Friday, 15 April 2016

Why I think Zentangle is ridiculous (and why I really, really love it)

Art has no rules. That's what's so great about it. You can do anything, anytime, anywhere. Make it you. Break free.

Or so I thought.

For those who don't know Zentangle, it's an art form that teaches structured patterns ("tangles") and combines them into beautiful, intricate pictures.
But Zentangle has a mean side. Did you know that if your Zentangle artwork isn't on a 9-by-9 tile, it's "classified as ZIA-Zentangle Inspired Artwork"? That you can buy specific sets online with a supply of tiles and a special pen that you have to use? Am I the only one that finds all this ridiculous?

How I see Zentangle is that it's accepting and nice. Do anything you want. When you're doing your own art, you don't have to conform to just a 9-by-9 tile. The creators of Zentangle took something beautiful and squished it into a tiny box.

I Zentangle by filling a whole page with patterns, edge to edge, sometimes with quotes and stuff in the center. I believe that Zentangle is a very personal decision, and no classifications of ZIA should confine you. Zentangle is at the forefront of my art-related hobbies. I love it to death. Even though they over-advertise it as meditation and calming stuff, it really is. I Zentangle to ward off anxiety attacks at school. I pour everything into my art. But I still find the method that they advertise irking. 

Go forth. Fill pages. Break out of tiny little 9-by-9 tiles.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Short story-"The Chase"

The monster gains on me. Of course, this isn’t really a surprise-its legs are much longer, its body much stronger. I’m running on just a prayer at this point.
My heart beats faster than it ever has before. I’m sure that the end of the chase is fast approaching-and that I won’t come out the end of it.
I run as fast as my tiny legs will carry me, and my head whips around wildly; I need to find a place to hide. A niche in the wall presents itself.
I waste no time hurling myself into safety. Yet as I look out at the monster’s dark form, I feel no hope. Even with my safe vantage point I know it’ll eventually sniff me out.
After all, cats and mice are natural enemies.

(Wrote this in school today. :3)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

How to cork!

...or spool knitting, Knitting Nancy, bizzy Lizzy...etc. Corking is my first every yarn craft and very easy for kids or older people who want to get started with yarn.
To make a corker:
Things you'll need: 4 long nails, one piece of piping (I found mine for 66 cents at the hardware store. You could also use a toilet paper tube, for a temporary-ish flimsy option), duct tape.
1. Have 4 pieces of your duct tape ready. They should be 2-3 inches long.
2. Take 1 piece of your tape and firmly tape one of your nails to anywhere on the pipe/tube. There should be 1 inch of nail sticking up from the edge of the tube.
3. Using your next piece of tape, attach another of your nails directly opposite your attached nail.
4. Do this again, placing a nail in between the two with equal space between them. Do the same with your other nail. The 4 nails should be in a square on your pipe/tube.
5. Cut a longer piece of duct tape and wrap it around the pipe/tube at the area of the nails attached by the tape, to secure and cover the pointy ends. Overlap your already-there-tape by 1 inch-half an inch.
Your new corker should look approximately like this:
Congrats. You have a corker.
(Please note that you can BUY things like this at craft stores for 5-10$. But it's cheaper to make your own.)
Now for the actual corking!
What you'll need.
There are 3 basic corker stitches. There could be more but here are the ones I know. I'll call them Basic, The Other One, and Skinny. Sounds good. 
Instructions for Basic:
1. Make a slipknot with a longish tail. Place the slipknot on one of your nail-pegs (doesn't matter which), and feed the tail down your corkers body (pipe-tube). This is how you will start The Other One as well.
Beautiful, darling.
2. Wrap your working yarn around the remaining 3 pegs from the back.
3. Repeat that, so that you have 2 layers of loops on every nail.

4. Then use your optional corking tool or more often your fingers to lift the bottom layer of loops OFF of the nail, over the newer layer of loops. It should look like this...

5. (and beyond...) repeat steps 3 and 4 until your corking is as long as you'd like. Every once in awhile tug the tail from your beginning slip knot.

Instructions for The Other One:
Repeat steps 1 and 2 of Basic.
1. Now, to make your second layer, this time instead of wrapping around each nail individually from the back, wrap on the outside around all 4, to make a square.
2. Loop your bottom layer normally.
3. (and beyond...) Repeat steps 1 and 2 until your corking is as long as you'd like. Every once in awhile tug the tail from your beginning slip knot.

Instructions for Skinny:
Repeat step 1 of Basic.
1. Wrap the working yarn around the peg diagonal from your beginning one (with the slip knot on).
2. Wrap a second layer and lift the bottom off of the nail, as normal.

3. Repeat step 2 until your corking is as long as you'd like. Every once in awhile tug the tail from your beginning slip knot.
How to finish off your corking.
So you;ve corked what you want. It's perfect. But then you realize HOW DO I GET IT OFF OF MY CORKER?!?! Calm the HECK down, first of all. Second of all, it's easy.
What you want to do is safely transfer all of the 4 loops onto 1 of the nails, whichever. I recommend first  transferring so that there's 2 each on 2 nails...
...and then transfer 2 of the loops onto the other nail.
Then cut a tail and carefully feed it through all 4 loops, from top to bottom.
Remove from the nail. Done!

From left to right: Beginner, The Other One, Skinny.
Make a headband.
Make a bracelet Or an anklet! Whatever!
Make a cat's cradle string (using Skinny).
If you add 2 more nails to the corker it makes a round corker, which makes long skinny tubes. Cool!
To change colours, cut your yarn and tie the new colour to it (TIGHTLY). Trim the ends.
Trivet/coaster/rug: cork a long stretch. coil it into a spiral, sewing it carefully to make a spirally circle thing. 

Have fun with your new skill!

Monday, 16 March 2015

A rant about my favorite book

Hello, good people. Today I'm going to rant about my favorite book.
Usually I say "choosing a favorite is like choosing between children" when it comes to books, but this lil book came along, and now I'm completely different. Man, this book is SUPER FANTASTICAL. Now you may be wondering what is the book in question here. I'll tell you.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Here's the link:
Alright, so. This book, man. This book. Miss Peregrine is a novel based around old, weird vintage photos that the author found. The black and white pictures work perfectly with the words and create an atmosphere that can't be explained. I was hooked from the beginning. This book is super duper;sgjkgdsflkjbnlkdjfsnbkdjfnbgjnfgnbkfngbjkfngbjnfgnduper creepy. Like, really. REALLY CREEPY. The hollowghasts gave me nightmares for weeks.
I didn't know what was going to happen next. I got so involved with the characters. I read this on a cruise ship, and spent my vacation days sitting in different lounges with my e-reader/tablet. I hate reading electronically but I put up with it because I was kind of addicted, and when we got home, I immediately bought a paper copy. I love this book. SO. MUCH.
That's all the time I have today to rant about THIS DARN BOOK, MAN. I reccomend this book to everyone. EVERYONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Read it. All of you.
And that was Gwen's point of view on this SUPERAMAZINGWFELIJWCNAAAH book.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Wanderer (day 7)

Nomad hated her name. It was a nice name, and rolled on the tongue, but what she hated was the irony. When told her name, people laughed and asked "No, your real name?" But it was. She was a certified nomad Nomad.
Nomad had one rule-never go to the same place twice. When she applied for her Traveler's Certificate and proved eligible, she was ecstatic-her small hometown, Hadthorn, had never been enough. It was good, but not enough. So she packed her bags, said goodbye to her parents and brother, and left. That was that.
She kept track of where she went in a small brown journal. She stayed in towns and villages five days at the most, one the least, and it depended for the wilderness. Lots of resources? Milk it dry. Not that many? Stay for two nights and then move on. Nomad preferred the wilderness to villages, of course. Less people.
She had arrived in a beautiful forest town Modwell Grove yesterday, and stayed at a commonhouse. She had her own room, however; she didn't have to share.
Modwell Grove seemed nice. There was a beautiful market-shop-area-thing, swaddled in colour so much that it was like black and white when you left it. Nomad decided to stay for another one or two nights.
The room she stayed in was painted sage green, with dark wood floorboards. The arched window let in a lot of natural light, and outside there was a flowerbox, where daisies and peonies grew. Nomad stretches, getting untangled from the sunwarmed quilt, and standing. She wore her nightdress, made of cotton. The other thing she had was a long tunic, coloured forest green, and leggings to go with her hunters boots and cloak, for the colder places. She gets dressed and trudges downstairs.
One of the things she loved most about the world were commonhouses. They didn't have them back at Hadthorn, but it seemed everywhere else; commonhouses were like inns, but without the pay. They were run by a group of two or three nice people, usually, and it was wonderful; people from all over stayed in those big houses, and food was even provided. Nomad gratefully smiles as a round woman in a blue dress and white apron hands her a bowl of muesli and oranges. She gratefully eats.
Then it was time to go out.
She had but one ingot, earned through hunting veal for a man who couldn't hunt anymore for his family. She had resolved to save it for a food emergency, but she had the ingot for a year. She decided to buy herself something. Something small, but nice.
She strolled slowly down the market, enjoying the muffled and colourful feel of it. Above her was a silk almost tent-ish roof, and on either sides tables and buildings. She ambled, taking in the sights and trying to decide where to start.
A girl with brown hair and hetochromic purple eyes barreled into her, abrubtly. "Oh, Gods, I am so sorry!" The girl stands up with the help of (Nomad's breath catches in her throat) a tall iron golem, and then helps Nomad up. "You're new here," She notes. Nomad nods. "Traveler." "Aha. If you need a tour, let me know; I know this place inside out. There's not many people, you'll find me." The girl grins. "Well, sorry again, and bye!" She scampers off, golem following her. That was interesting, Nomad thinks to herself, and continues to walk.
She had been walking for a while when the entered Ouroborous Jewels. The bell above the door rings. Something falls down in the back room, and a woman's voice calls, "Fortuna, can you get that?" "Yup!" A familiar voice. The girl from before rushes downstairs, almost missing the last step. "Oh, fancy seeing you here!" Nomad grins. "Yup. I really just wanna look around. Oh, and I'm Nomad, by the way." "I'm Fortuna. Anything I could show you?" Nomad trails her fingers on the glass, "Hmm, I really like opal." "Oh, opal is over here." Fortuna bustles over to one area, showing some beautiful pieces of opal jewelry; including a truly beautiful ring. "Can I hold that?" "Oh, of course!" Fortuna takes off her earring, putting it into a small metal circle-indent on the front of the case, and a sliding door pops open. She takes out the ring. "Here you go. My mother made this one. I don't work with opals.  Gold, here, see, with the opal here." Nomad's breath was takedn out of her lungs. It was truly beautiful, and Nomad felt herself sliding down the slippery slope of wanting to get it. "How much?" Fortuna checks a price tag. "Looks like it's eight coins." "That's amazing! You guys certainly sell your work short." Fortuna smiles. "Ah, well, we love what we do." "I can see." The room was almost wall-to-wall shelves, full of beautiful pieces. Should I get it? I mean, I haven't gotten myself anything in so long. Like, forever. I don't even wear jewelery...but I love it so much....ah, what the heck? "I'll take it." Fortuna smiles. "Alright, come over here." She leads Nomad over to a cash register, pressing a button so a drawer pops out. Nomad takes the ingot out before she could change her mind. She slips the ring on. "A perfect fit." Fortuna grins. "Hey, want me to show you around the market? I could introduce you to some people I know." Nomad felt a pang. "I....I'm a traveler, though. I was planning on leaving tomorrow..." Fortuna looked a little dissapointed. "Oh. But I can show you around anyway, right?" Nomad grins. "Yup!"

After a day of awesome and fun, Nomad fell asleep in her clothes, ring still on.

She decided to leave in the morning. Her heart became heavy as soon as she saw the ring, and thought about her new friend. But she remembered her rule-never go to the same place twice. Don't get attached.
She decided to take the main road out, something she had never done. She walks out, slowly, as opposed to the usual excitement for where she would end up next. Nomad was sad to leave, but she didn't admit it to herself.
After about thirty minutes of walking, something changed. Nomad sat down for a break, drinking from her canteen, and heard feet crunching on gravel, accompanied by...iron clangs? Hopeful, she stands up. Sure enough, Fortuna was barreling down the path, and Nomad watches as she trips, sails in the air for awhile, and lands in the gravel. "JEEZ! The things I do for things I want! Nomad, please stay. I've never had a friend before." "Dang, you worded that so that I can't even say no, can I?" Fortuna's face falls. "Were you going to?" "Of course not!" "THANK THE GODS!"
The friends hug.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Curse of the Dagger (day 6)

The Curse of the Dagger
Beatrix liked weapons. Though the law that girls and women could become knights and guards had not passed yet, she still liked them. She had a vast collection, hung on walls, in chests, some in velvet-lined boxes and glass cases, some she polished every day. She had armor, too, carved and intricate, hung on a stand. She passed her time working in a local tavern, serving up mugs of ale and oversalted food, waiting for the news-yellers to yell that she could apply.
It was a day like that, serving the late shift at the Scroll and Scripture, when the merchant approached her. She checked her pocketwatch, still with an hour to go. He was seedy, tall and thin, wearing a bowler hat and a long black coat. He angled his head just so that she couldn't see his eyes. "Are you Beatrix Greene?" Beatrix nods. "Yeah. Who are you?" He laughs. "Oh, that's not important. I hear y'like weapons, eh?" Beatrix focused, then. "Yes, I do. Biggest collection second to the Army barracks." He grinned. She still couldn't see his eyes. "I have a remarkable offer for you on a rare dagger. Only one in the world 'n I got a great price." Beatrix nodded. "Go on." "I was thinkin' we'd set up a meet. Y'like?" Beatrix nodded, again. "I'd be good with that. When and where?" "Tomorrow mornin', around nine. Outside the Library. Meet you there." And then he was gone. Beatrix smiled to herself, and the next hour flew by.
The next morning, she briskly walked down the road leading to the Library. It was a big brick-and-birch building, and at the center of a small garden, full of oak trees and tulips. He was waiting by the door, with a small narrow chest in hand. She walked up to him. And she still couldn't see his eyes. "Glad you came. Alright, wanna see it?" Beatrix nods, eager. He clicked the latch of the box, and it pops open, revealing the most beautiful dagger of all. Its blade was a deep gray metal, probably iron, and had a beautiful ornately carved lapis lazuli and jet hilt. It was truly beautiful, and in the carvings Beatrix could spot a dove, a lion, a warhorse, and so much more. "Can I pick it up?" "Be my guest," She picked it up, gingerly, and studied the blade. Something was carved into the edge. "Hey, what do these carvings say?" "Oh, something in a dead language, I had it checked. Nobody knows it anymore." He hurriedly-almost too hurriedly-answered. She turned it around. "I love it. What's the price?" He grinned. "An' here's where y'think I'm crazy-I'll give it to you for free." "Not that I'm complaining, but this is an amazing dagger. why are you giving it away, like that?" She snapped her fingers. "I have my reasons. Take it or leave it?" "Well of course I'll take it!" "YESSS!" He throws away his bowler hat, revealing his eyes-all yellow. The yellow started to melt away, however, receding into his pupil until there was none left. He had plain brown eyes.
With that, he runs away.
Beatrix thought about running after him to ask what was going on, but she rethought it. Obviously he didn't want it, and now she had the most beautiful dagger of all.
She walked home happily, glossy hardwood chest in hand. When she arrived, she immediately decided where to put it; in the glass case, box open, but safe. She polished it with a cloth, and places it in. And though her reflection stared back at her in the glass, she failed to notice that her pupils were a little bit yellow.
The next day, a Sunday, Beatrix trudges downstairs, yawning and rubbing her eyes. She looked st the case, and gasps.
The dagger was out, lying on the glass of the case. The light of the oil lamp glistened on the blade, catching the inscriptions again. Wondering how it got there, Beatrix walks over, picking it up gently, and holding it to the light.
The crazy merchant had lied. It was in perfect English. The script was small, but with her spectacles, Beatrix could read it.

"All who hold this cursed blade
Anything. they would trade
For into insanity they slowly sink
And with yellowed eyes, they blink"

Beatrix gasped, placing the dagger on the case again quickly, backing away. "What have I done?" She whispered, nervous.
There was only one thing to do. Resell the dagger.
She downed a mug of tea to help her think, and got dressed, into a tunic and leggings, with a purple cloak. What would be open on a Sunday that would buy a dagger from her? There was the museum. Maybe they would value the dagger. There were scholars. She could donate it to the barracks.
She finally decided on scholars. After all, the House of the Arcane Lord was always looking for more things to study. She placed the dagger carefully into the chest, and exited the house. She decided to take her horse, Bunny, as the walk was long and she wanted to get rid of it-quick. Bunny seemed to sense something was amiss so she went at a brisk pace, snorting nervously at the other horses.
Beatrix took deep breaths; trying to calm herself and utterly failing. She ties up Bunny outside the House of the Arcane Lord, shaking.
The oak door was heavy. She leaned against it with all her weight and stumbled in, drawing an angry glare from many writing scribes and studying scholars.
The room was huge, and domed, with constellations painted on the roof. The walls were covered with bookshelves, which created a paperish smell. There were lapis and gold accents.
She walked up to the vast shiny desk, nervous. "Um, excuse me?" She raked her fingers through her hair nervously. The scholar behind the desk looked up from her papers, and smiled. "How may I help you, miss?" "Well, I, uh, was wondering if I could sell you this dagger. It looks old and it's made of iron and lapis and jet." The scholar got up from the desk, unlocked the latch and came out. She picked up the beautiful blade, "This is truly amazing. Just thinking about its untold much are you asking?" Beatrix hadn't thought of that. "Uh...I'm not much do you think it would go for on the mainstream market?" "Oh, easily an emerald." Beatrix was stunned. "Oh, uh, alright. I'll sell it to you for three ingots." "Let me get the Chief Scholar." The woman walked off quickly, into a back room, and after a minute she came back out with a short man following her. He seemed nice enough. "Let me see the object of talk," He said, and gasped. "Oh. Oh my, this is truly fantastical." He turned it over in his hand. "And your price?" Suddenly, something happened to Beatrix-something strange. Something came over her; she realized that no, she wanted the dagger, she needed it. She slowly reached out and took it, placing it back in the purple velvet of the box. "Actually, I'm sorry, I think I'm not ready to sell this just yet. I'm sorry." Not waiting for them to answer, she runs back outside, and jumps onto Bunny.
It was only after a couple minutes that she realized what she'd done. "NO! I need to get rid of this thing!" She rode along, raking her fingers through her hair again. She pulled a small mirror out of her pocket. The entirety of her iris and pupil was now yellow. What to do?

Later, she had a plan.

The box was bound with chains, and tied to a rock. She rode Bunny down the beach, hope inside of her.
She climbed up a rock to higher ground, heavy box in hands. "Here goes." She lobbed it off the side into the ocean, and pulled out her mirror. Sure enough, her eyes were no longer yellow.
April and Clove walk down the beach, laughing and talking and being friends. The tide rolls in, and with it comes a rusted bundle of chains. "What's this?" Clove says, running up to it and picking it up. "Oof, heavy." "Over here," April calls, patting a flat rock, and Clove places it down. With a simple spell the rusty chains were off, revealing a weathered wooden box, sealed. April undoes the latch. "Oh, cool!" She picks up the dagger and the two friends pass it back and forth, talking and wondering.

And not noticing that April's pupils turned yellow.

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Sycamore Tree (day 5)

The Sycamore Tree
Cloverberry Manor is probably the highest esteemed place in this town, maybe even all of Bryder. For one, it's where the Royal Parliament meets. All our continent's decisions are made there. Also, Gnorme of Thornewood, built and currently lives in it. Gnorme is an ancient descendant of the gods, Jedikiah Brine's second, the most powerful sorcerer (he taught Queen Redbird everything she knows) in the world...the list goes on. And as a result people flock to Cloverberry Manor.
For one large reason besides Gnorme-the giant sycamore tree outside.
It truly is a beautiful tree. The trunk is twisted, there are tons of branches. Historians and scholars and everyone in between agree that it has probably been standing for over five hundred years. The splendor of Gnorme's architecture is almost completely hidden by the tree.
Thankfully, Gnorme is kind and  considerate. People flock to the small garden around the tree. I myself spend hours on end there, studying. Children climb in the trees welcoming branches. Everything is perfect, and there, it's as if time has stopped.
I sit there, on a park bench, legs crossed. It's Saturday afternoon, and people all around are happy. Couples walk hand-in-hand, parents smile at their children up in the trees boughs, people have picnics, scholars study. A butterfly flies lazily by, and birds sing. The sun comes down. Life is peaceful.
At least, for now. I have an inexplicable feeling that something's going to change.
I have my journal open, quill and ink in hand, writing my latest article. I'm a scholar, see, and until I get my certificate, I'm stuck writing articles to prove my worth and intelligence. I work part-time at the library, as well, to pay my rent.
I'm a scholar of the fundamentals of magic. I don't practice much magic-past the simple levitation spell if I'm carrying to many books-but it interests me. I like to learn, especially about all the different kinds of it; spells, enchantments, charms, curses, the elusive and hard-to-master Ender never ends. And I like it that way. Right now I'm penning an article on what Dark magic does to your brain, over extensive use; one of my favorite subjects. What magic does to people. It's intriguing.
I take a break from my furious cursive, looking up at the tree. In the noonday sun the sycamore is looming, creating shade for the people who don't like sun. I stay in the middle, where I could lean forwards and be in shade, but I lean back into the warmth. Even in the perpetual winter we have here it was a pleasant temperature, not requiring a cloak, more in the long-sleeved-tunic-and-leggings range. I wear the scholar's red and gold, which gets strange looks from people. Scholars aren't appreciated as much as we should be. But when I get my certificate, I'm going to change that.
I go back to my writing, and the next time I look up, it's evening. I sign off on my paper, finished for the day.
Thankfully the local tavern has reasonably priced delicious food. I drop a few coins on a good mutton stew and fresh bread, along with a mug of tea, and I wolf it down.
I drop my bag off in my small house, then decide to go back to the garden. After all, the sun is set, and there wouldn't be many people there. I could read my tomes in peace.
Books in hand, I stroll there, enjoying the crisp air. The sycamore's leaves are a nice shade of green. There are simple everburning lamps around. Surprisingly, there are no people except me, and so I make a decision-I'm going to climb it. After all, the aerial view of the city at night will be amazing, and it'll be clear and fresh air, and completely silent, to read. I cast a simple levitation spell on the books so that they trail after me as I climb, getting sap on my hands, and not caring.
Of course I won't make it to the top. The thing is miles high. But I get up pretty far, yet the core trunk is still thick.
I sit on a branch, keeping my books levitated. But instead of breathing, I look out, and my breath is immediately whisked out of me.
The view is perfect. Absolutely perfect. I can see everything, for miles around; absolutely everything. People walking about, people switching lights off in their homes, Trees and ponds and gardens, the whole bit. I smile.
Then I stop, because behind me is a voice.
It sounded human, like a very, very old man. "Hello," Was simply all it said. I frantically look around, for the source of the word. It chuckles. "Do not fear me. I am here to bear a prophecy." "W-who are you?" It chuckles, yet again. "I am the sycamore tree. The Ancient One." I search in my memory for something about a tree called the Ancient One. A legend, from a while ago, of an ancient sycamore tree. I understand now. "Oh. But I'm not worthy of a prophecy." "Everyone thinks that, but after all, everyone is worthy. Everyone is the main character in their own lives." It pauses.  "Listen to me. You take the next train West. You find the old woman Vera in Modwell Grove. Ask her for an Onyx stone in the shape of a dove. You are destined to make peace between two warring countries in Helenia, so you will have to find your way there." "But how do I do that? I'm just a scholar! And I don't understand! What do I do with the dove?" "You will know. You can do it." "But-" "That is all I can tell you. I am sorry. Fulfill your destiny." And then it felt like something was gone, a presence. I suppose the Ancient One decided to go back to where he was. Probably sleeping.
I practically fall down the tree I climb so fast. My levitated books can hardly keep up. I run back home, too, to think. I only get about three hours sleep.
But in the morning, I buy the first train ticket heading West.