Thursday, 30 January 2014

Warhammer Scenery - Realm of Battle Board

As any hardened war gamer will know, when you first start out with this hobby you're happy to just roll out a mat to play on, and use empty tissue boxes as hills to make it interesting. Then, as you get deeper into it, investing a lot of time and effort and money into your army, spending hours and hours painting your models to get them just right, you realise you ought to be investing a little bit more time in your terrain.

Such was the case in our house. The only real investment we made in our gaming board in the early days was a 6' x 4' sheet of MDF (cut neatly into two halves for ease of storage) and the old Games Workshop battlemat. Not long after, we bought a couple of the hills and some trees. That lasted us for a good few years, but once we'd switched our focus from Warhammer Fantasy Battle across to Warhammer 40k, we decided the lush green battlefield we had didn't really cut it for the gritty battlefields of the 41st millenium!

It was about the same sort of time that Games Workshop brought out the Realm of Battle board, so after much debate, we eventually invested in one. It was left unpainted for quite a while, as we couldn't decide how to do it. Plus, a lot of our models were unpainted as well, so it didn't seem out of place to be playing on an unpainted board. More recently, however, we've found ourselves able to field almost full armies of painted models, and the unpainted scenery was starting to jar a little. So back in October we decided to start painting it.

We spent ages online looking at the various different ways people had painted theirs. We eventually decided on a brown colour scheme, a sort of desert(ish) wasteland theme. We did the base layers, but then it sat half painted for a couple of months while we figured out how to finish it off. A couple of weeks ago, we sat down in front of the telly and got out the paints again, and after several hours of endless drybrushing, it is now almost complete.

It makes such a difference having it properly painted. It's not quite finished, as we still need to varnish it and finish off the skull pits with water effects. So it's currently living on the dining room table, as we can't put it away until we've protected the paint job.

It was a bit of trial and error to get the colour scheme to work, but here's a run down of how we did it in the end.

1. We basecoated the entire board with black paint (we used a spray can of black we bought in Wickes, as it was slightly cheaper than the Games Workshop Chaos Black spray), and then sprayed the whole thing brown, leaving the exposed rock edges black. The brown spray we used was from Halfords, their own brand Camouflage Spray Paint in Brown - ultra matt. Lovely coverage - we used about one and a half cans for the whole board.

2. The rock sections were all painted with Adeptus Battlegrey from the Citadel foundation paint set.

3. Rock sections drybrushed with Astronomicon Grey from the Citadel foundation paint set.

4. The brown areas of the board were drybrushed with yellow acrylic paint. Rather than use up the expensive-in-large-quantities Citadel paints, we bought a tube of Galeria acrylic paint from Hobbycraft in the colour Yellow Ochre. Using 1" flat brushes, we managed to do all six panels in less than the running time of Man of Steel. The skulls in the pits were heavily drybrushed with Bleached Bone Citadel paint, then two layers of Thraka Green Citadel wash was applied. We still need to go back over them and drybrush the very top edges with Bleached Bone, before filling the pits with Woodland Scenics Realistic Water.

5. The skulls and bones found in piles around the rocks on the board were painted with Bleached Bone, and then washed with Agrax Earthshade Citadel wash.

The craters (set from Games Workshop) were painted to match the battleboard. Undercoated in black, sprayed with the same brown spray and then heavily drybrushed with the yellow ochre. To define them a little more, we chose prominent sections of the crater edges and drybrushed them as rocks, using the same combination of grey paints as above. We then went over them with Scorched Brown Citadel paint, drybrushing inside the craters to darken down the interior of the crater.

To properly see how it looked, we set up a mock battle on the board using only fully painted models. It's a bit one sided, as we have painted far more Chaos Space Marines than we have Imperial Fists!

I still have a fair few bits of scenery work to do; I've got some homemade pieces that haven't been painted yet, and I need to sort out the bases for my Imperial Fists and that second Heldrake. The buildings already on the board in the shot above are not quite finished either, lots of little frustrating details to do, but I will share progress on those so far in another post.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

WIP Wednesday - Ishbel

Since finishing my Obnoxious Socks, I needed to start a new knitting project (as my only other knitting WIP is Starlight, and I'm still not in the mood for lace and beads). Top of my Ravelry queue was Ishbel. I had tried to cast this on ages ago, but with laceweight yarn. It didn't go well, and I gave up almost immediately. This time, however, I was armed with fingering weight yarn and the knowledge that the stitch pattern for the lace section was really easy, having previously knit the Ishbel Beret.

Not only would I be knitting a pattern that I was familiar with, I would also be knitting it in the same yarn as I was given enough of the Knit Picks Capretta to do both the beret and the shawl. The beret used less than one ball out of the three I had.

It's so hard to take a decent photo of a lace shawl when it's all bunched up on the needle! I chose to knit the small size stockinette portion, but have now reached the point where I need to decide whether to do the small or large lace portion. I've got enough yarn left to do the large lace section, as there's another ball after what's left of this one, plus the leftovers from the ball that became the hat. I've scoured the project pages on Ravelry to see what it looks like with the small stockinette and large lace portions and I think I'm inclined to go for it. If the lace was complicated, I might not be, but as this is such a delightfully simple pattern I don't think I'll mind too much having to knit it for longer. The yarn is lovely as well, a gorgeous blend of merino and cashmere that is so soft. And, of course, I am spurred on to finish by the thought of having a matching hat and shawl set!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Year of Projects 3: 19th January update

I've been on a bit of roll for the last few weeks of this Year of Projects, with an FO to share every Sunday! After finishing off Kayleigh's baby blanket, I decided what I really wanted to do was more crochet, and small projects that would give me some quick win finishes. Out came the dishcloth cotton!

There's nothing quite like dishcloths for a quick and easy fix. And crocheted dishcloths even more so, as it's so fast!

These were made with Lily Sugar n Creme in the colourways Mod Ombre and Key Lime Pie. I still have 15g of the green and white ball left, which should be enough for another cloth.

The patterns I used were all free:

The Ships Helm Dishcloth by Lily Sugar n Creme
Diamonds Washcloth by Ivory Soap

The Tunisian Crochet cloth was me experimenting with Tunisian Crochet. I've seen it around on Ravelry and on various other blogs, and thought I ought to give it a try. The tutorials on Kara Gunza's site (Petals to Picots) are really clear and easy to follow. I don't have a Tunisian Crochet hook, so I just used a normal crochet hook. As I only had a small number of stitches, it was just long enough to cope.

I'm not sure I'm going to go any further down the Tunisian Crochet road. I've not really seen any patterns that make me go "wow! I really need to make that", and the patterns I have seen I know I could replicate in knitting or crochet. Plus, if I did want to do anything more involved than a dishcloth, I would need to buy the proper equipment!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Year of Projects 3: 12th January update

I'm starting this second half of the year with a bang, it seems, as I have another finished project to share with you today!

One of the categories on my list is using my extensive stash of acrylic yarn to make things for babies and small people, as there seems to have been an explosion of births in the last year or so (I guess we've just reached *that* age). Not just among my friends and family either (did I tell you? We have a nephew now as well as a niece. I haven't made him anything yet though!), we have had something of a baby epidemic in work too. Which has meant I've been production-lining baby blankets. The next work baby is due in February, but as she will be going on maternity leave very soon, I needed to get this blanket finished ASAP.

I think this may be my favourite out of all the baby blankets I've made so far (6 and counting...); it is so bright and colourful and cheerful.

The pattern is from Lion Brand, the Beginner Crochet Baby Afghan. As written, you crochet the squares individually and then sew them together. I couldn't quite face doing that, so I devised a way to join as I went. This was more awkward than you might think, as the orientation of the squares alternates across each row and column!

The above shows the first five squares crocheted. I started the first square (a pink one) with foundation single crochet rather than a chain, as I knew I wanted to add a border (not included in the original pattern) once I'd finished as I felt otherwise the edges would look untidy, and it's much easier to crochet into the base of foundation stitches than it is to crochet into the back of a chain.

Wherever possible, I crocheted all squares of the same colour together, so that I didn't have too many ends to weave in. To join the squares, I used slip stitches into the edge of the adjoining square when I got to the ends. I did encounter some issues as in order to make my squares actually square, they were 22 stitches wide but only 18 rows high. This meant that when I came to start a new square down the side of an existing square, I had to create 22 stitches in the edges of 18 rows. This caused me a lot of headaches, trying to keep them even! I think on the whole I managed to get away with it.

The blanket was started back in October, and then put to one side while I focused on Christmas presents and selfish projects. I was pleasantly surprised when I picked it back up yesterday that it only had two and a half squares left to crochet, plus the border. A few hours lazy crocheting while watching Friends and the second half of Les Miserables and it was done. I knew if I didn't block it straight away I'd be doing it in a rush the night before I needed to take it into work, so I got the boards and iron out and did it straight away.

I'm almost sad to be giving this one away, but I'm sure my colleague and her husband will love it as much as I do, and it will get plenty of use once the baby has arrived!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Year of Projects 3: 6th January update

In my round up of the first half of the year, I said I was determined to finish off my Obnoxious Socks before the calendar year ended. Well, I'm glad to be able to say that I did just that! I finally cast off on December 31st, having got so utterly fed up of them that there was no way I was going to knit three inches of cuff on each one.

I swear, if I hadn't done these two at a time, it would probably have taken me just as long to do one sock as it has taken to do two!

The stripes are almost completely matchy-matchy; if I'd cast off in the middle of the yellow band you wouldn't notice but as you can see in the photo above, the blue started in a different point on each sock in that final cast off row.

The finished socks are every bit as obnoxious as I thought they would be; I really have no idea why Regia thought this was a good colour combination! I'm not entirely sure what I will wear them with, although I'm sure they will look pretty good peeping out of the top of my new boots.

Of course, with these socks finally done, I can now get on and start another pair! No idea what pattern to use though, as I'd love to do something a bit more exciting than plain vanilla socks. I have a few on my Ravelry queue so I need to revist the list and pick something. The trouble is, a lot of the sock patterns out there are written top down, and I much prefer knitting my socks toe up.

In the mean time, I have cast on Ishbel and am turning my thoughts back to finishing off the last baby blanket, as that baby's due date is rapidly approaching!
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