A warm scarf for open worlds

As I’ve mentioned, I play computer games. The last couple of years, I’ve been playing more RPGs. In previous posts I’ve written about how my strategy for staying focused during the idle time of extended chunks of dialogue and cinematics is to approach them with knitting in hand. This hasn’t changed, but sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to find a knitting project that requires no concentration, can be unceremoniously dropped when I’m confronted with a quick-time event, and is time consuming enough to last me through the 70+ hour open-world marathons that seem to increasingly be the staple of the RPG genre*. If the project helps to use up stash yarn and the end result is ever-so-wearable, then all the better.

[author grins cheerfully] This scarf just went and ticked all the boxes, didn’t it?

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The pattern is Alla Moda by Gina Bonomo. I wanted the largest scarf I could make, but didn’t have enough yardage for the larger size, so I just cast on an amount of stitches somewhere between the two sizes and knitted for as long as the materials held out. The yarn is two balls of Knit Picks Palette in Abyss Heather and, ahem, an assortment of whatever black fingering weight yarn I could dredge up from the depths of my stash box. There’s definitely some Patonyle in there, and some sock yarn from my 2010 pilgrimage to WEBS. Beyond that is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps these photos aren’t the greatest, but here’s the thing: they were taken on a whim, on my way out of the door. Often when I’m taking a photo of a finished object, I don the knitted piece simply for the reason that it’s finished and I want to post a picture on Ravelry. I take the photos, and then I remove the item in question. Not this time. I took a picture, sure, but it was a matter of thinking “hmm, maybe I should take a picture” once the scarf was already around my neck because I wanted to wear it when I went out. As opposed to putting it on specifically for the purpose of a photo, and then taking it off again. So even though they’re perhaps not the greatest photos, I feel that if nothing else, they’re certainly honest!

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I’m not going to lie; this scarf took a long time. In a good way. It kept me company through the last 30 hours of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt** and then through nearly all of Mass Effect: Andromeda*** (which clocked in at around 80 hours). Though obviously I wasn’t knitting the entire time. Don’t panic; this is not an 110 hour scarf! Though it sometimes felt that way.

That said, if the process was long, the end result is worth it. It’s warm, light, cozy, and very wearable. It’s casual, but not too casual, and the one row stripes of dark colours keep things nice and subtle; it’s a very versatile piece. When I first cast on, some part of me rebelled at the idea of carelessly knitting a rectangle of stocking stitch with nary a care for curling edges. I’m glad that I trusted the pattern, because the curling honestly don’t bother me nearly as much as I thought. The unfinished look actually works just fine with the rest of the design.

A few posts ago I wrote about wanting to spend this year focusing on (among other things) knitted projects where the end result was, above all, wearable. This project definitely has me living up to these aspirations.

 

 

And because I am apparently incapable of sticking to a single topic, some game flavoured observations:

*Is anyone else a little over huge-open-world for the sake of it? I feel that ever since the Lord of the Rings movies in the early 2000s there’s been this pressure for movies/games/books – especially things produced within and for geek culture – to be “epic”. Sadly “epic” often seems to translate to “needlessly long” and/or “exhaustingly high stakes”. There have been plenty of open world games I’ve enjoyed a great deal, and perhaps this is the wrong context in which to be launching into a critique of the feature, since I actually enjoyed both of the above games and felt that the open world format worked well for them given the themes and content of the story. But I’m tired of the bigger-is-better mentality. Smaller and more focused in scope, hand-in-hand with some tight plotting and good writing, has produced some absolutely incredible results. I think it’s important that we don’t forget that.

 

** This was my first proper experience with the Witcher franchise; the first two games have been languishing in my Steam library because, as a card carrying grumpy feminist, I have mixed feelings about the whole “bang sexy ladies, get collectible cards of said sexy ladies” mechanic in the first game. Thankfully the series has improved a lot in terms of its depictions of women. It’s not perfect; I still die a little inside every time I see a female warrior character, written as a practical person who takes her craft seriously, wearing heels or apparel with zero chest coverage or support to a battle. But aside from this and a whole lot of male gaze, my quibbles are pretty mild. The female characters are excellently written, have a lot of agency, and form supportive relationships with each other during the course of the story. I also ended up liking Geralt a lot more than I expected; I felt a bit indifferent at first but he grew on me once I realised that he wasn’t so much bland as just incredibly dead-pan. And his relationship with Ciri is adorable.

Also, I love any game with a bestiary. And frankly, I could have just wandered around Skellige for hours without getting bored. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did.

 

*** And a few words about Mass Effect: Andromeda, since I know some people who are incredulous that I’m even playing it, given its lukewarm reception. I have plenty of thoughts on this (read: so many thoughts) but I’ll keep it to the bare essentials. Is it a perfect game? No. Do I think it’s okay for developers to release games riddled with glitches? Certainly not (though for what it’s worth, I played the game two weeks after release and encountered very few problems). Do I think that the outcry and negative reception was proportionate to the shortcomings of the game? No. Is it a good game? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did.

It’s a big game, and in terms of pacing, it’s kind of a slow game. But given the setting and themes of the story, I didn’t actually have a problem with this. You’re exploring and settling a new galaxy; there’s going to be a lot of different concerns to address, a lot of things to juggle. It would have felt strange for a player character occupying a generalist role like Pathfinder to not have a lot of things competing for their attention. As with many open world games, there was a little too much busy work at times, and while the planetscapes are stunning, the character models really don’t look as good as I’d hoped. But the characters are likeable, the combat is fun and flexible,  the themes are interesting, and the cheesy jokes and callbacks come thick and fast. It’s not a perfect game, but I enjoyed it just fine, and am glad that I played it.

Some things that are unseasonal

Summer’s officially gone here, but in practice, not so much. It’s still been topping 30 degrees on many days over the last week, and even our rainy days are still pretty warm. I’m hoping we get some proper autumn weather soon. Melbourne’s shoulder seasons are utterly gorgeous… in the years that we actually have them. Some years you have weeks and weeks of lovely mild weather, but in others the weather changes from volcanic to chilly depressingly quickly. I’m still crossing my fingers for the former, but right now things are still pretty warm (which is still, admittedly, an improvement on searing).

As is always the case by the end of summer, I’ve got a ton of knitted projects to photograph but very little desire to layer up with wool and sweat my way through however many pictures. This wouldn’t be a problem if I picked seasonal projects like a normal person, but every year I make noises about knitting with summer-appropriate yarns through the hotter months, and pretty much every time I sit there in the 40 degree January heat stubbornly knitting away with wool. So a pile of scarves and jumpers it is. Oh well.

Given my backlog, it would probably make sense to just make a morning of it and photograph everything in one session, getting progressively pinker and sweatier in each picture. But I’m a wimp and while I have excellent intentions to blog more regularly, I do draw the line at courting heatstroke. So instead, I’m tackling a few projects at a time.

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This scarf is the Dragon Wing Cowl (knit version) pattern by Jessie Rayot. I have an unabashed love for a) voluminous scarves and b) things that are a bit angular, so I had to have it. Plus I had the perfect buttons lying around, and the pattern was free. Why fight it?

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I have to confess: I didn’t particularly enjoy knitting this all that much. It wasn’t difficult, but it was a little fiddly keeping track of the rows and increases. Or at least more fiddly than I usually prefer my garter stitch, at any rate. That said, the finishing was super fun and if you pay attention to the pattern you are rewarded with a scarf that looks pretty much exactly as promised (always a good thing). I’m pretty taken with the finished product, and can’t wait until it’s cool enough to wear it.

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This pullover – the aforementioned project that I was clutching even through the worst of the summer heat – was born of my need for something mindless to knit while I played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (yes, yes, it’s a million years old, I know) because as per the last post, I go stir-crazy playing story-heavy RPGs unless I have something to do with my hands while the NPC tells me where the ogre/space ogre is hiding out.

The pattern is Driftwood by Isabell Kraemer. This is actually my second Driftwood, and I have to say that I like it a lot better than my first, mainly just because this time around I made better choices re: buttons and sizing. I’m really pleased with how this came out, and I’m really looking forward to wearing it once the weather starts to cool off a little.

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(stubbornly puffy mess of curls brought to you by humid weather… *sigh*)

The only modifications I made to the pattern were to opt 1) for slightly different waist shaping (decreasing under the bust, rather than going full A-line) and 2) working 1×1 ribbing and tubular bind offs at the edges of the sleeves/body. It’s not altogether obvious in the above photo – the effect is subtle even when you’re looking closely – but I also went for alternating blue and green buttons to match the dark green/blue/black of the yarn.

The only problem is, having finished the above pullover, I’m now wading about in a sea of sketches, rough ideas, swatches and false-start projects when what I really want is something simple and repetitive to knit while I finish playing Witcher 3. I could just cast on some sort of garter stitch scarf, of course, but that’s not really in keeping with my resolution to put a little more thought into my projects and focus on knitting things that I’ll actually wear; I already have plenty of garter stitch scarves.

Hopefully I’ll settle on a project soon; heaven knows I have a massive Ravelry queue, a handful of Pinterest boards, and several good old-fashioned to-knit lists to help me decide. And hey, if the ambitious projects I want to try are not suitable gaming knitting, then I’m sure my love of drapey scarves and tiny gauge will come through and save me somehow!