a good episode, even if Giles was not employed to best use. I used this pattern and Cygnet Chunky.

A neckwarmer for my friend Steph, who has emigrated to what will soon be the frozen wasteland of upstate New York. I used this pattern, casting on 49 rather than 63 stitches, and with an extra repeat, so it can be snug and long enough to meet the brim of a hat. It's a simple pattern, but I like it a good deal. I'd also been dying for a chance to use the yarn (Debbie Bliss Paloma) and it's so soft and squishy and lovely. I am selfish in what I choose to make and use, but I also hand-make things with love, so I feel I net at "neutral" in my gift-giving consideration.

I know I always say "Maybe I will make one of these for myself!" but the way it sits and the length my hair was when I made it put me in mind of Sheik from Ocarina of Time, who has a place in my heart, and Hallowe'en is coming... so maybe I will make one of these for myself!

My little brother loved the bobble hat I made him last year, so much that it disintegrated. I made him this replacement for his birthday on Thursday. (He also loved the Enterprise.) The pattern is Bobblehead Ray, which is about the nicest simple bobble hat pattern I've found.

More to follow, as October is disproprtionately full of birthdays.

Myself and a friend have started a knitting and crochet group in the asylum seekers' centre where we volunteer, so I am scouring Ravelry for projects interesting enough to stick with, but simple enough for beginners. Exciting times!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Forward progress

or "Self-indulgent internal chatter."

I gave up art as a Leaving Cert subject in March or so of 2008 (because grades are just terribly important and I wasn't going to get an A1, good job seventeen-year-old brain), and after a five-year hiatus full of intentions, I finally started making another concerted effort at drawing about two and a half months ago. I've been drawing nearly every day since then. Even within that length of time, it's encouraging to look at the attempts from the start of my sketchbook compared with now, and it fills me with optimism that in a few months I'll look at something I was happy with today and think it just precious that I thought that was any good, because I'll have improved so much by then.

So here are some early and recent drawings! I want to try to justify the early ones by pointing out what's wrong with them, but surely the fact that the later ones are better indicates I can see some of what was wrong with them, and shut up brain.

25/7/'13: The first face in my sketchbook, Bifur from the Hobbit. (Reference.) About the same standard as I had when I was fifteen or sixteen.

15/9/'13: Sylar/Zachary Quinto. (I've started watching Heroes - Season 1 is excellent, and Season 2 is nowhere near as slick but still entertaining, and I love a good villain.) This probably bears more resemblance to the original than anything I've drawn so far. (Reference.) 

30/7/'13: John Watson/Martin Freeman. Face number five in the book, still trying to work out how heads are shaped, and how to get the eyes to look in the direction I want them to. (I can't find the picture I used as a reference, but it's fair to say there's only the vaguest of resemblance. Also, the ratio of screencaps/stills to fanart yielded by Googling "John Watson BBC" is approximately 1:1. Good for you, fanartists.)

19/9/'13: Also John Watson/Martin Freeman! Still doesn't look like him, but it looks like it could be a person this time. (Reference.)

I've maybe been cheating by drawing almost solely men's faces, as I find the harder lines easier to draw. Next: women's and children's faces! I don't have an end goal with this, I'd just like be to able to draw and have the end result look like the subject.

Monday, September 16, 2013

And to boldly go where no-one has gone before.

My brother doesn't like sci-fi so much as he likes spaceships, but he really likes spaceships. There aren't a great many patterns going on Ravelry, but the Enterprise is good and iconic, so it seemed appropriate for his upcoming birthday.

God damn, but I can't stand sewing components together. And embroidery. I'm going to steer clear of toys for a while.

Fiddly finishing aside, the pattern is quite straightforward and takes no time to make. I used Cygnet DK acrylic, mostly.

I've started watching Star Trek: The Original Series (I like how the fandom hivemind all knows what you mean when you say TOS, even thought it was never called that, because that would be silly). The most endlessly charming thing is that fact that the backgrounds, props and costumes are so visibly handmade. It sounds like I'm trying to be snarky, but it's incredibly endearing to be able to see the work that went into it. Differently enjoyable is the fact that stage-fighting hadn't been invented yet. And while it's a cliché, the vision and ambition of the show is so hopeful. There's a scene a few episodes into season one where they're looking down on a planet identical to Earth, and the continents are laid out incorrectly, because it was made before there were any pictures of Earth from space. Also fun fact!: Spock was meant to be half-Martian, but Roddenberry thought that if the show were successful, man might walk on Mars during its run. I can't think of anything else at the moment that's as full of quiet optimism and wonder, or maybe I'm watching the wrong shows.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bare necessities bag

When I leave the house, my bag almost invariably contains

  • my planner
  • the book I'm reading
  • a sketchbook
  • a current knitting project
  • my phone
  • my wallet
  • my coin-purse, because my wallet doesn't have space for coins
  • a water bottle
  • my pencil case
Optional extras include
  • my journal
  • a notebook for writing projects
  • my 'miscellaneous' notebook
  • camera
  • another knitting project in case I don't feel like working on the first one
  • my sewing kit
  • specific items I need that day

This could be construed as me having a terrible aversion to not having something to do, which is true, but it becomes even more uncomfortably irrational given that I usually cycle into town, so I can't say that those things are to occupy me on the bus in. I'm usually cycling to either meet someone or go to work, as well, so once there it would be impolite to start reading or writing. So in practise, I cycle into town, a large bag containing the weight of a small child in paper hanging off my handlebars just in case, then I cycle home, where I can use any of it.

I like small bags because they force me not to damage my back for no reason. Usually in pattern backgrounds this is where the "so I made one to suit my exact needs" comes in, but I made one for someone else, because I like the idea of it, but I need all that paraphernalia.

This bag was made using a 9mm crochet hook with Hoooked Zpagetti. (I'm a brat when it comes to other people's presents - I select yarn I want to use, then decide something to make with it.) The fabric is a bit difficult to work, but it's very quick to make, an easy beginner's project, and doesn't have seams, which I consider a bonus in anything.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


When I was a child, I believed that in Heaven, everyone would know everything. All that science had yet to uncover, all the things science couldn't uncover because the evidence wasn't preserved, what happened on the Mary Celeste - everything. I don't remember developing or constructing this idea in my head, it's just my earliest memory of what I thought Heaven would be. My vision of a reward for a good life was an afterlife spent learning everything there is to know. I feel I should say something like "which probably explains a lot," but "which makes absolute sense, all things considered," is probably more accurate.

(I also thought that every person's whole life would be recorded, like a script, so that everyone who had ever known me would be able to read every embarrassing thought that had ever crossed my mind, every mean things I had said when I thought no-one could hear, and all my heinous crimes, like cheating on that question on a test three months ago. I think children picture the afterlife as "Like this one, but better," and apparently I just assumed the shame would carry over.)

It was rather a let-down to learn that what the religion I was raised in meant by Heaven was the joy of being in God's company forever. That seemed awfully dull by comparison, and probably made the probable non-existence of Heaven less of a loss.

Today, the book I'm currently reading noted that there isn't sufficient preserved evidence for archaeologists to determine whether ancestral humans had done away with Neanderthals by violence, or if they had edged them out through superior technology and ability to exploit the land. I was struck by the pity of the fact that no-one will ever know. And then a reassuring, incomplete thought came to me: "At least we'll find out when we're dead."

I think this particular incident was pretty funny because it was a harmless, childish view, but it does highlight how deep-rooted ideas can be - even those which are baseless and ridiculous under the slightest scrutiny. It's also why when someone says that it's alright for them to use that word or make that joke because they don't really mean it, they're not like that, I don't believe them for a second, even - especially - if they believe it of themselves.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

FO: Crocheted Garnet Bolero

I finished my first crochet project more complicated than a rectangle or amigurimi! It has been a productive few days, insofar as looking for jobs, crafting, looking at pictures of cats and reading children's books in Irish can be considered productive.

The last picture isn't great, in terms of quality or my face, but it shows nicely how it bolero sits.

The pattern is Short and Sweet from Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Happy Hooker. It took me a while to get the hang of the pattern, there was a lot of ripping out, and it still doesn't make the same intuitive sense to me that knitting does - can you correct a mistake from the row above it? Who knows! - but by the time I was half-way through I had it more or less memorised, and the fact that it builds up so quickly is awfully satisfying. The pattern was a bit unclear in parts, in particular in describing the increases on the front, but largely it was very straightforward, and a good project for someone looking to move up from 'beginner'.

I used a 5mm crochet hook and Rico Essentials Cotton DK. It's mercerised cotton, so it has a nice sheen to it. I could probably have gone down a size, but I'm quite delighted with it as it is. Four years after my first attempt at learning I feel justified in saying that I can crochet, so I'm experiencing a disproportionate sense of accomplishment right now.

(I also recently made a list of twenty-five things to do before I turn twenty-five, one of which was crochet a garment, so I made something AND I get to cross something off a list. I'm on fire over here. No really, send help.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

FO: Bowtie

A friend of mine requested a knitted bow-tie a shameful length of time ago, but it is surprisingly hard to find bow-tie clips for a reasonably price. A few weeks ago I picked some up from Maple Street Market's Etsy, and they are great and she wrote a nice note on my receipt!

If I  had a tux shirt this photo would look dapper as anything, instead of clumsy and scruffy.

The bow-tie is knit with leftover Debbie Bliss Rialto DK on 3.75 needles, and I super-glued it to the clip. Simple!

In other news, I ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon today, because I really like free t-shirts. It took me longer than it takes some people to run marathons, and I would have been faster walking at my usual pace, but I ran the whole thing!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Title Chapters for Harry Potter agus an Órcloch

For my own entertainment.

Harry Potter agus an Órchloch : Harry Potter and the the Stone of Gold*

Caibidil 1: An Gasúr a Tháinig Slán : The Young Boy Who Arrived Safe/Got Through Safe
Caibidil 2: An Ghloine a d'Imigh As : The Glass That Disappeared (From Itself)
Caibidil 3: Na Litreacha : The Letters
Caibidil 4: Coimeádaí na hEochracha : Keeper of the Keys
Caibidil 5: Go Diagon Alley : To Diagon Alley
Caibidil 6: An Turas ó Ardán a Naoi agus Trí Ceathrú : The Trip From Platform Nine and Three Quarters
Caibidil 7: An Hata Sórtala : The Hat of Sorting
Caibidil 8: Máistir na bPosóidí : Master of Potions
Caibidil 9: Comhrac ar Uair an Mheán Oíche : Action** at the Hour of Midnight
Caibidil 10: Oíche Shamhna : Hallowe'en
Caibidil 11: Quidditch : Quidditch
Caibidil 12: Scathán na Mianta : The Mirror of Wishes***
Caibidil 13: Nicolas Flamel : Nicolas Flamel
Caibidil 14: Dragan Dronnach na hIorua :  The Hump-Backed Dragon from Norway
Caibidil 15: An Fhoraois Thoirmiscthe : The Forbidden Forest
Caibidil 16: Tríd an gComhla Síos : Through the Downward Door
Caibidil 17: Fear an Dá Aghaidh : The Man of Two Faces

This isn't meant as jab of the "haw haw, look at Irish trying to be relevant, I didn't work at Irish in school because I'm incredibly cool and interesting, a fact I will prove by monologuing about how I like to not work at things" sort****. I think it's fantastic that wee small Gaeilgeoirí can read Harry Potter as Gaeilge! I just think it's interesting to wonder how much nuance I've missed by reading translations of books, and how clunky English translations sound to speakers of the original language.

Time to learn every language in the world, just in case.

* But not made of gold, pertaining to gold.
** But strategic action, like in chess.
*** Jesus, lads! Spoilers!
**** I have opinions about people who think that not making an effort is somehow an interesting personality trait. If I'm honest, it's just one opinion. You don't want to work at a thing? Cool! Don't! I am probably not interested in your spiel supporting your (in)actions.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This week I...

... went to a Social Sketch meetup! I wasn't sure if everyone else would be drawing from memory, or if we were meant to be drawing other people in the pub (which I wouldn't be up for, they are not there for staring at), so I brought my little carved tree spirit to have something unobtrusive to draw. I was happy enough with some of the drawings, though handing around sketch pads at the end made me want to crawl into a hole. I wanted to look at other people's though, so it would have been unsporting not to though mine onto the pile, though I couldn't refrain from pointing out that I had only restarted drawing again three weeks ago, after five years of next to nothing.

I have a knee-jerk aversion to the word 'sketch'. When I was in fifth year, my art teacher told the class that from now on, nothing we did would be a 'sketch'. Sketches are rough, incomplete, not a full piece in themselves, and if that is the mindset with which you're approaching your work, you're not putting in the effort which will make you better. From now on, we would only draw. While I've drawn very irregularly since then, I've held onto that lesson. I draw roughly, lazily, badly, but I don't sketch.

... drew some other things with which I was varying degrees of happy! These were on the middle to upper end of the scale.

Reference was this illustration, but a decent-sized version in a book.

"It's what people do, isn't  it? Leave a note?"


 ... made Oreo truffles from this recipe! I can make tasty food, but I cannot make pretty food, and while looks aren't everything, I see something like this and feel shoddy by comparison. (I want nothing like I want to friendship-court that person.) On the plus side, they were delicious.

... took part in the Colour Dash! (More great photos here.) I had been under the impression that we'd be running through a constant barrage of paint dust, but I suppose in retrospect that would be terrible for people's breathing. There was a paint-throwing station at the 500m mark of each kilometre. (The figure I heard floating around as to the amount of paint was nine hundred tonnes, so perhaps my way was logistically impractical as well as unsafe.) It was only five kilometres, but I was trying to match pace with my far more athletic sister for the first two and a half, and even though she slowed down on my behalf my legs are feeling it today! The photos don't really convey the full extent of the colourful paintiness.

 ... finished another pair of Ailbhe gloves! This pair are in a DK yarn rather than aran, so the fabric isn't so stiff, with a seersucker stitch pattern.

... saw Dylan Moran at the Comedy Festival in the Iveagh Gardens! Life goal accomplished, though I'd still love to see him perform a full set. By the time the opening act had been on for a minute I was cringing inwardly and knotting my hands around each other in sympathetic embarrassment (Also, if your shtick or sense of humour revolves around making fun of people who aren't you, I don't trust you. If you think jokes about driving while high are a big lol, ha ha ha you might hit someone or injure them for life and that's so edgy), but by the time Dylan Moran had been on for a minute my face hurt from laughing. It was all new material as well, and really top-notch.

"The truth is, we are all going to die. We are all going to die. And people hate when you say that. Especially if you say it during sex."

... started my October birthday knitting! Will this be the year I'm finally organised for all of the gift-giving occasions in the latter quarter of the year? Hahaha no, Jen, that was a stupid question. But a girl can hope!

A productive week, all told!