WIP Wednesday 5/7/14 — Vacation Knitting

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Silly startitis. (I stole that word from the blogosphere… not that clever.) I didn’t want to lug my lovely almost-sweater around with me on my trip down to Dallas, so I packed a skein of sock yarn and my size 6 needles. I cannot seem to stop with the triangular shawls. Three stitch cast-on for that much loveliness? Yes, please! This is (Michael’s brand) Loops and Threads luxury sock yarn; I bought it quite a while ago, unable to resist the colors and softness. It is 10% cashmere, so it seemed shawl-worthy as opposed to sock-worthy. I was trying to create a pattern, and I have this lovely idea in my head. However, I didn’t want to do the math or use that much concentration without my notebooks and computer and stitch pattern books and favorite pencils. After starting three different projects two rows long, I gently ripped (’cause cashmere = clingy), then used my dependable tab cast-on to start the flow quickly. I wanted to visit with my friends and stitch along in an absentminded manner, not count and worry.  The worst mistake I can make in these shawls is missing a yarn-over, and that can easily be corrected on the next row.  I like to throw in a row of k2tog, yo every once in a while to add some interest, but for the most part I just knit and knit and it grows and grows. Non-stitchers always seem to think I’m making a hat at first.

Game in progress: I discovered a video game that stitchers and artists might like as much as gamers! It is called Blendoku. The point is to put colors in order. For example, one level shows a bright blue square and a grey-blue square with spaces in between, and the player must correctly place five blue-ish tiles on the board. That description should either sound really exciting or really pointless, and I am in the first camp. (sidenote: I recently upgraded phones, and now my Playstation trophy hunting has been lacking thanks to my endless desire to download casual games.) Most levels I am racing through, but every once in a while there is a level I cannot wrap my brain around. I have now been paying a little more attention to subtleties in colors. Such as how the shawl colors are as cool as the shades of pool water and capris, yet the army-green of the shorts contains much more brown and grey than the Kelly and hunter green shades in the yarn. Fascinating!

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To Literary and Beyond

To Literary and Beyond

The well is running quite dry today, but as I’d like to continue to write something every day, thought I’d at least post an update. There is a new addition to the Essays page! (Though I suspect it may just be my mom and Mr. Gamer reading the essays..) This one, about my love of the Dune and Foundation series, contains what might be my very favorite intro paragraph.

WIP Wednesday 1/14/2014

I love triangular shawls. And kitchen cotton. I started this lovely before x-mas, and have yet to complete it. My mom-in-law requested a big cotton shawl to throw around her shoulders in an off-white shade, so I am hopeful this will fit the bill. The three-stitch garter tab cast-on started things out; after that I could just knit mindlessly, as a couple yarn-overs are the only slow to the stockinette flow. I would like to do some kind of (very basic) lace edging to finish off the piece.

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This, on the other hand, is not mindless. The inner voice has nicknamed my version of Ashley Rao’s Biarritz Cloche “The Princess Frog.” I used Aunt Lydia’s Fashion 3 crochet thread and eventually found a needle to work – Skacel’s lace tip US1 (which is 2.5mm unlike every other “size 1″ needle I own!). The pattern called for double-pointed needles, but I found a 20″ circular to work best since stitches were jumping off my dpns. (Too many stitches for a 16″ not enough for a 24”.) I swatched, downsized needles,  and therefore did not cast on enough stitches initially. I SHOULD KNOW BETTER… I should have started over at that point.

Sooooo, do I frog the entire thing? The cloche intended for my dear sister is NOT going to fit her normal-person sized head. It is snug on my youth-sized head. This is my first color-work, my first slip-stitch pattern, and the smallest needle I have ever used. I think it is beautiful. My extremely stylish sis would probably like anything I knit for her, so I am quite tempted to just keep on chuckin and wear the cloche myself. Wise knitters say, “Don’t worry about a swatch. Your sweater will fit somebody…” Think I lucked out that my screw-up at least fits me!

A p.s. to the post from yesterday: I totally tried it. I hit publish, stood up, threw my arms over my head like I just won the 100-meter dash, and even pranced about a bit, bragging to the cats that I had finally finished a post. I’m going to do it again in a minute. I’m also going to try and keep Amy Cuddy and Elizabeth Zimmermann as mentors in my mind – just fake it until I become an opinionated knitter in my own right!

Flow

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An hour passed and I barely noticed. My mind was in a place where minutes don’t really matter. An hour was a moment that somehow both flew by and took forever.

I watched the sun rise over a desolate wasteland as I made my way through rocky paths that led away from treacherous desert. A red-eyed gecko the size of a child runs at me with claws in the air, but it meets its end at the barrel of my shotgun. I stumble to a forlorn campsite and replenished myself on irradiated water and gecko steak. The creature’s hide gets stuffed into an already heavy backpack to be bartered for a few caps later. I find dead-ends, raiders, caverns, and picking up every bullet and cap I keep scrounging and stumbling towards the marker on the map. By the time the sun sets I can see the lights of New Vegas shining like a glorious beacon. It seems so close, yet impossible to reach by a direct path.

My stomach growls for the tenth time, and I snap back to reality. I save my game, set the controller down, check the clock. A day happened in an hour. I don’t remember drinking the rest of my coffee, but it explains the nature of the stomach noises. I make my way towards the fridge thinking, “Where was I?” The Mojave is immersive, but it was more than that;  I had achieved flow.

I was engaged and entertained but calculating; temporarily a courier with purple hair and painspike armor – not a caffeinated brunette with a controller. My skill with analog sticks and trigger buttons evolved to where I don’t need to concentrate on my hands. I know the game well (Fallout: New Vegas is the example.), and I no longer evaluate the meaning of the amber-colored words and symbols on-screen. Yet I don’t know what resides around each corner, or how every mission will play out. I’m not tired of the game; there is still excitement and anticipation. There are goals in and out of the game. I need certain skills to accomplish everything, intelligence, strength, my social and sneak abilities all affect how I can go about completing quests. I also have a goal of how much to complete in-game before I get antsy about my stomach growling and the dirty dishes in the sink. All of this adds up to a sort of intersection in my brain, Flow. I have to use right and left brain, mentally leave the physical for a moment, and use every ounce of skill and concentration to be entertained while reaching my goals.

I read the book Flow and wrote about it in a (short) essay a couple years ago, and it made an impression. (Posted on the Essays page) I have thought about it at length since, and perhaps I should re-read since I’ve added knitting to the list of Flow-inducing activities. It happens while reading, tasting, painting, playing. Energized focus, emotional learning, and in-the-groove are terms used in the Wikipedia summation of Flow. Simply and personally put, it is ideal to me to accomplish something while stopping to smell the roses at the same time. I may be prone to being over-emotional, but luckily this seems to be the same brain chemistry that has a penchant for Flow. Now I ask myself,”Why just play a sport, a game, a song?” It doesn’t always work but I try to engage and experience joy. Anxiety often tries to barge through, but when I knit, when I game, the joy is accessible.

Stash Saturday

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My yarn and game stash were both enhanced this week – Noro Kureyon and Persona 4 Golden. I’ve been a little obsessed with entrelac lately, and I think the Noro will look lovely as a hat or headband knitted using the technique.

The Atlus game has been tempting me for a while now as I don’t have an RPG for Vita and Persona has very high ratings. I am new to the J-RPG world. I have been playing Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and it is beautifully animated (by Studio Ghibli!) and the gameplay is a lot of fun. However, the idea of an M-Rated J-RPG intrigues me. I guess Japanese wool interested me as well! It has more pink tones than I would usually tolerate, but I love how the color changes look in the woven-look squares of entrelac. Here’s an example of the technique using Noro yarn on Craftsy.

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Sorry, Next Gen, I can wait.

A bit of history from an accidental ps3 fangirl:

Video games are a major part of my life, and I have been gaming as long as I can remember. I think my first one was a red toy shaped like the front of a car containing a steering wheel, shifter and a small screen. After that it was ColecoVision; I loved a game called Smurf Paint’n’Play Workshop which foreshadowed my later obsession with The Sims. I wasn’t very good at the Atari, Nintendo and Super Nintendo games, but I was content to watch my friends and family play for hours. As a teenager I finally owned a console with the Sega Genesis, and started playing PC games. The most memorable included Myst and Sim City, the ones that jump-started my love of exploration and strategy in games.

When I was twenty, I bought my own computer for my apartment, and life-changing gaming began when my sister gave me The Sims. (It was released earlier that year.) The strategy I loved from previous Maxis titles was bundled with so much more. I got to create a character, decide her actions, build, decorate, and landscape her house; a sim had a job, a lover, a story. I started to see the appeal of living vicariously through an avatar, but I always wanted my characters (and myself) to stay in their own world. Friends told me I might like MMO-type games where people interacted through a common virtual world, but I couldn’t enjoy them. It seemed strange, impure; a world of NPCs was much safer. The Sims was so enhanced by expansions and mods that the addition of real people would have thrown off my creation. I couldn’t be god, the sole creator of my virtual world that way. The game eventually became a catalyst for my technical knowledge. Each expansion had more and more system requirements, so I learned how to replace hard drives and video cards. It was a new and much more expensive game, replacing, updating, troubleshooting, but my love of games made the experience worth each dollar and minute.

I tried many consoles and their games over the years, but stuck to PC games for the most part. I watched friends play Tomb Raider and Tony Hawk; I never played long enough to get past the learning curve, opting instead for Mario Party and console Sims titles. I remember people lining up for the release of the PS2, then Xbox, PSP, Wii. The latter was the first console I played extensively since the Genesis. I enjoyed the self-published Nintendo titles quite a bit, yet the stand out game was one I missed on PS2, Capcom’s Okami. I remembered seeing it reviewed, but thought it looked strange. A wolf that paints things? I realized I was becoming a console gamer about 60 hours later. The release of PS3 and Xbox 360 went pretty much unnoticed until 2009 when my DH and I got ourselves one as a wedding gift. I loved it, but stuck to Ratchet and LBP (so, platformers) after a frustrating attempt at Uncharted.

The next spring I was assigned an expansive paper on ethics in media and pop culture, so I turned to games as the basis of my topic. I wanted to explore the gender stereotypes that can permeate game culture. I attempted to explore the gap between male and female, casual and hardcore gamers. I thought myself in the divide, a nice happy medium, but eventually realized that I was guilty of boxing myself in. I played “girl games,” casual games, and I would not even try self-labeled “boy games,” using my lack of skill as an excuse. (The paper can be read on the Essays page – it’s long, I warn you now.) When finals ended, I decided to challenge my gaming abilities and my comfortable role as a “girl gamer”. Fallout 3 was my choice, a FPS/RPG with a massive following. After few hours of wandering, collecting guns and good karma, I was obsessed. The game opened new doors for me. I will now attempt almost any game, regardless of any previous skills in the genre.

I have played so many amazing games since the buggy beauty Fallout 3, and there are so many I have yet to try. I haven’t even attempted all games my bookshelf, and the ones on store shelves just keep getting cheaper. A second ps3 was added to our household just two years ago, and Mr. Gamer and I co-op games like Borderlands2, Saints Row 4, and no longer worry about hard-drive space. I’ve become a hardcore gamer, but a casual trophy-hunter; there are many more platinums to earn before I’m done with the ps3. I’m excited for the future of games and players, yet I don’t feel the need to get a ps4. I’ll wait until the patches are out, hard drives are bigger, used games are available, the online co-op servers have all been tested extensively. I’ve geeked out like my old days of Sims on this console. I was late to every party in  Sony and Nintendo’s history (I’m late to most parties literally as well). A price drop will likely happen before I am tempted to be part of the next-gen I just downloaded Bioshock Infinite DLC, I still haven’t finished Last of Us or started GTA V, I never did plat New Vegas; this gen just isn’t dead for me yet.

Here’s hoping they keep servers up a while…