2016 Geek-a-Long Update 6

Here are two more squares for my Lattes and Llamas Geek-a-Long blanket.

Front of double knit half life square

Front of double knit 007 square

These squares have a few things in common:

They are both from game franchises I have never played. (I did recently install Half Life 2, although I haven’t made it to playing it yet. But that must count for something!)

They are both knit with orange yarn. (Obviously)

And most importantly….

They are my first attempts at extreme double-knitting! And what is extreme double-knitting you might ask? Check out the backs of these squares:

Back of double knit Half Life 2 square

Back of double knit 007 square

That’s right, no backward symbols here! Instead of being a mirror image on the back like the rest of the squares so far, these look “proper” from either side.

The basic concept of double-knitting is to always carry two colours of yarn and knit with the colour that should show on the facing side and purl with the other colour. In extreme double-knitting this rule of making sure you work a stitch in each colour is thrown out the window, and each stitch is made in whatever colour is needed to make the pattern work on both sides. This means you could have many stitches of one colour on your needle while the other colour of yarn is simply carried along between the two layers of fabric.

Which for me, really means having to pay way too much attention to chart reading, and a slew of tension issues. But I think they were worth it in the end.

I learned how to extreme double-knit, and more importantly, how to create patterns for extreme double-knitting, from Alasdair Post-Quinn’s Adventures in Double-Knitting class on Craftsy. I absolutely loved this class and highly recommend it if you have any interest in learning the double-knitting technique.

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2016 Geek-a-Long Update 5

Double-knit portal symbol

When I first sat down to start writing a blog post about Portal I could not figure out what to say about this quirky, strange puzzle game. So, of course, I immediately abandoned the blog post and went and played through all of Portal and half of Portal 2. How could I not?

For those unfamiliar with the game the premise is incredibly simple. It’s actually a first person shooter style game but the gun you are given does only one thing – place portals. One blue portal and one orange portal to be exact, and when you step into one of your portals you come out the other. Equipped with nothing but this gun you work your way through increasingly difficult, obstacle course style game levels.

Portal is a great game and one I think everyone should play. It’s unique, dark, funny, and yes, at times exceptionally frustrating. but that just makes it more satisfying when you finally make it past a tough spot. To me it feels more like a proof of concept than a fully developed game, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, it just means that even if you’re as bad at puzzle games as I am you can likely play through the whole game in an afternoon.

Portal 2, however, is absolutely phenomenal. With more way more puzzles including many new and intriguing components, hilarious dialog, and a variety of settings, this game provides many more hours of entertainment. It also has some of the most fun co-op gaming the husband and I have ever played. And, once you’ve finished all of the Valve created content there’s a full level editor for creating your own puzzles, and hundreds of thousands of fan created levels to play. Oh, and the best part is that you can often pick up both games on a Steam sale for less than $5. So really, why are you still reading this instead of playing Portal?

2016 Geek-a-Long Update 4

Time to start posting some Geek-a-Long squares! I have been spending almost every spare moment double-knitting to try to keep up with the Lattes and Llamas Geek-a-Long. I’m a fairly novice knitter, new to double-knitting, and have done very little colour work, so these squares are taking roughly 15 hours a piece. Yes, I’m that slow. Yes, I have to frog my work that often. But it’s completely worth it in the end, so on to the squares…

Here are two game series I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never played. First up is Rayman.

Double-knit Rayman

I’m going to give myself a bit of a pass on this one. The Rayman series didn’t hit popularity until after my childhood video game stage and before my adult video game stage (there was about a 10 year gap in there where I actually did proper human things like go outside… gasp!). Since Rayman really wasn’t on my radar, of course I haven’t played any of the games. Rayman Legends is on my Steam wishlist if that counts for anything, but even during the last couple of Steam sales it didn’t make it to the top of the buy list.

Mario Kart, I sadly have no excuse.

Mario Kart double-knit star

There is no logical reason for why I’ve never played a Mario Kart game. As a kid I must have played every other Mario game for the Super Nintendo. I also spent many hours playing F-Zero, so the issue clearly isn’t an aversion to racing games. As an adult I’ve logged quite a few hours on the Wii and DS and Mario Kart appears on many “best games ever” lists for both of these systems. I know multiple people who when asked what their all-time favourite game is will reply with Mario Kart without even a moment of hesitation. I’m really feeling like I should immediately run out and pop my Mario Kart cherry. But alas, there’s just too much knitting to do!

2016 Geek-a-Long Update 3

Tetris is probably the first game I ever loved. I spent many, many hours with my trusty Game Boy and this game. And I was actually good at it! I love video games, and I play a lot of them, but there are very few that I’ve ever been able to brag about my skill at. In fact I think Tetris and bilging in Puzzle Pirates are about it. Sadly, it’s been quite a few years since I played either of these games, so I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t be bragging too loudly anymore.

I choose to knit my Tetris square in green since it reminded me so much of the original Game Boy screen colour. I’m really happy with how this square turned out, and love that the Llamas were clever enough to make the score reversible. I am however, a little saddened by just how bad this Tetris player is at the game. And it does make me a little nostalgic for the days when puzzle games didn’t require you to pay real money, wait a day, or spam your friends to play the next level…

Front of double knit Tetris square

Back of double knit Tetris square

If you still haven’t checked out the Lattes and Llamas Geek-a-Long you really should. It’s been  an absolute blast so far.

2016 Geek-a-Long Update 2

I’ve finished two more squares for the Lattes and Llamas Geek-a-Long. Double knitting is absolute magic to me. If you’ve never tried it you really should. As I’ve said before, I don’t knit very often, so I’m not an accomplished knitter. Double knitting looks impressive but is actually incredibly easy to do. The basic action is a simple knit one, purl one, which with one strand of yarn creates a basic rib. In double knitting you always carry two strands of yarn. You knit with the colour you want to see on the side of the fabric that is facing you and purl with the other strand. Effectively making two pieces of fabric at the same time. Beautiful two colour images with no nasty colour changes. Magic!

I double knit slightly differently than the Llamas do, but they do have a video tutorial to help get you started.

Here’s the front and back of my Kirby square:

Double knit Kirby square

Double knit Kirby square

And my Sonic the Hedgehog square:

Double knit Sonic the Hedgehog square

Double knit Sonic the Hedgehog square

Three down, at least 21 to go…

2016 Geek-a-Long Update 1

OMG it’s a Geek-a-Long! Every year the talented ladies over at Lattes and Llamas plan a geeky craft-a-long in support of the Child’s Play charity, and somehow I didn’t know until now! To make this year’s geek-a-long even more exciting to me it’s specifically focused on video games.

How it works is that every Sunday throughout the year a new pattern for a geeky square is released. The goal is to craft at least 24 of the squares and stitch them together to create a seriously awesome afghan. The patterns are clearly designed primarily for double knitting, but could be crocheted (or even cross stitched, beaded, you name it) if you prefer.

The patterns are released for free, and the organizers simply ask that if you enjoy the patterns you consider making a donation to the Child’s Play charity. How cool is that?

I don’t do a lot of knitting so I was a little hesitant to jump into a year long knitting project. But as soon as I saw a square featuring the prince from Katamari Damacy I knew the Lattes and Llamas ladies were geeks after my own heart and that I’d end up getting sucked into this adventure.

Conveniently, I learned how to double knit not that long ago from Alasdair Post-Quinn’s Adventures in Double-Knitting class on Craftsy (which is excellent by the way) so this is also a great way to practice my new skills.

Here’s the front and back views of my first square. Only 23 more to go 🙂

Double knit Katamari Prince front view

Double knit Katamari Prince back view

Creativ Festival

Sadly, between a terrible cold that has left me wanting to do nothing for three weeks, and a debilitating addiction to Story of Seasons for the 3DS, there hasn’t been much crafting happening in the last month.

Luckily, I was able to spend three days last week at the Creativ Festival in Toronto, Canada, which was a great way to get the crafty juices flowing again. The festival featured five days of hands on workshops and lectures, as well as a three day exhibit hall packed full of craft vendors. The workshops were definitely the highlight for me as I attended a wide range of classes on a number of different techniques, including chainmaille, crochet, needlework, and jewellery making. (More to come on all of these later!).

For now, here are a few pictures of my favourite parts of the exhibit hall.

The crew at the Crochet Crowd made a stunning Winter Wonderland display, complete with two huge Nutcrackers made completely out of yarn:

Crocheted Nutcracker

Crocheted Nutcracker

(I think my favourite detail is the tiny Christmas trees on the second nutcracker’s feet!)

As well as the crocheted igloo I helped create snowflakes for:

Crocheted Igloo

All of the Crochet Crowd’s workshops were held inside the igloo, which was a really neat idea, and gives you some idea of the scale, since it was large enough to easily accommodate chairs for 10-15 people.

Yarnspirations showed off its incredible Narnia-themed display, Yarnia, which featured a large number of creatures and characters from the Narnia world. My favourites were the small woodland creatures, who contain a ton of detail and show off a wide range of techniques.

Knit/Crocheted Owl and Fox

Knit/Crocheted Beavers

Knit/Crocheted Owl

The last thing that caught my eye was a Christmas tree covered in hedgehogs. I didn’t catch who made it, but it was part of a competition where exhibitors were asked to decorate Christmas trees and attendees were able to vote on their favourite.

I didn’t manage to get a good picture of the entire tree, but here’s a close up to give you an idea:

Christmas tree decorated in knit & crocheted hedgehogs and snowflakes

I absolutely must have a tree like this. I best get working on the hedgehogs!