Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In the Dungeon: Where is January Going?

Slytherins, we're down to 5 days left in the month, where did January go?

I lost my January knee-deep in Quidditch stashes...but never fear, I've kept some time aside to post a quick play by play of the Dungeon, so you don't have to lose the rest of your month trying to keep up with what's happening over there!

Here's the down and dirty:

And as always, be sure to surf the recently posted images for pictures of hotties, goats, and hottiegoats.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Photography for Serpents

Hey there, snakes! This is TurpentineChai, your Quidditch Seeker! Let's hear a hiss for Team Slytherin!

As Seeker, one of my more important tasks involves a photo montage. As a photographer and web designer I must confess...I hate to see a beautiful project go to waste on an awful photo. I'm here tonight to give you the best tips I've learned over the years to really show off those stitches you slaved over. Not to mention...its no secret that the better looking photos tend to get higher grades...they just present better!


Whenever, WHENEVER, possible...get something alive in your shot. For anything that can be worn by a person, shoot the picture of a person wearing it. For anything not to be worn, find a small child or a cat to hold it. Bring some life into the shot. Clothing demands humans, supply it with them and your project page will pop with life. Put those socks on some feet! Steal somebody's kid to cuddle that stuffed animal! Pile scarves on your cat! Anything! I don't want to see flat socks...ever!

For a knitting project, I suggest presenting at least two photos on your Ravelry project page. In photography, there's what's called the "hero shot" and the "style shot". Both are great for really showing off a project. The hero shot is a picture that contains your project, uncluttered and clearly shown. This is your mittens against a simple back ground, your sweater on a person standing straight in a basic pose, this shot shows what you've got. This is when you want to feature the true color, the interesting sleeves and so on.

Here's a hero shot of my "Irish Pubs Are Cold" fingerless mittens:

Then there's my favorite, the style shot. This is your Slytherin scarf draping over a velvet cape clad shoulder, your toy set up in a cute scene, your potions book covering on a candlelit desk. The shape and color of your project isn't as important as the mood you want your project to have here!

Here's my style shots:


Now are these mittens exceptionally better than anything else in a pub? No...but I knit enough fingerless mittens that having a different mood to these make the project more interesting to share. I get PMs from people asking for the pattern despite there being a thousand fingerless mitten patterns out there because the mood in the pictures strikes a chord. Think of knitting magazine layouts, is that sweater really THE ONLY SWEATER TO LOOK GOOD ON A BOAT? No! But if you're somebody who looks at the picture and thinks: I could be like that fun and adventurous boat lady, you're more likely to knit it.

This is definitely true with some things more than others. Handknit socks flat are not very attractive but its amazing how much that changes when you put them in a person and then put that person in somewhere interesting. Browse a sock pattern book sometime, you'll see all kinds of different scenes to inspire a mood. Feet look like feet most of the time, but sock designers are always coming up with a way to make these feet more worth buying the pattern for than those feet and let's be honest. IT WORKS.

For things that aren't obvious, like a hat which tends to be the same size as most hats, include some contextual item, preferably something in relation to the object. Did you knit a tiny blueberry muffin? Go to the store and pick up some real blueberries for the shot. It'll show the size and be cute...and cuteness is always graded highly.

Try out different settings, sometimes you might want to take a project out about the town to find a place to add something to the shot. I've had lots of luck with finding another local knitter in need of project shots and the two of us making an afternoon adventure out of a backpack full of FOs, several coffees and a camera. Sometimes you can even find a budding photographer who will trade some semi-professional looking photo shoots for a pair of socks. It may seem like a lot just to show off a project, but it'll make those OWLs look amazing!

Did I mention, always put clothes on something living?

Okay, time for TECHNICAL BITS:

I can't say it enough...natural light, natural light, natural light.

Natural light will make the colors in your project truer and more vibrant. While sunlight is amazing, you do have to watch out in direct sunlight. You can get a glare, especially in glossy yarns that is unflattering. I find a slightly overcast day is great and a sunny windowsill is better...because I don't have to go outside.

So even if you cast off from that shawl at 3am and want to turn it in RIGHT NOW, be patient. Your knitting will thank you later if you show it in the best light. A built in flash is made solely to trick the world into taking bad photos...I swear, professional photographers pay camera companies to trick people into using them so nobody will ever realize how simple taking a good photo can be.

Now, for advanced lighting or people who don't want to wait or for vampires really into showcasing knitting, you can build a lightbox. They do wonders for stash photography and really showing off handspuns. Here's a great how-to for making a cheap one: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html

Once the lighting is good, you want to crop it like its hot. Keeping the camera steady, get in close for some shots. Try out the Macro setting on your camera! (Its the little flower.) You spend time making gauge, practicing your stitches, and maintaining tension so why would you not get in close to look at them? Knitting and crochet are beautiful when they're finished and where else except on Ravelry can you know everybody who looks at it will truly appreciate that beauty? If you're doing something with complicated stitch work, you should always try to have at least one shot showing that off in detail on your project page.

Take elevnty-billion photos. If your camera is digital, there's no reason to settle for an "okay" shot. Take a hundred if you must! You can sort them on the computer later and narrow it down to an amazing handful. Its much easier to find the winners in a big batch then to settle for the most decent in the four pictures you took.

Edit them in Picnik if you don't have a photo editing software. Its free, amazing and works great with Flickr. Play around with it a bit to see how it feels. If you're following the above steps, you shouldn't need to do much other than occasionally cropping in closer or adjusting the temperature to match the scene.

Um...I feel like I had more but that's all I can think of right now. I want to see uniform montage photos that will put Ansel Adams to shame! Feel free to burn me with any photography questions!


One last thing...be grateful you aren't in Gryffindor. Red yarn is notoriously a pain to photograph.

Your Seeker,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quidditch Uniform Details

This information is all available in Posts #607-609 in the Quidditch Pitch thread, but for ease of finding later, here is a rundown on the Quidditch Uniforms for the Ravelympics.

Your esteemed (*snort*) Captain has had been struck down by inspiration! (No seriously...I had to pick myself off the floor after I ran to the boy in the back room to share my idea...oops). And I have been dying to share the idea for about a week...but waiting a bit felt right...so I did.

Because we, as the sly, ambitious, cunning, scheming, and plotting types, use our brains at a near constant rate in order to remain ahead in life, our Team Uniforms, (a.k.a. the thing you'll be theoretically wearing while crafting for the Ravelympics) will follow a single theme: Simple Head Adornments.

When I say simple, you should be able to craft this item in about a week or less so that you're ready for the Ravelympics (though I realize that by posting this early you have significantly longer than a week to craft your uniform). So, think about what you can pull off in a week or less, and starting thinking about how to fit in head adornments.

What do I mean about head adornments? Something that decorates your head in some way. We all have a head. Presumably we all have at least some of the part of the head's accessories (eyes, ears, eyebrows, nose, rounded dome part that may or may not have hair on it). You could make a hat, like a House beanie or House beret, a headband like a Calorimetry or a Kells Headband, or get creative and make half a Grandmother's Favorite dishcloth and call it a headscarf. You could make a hood like the Riverbanks or a Snood or if you want ease and simplicity, just a strip of garter stitch long enough to wrap around your head will do. Crocheters: creativeyarn has some awesome crocheted head-adornment patterns...and they look pretty simple and quick to me!

But it must be a head adornment. No scarves, unless it's a hooded scarf, like the POW! Hooded Scarf, because your neck is not your head (logical, yes?). A cowl is okay, if it can also be used to cover your head in some way, like an Ice Queen If you can do either of those patterns in a week, I expect great things from you for the Ravelympics. Just sayin'.

What pattern you choose is up to you as long as you decorate some part of your head and you can get it done quickly. If you're not sure if what you're thinking meets the requirement, run it by me first. If you need House Colors, talk to [abycat](person). She's the Sharing Beater in charge of getting people the yarns they need.

Now, the "One Rule" this term. You must use **BOTH** House Colors. That is, green and some sort of silver/gray-like color. This can be achieved with a great varigated or self-striping yarn, but it might be easier to go for separate yarns. Up to you. You may also include black or white-ish/natural colors as accents as long as they comprise no more than 10% of the total project.

Your projects must be done in time for the beginning of the Ravelympics on February 12th...so you can shoot for beginning around the 5th of February if you want, though you could start right now if you'd like. And for fun so I can spy, please tag your project, whatever it is, with "slyquiduniform" (that's my own request, not from our esteemed Coach, GazeboGal and Assistant Coach, though they may love to search it themselves.)

Please direct any questions via PM....and post pictures! Your Seeker, TurpentineChai, must post a photo montage of our Ravelympics participants wearing their uniforms by February 20th and anyway, your captain loves pictures:) I don't know if she has anything special planned for the montage, but I'm sure if she has a special photo orientation in mind, she'll let us know.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In the Dungeon: As of Late

Since last time:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Enabling to the Extreme

So I finally have some time to seek out Slytheriny goodness. My first stop was Etsy. Always a good place to look for unique items.

The first item I came across was a Professor Snape Harry Potter Themed Necklace with Gift Tin. The store also has a Professor Snape Charm Bracelet and the perfect jewelry box to keep them safe from non-Slytherins.

The next item was a 3 Piece Slytherin Washcloth set. The perfect item to make your home more like the Slytherin Dungeons or Malfoy Manor.

And every Hogwarts student needs an ID card. The store also has temporary Dark Mark tattoos if you don't want to go out and get a real one. Yes, I am seriously thinking of getting one. The temporary one. Not the real one.

Until next time...

Monday, January 11, 2010

In the Dungeon: The last week

Oh my gracious, has it been a week??? It's been a week! Wowwy!

Important: If you want to vote for the Slytherin Quidditch Team Name, you have until tonight at 5 pm Eastern, so get on it!

Aside from that, here's a summary of the entire week in one simple phrase.

Seriously.  For reals. They are all hot. Kilts are hot. And this guy is our Official Slytherin Hot Kilt Guy. (If Scarlettb disagrees with this, he's the Official Prefect Plaything. Wait...Maybe he's that anyway...) Super Mega Foxy Awesome Props to YarnMaiden for making our wizard dreams come true.

And now, the rest of the story:

There are hot chicks in the Dungeon. And Team Kilt.

Hilltopkatie made a very important announcement
Scarlettb calls Snape. And it's officially okay to be a nerd.
Z12's in a book!
Knitknot makes a mean pair of socks. Aren't they dreamy?
TurpentineChai hooked us up with some fun HP actor trivia. What movie other than the HP series has the most HP actors?
Hellooooooo, gorgeous. (Just to see if you're paying attention)

Peace out, Snakes!

Quiet Snakes

As the House Cup gets larger and larger, we have more and more snakes that hang out in the dungeon and submit wonderful homework, but never have the time to get caught up with our conversations and say hello.  This term I'd like to focus on the quiet and busy snakes, and help us get to know them a little bit better.

First off is duckyknits, a first year.

DNAtheory: How did you find out about the House Cup?
Duckyknits: Somebody, I don’t remember who, posted a project of theirs in another group, stating that it was their Potions OWL. I couldn’t help but follow it back. As soon as I saw the Cup, I knew I wanted to join!

Are you a knitter, crocheter, spinner, weaver?
Pretty much a just a knitter. I’ve been knitting for a little over 3 years now, and I’m pretty much willing to try anything. The techniques I don’t know are mostly because I haven’t gotten around to them, rather than any active avoidance. I can work a drop spindle, but would love a spinning wheel.

What other crafts and hobbies do you love?
I love to read, above all. I’ve been reading since I was very young, so it’s been a lifelong passion of mine. I also love puzzles, which is part of why I love knitting. Trying to rework patterns and figure things out always feels like a new puzzle! Other than that, I love most things where I can work with my hands. Recently, I’ve been learning how to do stained glass.

What do you do when you’re not knitting?
I’m a grad student at the moment, so that takes up a huge chunk of my life. Other than classes and research, I like to hang out with my friends and play games, both video and tabletop. Also, I love to cook, especially for appreciative tasters! There’s a lot of satisfaction in making something delicious.

Do you knit for yourself or for other people?
I mostly knit for myself. Most people don’t appreciate the effort and cost that goes into a fiber craft. However, recently I’ve begun to make small projects, such as hats, for a select few.

What is your dream project?
Laura’s Cardigan has always blown me away, but I just haven’t made very many sweaters yet. (None, actually, but I’m working on one.) I’ve also had dreams of knee-high entrelac or argyle socks.

What project are you most proud of?
I love my Knotty Gloves. I’m also particularly fond of the Cthulhu I just made for class.

Where do you find inspiration for your crafting, besides the Potterverse?
I craft when something strikes me as being unique, and yet pretty or classy in its own way. I don’t make things that look like what you could find in a store, though I do try to make them as nice as possible. Sometimes it’s something I see on TV, sometimes while I’m browsing the internet, even if it’s not a knitting site. It just depends, I guess.

What are your crafting goals for this term?
I’m going to complete the Ultimate Quest Light+. I know I’ll accomplish more than the Quest Light, but less than the Ultimate Quest. I plan on completing the Ultimate Quest this summer when I’m not taking classes.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions, Duckyknits!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dungeon Pretties

So, term is off to a good start, lots of O.W.L.s have been approved so far for the noble house of Slytherin, class assignments are starting to trickle in at a steady pace and the pretties are starting to appear in the common room (and I'm not just talking the hotties here).

Talking of OWL's take a look at the very stylish Deputy Headmistress hilltopkatie, in her Owls sweater, handed in for detention in which she can't nominate herself for a prize but understandably wants to show it off. I have to agree and so wanted to show it off here where all of the Slytherins can ooo and aaahhhh.
Last term the common room was bursting
with very pretty handspun yarns by the
fabulously talented Slytherins who not only produced their own but shamelessly encouraged many of the rest of us to give it a whirl. So far this term things have been quiet but exect to see more as term progresses. So to encourage more of this show and tell about the pretties here is
PEby's beautiful Slytherin Handspun
and my own small offering, the colour was given as garnet but it's far more purple that I would expect a garnet to be, so I've called it garnet night.
I hope this little bit of encouragement inspires more pretties for me to show on the blog.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In the Dungeon

The last post I did was on the second, so this is since then. Again, this isn't everything. It's just a little. (and honestly, today was kind of a blur).

When in doubt, if you find something awesome enough to be on the Slytherin blog, earburn me. That'll work for reals.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January Class Ideas

Stuck on what to make this month?  Just can't seem to find any inspiration?  Kikipotamus and I put our heads together and came up with some ideas to help get your muse working.

DADA -- Reasonable Resolutions

What kinds of things do you know you can do better?  Can you make more things for yourself?  Can you use more of your stash yarn before buying new yarn?  Can you push yourself to learn new techniques?  Can you make more things for other people (this is mine; I'm a notoriously selfish knitter and I could really be a lot more giving)?

Remember, you may get bonus points for House colors, making the professor laugh, or especially good stories.  DADA is always the place to ham it up!

Rotation 1, Arithmancy -- Droste (things within things)

What kinds of things can be put inside themselves?  Geometric shapes are mentioned right in the class description; triangles within triangles or similar patterns can be worked into shawls, scarves, and even socks, hats, or mittens.

What kind of 3 dimensional things can be put inside each other? Felted nesting bowls?

This is also a great class to spin for; roving with 2 or 3 colors can be spun up and plied so the colors contrast and form spirals of their own (or, a la fosterson, you can do fractal spinning).

Bonus points may be awarded for creative interpretations, large or ambitious projects, self-designed projects, socks, or cute pets or babies!

Charms -- Rictusempra; tickling!

What makes you laugh? More importantly, what makes your friends and family laugh?  Is there anything you have in your queue just because it's such a silly idea (I've got bacteria in mine)?  Can you create something to physically tickle your children/friends/significant other?

What can you do to make the professor laugh?  Remember, she's a Slytherin and you're a Slytherin, so as she says in the class header, it can involve schadenfreude!  Make something mean, as long as it's funny mean.

What cheers you up in gloomy weather? Bright colors, knitted flowers, candy, knitted baked goods? What would you send someone to cheer them up?

Rotation 2, Divination -- Palm reading (gloves or mitts to cover your palms)

What kind of palm do you have? (Look in the class header to sort this out.)  How can you represent that in your palm coverings?  Do you want something with fingers or without?  Not all gloves and mitts have to be knit in the round; some fingerless glove patterns can be knit flat and seamed up afterward if you don't want to do circular knitting.

What other things do your palms come into contact with on a daily basis? Kiki's knitting potholders. What about a steering wheel cover or a cover for your gear shifter?

Potions -- Aconite (Dangerous or delightful)

Option 1. Dangerous--what would be dangerous for you?  Are you terrified of double-pointed needles?  Is there yarn hiding at the bottom of your stash, breeding and trying to take over the world?  Do you have a friend who is allergic to wool (mwa ha ha)?

What foods are you/your friends allergic to? Would it be dangerous for you to knit with Alpaca because you might break the bank to buy more?

Option 2. Delight Dumbledore.  This one might require some research followed by a bit of thought.  Start here and here for refreshers on Dumbledore in the books.  Be creative in interpreting these!  More specifically, Dumbledore was famous for having a sweet tooth--what kind of sweet things can you craft?  Is there some absolutely delicious yarn somewhere in your stash?  Dumbledore had a certain panache (Kiki's thinking of that purple suit)--what other accessories would be outrageous enough to tickle Dumbledore? Dumbledore is also known to love socks (and if I had to guess, I'd say that would earn bonus points, but no promises). As much as he loved Hogwarts, I would think anything that promoted House Unity would delight him.

As your professor says, "Bonus points for highly entertaining posts/projects, house colors, and a Secret Method which is in some way related to a book that does not take place in the Potterverse."

Transfiguration -- Organize your queue

What kinds of things matter to you in your queue?  Would it help you to make notes on each pattern about which yarn you plan to use with it?  Can you add tags for noting who the intended recipient is? Would you rather tag by "hat" or by "head"?  Remember, whatever you do, it should be a system that makes sense to you!  Just don't forget to check out the class header to fulfill the basic requirements (tag 20 patterns, move the next 5 you intend to make to the top, and have 3 categories each containing at least 3 patterns).

Be sure to include your reasoning, and if you get carried away and super-organize everything, be sure to note that!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Enabling to the Extreme

Greetings, one and all. I am the delightfully sarcastic GirlyWithATwist aka Angela. I am a 5th year Slytherin. So yes I have been here since the beginning of House Cup time. I only have one hottie that I have with me at all times and that is the race car driver. I just can't resist a man who can drive a car faster than 170 miles per hour. I figure he has some damn good reflexes. Plus I love the cheesy grin of his.

My mission this term to is entice you to spend your hard earned funds on Slytheriny goodness. This will include but will not be limited to yarn, roving, stitch markers, bags. Anything I find that showcases the lovely Slytherin colors of green and silver or anything that has showcased the greatness of the Mighty House of Slytherin will be shown here.

I plan to do updates at least every other week at minimum. Of course, I may find something so great that it has to be shown the instant I find it. If anyone finds anything great that needs to be shown, feel free to let me know. I usually am logged into Raverly. And because I can't do a post without a picture, here is one of my Slytherin Pride handspun. It was knitted up last term to make a Simple Yet Effective Slytherin Shawl. :)

In the Dungeon: The first two days of term

Hello Slytherins!

First off, Big Snakes and Middle Snakes, PLEASE encourage your Little Snakes to follow the blog and check here for regular updates if they are afraid of the dungeon! There's a lot of stuff going on right now that we know they don't want to miss!

Also, I need to say, I'm not posting everything that happens in the Dungeon. I'm trying to post the highlights. If I miss something you found entertaining or important, please feel free to post the info and the post # in the comments! As I get more used to this, hopefully I'll get better at including the best highlights, and always remember, these are the things that interest ME. I am, after all, a Slytherin. I have to put myself first. :)

  • Quidditch Is Up! Our esteemed captain Zanahoria12 needs any and all interested in playing a Big 7 Position (this is seeker, beaters, chasers) to tryout. Info is here
  • This didn't take place in the Dungeon but official Quidditch info is here
  • The new term brings us a whole new term of hotties! (okay, so lots of them are probably the same hotties...) Come look at the luscious and vote for your favorites (vote for Ewan!) Hotties are changed usually every Friday night, so nominate your favorites too!
  • The Ultimate Hottie from the Fall Term Hottie-Off is Johnny Depp. And he's gorgeous. (I'm sorry Professor Snape but I voted for Jack Sparrow! Yum!) He's spending the week in the Dungeon Header (and the rest of the term chained up next to my chair!), and there's varying levels of Hot in this post
  • Coleva, also known in the Potions classroom as Professor Feelgood, is awesome. Apparently I failed to sufficiently mention this in my last post, thus I'm correcting that failure here.
  • Are you a Slytherin sans an appropriately evil Ravatar? If you need some new icon bling, go here. They do requests, and it might be easier to wade through than the Dungeon. Props to seakame for linkage in the dungeon.
  • Finally, my most squee-worthy post of the last few days, first year TurpentineChai brings Steampunk to the Dungeon. It's so awesome I'm putting up a picture. Steampunk StarWars anyone? Vader, Fett, and Leia.

Greetings from your Quidditch Captain!

Hi everyone!

I'm Erika, a.k.a. Zanahoria12 and I'm Quidditch Captain (and Keeper) this term!

While we're waiting for the ultimate rules and regulations post to go up, I thought I'd share some important things with you about how we're going to handle our strategy.

  1. We have a separate Quidditch Pitch thread on the Rav group. I'll be making most of the announcements and requests-for-information posts over there to save the Common Room from further craziness. If you're interested in Quidditch this term, please try to pop in.
  2. We also have a website for our Quidditch Pitch where I like to put the information in one place so that it's easy to find in the shuffle. There's a link in the sidebar over there at the top of the blog page --->
  3. We're also in the process of setting up a SSSQS (Super Secret Slytherin Quidditch Strategy) Google Wave. Google Wave is a way of interaction in real-time or not. You'll need an account to get into our Wave, so if you need an invite, please visit the Quidditch Pitch thread on Ravelry. There's a link to a form there in the second post, right under the list of Big 7 Team members so that you can request one.
  4. Tryouts will be via Google form. Once the form is finalized, a link will be posted in the Quidditch Pitch thread, on the website, and on the Wave. If you wish to play for one of the Big 7 Team Positions, you must fill out this form. First-Years are eligible for the House team, and all applications will be given equal consideration for a position.
  5. January will be Ravelry stash organization. Be prepared to organize and photograph and tag large portions, if not all, of your stash. Everyone in the House can do this for points and those Big 7 members in charge of organizing activities and events will do their best to motivate and support you in this endeavor.
  6. February we will be traveling to take part in the Ravelympics. They have their own group if you want to start reading about it. There's a link to this group in the Second Post as well. We need a team name so I can register us with the Ravelympics group. Our team name must include: Slytherin, Cup, and Quidditch. PM me on Ravelry with your ideas. We'll vote sometime next week.
  7. March is our Cool Down period. We don't yet know what this entails, but I promise we'll be right on top of it once we do know.

That should be everything for the moment. I'll check in periodically with updates and news:)