Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Updates!

I'll get back to my regular posting of WIP Wednesdays and hopefully some more Free Pattern Fridays after Dragon*Con! Also after Dragon*Con I'll be doing TWO giveaways. There will be one on Facebook and one on Tumblr, so you'll have two chances to win (but you can't win both!). I've already gotten started on some of the giveaway items in the downtime I have between painting sections of my Zer0 suit.

Speaking of the Zer0 suit - here are some pictures of the details!

I'm currently finishing up work on the back then I'm doing the head last. I'm also working on the class mods that go on his elbows and a Storm Front grenade. I'll also have The Bee for my shield, but I didn't make it. It lights up and is pretty awesome. I'll post a picture of it soon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FREE Katniss Cowl-Shawl-Shoulder-Thing Pattern

Here's the complete pattern from start to finish of that mysterious article of clothing Katniss is wearing at the beginning of Catching Fire. Is it s half-vest? Is it a weird stole? Is it a cowl? Is it a strange scarf with an arm-hole? Whatever it is, people seem to like it. I made one as a commission for a friend's cosplay and I documented the adventure.

There are definitely lots of ways to tweak this pattern that I, of course, thought of after I'd finished. Feel free to use this however you would like and make modifications as you see fit. I'd appreciate a link back either to this post or to my Etsy shop! I hope you can also understand what I'm attempting to communicate as well.

My favorite version that I found online while researching for this was the Katniss Cowl by Engineered Creations. I made the neck of my version the same way that she did for the most part, but then I went my own direction. It was a lot of fun and everyone involved is pleased with the final product.

What You Need:
  • 5/16" polypropylene utility line - this is very lightweight and flexible, but you may want to consider a larger diameter...maybe upwards of 1" because my neck part didn't end up as large as it should have been
  • a lot of skeins of your favorite super bulky yarn in gray (or try to find a nice gray flecked yarn/tweed) - I personally used 5 skeins of Lion Brand Hometown USA because it was super bulky as well as super soft
  • a skein of matching worsted weight yarn - I used some gray scrap yarn I had in my scrap bin
  • packing tape or duct tape - I used packing tape because in my head it was lighter weight and I didn't want the neck too stiff
  • size J crochet hook
  • size 11 knitting needles
  • yarn needle
  • something to measure
The Neck
Start with the neck for sure. It gives you something to work from and is the most tedious part. Once it's out of the way the rest is really a breeze.

Cut 3 pieces of your utility line or rope. You want them roughly 33", 45" and 47" but you can vary this if you need to resize the cowl-thing. These will be the three rope-looking pieces that make the head-hole.

Begin with the 33" piece and join the ends. Melt them together if you want, but for stability you will need to cover the entire thing with your chosen tape. Once you've done this you can begin the very time-consuming process of covering it with your yarn. Accomplish this by wrapping it around and then joining it with a slip stitch using your size J hook. It'll create a seam where your sl are. Periodically you'll want to compress what you've done together to make sure you're covering the rope completely. Cover the entire rope then take care of your ends. 

You will also cover your two other pieces of rope, but first you should make the 4 end caps that go over the ends of the rope that will be exposed. Crocheting these is quick and easy.

End Pieces (make 4)

Ch 4, join with sl to make loop
Ch 1, 5 sc in loop
work even until the piece is about 2" or more (when in doubt go longer)

Leave your loose ends dangling because they help for securing them onto the rope pieces. Slip each of the caps snugly onto the ends of your rope and then begin the same wrap around and sl technique to cover the rope. You want it to overlap with your end caps and be really tight. Use the loose ends also to wrap and tie as you go then cover up any ugly pieces with the wrapping and sl.

Once all of your rope pieces are covered then you want to take your longer straight piece (47") and attach it to the ring piece with about 4" hanging down - this will be the back. Use your size J hook and sl to attach the seams of the pieces and work around counter-clockwise. As you go you want to position the long piece underneath the ring. Attach the last piece of rope (45") starting at the 4" piece that was dangling on the previous rope. Again use sl to work around. The 45" piece of rope should be attached to the 47" piece all the way around.

Right Shoulder

For the right shoulder and part of the back, 2 bulk cable stitches side-by-side do the trick. Get out your size 11 knitting needles for this.

Row 1: CO 15
Row 2: * P1, K6, P1, K6, P1 (front)
Row 3: P15
Row 4: P1, C6F, P1, C6B, P1
Row 5: P15
repeat from * until the strip is about 24"

Now grab your worsted weight yarn and yarn needle. Stitch it into place up against the rope piece. It should go a little way around to the front.


Next make another strip that goes next to the previous one. It will stop at the top of the right shoulder and then there will be a seam there. It is very simple ribbing.

Row 1: CO 12
Row 2: P1, K2, P1, K2, P1, K2, P1, K2*
Row 3: P2, K1, P2, K1, P2, K1, P1, K1
repeat from * until 16" and stitch it right next to the cable piece


This is basically the same as the previous piece, but longer.

Row 1: CO 11
Row 2: K2, P1, K2, P1, K2, P1, K2*
Row 3: P2, K1, P2, K1, P2, K1, P2
repeat from * until about 38"

Sew the short side to the short side of the previous piece to make the seam at the top of the right shoulder then stitch the rest of the piece around the front and then down the back against the bottom rope section.

Front Panel

There's a small panel of work that is running in the opposite direction than the rest on the front. It's on the right side of the chest area. I chose to do some more cabling instead of ribbing.

Row 1: CO 20
Row 2: K20 (front) this just gives you more room to stitch it on later
Row 3: P20
Row 4: K1, C4F, K1, C4B, K1, C4F, K1, C4B*
Row 5: P20
repeat from * until you have a 5" piece

Stitch this to the ribbing around the front, leaving space for the arm-hole. It roughly lines up with there the very first cable strip ends on the front.
More Front

Row 1: CO 5 
Row 2: K2, P1, K2*
Row 3: P1, K1, P2
repeat from * until 15" and then this part wraps around the previous panel then attaches to the back to actually make the arm-hole. Stitch it to the back part about 1" from the bottom.

Now for another front piece that attaches to the previous. You could maybe actually make these two pieces as one larger piece. 

Row 1: CO 9
Row 2: K2, P1, K2*
Row 3: P2, K1, P2
repeat from * until about 17" and attach

The next front piece begins at the top then wraps down around the previous piece and stops under the arm instead of continuing to the back.

Row 1: CO 5
Row 2: K2, P1, K2*
Row 3: P2, K1, P2
repeat from * until about 14" and attach

Now the following strip lines up against the last one and does go all the way to the back. In fact, it goes to the middle rope segment and attaches.

Row 1: CO 8
Row 2: K3, P2, K3*
Row 3: P3, K2, P3
repeat from * until 22"

Back Left

This piece goes from the middle of the back, attaches to the ribbing that wrapped around from the front and then it stops at the left shoulder area. This ribbing is a little different from the other ribbing used. It creates a mild texture change.

Row 1: CO 9
Row 2: K2, P1, K2, P2, K2*
Row 3: P2, K2, P2, K1, P2
repeat from * until 11"

Last Piece

The final strip begins at the left shoulder where the previous strip stopped and then it wraps all the way around the front, under the right arm and ends at the back. It creates a finished looking edge. I decided it should be cabled in order to tie the whole thing together with the other cabled pieces.

Row 1: CO 11
Row 2: P11 (back)
Row 3: P1, C4F, P1, C4B, P1*
Row 4: P11
repeated from * until 28" and attach

You're done. Weave in your ends and enjoy! if you're not a knitter and you'd like one of these I will totally make you one, just contact me through Etsy and we can discuss the size, material, price, etc. Also give me a like on Facebook since you've been here! ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Turtle and Bear Beam Guardian Scarf AKA This Scarf Took Forever

If the Crimson King has been sitting on the balcony of the Dark Tower knitting Beam Guardian scarves it's absolutely no wonder that he wanted to tear the Beams down. I too, at this point, totally want to to cause time and space to crumble.

This scarf is awesome. Making it was less awesome. What a drag knitting big ass scarves is. Big ass scarves take much time and much yarn. It was really dismaying when I kept running out of yarn and having to go get ONE MORE SKEIN, when I actually should have bought five to start with. Big ass scarves take even more time when you're a spaz like me and you take the thing apart three times because you get a better idea of how to do it. Discounting how many times I started over and discounting the very lengthy breaks I took while making this - it took 50+ hours and much more yarn than I planned for. are some words about this fabulous scarf.

Buy it here!

Turtle and Bear Beam Guardian Scarf100% Peruvian Highland Wool
8” wide and 60” in length (excluding 4” fringe on either end, which brings the entire scarf to 68”)
Behind each Guardian is a pocket for you to stick your hands in. Or rocks or whatever. The center is two layers to keep your neck extra cozy.
$65 + $10 (US only) 2-3 day shipping including tracking and insurance
Good News: I’m completely willing to make more of these scarves, but they won’t be as wide (I’m thinking 5”) and they’ll be made of a more economical fiber (dat luxurious Peruvian Highland wool is pricey, ya’ll). Due to the change in width I’ll have to simplify the Guardians (probably more silhouetted and less detailed, but they'll still be cool - I promise!). I’ll use the same staghorn cabling pattern for the Beam up the center and the Tower will be a similar spiral design, but also simplified. Changing the width and simplifying the colorwork will decrease production time. The change in yarn will also decrease the cost (subsequent scarves will probs around $45 each when finished).
Bad News: I can’t start another scarf until mid-September at the earliest. I’m still getting ready for Dragon*Con at the end of this month and then I have a handful of special request orders lined up for when I get back that I’ll need to knock out. I also have to make some goodies for some promotional contests I want to do. One in Facebook and one on Tumblr!
Long days and pleasant nights to you, Dark Tower fans.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Zer0's Sword AKA How Not To Make A Prop

As long as you don't look too closely at this sword it looks pretty good. The EL wire also really helps to distract from all of my epic screw ups. This sword is definitely a Monet (it's really pretty from far away, but when you get up close it's urrrghhh). Yay for self-deprecation and Clueless references!

My goal for all of my cosplay is always to make things as cool as possible for as cheap as possible. For this sword the only things I technically bought where a sheet of acrylic, the EL wire, a can of spray paint and some epoxy resin (which I needed anyway). Everything else I used I already had for one reason or another. I also used giftcards for everything except the EL wire, so I only spent circa $20 total. lolol

The Plan

Before I got started I had what I thought was a solid plan for this. I would make the hilt and the part above the blade with cardboard then I'd cover it with polyurethane for stability then paint it. I'd cut the acrylic and fit it in accordingly in with the cardboard parts then line it with the wire. I would then epoxy all this business together and it would be beautiful. No. Wrong. Everything was wrong.

Dealing with PlexiASS

Firstly, I forgot that plexiglass should actually be named plexiASS. I need to make friends with someone that has some serious cutting tools. I got a good ol' glass cutter and I have glass pliers. I thought this would work, but that was stupid. Cutting glass is super easy compared to this fucking impenetrable acrylic shit. I thought I'd accidentally purchased bullet-proof glass. I got out the dremel and decided to saw it. I started out with the plastic cutting blade because it seemed to make sense. That also did not work. I switched to the blade to cut metal and had success, but it made the edges of the acrylic look like the edge of a fucking margarita glass. I hate tequila.

So for each piece I cut I had to then polish all of the edges with the dremel. My cuts were all disastrously crooked and hideous. I wept. But then I was like, "This will be fine once I attach the EL wire."

Oh, yeah. Wear goggles and a mask, guys. I don't, but you totally should. The dremel threw off little chunks of very hot, melty plastic. I lived, but I probably inhaled plastic dust and I could have been blinded.

Why I Would Be A Bad Scientist

There is where I ran into the second disaster. Epoxy resin does not behave like my dear friend polyurethane resin. I also tend to not read instructions. I also hate measuring anything ever. This is why I've never been able to bake a cake that didn't turn out like a pile of shit. This is also why I hated all of my chemistry labs in college, but I loved the classes. I really don't like to measure. But listen - lesson learned. Thanks, epoxy!

Problem Solving

Epoxy cannot be used like glue. When it dries it will hold your shit together, but until then it does not. Unless it's cat hair. I started out wearing gloves, but I ended up with like -25 dexterity so I took them off and ended up with cat hair epoxies to my fingers. Also, it is really important that you actually use equal parts resin and hardener. Don't eyeball it. Don't be an asshole like me. I always believed that measurements were just suggestions, but this might not be true.

What happened then was that I realized I needed to sandwich the pieces of acrylic AND the wire between more pieces of acrylic. Out came the dremel again. This worked, but my edge still look like garbage and then nothing quite fit together like it should have. The EL wire I got also had a plastic sheath, which made it a bit less flexible and it kept trying to move and was pushing my pieces of acrylic around while the epoxy was drying. I had to sit barstools on top of the sword to counter this.

After several days of doing small sections of the blade at a time, it was finally finished. I took some air dry clay to fill in the gap in the cardboard on top of the blade, painted it, epoxied it. I also covered the hilt in felt for my own comfort and because the texture of the hilt actually looks like it might be soft. I painted the hilt and then I was done! The blade ended up much heavier than I anticipated because I had to use much more acrylic than anticipated due to the sandwiching that had to happen. As a result I do need to go back and reinforce where the hilt connects to the blade. I'm going to wait to do that when I go to finish putting resin on my shield because I don't want to mix a whole batch of epoxy just for that little area.  
See you at Dragon*Con! Assuming I finish my Zer0 suit in time...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Finishing the Katniss Cowl-Thing

I wrapped up the the Katniss cowl commission this weekend. It turned out to be less work than I'd anticipated in my previous post and I'm pretty excited about it. I almost want to make one for myself to wear around for laughs. It's comfortable and also seems to be durable. I tested it thoroughly by wearing it to jump around on things. It's for Dragon*Con so it needed to be able to withstand any Poop Lion climbing.

See all of the posts here, here and here. In a few days I'm going to go back and flesh out the pattern and post it here in a coherent single post.

The first thing I did when I got back to work was stitched up about 3" under the right arm. I noticed the armhole was mighty large and I wanted the piece to be a bit more form-fitting around the chest area. I stitched it up with gray worsted weight yarn and left an opening about 10" from top to bottom.

Next I made a final panel. This one wrapped all the way around from the left shoulder to the middle of the back, going under the right arm. I just used a slightly modified bulky cable stitch and made the strip 28". I stitched it on accordingly and allowed it to curl a bit under itself to create a very nice, finished looking edge.

CO 11
*p1, c4f, p1, c4b, p1
Repeat from * until 28" in length

Here are some pictures of the finished piece on me. I was having a major butterface day and didn't feel like doing anything about it, so excuse my cropped out head. My wonderful customer has bigger boobies than me, so I'm hoping she fills out the front nicely while it was a little bunchy on my chest.