beck's blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Singapore Snape has returned from England!!!

I'm soooo happy, (and relieved), that I received an e-mail update from Singapore Snape, (and Karen - his flatmate), along with photos of their vacation to England this past May!!!!!

My mail always becomes clogged when I get too much at once so she's sending me the mail on separate days so this will be the first batch for us all. So, without further ado; here's Karen's travelogue. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them). (My own comments are in green).

Hi Becky: Snape and I are back from our trip to the UK , so I thought I’d send some pictures.

The first is out front of Buckingham Palace. Photobucket
You can see Snape is wearing a sweater (or ‘jumper’ as he calls it) from my sister’s mother-in-law Shirley, who has a secret crush on Snape. He thought the colours were rather garish, but I told him they really brought out his skin tone. (*snicker*)

I LOVE the sweater!!! It's knitted, right? So nice and Muggle-looking on him!!!!! Shirley's awesome!!!!

The second photo

is from the train to Edinburgh , first thing in the morning. I asked if it reminded him of the many trips he must have made on the Hogwarts Express. He replied that it did, except that he preferred the Hogwarts snack carts to the terrible breakfasts served on our train. I am forced to agree with him on that point, as no amount of mustard could make my sausage bun palatable.

Oooo, look how crabby he is on the train! He also might be a little angry his sweater arms are a little long on him!!!!
I love that the sweater has buttons too!

The third and fourth pictures Photobucket Photobucket are Snape waving happily from Princes Street in Edinburgh .

The Castle is behind him in the fourth picture. I asked him why he was so happy to be back in Scotland , when, as far as I recall, the last time he was here he had been left for dead in an abandoned house. Could he perhaps be feeling nostalgic for Auld Lang Syne? Snape snorted derisively at this, then witheringly told me that he was glad to be back because he needed to stock up on Irn Bru – a Scottish soft drink – which is apparently the active ingredient in Pepper-Up Potion. He’s been using Red Bull in Singapore , but it’s just not the same.

Were there dungeons in the castle for Snape to roam around in and feel at home? I bet he'd have loved that!

That Irn Bru sounds alot like something my sons would love but which I should stay clear away from!!! LOL!

And about that last time we saw Snape; we Snape fans all know what really happened in that chapter - just after JKR cut away from his "dying" scene. It was all spelled out for us in the first chapter we met Snape to begin with. He simply popped a bezoar into his mouth. (An item that any Potion's Master worth a grain of salt would be carrying on himself at ALL times, thank you!!!) Thanks to the bezoar he recovered nicely from Nagini's poison and is now living a quiet, happy life, traveling the world, and enjoying himself !!!

But I digress.

This was Karen's first installment so stay tuned and I'll update this post as more e-mails come!!

Thanks, Karen! Glad you're home safe!!!!!

EDIT: I got Karen's second e-mail today!
Here it is.......

Here’s a set of photos from Edinburgh castle. The first Photobucket is Snape by the front gates to the Castle. Doesn’t he look at home among the crags and stone walls?

Oooo! He really does look like he's in his natural environment of crumbly stone walls!

The second Photobucket is near Foog’s Gate. It was an uncommonly nice day for springtime in Edinburgh , and Snape, being Snape, was worried that he would get a sunburn. I said that I thought he would look good with a bit of colour in his cheeks. He said that sallow off-white *is* a colour, thank you very much.

Ha! I love his response!! So typical Snape! (He does have a yellowish color to his skin! I'm sure it's due to his many many years of being stooped over a bubbling cauldron boiling up toxic, noxious fumes. (Even the people at Lego made sure to create his character a glowing Lego face piece. He is the most special and mysterious character of the series for sure!!!)
I also love the name Foog's Gate!!!! So awesome!

The third picture Photobucket is from a set of stairs on the battlements. Right after I took this picture, a little kid ran down the steps (you can see the shadow of his head looming menacingly on the steps) and grabbed our esteemed professor. I literally had to chase a five-year old along the battlements to get him back. And then the parents gave *me* the old stink eye for taking Snape back. Snape was quite shook up by his misadventure. Not so much from being wizard-napped, but from the sticky mess left on his robes by the “monstrous little dunderhead” – his words, not mine.

Wizard-napping!!!! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!! I'm shocked!!!!! How can parents allow this from their children??!! It's definately worthy of a "strong talking-to" so the kid understands he did something wrong and that he won't do it again!
At the very least the parents should have made him apologize! Absolutely unbelievable!!

The stone steps are probably very similar to the many steps Snape must have had to take hundreds of times a day on his way to his classroom and to the Slytherin common room as well. He looks so happy in that photo!! (Pre-wizard-napped!)

On a side note, I'm sure with a dunk in a sink of mild detergent and warm water, a gentle few squishings by hand, and a nice sun-dried hot day outside for a few hours will wash that stickiness from him. He might even enjoy all that!!!

And the fourth Photobucket is from our hotel room in Edinburgh . I thought it was unbearably girly, but Snape quite liked it. He sticks out like a sore thumb in all that pink, doesn’t he?

This photo cracks me up!!!!! He looks so out of place and yet, I totally agree with you that I think he would secretly love it here!!!!! LOL!!!

Still more pictures to come – of Craigmillar castle, mostly.

I can't wait, Karen!!!!!

EDIT: Happy Fourth of July!!!!! I have another e-mail from Karen and Singapore Snape. Don't forget you can make the photos larger by clicking on them!

A Walk To Remember

Hi Becky:

This set of pictures is from a long walk that Snape and I took from Holyrood Park to Craigmillar castle. The first two, Photobucket
and Photobucket are from the Salisbury crags – a volcanic formation in Holyrood park – looking over the city.

In the first picture you can see Edinburgh castle in the distance; in the second you can see the Salisbury crags behind Snape.

The third and fourth pictures, Photobucket and Photobucket are from a meadow to the south of Craigmillar Castle , which is in the background (and is quite lovely).

Y’see how happy and relaxed Snape looks in the last picture, as he enjoys the warm spring breeze?
Funny story about that:
We were just beginning our walk at the Scottish Parliament, when Snape started grumbling for me to "slow down!", "Can’t we rest for a second?", "I’m so thirsty!", "Oh, my aching back!", "I think I’m getting a blister!" etc.

Apparently spending one’s days lurking around a dungeon -- or hiding from my dog under a pillow – isn’t the best way to prepare for a brisk hike.

After our fifth rest stop in as many minutes, I asked him if he wanted me to carry him for a little bit. He smiled at that (at least I thought it was a smile at the time. Now I know it was a sneaky Slytherin smirk) and said, “Oh, I don’t want to burden you!”

I said that it wouldn’t be a problem because, as you know, as a doll, he only weighs a few ounces anyway. (Though we tend to forget that ‘cause, as Jebediah Springfield says, ‘A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man,’ right?) So I picked him up and carried him to the top of the Crags, and then Arthur’s Seat, then through Prestonfield, and all the way to Craigmillar castle.

(Look it up on Google Maps – it’s a pretty long way!)

I think it would’ve been a nice walk – good weather, scotch broom in bloom, birds tweeting, and so forth – if it weren’t for the constant stream of complaints from Snape.

(You’d think being carried around all day would improve his disposition, but no. At this point I don’t think anything will ever improve it.) The whole way it was “I think you’re going the wrong way. Can’t you read a map, you dumb Muggle?” or “Don’t drink all the water! Save some for me!” or “Do you have to walk so bumpily? I’m getting seasick here! I’d have more comfortable journey if I rode a rampaging hippogriff!”

Finally, just as we were arriving at Craigmillar castle (more pictures of that next time) something occurred to me. “Hey!” I said, “Can’t you apparate places, and for that matter, can’t you fly without a broom?!? Why have I been carrying you around all day?!?” Snape had the decency to fake a contrite expression for a half second before laughing at my outraged expression, and then he apparated the rest of the way, leaving me behind. Lazy, lying Slytherin!

LOL!!!! Sounds like he played you like a fiddle!!!!! That scoundrel!

The landscape looks so beautiful there!!! And he looks so absolutely overjoyed in that last photo. He seems to have been having a wonderful time, (especially being coddled and carried around like a baby!!!! LOL!)

I love your use of Simpson-speak ( "embiggering")! I believe Edna Krabapple had quoted ol' Jebediah Springfield to her class and then remarked that she'd never known "embiggered" was even a word until she moved to Springfield! LOL!!!!
- Ah, that Mrs. Krabapple. Another crusty teacher who probably would have made a great match for Snape. (Or, at least, as a simpatico co-worker of whom Snape could join in the teacher's lounge to moan and complain about their worst students Bart and Harry. LOL!!!!

I'm looking forward to your next e-mail, Karen! Enjoy the holiday everyone!!!!!

EDIT: I received the last e-mail from Karen and Singapore Snape today! (Clicking on the photos will make them larger, remember!)

Hi Becky: Here’s my last set of photos from my trip with Snape. Sorry it’s taken so long – it’s been a crazy busy week at work!

The first three photos Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket are from Craigmillar castle, after I caught up with Snape, who had just apparated inside in order to avoid paying the admission fee.

As you can see, Snape was quite at home in amongst the battlements and stonework and particularly the dungeons. He was almost giddy as he practiced swooping and billowing up and down the draughty corridors and spiral staircases. He said that he missed castles (There’s a shocking dearth of castles in Singapore , according to Snape) and that one day he’d like to retire to a castle like Craigmillar.

I was still ticked at him for making me cart his crocheted butt around all day,
( LOL!!!! ) so I replied “Retired from what? Sleeping in every day? Hanging around my house and eating my food? Watching muggle soap operas in your greying underpants? Doesn’t ‘retirement’ imply that you actually have a profession that you eventually decide to give up? And how can you afford to buy a retirement castle, when your only income you make is the chump change I give you for making dog shampoo and floor cleaning potions?” As you can see, his snarkiness is really rubbing off on me.

OMG!! It's so beautiful there!
I can just picture him swooping around the dungeons like a bat! (It's weird how he all-of-a-sudden learned how to fly in the last book, isn't it? Hmmmmm, almost like JKR got tired of having to explain how people got from one place to another when they couldn't apparate there, (due to enchantments and such), and so she just made up this flying thing to save herself some time.) But I digress.

Snape looks quite happy again and he's clearly in his element. You're such a great friend to bring him along on this trip. (Even if he won't ever admit it to you!)

The fourth picture Photobucket is from our first class sleeper cabin on the train back to London .
(On the left, you can see me in the mirror in my sexy pyjamas!)

As you can see, for a first class cabin, it’s pretty small.
Initially Snape was very pleased with our accommodations, and climbed right into bed saying, “I don’t know where they expect you to sleep, but this bunk is perfect for me!” After a brief tussle punctuated by several attempted sectumsempra and expelliarmus spells, I banished him to the floor, and claimed the bed for myself, - (Though he did manage to nick my ear with one spell – Ouch, it stung!)
He grumbled that, unlike certain dumb Muggles, he didn’t need a bed anyway, and would be very comfortable on the floor with a cushioning charm. So there. Nyah!

The last picture Photobucket is from my laundry room after we got home.

As I mentioned, Snape had been accosted by a “reincarnated Marauder” in Edinburgh , and had been sticky with some mystery substance – I think it was Marmalade, he said it was Bubotuber pus – ever since.

Since Snape pays only the barest attention to his own personal hygiene at the best of times, I decided to take matters into my own hands and give him a bath. He was mortified at this, and made me promise not to take pictures, but I did get one of him hanging to dry afterwards. He complained that spending a day in that position was “worse than being subjected to 20 consecutive Levicorpus hexes!” I said that if he didn’t like it, next time we could use the dryer.

So that’s our trip. I never made it to King’s Cross Station, but I will definitely be there in August, so I’ll send photos then. Best, Karen

Look at him hanging up-side-down just like a bat! (I had always hoped that Snape had an animagus of which was a bat, but JKR must have decided that was too obvious and left it out of the book, (just like Dumbledor's sexual preference.)

I'm so glad you gave him a washing. I was worried I'd see a photo of him covered in flies. LOL!!

Since he likes castles so much, maybe sometime in the future you could plan a trip to the new Disney Harry Potter attraction they are building down in Florida. I think is due to open in 2010, (unless they change that date on us all as well).

I had mentioned to my sister that that sounded like it could be a lot of fun. I'm not sure if a "Snape's Dungeons" section is in the works or not, but I know they'll be at least some portions of the castle recreated, (like, perhaps, Dumbledor's Office or the Great Hall). I know there's a Hogsmeade village too.
ANYWAY, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to a castle. (Not shockingly, there's quite a huge lack of castles here in Indiana as well). LOL!!!

Oh, and Karen! About your next trip to England in August, did you know there's really a Snape Castle located in North Yorkshire? (Yes, I really have no life, it's true.) LOL!!!

Anyway, I hope you have another safe and fabulous trip!!!!
I'll be looking forward to more of Singapore Snape's Adventures from England!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Up-cycled Princess Pouffe

When I saw this used Dora the Explorer stool at Goodwill last week I knew it was the perfect frame for making my own stool with a fabric I'd been saving for just this item to come along. (Clicking on the photos will enlarge them).

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Here's the stool "before" shot and the girl's dress fabric I just fell in love with when I found it, (also at Goodwill), a while ago.
The Dora stool had a ratty-looking purple eye-lashy fringe going around it which I had already removed before this shot. You can still see pieces of it though. It was glued on.

Photobucket Photobucket

So, I unscrewed the legs which was difficult as I could not get one undone to save my life.
Then I cut a nice size piece of the dress that I wanted to be centered on the stool and laid it overtop the Dora cushion.
I then hand-sewed the fabric all along the edge attaching the new dress fabric.
Then I placed the legs back over the areas where they previously were, only with the new fabric now on.
I couldn't get the screws to work. I think they must have had "nuts" at the other end which were now inside the puffy cushion so I went to the garage and got slightly longer screws.
I also got out my trusty crazy glue tube and went to town reattaching the legs.

Photobucket Photobucket

Finally, here's a couple shots of the finished pouffe, (stool).
I sewed on my own fluffy pink boa to the edge of it.
If you look at the fabric it's definitely a queen or princess cat with an aide at her side.

The underside of the stool said it would hold 100 lbs. I seriously doubt that.
I wouldn't put more weight than 50 lbs on this.
It would make a nice side table to set things on.
It folds up easily for storage.

I still have the other half of the dress fabric. I wonder what else I can make with it.
It's such an awesome fabric. (The tag on the dress said "Xhilaration".) I think they sell that brand at Target.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sock Kitty Sisters

Ah, summer.
A time to visit relatives, relax, and catch up on each others lives.
And this is where we find two particular sock kitties. (Click on pictures to enlarge them).

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Meet two sock kitty sisters.
City Sock Kitty and Country Cindy Sock Kitty.
They've been exchanging gossip, news, and even outfits for each other.
City Sock Kitty is wearing a very trendy Organic Valley Farms kerchief dress that Cindy brought for her.

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The back of the kerchief dress says "The Future is Organic".
Cindy Sock Kitty is wearing a crocheted a-line swing dress that City Sock Kitty crocheted for her sister.

They've been chatting since the moment they got back together,
but soon, one will have to journey back to her country farm in Wisconsin.
I hope she has a safe trip back!

I miss you and I love you!!!

( Herrschners has awesome sock animal kits, two sets to a pack! Check them out!! )

Sock Kitty Back Home

Got this post from my sister with her sock kitty safely home...

"She wanted to go outside to the barn and feed the chickens so that's right where we headed."

"She enjoyed throwing bread cubes out to them, good thing she had on her babushka over her head the chicken coop is sure dusty! "

"Then she spent sometime catching up with her barn cat friends."

"They all wanted to know what was happening in the city."

I love this last photo because it looks like they are whispering gossip to each other!!!

I haven't heard from Singapore Snape yet. I wonder how his London trip is going.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Crossing Borders - Peter Max Afghan

Ever since I made the Yellow Submarine afghan,


I've been wanting to make a Peter Max afghan as well.

Although Peter Max had nothing to do with the making of the Yellow Sub, his style and wonderful pop-art, day-glo colors and vision must surely have been influenced by the film, (or is it the other way around??!) LOL!!!!

Anyway, I was googling around looking for one of Peter Max's paintings that I knew I could try to reproduce in crochet form.

I fell in love with this painting titled "Crossing Borders" that, from what I've read on the web, here was created in the 1980s and flanked both sides of the border crossing of the El Paso Stanton Street Bridge. I hope I've got that right. There wasn't much I could find on it. Not even a really good full shot of the picture.

So I used the photograph of the picture in the link above, uploaded it to photobucket, used the editing features to "fill out" and try to "straighten" the photo.

This is what I came up with...

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A before and after of the photograph I used. (Click on the photos to enlarge them).

Then I uploaded it to microrevolt's Knitpro and made a graph of it to crochet.

Without further ado, here's my afghan. My tribute to the fabulous artist Peter Max....

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My camera kept wanting to use the flash so I held it down in the first shot so there's no flash, and in the second shot I let the flash go off.

The afghan is 60 inches wide by 41 inches tall. This includes the wide border I put on it.

For the most part it is Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Yarn" brand but there is also a lot of Red Heart yarn too.

It is tunisian crocheted, (that's the afghan stitch), using a size J cabled crochet hook.

There are two colors of gold in the hair, you're not imagining it. If you notice the original photo, the gold color varies dark to light so I wanted to try and capture that on the blanket too. It starts dark gold to light to dark and again to light beneath the face. He's also a turquoise color rather than the blues.

Since I had to fudge with the bottom, I decided to make that a large Peter Max logo instead of the tiny one on the original.

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I took a lot of photos of the afghan but they mostly look the same. It's hard to stand on a bench and hold the camera up high enough to get the whole thing in the shot.

For the city, I crocheted it from the graph first, and afterwards, I used black Sinphonia yarn and stitched in the building windows and outlines with a yarn needle.

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Here's the last two shots. One of the front and then I flipped over the afghan to photograph the back too. I know a lot of you crocheters out there always want to see the backs. :o)

I hope you all enjoy looking at this, it was a lot of fun to make.
Peter Max is an amazing artist and I hope he wouldn't mind my attempt at reproducing his work in yarn form.
Max Rocks!!!