Thursday, May 8, 2014

Gryffindor Blog Interview with Spike

Hi, and welcome to the first interview this term. Every other Thursday we are going to try to sit down with someone in the Cup. One of the most wonderful things about the Cup is that we get to have fun and get to know others that are as crazy about crafting and Harry Potter as we are. We hope that these interviews provide you with a way to get to know other players and hopefully enhance the connections and friendships we all share.

This week we are sitting down with a long term HPKCHC player, Spike. So grab a cup of tea and your latest project and get cozy while we talk to Spike about how she found the Cup, what she jobs she holds, her favorite past projects and more.


KMNash: So Spike how did you find the Cup?
Spike: That’s a story in itself! I was Googling around for a Harry Potter sorting quiz, and the House Cup popped up on Ravelry. I thought, “Hey, I have a Ravelry account from the time when it was the newest, shiniest crafting thing on the web with a huge waiting list. I don’t really DO anything with it, let’s take a look.”
I was really surprised when the results didn't come up right away. I shrugged, figured something must be broken, and wandered off to surf elsewhere.
Then this owl showed up at my door with an invitation to Hogwarts …
KMNash: How exciting, how long have you been playing the Cup?
Spike: Long enough to have to look it up in my profile? I set up a ticker when I started playing because I saw that on someone else’s profile and thought it looked cool. So as of April 23, 2014, it has been three years, three months, three weeks, and six days.
Bobdang, that’s been a while.
KMNash: Wow that is a long while. What would you say is the greatest change to your crafting since joining the Cup, what have you improved on the most etc.?
Spike: I was an experienced and adventurous crafter when I joined the Cup. I taught myself to crochet one summer as an adult because I was desperately homesick. Mother commented, “Two grandmothers and four aunts who would have LOVED to teach you how, and you wait until you've moved to another state to gain any interest.”
When I learned to knit, my teacher believed in teaching on a stockinette baby sweater. You learn cast on, knit, purl, combining knit and purl for ribbing, increase for sleeves, decrease for neck and shoulder shaping, bind-off, and seaming. All in a project that’s small enough to be encouraging – you put an hour into a baby sweater, even in fingering/sport, and you see some real progress.
So it should come as no surprise that my second knitting project ever was a pair of socks, with heel flap and gusset, self-designed in a knit and purl pattern. No one told me it was supposed to be hard!
The greatest changes and improvements have been in the peripheries of the skills to play in the Cup. I take better photos, I've learned some photo editing tricks. My organizational and time management skills have gone through the roof!! I've gained an understanding of spreadsheets and how to set them up to make them do more of what I need so I don’t have to work so hard.
I've often wished I had access to the Internet while I was in high school, just for the INFORMATION. Now I find myself wishing I’d had access to spreadsheets. I've always envied the Hermiones who had lovely color-coded charts that showed what to do when, the drop-dead deadlines plotted out, the extra credit assignments noted for troublesome classes.
Trouble was, by the time I got to the end of doing one, I didn't have time left to study! Or I had to make a change, and on paper, that means doing it all over again. Now I do them on the web, planning what project I want to do and which class I can squeeze it into, making notes of each week’s Advanced Studies deadlines (and Quidditch!) so I know what needs to be done by bed on Sunday in order to hit my goal for the week, the month, the term.
KMNash: Wow I cant believe your first knitting project was a sweater, even if it was a baby sweater. I bet that your organizational skills have really come into play since you are on Staff for the Cup. What year were you when you joined staff?
Spike: I was a Second Year – I’ve been on staff since Merlin was in short pants.
KMNash: Merlin in short pants, wow there is an image. Being on staff so long I am sure you have done many things. What are some of the positions you have held on staff?
Spike: From Second Year through Fourth Year, I was a Firstie Mentor. Loved it, great fun, but not where my heart lay. My dream job was OWL Examiner, and I was blessed to get the position the first time I dared to ask for it.
KMNash: Wow, I bet there are only a few out there who can say that being an OWL examiner was their dream job. It is not easy work, and I am sure is more then a little exhausting. What are some of the unexpected trials and joys of your current position (things that are harder to deal with then you though, and things that are even more fun then you thought)?
Spike: The hard: OWLs are glamour projects; they’re big and sexy. They get loads of points; they’re the second-highest points gatherer in the House Cup. So lots and lots of students want to sit for an OWL. (Which is AWESOME.)
The trouble is—there’s also all these other cool aspects of the game, and we all have Real Lives with equally real commitments outside the game. Some people have really big Real Lives, where they are caregivers to other people, require care themselves, are working to keep a roof over their heads while they go to school so they can have a bigger roof someday.
So it’s hard to tell someone, “No, six garter stitch dishcloths in worsted cotton is really not OWL-shaped – for anyone. If your other commitments impinge on your crafting time like that, then an OWL is really not for you.” It’s really hard when you’re telling that to someone on staff who proposes a too-light OWL at the seventh hour before proposals close that there was no way you’d take 12 six-inch worsted weight granny squares as an OWL. If your life is so hectic that this is all the time you have to devote to crafting—12 6-inch granny squares over 8 weeks – then perhaps there’s too much on your plate for an OWL.
It’s also hard when you ask some questions on an OWL proposal, because you want to say yes, but as the Examiner, you also have to understand “What makes this appropriate for this student?” Or you really have nothing to go from vis a vis the pattern – one person (the designer) made it, and there is no start/end date. So you ask for more information, and the student was thinking “Pass/fail – and I just FAILED!!!! WAAAAAAA!!!!”
The delightful: Watching crafters grow and expand their repertoire. Two terms ago, I had a student who wanted to sit with an Arithmancy of eight headbands. I had to get up and walk away from the computer gnashing my teeth.
Then I came back and took a long look at her projects. She was a new crafter, and this was just a hair outside her limits of what she had crafted before. One of the headbands was in Japanese, and thread crochet (which is a very different experience than worsted weight, or even fine wool crochet). For her, this was about ten weeks of solid work.
I took a deep breath, talked to my fellow Examiners in the Staff Lounge, and gave her the go, with a stern reminder about Celebration Projects.
She made it just under the gun, with stories of having to rip and re-do to make them perfect because this was an OWL, after all, and represented her best work to date. Awesome!
She came back this term with her first ever knitted shawl. I look forward to watching her continue to grow.
Another student proposed a self-designed knitted castle, complete with little inhabitants for Defense Against the Dark Arts this last term. Working out “How big?” and “How many?” and “How much?” was an interesting challenge on both sides of the screen, but what fun to watch it all come together.
KMNash: Wow that does sound amazing. Well as I am sure you know this is the Gryffindor Blog. However we all know there is talent and love in every house in the Cup. Have you ever traveled houses, if so what houses have you been in, if not have you ever thought about it?
Spike: I spent my first 7 terms Sorted to Slytherin. I’m now in Gryffindor as a B3 rising. I took a term off due to Real Life stress and some crafting angst; something had to give.
I loved Slytherin—the humor, the hotties, the encouragement via teasing. Slytherin says “Double-dog dare you to create that three dimensional entrelac motorcycle cozy for ‘Celebrate Hagrid’ month,” while Gryffindor says “Man, that’s an AWESOME plan for a cabled replica of Hogwarts! Rah, rah, rah!!”
My dream, ever since my second year when I found out they don’t kick you out of the castle after seven terms, has been to spend seven terms in each House. For me, it’s like the difference between travelling and touristing. A tourist goes and sees the sights, eats baguettes in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, catches some beads on Bourbon Street. A traveler spends some time there, finds the coffee shop over the vintage erotica reading room that’s only open from eight in the evening until six in the morning, where you can get the most amazing chocolate chip-candied ginger and orange peel scones.
I want to know the memes and mores of each House, the culture beyond “Muffins for Hufflepuff!” And then, when I finish my Ph.D.7 term, I plan to continue traveling the castle and letting the Hat decide each month as a way of keeping the magic alive. I’ll be at home wherever I get thrown in the mix at that point.
KMNash: Wow that is an amazing dream. Traveling all the houses, seeing how well you look in green, red, yellow and blue. Now I know your job keeps you pretty deep in the Advanced Studies planning and grading and all, however besides your job how active are you with OWLS and NEWTS and other Advanced Studies options?
Spike: Besides my Cup job? Probably too much for good mental health. ; )
I have not only all the OWLs I need to make OWL Mistress planned out, I have all six NEWTs planned – one down, five to go! – but I have three ROUNDS of all twelve OWLs planned out, and am working on number 4.
I have sat for an OWL every term since my first. (Yes, even the term on sabbatical – I wanted to have the time to focus on an OWL I’d failed. No classes, not Quidditch, just getting the danged OWL done.) I have sat for and completed one NEWT (my B1 year. I plan to do a NEWT each time I “level up” – so one when I ascend to Master, one at Ph.D., and then I’ll do one per Muggle calendar year until I make my six.) I have attempted an Order of the Phoenix Mission every term since they were developed, failing one.
KMNash: Wow, that is a lot of things on the must craft list, to have three sets of all 12 OWLs in the planning stages, I am not even sure what I am going to do for the first set of 12. With all the OWLs you have done do you have an OWL or NEWT that was especially hard for you to complete?
Spike: Grrrrr—that first run at a Transfiguration OWL. In retrospect, I bit off way more than I should have been chewing for an OWL. This would have been a dandy Potions/Transfiguration NEWT—it was something like 5,000 yards when it was totally done.
I wanted an illusion knit afghan of Professor Snape. My inspiration was from middle school, where you would use a Xerox machine to blow up a photo of your “beloved” then mat it in printed paper and frame it in colored paper, to hang on the inside of your locker. Very 12 year-old girl.
Trouble was, I couldn’t find anything I liked in patterns, so I needed to make my own, starting with a photograph. That’s how I learned to chart an illusion pattern.
The “photo” worked up beautifully, the hearts border was awesome. Then I went to do the green cabled border, and the thing that had swatched up perfectly … was atrocious. Way too narrow to be effective, it looked like a sad little afterthought. I found a cable that was nice, and learned how to flip and manipulate cables so it was exactly what I wanted. By then, it was much too late to have a chance of completing the border, so no Transfiguration OWL for me. 
That failed OWL is one of my favorite projects. I’m currently sleeping under it.
KMNash: That is an amazing project, and makes my head spin just thinking about it. So we all know we have outside lives and have to talk to muggles. When you tell others about the cup what are some of your funnest memories to talk about?
Spike: My first OWL that I passed by the skin of my teeth (fatal pattern error the day before the last day of month one! I had to rip back and start with a whole new project in the same yarn, needles, and beads, and get it done in just barely over two months!)
The thong-along in Slytherin. Madame Pomfrey had to keep laying in new stocks of smelling salts for the PG-13 Line that month.
Generally, I’ll talk about the fun we have crafting to prompts and completing dream projects, as well as the camaraderie and encouragement of all our teammates.
KMNash: The cup is amazing for encouragement and helping us push the limits of our creativity and crafting. Of all your turn ins to the cup, this term and past, what are some of the ones you are most proud of and what were they turned in for? (providing links to project page or picture would be wonderful)
That Transfiguration OWL I mentioned

The Astronomy OWL that nearly wasn’t

 And my Potions OWL

KMNash: Amazing work, thank you so much for showing us your beautiful pieces. Do you have any pointers or comments you would like to say to everyone about anything?
Spike: House Cup members are, in the main, kind, generous and KNOWLEDGEABLE crafters. Ask questions, pick brains -- someone will know something, or know someone who knows something about the issue you’re having. But you can;t find out if you won’t ask. 

KMNash: We have to let Spike get back to work now, as there are plenty OWLs coming in for her to look over and I sure she has an OWL of her own that needs to be started. Thank you so much for your time and for giving us a look at your work and telling us a bit about what it is like to be a Staff member on the Cup.


Now my dear readers this is where I shall have to leave you. All this talk of OWLs has reminded me I have an OWL of my own to be working on.

Just a short reminder before I go, we have about 3 days left in the first round of Quidditch, and this term the rules of the pitch require each player to participate in previous event to be eligible to compete in later events. Which means if you have the greatest idea for a Semi Finals round 300 yard item, if you want to be able to compete in the Semi Finals Round you must compete in the rounds before it. Round one has no yardage requirement, so it doesn't have to be anything big. So grab a hook or needles and some yarn and SCORE for Gryffindor.

And don't forget that Quidditch, while great does not secure your sorting status so don't forget to get that one class in. If you having trouble with ideas the Knight Bus is available to help.

Till next time, ROAR!!


  1. Fantastic interview!!! Spike is one amazing player!!!!! :D

  2. Great interview! Thank you both for taking the time to do this. Cheers!