Extra Life – Gaming (& Knitting!) for Charity

On October 25th, I’ll be participating in Extra Life – a 24-hour gaming event to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. I’m a part of a team – the USS Artemis – and we’ll be live-streaming our games all day and night long!

Extra Life Logo_Blue

In addition to gaming, I’ll also be knitting! (Who would have guessed that?!) I’m going to knit up as many dice bags as I can ahead of time to raffle off during the event. I’ll also be live-streaming some knitting. Who knows, if there’s a bunch of people interested, maybe we’ll hold a live knit-along or something.

If you’d like to help me raise money for kids facing scary stuff like cancer, cystic fibrosis, and injuries from accidents, please visit my page – Christinly at Extra Life. All proceeds go directly to helping kids.

Oh, and if you have any ideas of nerdy things for me to knit, let me know!


Holy cats, it’s been almost a year since my last post! Let’s not make that a habit. ;)

Minecraft Creeper Gloves

My nephew is obsessed with Minecraft. And for good reason – it’s an awesome game! I knew I wanted to knit him something Minecraft related for Christmas, and these Creeper Gloves just popped into my head one day. They are so simple to make! Just knit up some basic gloves, make a simple Creeper chart (or use mine), duplicate stitch your Creeper, and you’re done!


CreeperGloves

Creeper Color Chart

First you’ll need a glove pattern. I used the incredibly simple Easy Fingerless Gloves pattern. I knit them up in one evening while catching up on The Blacklist.

Once your gloves are knit, you’ll need to create a color chart for your Creeper. Or you can just use mine. My creeper is 10 stitches wide and 15 stitches tall.

Now use duplicate stitch to create your creeper! Instead of using yarn, I used strands of variegated green embroidery floss (from a multipack of embroidery floss). I used some black yarn scraps for the eyes and mouth.

You can use this process with any 8-bit character! Think about the pixels as if they were stitches. Each pixel is a stitch! Just remember that knit stitches aren’t perfectly square – they’re wider than they are tall – so you may want to add an extra row of “pixels” to make your character taller in your sketch.

If you need help making a color chart, check out my tutorial: How to knit a logo hat. The steps are basically the same.

Resources:

Knit a Logo Hat!

My fiance is from Dallas originally and is a diehard Dallas Stars fan. So when they updated their official colors and logo, I knew I had to knit him a custom Dallas Stars hat.

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The process of setting up your logo correctly can be a little tricky, but if you have some photo manipulation software experience (like Photoshop), you can figure it out. I also recommend learning Duplicate Stitch as opposed to trying to insartia knit the logo.

Follow along with a logo of your choice to knit your own custom logo hat!


Step 1: Choosing a Hat Pattern

The first step is to choose what hat pattern you’re going to knit for the base of your hat. I suggest using a pattern that has the following characteristics:

  • A large portion of stockinette stitch where the logo can fit.
  • A relatively small gauge so that you have lots of stitches to work with. Think about this: each pixel of your image represents one knit stitch, so you don’t want to knit up a hat in super bulky yarn (or maybe you do – whatever floats your boat).

I used the Scraptastic Hat as my base hat. The initial cast-on was 138 stitches, and my logo ended up being 34 stitches wide, making the entire logo stretch to about 1/4th of the hat.

*Obviously you could knit something other than a hat – it can be socks, a scarf, whatever.

Step 2: Choosing Your Image

I suggest choosing something with 3 or less colors. More than 3 colors and it’s going to get tricky – especially for your first time. Something with simple, thick lines is best.

The Dallas Stars Logo had 4 colors: green, black, gray, and white. I tried using it as-is, but it was just too difficult to get it to look right, so I edited the image so that it was just green, black, and gray (I later changed the gray to white because I ended up knitting the whole hat in gray).

Step 3: Pixelate Your Image

For this step, I highly suggest using Knitty’s The Smart Way to Chart. It’s what I used to pixelate my logo, with a couple of extra tweaks.

Tweak 1: Stretch your image vertically about 10-20%. Knit stitches are wider than they are tall, so you want to make your image look stretched a little bit taller than usual. Then when you knit it, it should look normal! (Otherwise it will look a little squatty.)

Teak 2: Because my image wasn’t perfectly black and white, I had quite a bit of editing to do to make it really look right. Using your Pencil Tool, choose the square shape and size it to 10 pixels. Then you can edit your image pixel-by-pixel to make it perfect.

Step 4: Knit Your Hat & Duplicate Stitch Your Logo!

Knit up your hat, then use Bella Knitting’s Duplicate Stitch Tutorial to add your logo! Duplicate stitch is super simple and it’s SO rewarding watching your logo slowly come to life.

It does take a lot of planning, but it’s completely worth it. My fiance has gotten so many compliments on his hat – and most people ask him where he bought it. They think it’s official merch! That’s the best compliment, I think. Nope, it’s not official, but it’s lovingly hand made.

Resources:

Knitting a Beard

Last June, Jác and I attended a BYOBeard Art Show, hosted by the Pump Project Art Complex.

9891a69ed86f11e2928c22000a9f3092_7The whole idea was to bring your own beard to the show, which was full of beard-related art. The show was fabulous. There was great music, delicious beer, and some fabulous beard art. Jác and I bought 2 prints – one of Bill Murray as Captain Steve Zissou, and the other a stylized beard and mustache that just screams Austin to us.

While Jác already had an impressive beard on his own, I was in dire need of one. What to do? Knit one of course!

I used the Mountain Man bearded hat pattern as a visual guide, but this really is my own creation. I used size 10 needles, only cast on 31 stitches, made the mouth gap 11 stitches, and just sorta kept holding the beard up to my face and kept knitting and casting off equally on each side to match the lines of my face. I wanted my beard to be even more unruly than my beau’s, so I cut a bunch of yarn strips and tied them on with slip knots. Then I created a mustache by just bunching up 20 or so long strands of yarn, tying the bunch to the beard in 3 places, and then braiding each side. I also decided to go sans hat because it’s hot in Austin in June, so I just created little ties on either side of the beard to go around my ears.

Lessons learned: Beards are hot. Beards make drinking beer difficult. Beards with ear loops eventually hurt your ears. BUT! – Everyone LOVES a girl in a beard! :)

It was so much fun to wear, I even donned it on Halloween as a Bearded Lady.

(Check out my Ravelry Page for more details.)

Playing Magic the Gathering for the first time

Last night, Jác taught me how to play Magic the Gathering. And because we’re nerds, we live-casted it on Twitch.tv. Surprisingly, people actually watched us and commented! It was exciting.

I have to admit that I really got into it! Loving card games and Harry Potter makes MTG my cup of tea! Plus we chatted a bit about beer and our animals. It was a good night!

We’ll probably be livecasting our card games and video games a lot more often. If you’re into that sort of thing, join us on our Twitch channel: Casadelbeard.

Happy Anniversary Jác!

One year ago today, Jác and I went on our first date. We’d emailed a couple times, but hadn’t actually met in person.

He arrived right to the restaurant as I got to the front door. “Are you Christin?” “Yep.” We both smiled.

No more than 5 minutes later, we’re geeking out about Star Trek movies and trying to remember, “The one where Data dies – was that Insurrection? Or Nemesis?” I pull out my phone to check my Netflix queue, because I’d just been watching it the night before. (It was Nemesis.)

We both ate Caesar salads with tuna – not because either of us were on a diet, we just both really love their tuna… and it’s especially delicious on their Caesar salad. We each had a goblet of Thirsty Goat – a local beer.

We connected immediately – so much so that I told him about my “backup escape plan” to meet my roommate and friends at the Whip In after our date.

“It’s just something I do, in case the date is terrible.”
“I see.”
“You should come along, if you want.”
“Really?”

We’ve been together ever since.

The very next day, I joined him to his best friends’ house for a cookout. The next weekend we drove to Dallas to meet his mom. A few weeks later, we were driving to Alabama to meet my entire family.

This year has been all about getting to know each other. I’ve shared lots of new beers with him, and he’s shared lots of new food with me. I’ve learned way more than I ever realized existed about beards, and I’m sure he feels the same way about knitting. We moved in together. We mourned together in the wake of tragedy. We lamented about lost jobs and bad jobs and stupid people. We struggled through the stress that is learning to live together and compromise when you’re both independent, intelligent people. We celebrated over new jobs and new opportunities, interviews, good people, good grades, good stories. We watched a lot of movies. We played a LOT of games. We bought a rug that really brings the room together.

On November 2nd we got engaged. He called both my parents beforehand. He proposed in his Star Wars shirt in our living room with our German Shepherd in my lap. He gave me his mom’s ring, which he’d been holding onto since ACL. We’ll be combining his grandmother’s and my grandmother’s rings into my wedding band.

Jác- I love everything about our lives together. Happy anniversary!

The Post Office

In an attempt to get back into blogging regularly, I offer to you a story of my 45 minutes at the post office. I typically avoid going to the post office, because the experience is usually full of the following elements:

  • Poor Customer Service
  • Germs
  • Chaos
  • Confusion
  • Lines
  • Annoyed People
  • General Frustration

Today was no exception.

It started when I opened the door to hear, “I WANT YOU TO LOOK ME IN THE EYES AND LISTEN TO WHAT I’M SAYING.” This coming from an elderly man to a post office teller. Yikes. All other customers very successfully avoided eye contact with everyone else.

I locate an “Express Mail” Box, fill it, and attempt to use the electronic kiosk to print my postage and label – alas, it’s not working.

So into the line of 15 or so people I go. Most people in the line are asking for holiday stamps. Of which the post office has none. They won’t get their holiday stamps until November, in case you were wondering. Apparently everyone else in the line was hard of hearing, because each of them just patiently waited for their turn, asked for holiday stamps, and were told they wouldn’t get them until November. All were disappointed. Several were outright flabbergasted. “November!? Why so late?!”

It was finally my turn. “Hi, I’d like to ship this pack-” “Where’s your label?” “Oh, I didn’t see any lab-” “Marcos! Are we out of labels over there? We’re out of labels. Here’s a label. You need to go over there and fill this out. Why aren’t you using a flat rate box? Go over there and get the flat rate box and repackage your stuff. When you’re done, come back here to me. Don’t wait in line again.” “Ooookay…”

While repackaging my things and filling out my label, customers inquired about holiday stamps. Others complained about the electronic kiosk not working. (“Marcos! The kiosk still isn’t working. Weren’t you going to put up a sign?”) Then the repository for packages got jammed, which caused even more chaos.

An empty-handed, middle-aged man approached a teller, wanting to know how much it would cost to send a package to New York. “Do you have the package with you?” “No. I don’t have the package yet. Can’t I just tell you its size and weight?” “I guess so.” “It’s 16×20 inches and weighs 7.34 pounds.” “Okay.” “I’m shipping it from Dallas.” “Dallas? We’re in Austin.” “Oh, I’m shipping it from Austin to New York City.” “What’s the zip code?” “Why? Do you not know the zip code to New York City? It’s New York City!” “There are several zip codes in and near New York City.” “Well just pick one!” So the teller picked a zip code, and told him it would be about $16. Imaginary Box Man was dismayed by the information, but seeing as he didn’t actually have a box to send there wasn’t much he could complain about, so he left.

I successfully repackaged my things and filled out my label, returned to the lady, paid for my things, and left – electronic kiosk still broken, package receptacle still jammed, labels still missing from the boxes area, and a line full of people – most of whom were probably there for holiday stamps.

Airports Need Yarn Stores

What to do flying all day or on a long layover? Knit, of course! But what if you run out of yarn? Or what if you get to the airport, only to realize you forgot the right size needles for your fancy new yarn?

It can turn a very well planned day of knitting into a downright frustrating day with no knitting and no way to get the tools you need because you’re in the airport!

I’ve been traveling a LOT lately. This year alone I’ve been to Toledo, Detroit, Hartford, Santa Clara, Northampton, and Springfield… not counting all the cities I’ve had layovers in. Countless hours spent in airport terminals, trying to find a comfy chair so I can have a few moments of peaceful knitting before I’m off to another city. And what does every single airport I’ve been in have in common? No Yarn Stores. How is this possible!? It could even be subset of Micheal’s or Joann Fabrics with cheap yarn and cheap needles – someone get on this!

Hmm, maybe this is a good retirement plan… Christinly Knits in airports all over America. :) Would you shop there?

Anyway, this isn’t just my idea. Lots of people have blogged about it before: Franklin at Panopticon laments about the lack of yarn (and the abundance of other things) in the Seattle/Tacoma Airport, and The Yarn Harlot posts about the woes of finding yourself underyarned and over-inspired. It’s not an impossible request! Rebecca from ChemKnits discovered a yarn store in the Santiago, Chile airport – If they can do it, why can’t we?!

SNAKES!

- Eeeeeee!

– What?!

– There’s… There’s a.. I think it’s a snake?

– (incredulously) A snake?

– Well it’s squirming around like a snake! Maybe it’s a worm. Either way it’s wiggly and it’s IN. THE. HOUSE.

That’s pretty much how the discovery of a tiny snake in my house went. The beau and I had just gotten back to my house after eating brunch, and I discovered something squirming across the tile in the middle of the living room.

IMG_8392I caught him in a food storage container, and immediately started taking pictures of him. I needed to determine what it was. Is it a worm? (not so bad) A snake? (no thank you, sir.) A baby snake? (nooooooo!) If it’s a baby snake, are there more of them? Are there hundreds of snake eggs somewhere in my house, waiting to hatch and release an army of tiny baby snakes in my living room?!

If that happened, I might have to light my living room on fire. Or at least run away and never come back.

Thanks to r/austin, we learned that panic wasn’t needed. He was a snake, but he wasn’t a baby. He’s a Texas Blind Snake, apparently harmless and much like earthworms in that they are happiest digging around in the soil. This picture makes the little snake look huge. He’s actually tiny, about the width of a pencil lead, about 4 inches long, and full grown. He likely came into the house because of the crazy rain that we’ve been having. After this discovery, I decided total destruction and fire wasn’t necessary, took control of my nerves, and released him outside – very far away from the house.

IMG_8396-1024x764The next day, while on a conference call, I found another one squirming around on the floor under my chair, right next to my feet. Ohmigourd, not cool, little snake! I caught him in a mug and tactfully finished my call (without squealing) before taking him outside.

I’m very proud of how I handled all this because, as much as I’m an animal lover, I really do not like snakes. And I especially do not like snakes unexpectedly showing up in my house. I get the heebie-jeebies just retelling this story. Blech.

So anyway, I tell you that story to tell you explain this to you. It may not have been the rain at all that brought the tiny snakes into my house. I may have been summoning them all week… IMG_8405-1024x1024

 With this! Oh, I am so excited that he’s finished! This is the multicolored project I wrote about last week, and I am ridiculously happy with how he turned out. I’m so happy about it that I don’t even care if knitting him summoned a couple tiny snakes (… although I will be wary about that in the future).

The pattern is the Striped Stockinette Snake from PurlBee. The construction is brilliant. I’ll admit I was a little wary about how he would turn out while reading the instructions, but I just went with it exactly how it was written, and it turned out perfectly. After knitting him, I gave him a quick bath in cold water with some fruity-smelling shampoo, hung him to dry (I think that lengthened him even more), and then threw him in the dryer with some sheets to really make sure all the water is out – gotta love acrylic yarn! I’ll be shipping him to Tyler in a couple days. :)

This is a fun knit for anyone – even beginners who want to take that next little step up. This is a perfect project. Clean out your yarn stash with this quick knit! Use just two colors or scraps of many colors – your imagination is the only limit here.

Check out my Ravelry Project Page for more details.

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