Another Swap Adventure

Despite always telling myself I won’t get involved in another knitting swap, I once again plunged myself into the mystery depths of knitting for a stranger that always stresses me out. It was good fun once I got past the intense fear of being generally rubbish. It always is; there’s a pleasure in knitting for someone you’re 99% sure will appreciate it due to the context.

My package went out on Monday. The one sent to me in return arrived a couple of days ago and it is splendorous.

The theme was Lord of the Rings. It was a mini-swap meaning it was much quicker and lower-budget than the big ones. It was also a secret swap which meant you don’t find out who is your gifter until the parcel arrives. It adds an element of intrigue and mystery to an already fraught exchange that actually makes it even more fun for me.

My partner was Azpidistra (I have no link). Here’s what I received:

IMG_20140827_181304

The shawl is adorable. It’s very hobbit-y and drapes nicely around my shoulders. She also knitted me a little beard (because even female dwarves have them). Then there’s the yarn which is in a beautiful pale denim colour; I’ve already started knitting a snuggly shawl with it for the cold office at work. Also included was a cute card and some simply delicious chocolate.

This is not the first swap I’ve been involved in. They’re almost always fun and this was no exception. I just can’t wait for my giftee to receive her package!

Have you ever been involved in a knitting swap?

A Trip to the CNE

Most of my memories of the Canadian National Exposition (CNE) revolve around alpacas and getting horribly sunburnt whilst watching very loud aeroplanes do interesting things. This year despite the clouds in the sky that morning I slathered sun cream on my face just before we headed out to the Go Train. I was taking no risks on that front.

This visit was only my second. Last time we had eaten from the Ribfest trucks but this time we vowed to try any weird things we came across within our budget so we headed straight to the food vans and the food building. We had:

  • Octopus tacos
  • Bison poutine
  • Pineapple in a pineapple husk
  • Coconut in a coconut husk
  • Churros

Okay, churros aren’t weird but I had never tried them before so they go on the list. The octopus was strangely delicious too even if you could see the little suckers.

The pineapple and coconut was a hilarious attempt at feeling tropical in the frankly substandard weather (what the eff, Toronto) so we found a little splotch of sand to sit on while we drank it.

It didn't look very tropical out there... but it tasted it.
It didn’t look very tropical out there… but it tasted it.

Of course the highlight of the whole thing for me was the alpacas. I cannot voice how amazing and cute I think these creatures are. Even when one of the funkiest ones sat and stared at me with obvious revile in its eyes. I forgive you, alpaca. We also watched one man poking and pulling another alpaca’s tail persistently, so I don’t blame these particular beasts for not wanting curious humans to get too close.

BUT I JUST WANT TO HUG THEIR FACES OKAY.

LOOK AT THAT FACE. LOOK AT IT.
LOOK AT THAT FACE. LOOK AT IT.
IMG_20140823_181048
I wish my haircut was that groovy.

The CNE is an entertaining place. The arts and craft building is glorious although I took no photos. Plus somewhere (cannot remember where) there were beautiful stalls full of real pashminas that made me embarrassingly express to Nari an interest in fashioning a large nest completely out of soft, highly-decorated fabrics and spending the rest of my days curled up in it. What? I’m very texture-orientated, okay?

Thankfully at no point in the day did I burn horribly. Even better, none of the foods gave us food poisoning. The CNE was just as fun and far less painful as I remember.

Though unfortunately Nari wouldn’t let me bring home one of the alpacas.

The Importance of Night Vale

Two-and-a-bit years ago there came a podcast into the world that was unlike anything before it. Set out as a community radio broadcast in a small desert town full of oddities and surveillance, this show brought a surreal humour and eeriness together in a satisfying and vaguely horrifying way.

Welcome… to Night Vale.

welcome_to_night_vale_by_simply_psycho-d6jlzjp
Art by simply-psycho.

The voice of Night Vale is Cecil Palmer (played by Cecil Baldwin). He is, by any stretch of the imagination, a fascinating character. His strongest trait is how deeply and intensely he cares for his bizarre little town and, quite honestly, how he will protect the things he finds important to almost ridiculous lengths. Just as Telly the barber.

Welcome to Night Vale starts with the arrival of an Outsider. Carlos the scientist captures Cecil’s heart immediately but seems totally oblivious to it. What unfolds is the reason I fell completely and irreparably in love with the show rather than being slightly enamoured of it. What unfolds, dear readers, is a romance of the kind you don’t see reflected in the mainstream media.

It’s not a main plot point except for a few brief episodes. Cecil and Carlos come together slowly and awkwardly. Neither of them are perfect (though Carlos’s hair is, of course) but their relationship is a firm grounding for Cecil’s understanding and therefore reporting of the town’s business. It is mundane and exciting all at once, just like real life relationships. Moreover the writers somehow manage to get across all of this in just a few lines or a brief conversation.

The best part of their relationship? It’s a sub-plot at best. The characters are queer but not once is that an issue. Their sexualities have not become plot points; it is one facet of a complex bunch of characters.

You just don’t see that in the mainstream all that much. If a character is gay it becomes A Thing. A plot point. Just like the many throwaway women characters in movies, there is no substance beyond the stereotype or if there is, it’s overshadowed by the big blinking lights pointing out that the plot is so progressive for having a gay dude in it or something. Welcome to Night Vale isn’t like that. Carlos and Cecil casually go about their business, whether that’s planning dinner for the night or saving the town from eldritch horrors. Add in the fact one of them (Carlos) is a person of colour and you’ve got something radical, though that ironically comes primarily in its ordinary portrayal.

art by meadow-rue
art by meadow-rue.

So how did this come about? Take a look at this quote from a writer of the podcast, Jeffrey Cranor.

We didn’t think of it as romantic right away. And as we went on with it the more and more we started describing Carlos and thinking about what his personality was, Joseph and I just sort of got to liking the character and enjoying the character and we couldn’t see why the character of Cecil wouldn’t love him as well for the same reasons that we did.

And so we started moving it that way and seeing if it worked out, not unlike an actual real life relationship where you start hanging out with somebody more and then over time you realize “Yeah, I could really be with this person for a while.” That’s kind of how we felt about Cecil and Carlos as we wrote more and more interactions between them.

(from this interview)

No wonder their relationship has such an ordinary, organic feel about it when it came about so naturally. But there’s nothing ordinary about a popular podcast portraying queer characters without fear or neon signs of progressiveness and inclusivity.

Welcome to Night Vale makes me happy for more reasons than the above. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh. It makes me look like even more of a crazy person than I already am when I’m out on dog walks as I sniffle and giggle in turns, often in the same episode. But it’s the relationship between Carlos and Cecil and its casual nature that has pushed this into perfect for me.

You should really check it out.

Vastra and Jenny: Shut Up About Them, Please

The new season of Doctor Who is upon us and it is glorious. There is so much to be excited about; a new Doctor, a new Clara (in terms of being fleshed out and interesting rather than a plot point), lots of darkness.

Of course Doctor Who fans are notorious for not liking anything that ever happens on the show to the point of it being sort of impressive the show has gone so long and remained so popular. Every time there’s a new Doctor people freak out. Every time there’s a new companion the same thing happens. Considering the show is, at its core, completely about change why are people so shocked when it happens?

tumblr_inline_naua87w1oN1qa1zvj
Gay, gay, gay.

This time, however, it’s not bemoaning Capaldi’s Doctor that is the trend. It is pointing out how Madam Vastra and Jenny are in a lesbian marriage and not at all subtle about it. I need to be clear here: they think it’s a bad thing, or at best a piece of clumsy writing.

Let me get this out there right away: no one would care if they were a heterosexual couple. Seriously. No one is annoyed at Zoe and Wash for being so obvious about their relationship. We see them naked and everything! How dare they flaunt their sexuality like that! Why, Firefly may as well be a porno for all that post-marital kissing!

The people who protest against this don’t think they’re being homophobic but guys, they really are. You know what is more annoying than a not-subtle same-sex relationship? Being told well after the books finished that Dumbledore was gay which means absolutely zilch when it’s not included in the text. You know what? Same-sex marriage is a big thing in the world right now. It’s important. It’s on people’s minds. These things don’t have to be radical and/or between the lines now.

As for it being clumsy writing? Please. Explain that to me.

Because all I’m hearing is “But they’re too GAY! Why are they FLAUNTING it!”.

So please shut up about Madam Vestra and Jenny’s relationship. Unless you’re commenting on how awesome they are and/or where to find veils like that.

Or at least come up with an original reason not to like them.

Night Valian Dishcloth

IMG_20140817_124300

Night Valian Dishcloth

Download the PDF.

My obsession with Welcome to Night Vale is well-documented at this point. Absolutely no one is surprised that I would go casually hunting for cotton at a local yarn store and come home with a purple that almost exactly matches the logo.

I considered as a result making a dishcloth with an eye in it but since I don’t want the Secret Police staring at me while I wash our Avengers-themed cups I decided to go with a simple but elegant stitch pattern that would leave me plenty of brainspace to listen to the podcast while I made it.

The result is the above.

Since it’s a simple pattern I thought I would write it up for anyone interested. It’s suitable for beginner knitters or those who need something mindless to knit while they’re fawning over Cecil Palmer.

Continue reading

FPC: Captain Marvel

FriPaCol

 

Welcome to the Friday Pattern Collective where I gather up a few patterns from around the net (well, Ravelry mostly) to present them to you.

See previous weeks.

This week we’re going for Captain Marvel who, as every good Marvel fan knows, is about fifty million different types of awesome.

Glorious art by Pryce14
Glorious art by Pryce14

The latest run of Captain Marvel is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick who I met (along with her amazing husband Matt Fraction, writer of the recent Hawkeye series) last year. She’s an incredible writer and brings us Carol Danvers as a strong and interesting character full of depth and great plots.

Also… her costume is really great.

At the moment we’re not following the comics due to funding issues so since I’m starting to seriously miss my monthly binges on comics, Captain Marvel was the obvious choice for this week’s FPC.

Captain Marvel Gloves

By Maratini Knits

IMG_1306rav_medium2_medium

How can we not love Captain Marvel when aesthetically her outfit is so pleasing? And for once it’s not in a yay-boobies kind of way but because it’s three primary colours looking amazing side by side. These gloves are on my to-do list for the autumn.

Captain Marvel’s Lucky Hat

by What The Hell Am I Writing

IMAG0533_medium

If you’ve read the series you’ll remember Carol’s lucky hat from #9. Here it is, crocheted in all its glory. Now the Jayne hat has nothing on this for proclaiming fearlessness.

Stars in the Evening Sky Socks

by Cindy Craft

3278734353_1b1eb0347f_zCarol Danvers is badass. Carol Danvers doesn’t need any of this oxygen nonsense. She’s happy enough to fly out into space past the vivid colours of the setting sun and out into the black, no matter who she’s leaving behind. It’s just something she needs to do.

And now for something completely different…

Baby Groot

by Alexandra Chmiel

Clipboard02_medium

Baby Groot narrowly missed out on being including in the previous Rocket and Groot Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired post and he is disappointed in a very friendly, forgiving way. Which means he’s going to be tacked onto the end of this. I’m 100% sure Cpt Danvers wouldn’t mind for a second.

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my little round-up of patterns. If you have any on theme to share, please do! The more the merrier.

 

 

Thursday Follow pt 4

Follow Thursday is an offering to anyone looking for good knitting and craft-related blogs to peruse. Check out the tag on the post to see previous ones.

First up today we have The Twisted Yarn who has been MIA for a while so I’m pleased to see her posting again. Quite aside from having the most awesome blog banner ever (seriously I love it) she’s super sweet and very talented.

The Weekend Knitter is one of those blogs always filled with such pretty pictures. Scrolling through the posts is always a joy. It makes me want to reach through and pet the pretty things that are posted.

A blog I recently discovered is D’Nali: The Diary. I have a supreme soft spot for people who share not only their crafting prowess but also their real lives and opinions. Especially when they’re witty and entertaining!

Aaaah, guys. There are so many awesome blogs out there I get a little overwhelmed. Why are there so many interesting and talented people out there?

Not that I’m complaining. It would make this post a lot harder if there weren’t.

A nerd with needles. // New posts Monday, Thursday, and Friday.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 766 other followers