Friday, December 05, 2014

Eyelet Swirl Hat

Hey all! Just a heads up, blogging is going to be a little haphazard for a while. Work is crazy right now and Christmas is looming over my shoulder quickly. I do have a bunch of finished objects lined up to post, but time is going to be tight for a while.

So today, you get my post on the Eyelet Swirl Hat!

Eyelet Swirl Hat Eyelet Swirl Hat

Pattern: Eyelet Swirl Hat

Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool Light (6623)

Needles: US 4 - 3.5 mm

This was actually a kit that I won in a raffle! All of the yarn shops during the Western CT Yarn Crawl had their own raffles in each of the stores, and my name was drawn at New England Yarn & Spindle! I swung by the shop the week after the crawl and picked up my kit.

This yarn is pretty amazing. It's very soft and the colors are absolutely lovely. I just kept returning to the bag to touch the yarn, so I had to cast on right away.

Eyelet Swirl Hat

I have to say that I need to get better at my prep work for knitting hats. I tend to not make up swatches because I'm impatient. This isn't a problem for scarves, generally, and I'm pretty good at recognizing if socks or fingerless mitts are the right gauge for me within a few rows. But I'm terrible at recognizing the right gauge for hats. This hat ended up being a really lovely hat, but it was just loose enough that I didn't feel comfortable wearing it. It sort of sat around for a while I debated frogging it or making due.

Ultimately, I ended up just looping some thin elastic into the brim. The hat only really needed to be brought in by about an inch, so just the little bit of draw by some elastic made this hat really work for me. I wear it around all the time now.

Eyelet Swirl Hat Eyelet Swirl Hat


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Winter Soldier

While the rest of the world seems to be dashing off to Christmas (insert rant about not being able to find good Thanksgiving decorations in November), I thought I'd take today to look back on Halloween.

Mostly because this folder of costume photos has been kicking around and I need to make a post about it.

Also, because I didn't get a chance to show off my robot arm closer to Halloween.

Continuing to Winter Soldier at the office, but I'm not sure everyone who's commenting knows who I am. Winter Soldier selfie.

Those are the good shots. And here's a terrible full body one taken for the costume contest at work:

WS work photo copy

Ta da! And I thought, since I have this blog and all, I'd show you folks how I put together my cheap Winter Soldier costume.

Most of this costume is stuff that is really easy to get or something you might already own:

- Black boots
- Black socks
- Black pants
- Black fingerless glove
- Silver glove
- Black button down shirt (that can be altered)
- Black Humvee combat vest
- Winter Soldier arm leotard thing
- Sunglasses
- Face mask

Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces Clothing Pieces

The sunglasses were an Ocean State Job Lot find for $2.00.

The black fingerless gloves are just a cheap pair of gloves that can be picked up practically anywhere with the fingers cut off. Not even hemmed or anything. They were a part of another costume a few years ago and I think a work friend picked them up for me for $1.00.

I already owned the silver gloves from an old costume; I just cut the left one down so that it wasn't an elbow glove and hemmed the cuff. It's not a neat cuff, but it's hidden by the black fingerless glove. Silver gloves are pretty easy to find online if there's no party store or costume shop nearby. A quick search shows them from $6.00 to $13.00.

The altered shirt is also really easy. I just cut off the left arm about an inch below the shoulder seam and hid my hemming stitches along the shoulder seam that was already there. I bought it at a thrift store for $4.00.

The Humvee combat vest was also a part of a costume a few years back, but my work friend found these at a surplus store for $25.00. It's not as impressive as the Winter Soldier's actual leather coat thing, but if you're on a budget, it's a good alternative.

The arm is really where all the work and money went. There are some really great tutorials online for Winter Solider arms and I did take some direction from them, but my arm is not as detailed as many of the ones I had seen previously. I think this is a good alternative if you're not sure how far you want to get into making this arm. I could definitely add more detailing and paint to this to make it more realistic if I was intending to wear this to a convention later.

The first things I started with were a $4.00 long sleeved shirt from Ocean State Job Lot and a $40.00 silver leotard. White ones are cheaper, but I didn't want to paint the whole arm for time reasons.

I used the $4.00 shirt to create an arm model for myself.

Winter Soldier Arm

As you can see, it's mostly masking tape and that shirt. There's plenty of tutorials for making dummies of yourself online, so if you need some help with this part, there are lots of resources. I'd recommend having a friend help out with the arm dummy; I did it on my own and it was really hard to cut off the masking tape dummy up by the shoulder and neck.

I then put on my sweet, sweet leotard and stuck safety pins into key points on my arm: my wrist where my glove would reach, the inside of my elbow, the top of my shoulder, and approximately where the star might end up. I then dressed up my arm dummy and lined up all those points with the same points on the dummy.

Winter Soldier Arm

I then drew out a diagram of the Winter Soldier's arm in Adobe Photoshop and created a PDF that I could print out as a stencil. I'm going to make both the PDF and PSD available for free download at for anyone who wants to play around with it. I have it sized to my arm, but if you're familiar with Photoshop, you can alter it to fit your own arm measurements. The stencil print out for me took 6 pages (printed poster style).

Winter Soldier Arm

I cut the stencil in half around where the elbow would be and lined it up with my arm dummy to check the measurements. If the points on the dummy and the points on the paper are far off, you might have to rework your stencil.

Winter Soldier Arm

I then started cutting out each panel and pinning it to the arm dummy. I left spaces where the gaps in the plates (the blue lines on the paper) would be and taped the paper together where the ends meet on the back of the arm. It's not exact, but it worked well enough for me. Put larger gaps where your arm will naturally bend.

Winter Soldier Arm Winter Soldier Arm

And then I continued in the same way up the rest of the arm. The star is shown there, but I ignored the edges of the star in the next step. I left it there for the plates that go through the star. Once the whole thing is pinned together, I used fabric paint to paint the lines where the plates gap.

Winter Soldier Arm

I did the first coat in a silvery fabric paint. I didn't know how it would turn out, so if I really screwed up I could repaint the whole arm. I took it slow painting one side of the arm, letting it dry for half a day, and then painting the other side of the arm. Try to keep your hand steady as much as possible and don't worry if it looks weird at this step. Just try to keep the line in the middle of the space between the paper pieces.

Winter Soldier Arm

Once all the silver paint was dry, I took off all the paper pieces. The paint is different enough from the leotard that the lines were clear to follow. I then took a smaller brush and did a thing line of black fabric paint in the center of my silver lines. Again, first one side of the arm, waiting half a day for it to dry, and then the other side of the arm.

Winter Soldier Arm

Once everything was dry, I printed out another copy of the arm star for a stencil and put on my fancy pants leotard with arm lines on it. I lined up where the star should go in the mirror and pinned the star in the right place with a couple of safety pins. I stuck the arm back onto the dummy and traced a star in red fabric paint. Once that was dry, I removed the star and painted in the rest of the red for the star. I goofed on my paint choice, so my Winter Soldier arm has some sparkles in the star, but it didn't end up being all the visible against the leotard. I only painted the one coat of the red, so the coverage is slightly uneven. That was fine for me. It looks more like an inlay with very definite border lines in the movie, but I like the look of the star being painted on rather than built in.

Winter Soldier Arm

And that's the arm!

And the face mask ended up being the cheapest part of this costume. I bought a pack of 10 dust masks from the dollar store, chopped them up, taped them together, and painted them black. I only ended up using 3 masks. Here's a series of photos of me putting them together and adjusting them to my face:

Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial Mask Tutorial

And that's how I put together my Halloween Winter Soldier costume.

2014-10-31 10.43.41

Also, that's a record for the number of photos taken of me within one month. I felt absurd taking that many photos of myself. I'm not a fan of how I look in static images (or, you know, how I look in general). I'm a bit better about video due to YouTube video stint that lasted a few years before I drifted away from it, but I've always had a hard time with photos. It's easier for me when I'm in costume, but even then it can be a bit much for me. I just don't like my face.

But I find that I really like these photos of me with my face mostly covered. I mean, with the mask on, you're missing out on the worst parts of my face, so my eyeballs and eyebrows look pretty good there. And my hair's not too bad in the actual Halloween photos either.

But it's still weird to post photos of myself online when I've spent so long avoiding photos of myself.


Monday, November 17, 2014

New England Fiber Festival (Sheep and Wool)

The first weekend in November I went up to the New England Fiber Festival for the first time! By myself!

NE Fiber Festival

I'm really glad that this fell right after Halloween. I was so focused on getting Halloween done right that I really only had one night to panic about going up to Massachusetts for a sheep and wool festival on my own. Only one night to compare driving directions and spot out places to stop in emergencies and make my short list of things that I'm allowing myself to buy.

I never go to new places by myself. I've always had a friend or sibling or parent to go to a new place with me, but I drove myself up to Massachusetts (I'm in CT) to the Eastern States Expo groups for this festival! I was actually surprised at how easy it was for me to get there. I mean, I missed the turning for the parking lot and had to turn around and then I had to have a terrible three minutes fumbling with my car door and a five dollar bill at the parking booth wherein I dropped my five bucks into a puddle and had to chase it a little bit all because my driver's side window doesn't roll up and down properly. But I made it! And I loved it!

The first part of the festival space had a huge space of raw fiber that was submitted... for competition? I don't know. I walked into that area on the wrong side and didn't read the sign. I was a little overwhelmed on my own. But there were a bunch of alpacas grouped with booths in this first part, so I calmed myself down greeting those guys. I made my first purchase right away.

NE Fiber Festival NE Fiber Festival

Tada! Soap and hand lotion. I haven't used the soap yet, but soaps like this have been all I use for the past year and a half and they're great. I tested out this hand lotion at the booth and it made my hands a little greasy after applying it, but it really worked well other than that. I put this little jar upstairs so I can use it while I'm spinning. A little bit of greasy hands there is actually a help, so I'm excited to get back to spinning.

It took me a while to make my second purchase. This booth was in the very middle of the whole festival, so there was about an hour between my first purchase and this purchase. But this is actually the thing I brought home that I'm most excited about:

NE Fiber Festival NE Fiber Festival

Look at that thing. LOOK AT IT. This booth sold dyed roving by weight. So I could have bought any amount of roving I wanted.

That is a 1 lb 4 oz ball of roving. It's the size of a basketball. It's giant. 20 oz. For comparison, the kind of standard weight for roving sold is about 4 oz. And it was half the price I normally pay for roving. I just plucked this thing off the shelf and put it on the scale and the vendor thought it was great that I was just going to buy the whole thing.

My plan is the spin this into a ridiculous amount of yarn and make the Maple Leaf Shawl. It's going to be absurd.

For a size reference, here's a photo with my hand and a photo with a Reese's peanut butter cup.

NE Fiber Festival NE Fiber Festival


And then I finished walking through the festival. It took nearly two hours to go through the whole place. I then back tracked to a couple of booths and ended up purchasing this beautiful green yarn from a booth that had a huge fake tree canopy with yarn hanging from it. It was lovely. And this yarn is a one of a kind dye, so I'm really pleased.

NE Fiber Festival

And then I had to scoot on out of there because the crowd had doubled over the time I was there and it was too much. But I got the things I was really looking for and it was a great experience and I'm really glad I went. Mom's already told me that she's going to reserve a weekend off next year for this event. I'm excited to share it with her.

And that was my last yarn event of the year! Huzzah!