Friday, December 30, 2016

Knitting Into A New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome back to the blog, hope you're enjoying your week.

This is it, the final blog of the year. We're now heading head first into 2017! This year has been quite a ride, with the presidential election and all. Most importantly this was the year I decided to start blogging! I started my blog on September 28th so I haven't been blogging for that long (Though I had plans for this blog since the beginning of the year, I actually wish I did start the blog up sooner to be honest.) When I first started blogging I was putting up a blog every day, pretty crazy right? Yeah it was kind of a stretch, so I implemented by Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule and it's been working out ever since, I have no plans to change the schedule any time soon. Been working out a lot of kinks with the blog and in general this has been a great learning experience for me. I really love what I've been writing on here for you guys to read and hope you enjoy reading it. I got a lot of new ideas, big plans and improvements coming to the blog in 2017 so here's to a bright new year of blogging!

Another big thing I did this year (And it's been a big topic on this blog ever since.) was I started knitting! Yup after watching my Mum knit for years and always having this urge to give it a go I finally picked up a pair of needles. I did actually attempt it years ago when I was a little kid but I guess I was too young then. Anyway! Yeah my Mum finally gave me that push into knitting by allowing me to take over this baby blanket she was knitting for my little brother Chrissie.

If you've been keeping up with the blog you'll recognize this. I took over this blanket as my very first project back in September (Before I started the blog actually.) and I first featured this blanket on my very first knit blog ZAK Knits Sep. 30th, 2016: On the Beginner's Road. Ever since then it's been non-stop knitting. I've become really passionate about knitting and since taking on this blanket I've already done quite a few awesome projects! 

Of course I finished the blanket back in November and Chrissie received it as a Christmas present! The reaction? He loved it of course.

Remember this? Yup this was my second project I took on and finished! This time using the Crazy Eights Dishcloth pattern by Julie Tarsha. This was my first time using a pattern and it wasn't the easiest pattern for a beginner but I quickly learned that I'm a fast learner when it comes to new things in knitting. Short rows were a breeze. I did learn two very important lessons with this project. One, never rush a project and Two, Knitters can't always be perfect. You see I made a big mistake and my dishcloth ended up going the entire other direction. You can read all about that in my ZAK Knits: Dishcloths Come Full Circle blog.

I also knitted this second dishcloth to match for Thanksgiving. 

As well as this simple Christmas themed dishcloth.

I also got to go into the one place I've never been before... Mum's knit stash. Yes she let me in to her knit stash (I talk about this on the blog "The Day I Raided My Mum's Knitting Stash")

I got to see all sorts of awesome yarn Mum's had all this time as well as getting to take some of the yarn and place it in my own yarn stash (I had so much it ended up breaking the bag I was given... Oops.) I'm surprised that Mum gave me so much awesome yarn to use, I guess she saw how good I was doing... Or I secretly conned her without purposely conning her into it... haha.

Anyway, using some of the yarn I was given, I decided to break out of my dishcloth groove and take a dare devil dive into a project I probably shouldn't of... I dove into a colorworks hat pattern.

Knitting a Beanie Plus a Chihuahua Story and Nintendo

Yes I wanted to make a beanie for awhile now and I had found this awesome Basic Norwegian Star Hat pattern by Cara Jo Miller on Ravelry and I just had to knit it. I probably shouldn't of started a colorworks project so soon after beginning knitting for the first time but I actually pulled this hat off without a hitch! 

Completing My First Knitted Colorworks Hat

The color work came out perfectly and the colors look great together. Only thing is this actually ended up being a slouch not a beanie. Yeah the hat came out a little bit bigger then I had first imagined but I love it nonetheless and it proved to me that taking risky moves sometimes pays off. I really enjoyed doing colorworks so I really want to attempt more of it next year, even perhaps coming up with my own designs.

Mum was knitting the same hat alongside me and it came out like an actual beanie size, I'm pretty sure it was just the yarn I was using that made it so large.

Now comes the big project that spanned over two months... My first pair of socks.

It wasn't too long ago that I finally finished this pair of socks. This was my biggest project to date and I have to admit I really love knitting socks. This first pair, after having the initial wash, came out so soft. They are a bit big, I am going to have to come down a size in needles for the future but I love these socks nonetheless. I actually did a huge blog post talking all about the progress on these socks called Finishing My First Pair of Socks & Baking Christmas Cookies.

Of course the last finished project of the year was a Christmas present for my Mum.

I dove into cable knitting for the first time with this project! This is a waffle owl cloth and the owls were done using cable knitting. Cable kind of frightened me in the beginning but as I've learned with knitting in general it's really easy once you dive in and get some hands on experience. You can read all about my cable knitting adventures in Zach The Knitting Cable Guy and Our Holiday Christmas Weekend.

All that done in just a span of about 5 months... It feels like I've been knitting forever now but it's really only been 5 months for knitting and this blog. I'm now looking into the future for my knitting. Of course I already have a few projects that have been on the needles that I will be continuing, such as my shawl.

Diving Into a Shawlette Journey

I started this shawl a little while ago and it's been ever growing. I am actually going to be doing a completely custom pattern for this shawl! I know I'm a beginner knitter and here I am doing my own pattern already... Am I getting a bit ahead of myself? Anyway this project will be going full steam ahead come new year! I love the colors of this shawl, such an relaxing blend if I do say so myself. This is also my first dive into lace knitting. I've seen some really crazy awesome lace knitting so this really is nothing but I'm proud with all good I'm doing.

Finally my newest project, that I casted on during Christmas Eve... My brand new cable hat project!

I'm already 8 rows into the 15 row rib. I'm getting eager to start on the cable as this hat looks pretty awesome. I'll be knitting this into the new year (Literally I'm going to be knitting, or at least holding this in my hands when it turns midnight.) so lets hope all goes well with this hat! Can't wait to get further on this. You can check out my project on Ravelry as well as the pattern I'm using!

I am a bit worried it's going to end up too big like my first hat did but the yarn is a lot tighter on these needles and it's actual wool this time so fingers crossed that it ends up like an actual beanie.

A lot more projects are floating around inside my head that I want to tackle in 2017. Mum recently gave me the idea of knitting her a Cable Knitted Viking Bag! If you click on the link you'll see how awesome this bag looks. Mum has already got the handles and yarn I need, This bag looks awesome and I think It'll be good practice for my biggest project yet that I'm planning to start in 2017...

You see for Christmas Mum gave me a lot of yarn, and I mean a LOT of yarn as well as needles. Take a look at some of this...

This is some Knit Picks Bare 100% Merino DK Weight Yarn... What am I going to be using this for exactly? Well in 2017 I'm officially going to tackle my first sweater! Yes I am going to make myself a nice sweater, I haven't decided on a pattern just yet, I got a few in mind. I mean I've been jumping by leaps and bounds on my knitting so why not tackle my first sweater? Of course it won't be ready for a long time probably but If I start it like January or February who knows maybe I'll have it done by New Years 2018? Wanna stick around and see?

Each skein has 246 yards/100 grams in it and I got more of this yarn if these four bags isn't enough. Really excited, this will be my biggest project to date but I believe I can handle it.

There are other knitting related things I want to tackle in 2017 too.. I want to have a go at spinning with a drop spindle. Mum's done quite a bit of spinning in the past and I want to have a go myself.

It's not knitting related BUT I want to get back into Cross Stitch, I learned how to do it this year and if you read my Crossing the Needles; Pokemon Cross Stitch and a Knitting Update you'll see I've already done quite a bit of cross stitching. Problem is I started this early last year and I still haven't finished it. I really need to buckle down and do more cross stitching as I am pretty good at it. 

The pattern of this cross stitch bookmark was all done by me too so I really need to persist and finish it.

So yeah I'm hooked... casted on to knitting and I don't plan on stopping, 2017 is going to be an even bigger year for my knitting. Hope you all join me for the journey!

Knitting isn't the only big thing I have planned for 2017 either, I mean my blog is a multi topic entertainment blog... haha. I got plans for all sorts of awesome blogs relating to movies, filmmaking, reviews, video games, Pokemon (Especially Pokemon.), travel (I got some travel plans for 2017 so stay tuned on that!) cars and a lot more!

2016 might be over but a whole new year for the blog has just begun, this is really only the beginning for the blog to be honest and I hope you join me on this journey of... Well lots of things. 

Be sure to check me out on Instagram and check out my Youtube Channel where I post all sorts of videos from Travel Videos to Knitting and more! Also check me out on FacebookTwitter, Snapchat as ZAKManK, and of course Ravelry!

It's crazy how far we've come in just 5 months... Here's to the blog growing to ever new heights! You can check out all of my 2016 posts by looking at the blog archive down the side of the blog (on desktop and tablets, mobile is a bit different.) or by looking through the blog categories.

Happy New Year Everyone!

See you...

IN 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Unboxing Some Pokemon TCG XY Evolutions Booster Packs

Hello everyone! Welcome back to the blog. Hope you're enjoying your week and hope you enjoyed your Christmas weekend. I'm starting to get back into the blogging groove so it's full speed ahead on all the new ideas I have planned for this blog and my Youtube actually. One of the ideas is... Pokemon TCG Booster Pack Unboxings! It's really unpackaging not unboxing but hey unboxing sounds better. For Christmas I got three booster packs of the Pokemon TCG XY Evolutions series. This series is quite special as it has reprints of the very original Base Set cards (As well as the Base Set Expansion cards) from 1996. (1999 in all countries that aren't Japan.)

They aren't complete reprints as the moves have been changed slightly so they work in the current Pokemon TCG Format but everything else is indenticle to the originals. This also means that super rare  Holo Charizard card everyone goes crazy over (That I never got...) is easier to get now. I'm not quite sure how this affects the value of the originals though. They're indenticle due to the move changes but the artwork is the same. I don't really know anything about that and maybe it's too early to really tell.

I've been collecting Pokemon cards since I was very little and I have a pretty big collection that I'll be showing off here and there on future blogs.

So yeah without further ado here's my unboxing video! The quality isn't perfect I need to work on where I film these in the future.

I got some pretty crazy cool cards, no not the Charizard card but I do want to get more of these XY Evolution packs so maybe one day. As I said in the video I have never owned the Base Set before, my first card set was the Team Rocket series so this was an awesome nostalgic treat for me. I got Pokemon I never owned before like Magmar. I mean I've been collecting Pokemon cards all my life and I still haven't got an Eevee card...

Anyway here's some still photos of my new cards.

Starting off (From Left to Right) we have

66/108 Rattata, Type: Colorless, Rarity: Common

48/108 Haunter, Type: Psychic, Rarity: Uncommon

7/108 Beedrill, Type: Grass, Rarity: Rare

17/108 Growlithe, Type: Fire, Rarity: Common

47/108 Gastly, Type: Psychic, Rarity: Common

9/108 Charmander, Type: Fire, Rarity: Common

Now from Left to Right we have

Another 17/108 Growlithe, Type: Fire, Rarity: Common but this card is a holo! It's super shiny and awesome.

14/108 Vulpix, Type: Fire, Rarity: Common
I don't get Vulpix very often and this is the original artwork from the base set. Super awesome.

Once again another 17/108 Growlithe, Type: Fire, Rarity: Common

6/108 Holo Kakuna, Type: Grass, Rarity: Uncommon

20/108 Magmar, Type: Fire, Rarity: Uncommon

55/108 Diglett, Type: Fighting, Rarity: Common

30/108 Staryu, Type: Water, Rarity: Common

67/108 Raticate, Type: Colorless, Rarity: Rare

25/108 Poliwrath, Type: Water, Rarity: Rare Holo

From Left to Right we have now

9/108 Charmander, Type: Fire, Rarity: Common

49/108 Drowzee, Type: Psychic, Rarity: Common

39/108 Voltorb, Type: Electric, Rarity: Common

41/108 Electabuzz, Type: Electric, Rarity: Common

37/108 Magnemite, Type: Electic, Rarity: Common but this is the Holo version of it. I seem to be getting real lucky with holos, huh?

and finally

4/108 Metapod, Type: Grass, Rarity: Uncommon.

So that's it on the Pokemon but that's not all I got from those packs!

Now we're on to the Trainer cards I pulled, not counting the Random Receiver card from Left to Right we got

85/108 Trainer Card, Revive, Rarity: Uncommon
Never realized that back then Revives were shaped like stars, now they're yellow diamonds.

74/108 Trainer Card, Brock's Grit, Rarity: Uncommon
Now there is a full body artwork of this that is ultra rare but I'm really glad I got this version as it's a reprint of the original I never owned. Brock is also one of my all time favorite Gym Leaders (and Pokemon Breeders) so this card is definitely one of my favorites. Don't have many Gym Leader cards. Also the ability of this card is pretty cool, shuffle 6 pokemon from your discard pile to your deck? Really useful.

89/108 Trainer Card, Venusaur Spirit Link, Rarity: Uncommon
This card is pretty cool, it's a brand new card, not a reprint but it's in the original style of the cards. 
The ability of this card is "Your turn does not end if the Pok√©mon this card is attached to becomes M Venusaur-EX.".

83/108 Trainer Card, Potion, Rarity: Uncommon
Apparently Potions are uncommon... What if you need one for your deck though? Everyone needs a potion, haha.

88/108 Trainer Card, Switch, Rarity: Uncommon
I've gotten switch cards in the past but this is my favorite.

Finally we got

76/108 Trainer Card, Devolution Spray, Rarity: Uncommon
I gotta admit I've never heard of this card until now. Didn't know there was a card out there which let you devolve your Pokemon. Seems like it hasn't been in the TCG for years until now. Looking at the original 1999 base card online I notice this is green compared to it... So not an EXACT reprint.

98/108 Metal Energy (Basic), Rarity: Common

92/108 Fire Energy (Basic), Rarity: Common

and finally another 98/108 Metal Energy (Basic), Rarity: Common.

So that's it for what I unboxed! Got a lot of awesome nostalgic cards so I'm very happy with my pulls. I need to get more of these Evolution packs though because there are some other awesome cards I did not get from these. (Like that darn Charizard... ONE DAY!)

Overall my favorite card from the pulls? Hmm.... I'd have to say.... The Holo Poliwrath card! I love Poliwrath and this is a super rare holo card. (It was back then too I think.)

Can't wait for the Sun and Moon expansion packs so I can get ahold of some new Pokemon cards of the Alolan Pokemon.

I really enjoyed making that unboxing video so I'm going to work on my set up and do some more in the near future so make sure you subscribe because I do a big variety of videos and I got a lot of cool plans for this upcoming 2017 year.

So that's pretty much it for the blog today, I've been playing Pokemon Sun a LOT so I really need to do some more knitting... Those Pokemon have been distracting me. I've currently done two island trials but I got plans for talking about my progress. I was thinking of writing it like a Diary, adding more depth and character to my journey then just saying "I'm here" "I'm doing this", ect.

If you're wondering, after a really tough choice that I didn't make until the last second, I picked Popplio!

It's a girl Popplio (Yeah 12.5% chance of getting one...) named Ariel. Yes I named her Ariel after The Little Mermaid I couldn't resist okay? It fit perfectly.

I've also been dealing with these jokers. These guys are the hilarious Team Skull. They supposedly steal Pokemon and destruct the public but I don't think they've ever exactly succeeded at that.

Anyway this game is absolutely incredible and I can't wait to talk about it on future blogs.

With that all said and done I think I'll end this for today, I am doing some knitting though! Don't worry I haven't stopped. I'm working on my hat mentioned on Monday's blog so I'll have a progress update this Friday for everyone. 

Be sure to check me out on Instagram as I'll be posting a lot on their but also FacebookTwitter, Snapchat as ZAKManK, and of course Ravelry!

See you on the next blog!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Our Holiday Christmas Weekend

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the blog! Today is Boxing Day which means Christmas is over but the Holidays are still happening all week until New Years! (We still got food to eat, haha.)

Did you enjoy your Holiday weekend? Whether you celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah or not hope it was merry and joyful. Of course our Christmas weekend was pretty eventful so prepare yourself for a jam packed blog for today! I'm still trying to recover from the amount of great food we ate.

To start things off on Friday night I finished a present for my Mum which also doubles as my very first cable knitting project.

This is my Waffle Owl Cloth with added brown beads for eyes! I've been working on this for over a week as a Christmas present for Mum. The pattern is Waffling Owls Afghan 12" block or dishcloth by Margaret MacInnis on Ravelry. This is a very easy pattern if you want to get into cable knitting as I explained in Friday's blog. 

Had a lot of fun with this pattern actually and it helped me understand cable and how it worked. After finishing the cloth and casting off I sewed in some beads (Yes, that's right, I know how to sew as well. I'm such a handyman, haha.) Mum absolutely loves the present so I'm quite proud of myself.

That's not the end of my cable endeavours though! On Christmas Eve I did my first annual Christmas Eve caston of my next project. I've been talking about this project for a while but finally it's on the needles.

This is a Cable Knitted Beanie project using a pattern by Splendor Knitting (Homero Luna), it's called The Natural. This was originally going to be my first cable project but the cable cloth seemed like a perfect gift for Mum so I did that first to get it done by Christmas. With practice on that cloth though this hat is going to be a bit easier. I love the pattern of this hat and I can't wait to start on the cable part. (I'm currently doing the rib.) I'm using Size US 7 needles and my Lana Grossa Lord yarn (Dye lot is 61101, the color is 005 i can't find the actual name of it, it's been discontinued forever.) that I talked about back in my End of a Knitting Beginning and Crossing a Lake of Birds blog.

Of course knitting was only one part of Christmas weekend.. We baked up a storm (A heat storm, haha.) Starting off we baked some Sausage Rolls, because you can't have Christmas in my house without Sausage Rolls.

My sister and I tackled these yummy delights and we make quite a team. As you can see in the photo I was also preparing to make a Christmas Eve Lasagna! I pulled it off without a hitch and it tasted delicious.

I think we've been having Lasagna every Christmas Eve forever now and as I've pretty much taken over all things Lasagna I feel like I've been helping out a lot more this Christmas then ever before.

Minor Spoilers Ahead for Super Mario 3D Land!

Finishing off Christmas Eve I managed to complete Super Mario 3D Land once again. This seems to have become a tradition since... 2012? Where I play through the entire game and beat the main 8 worlds on Christmas Eve.

This game is crazy fun as always and the final boss (Spoilers... It's Bowser, hahaha.) really gives you a run for your money. I don't know why this has become a tradition but I love playing through this game every year regardless. Of course now I'm on the special world now so I have 8 more worlds to playthrough... and apparently a Green Brother to save.

Anyway after beating the game I hit the sack for the night so now we're onto Christmas Day! Got up just in time to watch the Disney's Christmas Parade and after a yummy Egg, Bacon, Sausage and Bake Bean with Fried Tomato, Mushrooms and Croissants (The motherload, haha) we checked out what Santa brought us all. 

Some of the highlights would be this super cool Canon PowerShot SX610 HS my sister Annie got. 

I also got myself some camera equipment with this USA Gear Action Camera Flex Tripod.

I'm going to talk a lot more in depth on this in the future but it also comes with a smartphone mount and an action cam mount so it's pretty awesome. It's smaller than a normal tripod but it's got flex legs and I can also hold it to stabilize my camera as well.

My little brother Chrissie got his knitted blanket I made him as well as some awesome toys and this snazzy new Pokemon T-Shirt. (I'm really jealous right now.)

Of course I finally got ahold of Pokemon Sun (and Moon)!

I've already started my Alola Region journey, this game is incredibly beautiful and I got a lot of cool ideas for the blog regarding this game, such as an idea for a Diary like segment instead of just telling you my progress.

I got some other cool stuff as well but this blog is coming to an end for the day soon.. but before that of course I can't leave out the big part about Christmas day... Christmas Dinner!

For the most part Mum and Annie took part in preparing dinner and we set this nice display up (Okay we had to move some of it to actually get the food on the plates but it still looked great afterwards.)

We had pork, chicken, bacon wrapped stuffing, brussels, carrots, peas, roast potatoes the lot, with the best gravy out there. It was amazingly good and we didn't really eat much else afterwards... Haha it kind of filled us up a little too much.

So that was a little (Kind of little?) overview of our Christmas Weekend! Of course the Holidays aren't over... Since we still have a lot more food to eat plus we got New Years coming up around the corner! So thanks for reading everyone! I'm writing this Christmas Night and it's been a busy day so sorry if it seems rushed, I mean the blog got pretty long regardless. Be sure to check me out on Instagram as I'll be posting a lot on their but also FacebookTwitter, Snapchat as ZAKManK, and of course Ravelry!

See you on the next blog!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Zach The Knitting Cable Guy

Merry Christmas Everyone and welcome to today's blog! If you're reading this on the day it's posted it's officially the day before the day before Christmas. Christmas is just two days away so hope you have an amazing Holiday weekend. We've been doing more Christmas baking and making our traditional sausage rolls. (The best part of Christmas.) Check out my Instagram as I'll be posting photos over the Holidays weekend.

Don't forget to check out my

Christmas Lights Extravaganza Part 1 and Part 2 on Youtube!

I take you on a Christmas Lights journey to find the coolest Christmas lights!

Remember those cookies I baked and showed off in Wednesday's blog?

Yeah... They're gone, the Sugar Cookies too. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED! I think we had some cookie thieves.. Either that or Santa needed a quick snack before he sets off on Christmas night. Though yes we will be including a new batch of cookies along with all our other baking projects.

It's time for another knitting update! Don't forget to check out Wednesday's blog to see my finished pair of socks.

Remember that waffle washcloth I was making a week ago? Well I picked it back up and got busy on it. I've been a very busy elf on my knitting lately so take a look!

These owls are so cool, and how I made them is even cooler and perhaps... Mysterious.

I'm already half way through the washcloth. This is also my first step into cable knitting. What is cable knitting? Well I learned that all you do is slip two, or as many as you want, stitches onto the white cable needle you see in the photo. (You can use anything you want actually, like a paperclip.) You will then either hold the cable needle at the front or back of your work (It depends on the pattern so make sure you read your pattern carefully.) then you knit a certain amount of stitches equal to the amount you slipped onto your cable needle, finally you knit the slipped stitches back off the cable needle onto your normal needle. This gives it this twist and helps manipulate your stitches into all sorts of cool shapes. I'm amazed at how cable makes these shapes just... Show up with a simple cable 2 forward and backward.

The pattern I'm using for this project is called Waffling Owls Afghan 12" block or dishcloth by Margaret MacInnis on Ravelry. It's a really simple cable pattern and I've been breezing through it very easily with little errors (All my errors actually ended up being on the non cable parts... Oops. At least they got corrected so there's no problem.) It's a really easy pattern for knitters who want to try and learn cable knitting. With how fast this is coming along I may finish this before Christmas, all I gotta do after finishing is knit in some eyes with either scrap yarn or beads, haven't decided on that yet.

Cable knitting has completely surprised me, I thought I would have to do cable rows all the way up but all I had to do was do one cable row and then on the next row do just plain purls and knits. The only time I had to do cable again was when I was changing the shape to form the face. I'm assuming on more complicated patterns I will be doing cable every row but this pattern has me doing them every so often.

I already have my next cable project in mind actually! If you remember back in November on my End of a Knitting Beginning and Crossing a Lake of Birds my Mum let me have some more awesome yarn from her stash. 

I received this Lana Grossa Lord yarn (Dye lot is 61101, the color is 005 i can't find the actual name of it, it's been discontinued forever.) and decided to make this Splendor Knitting; The Natural Cable Beanie by Ravelry Designer Homero Luna. This originally was going to be my first project but I came across this washcloth and I just had to knit it as a gift for someone for Christmas (I know, I know I'm leaving it to the last minute slightly but I'll have it done.) I plan on starting this hat around New Years so stay tuned for that on the blog!

So Christmas is just around the corner and my family and I came across this Christmas animation I had no idea existed. It's called Santa's Apprentice,

This 2010 animated movie was produced by Gaumont Animation tells the story of Santa who is nearing retirement, in this story over the years the current Santa Claus eventually retires but before hand he takes on a child apprentice to train in order to become the next Santa and keep the Christmas spirit alive. The lucky winner, to be chosen from among millions of children, must be named Nicholas, be an orphan and have a pure heart. On the other side of the planet, there is a little boy who is a perfect match, but his lack of self-confidence and fear of heights make him a poor contestant. Will Santa agree to step down, and help his apprentice take his place? This movie is a great animation for the whole family and the animation is so beautiful and colorful I was taken away by it. The characters are also really great and help build this awesome movie.

The movie actually has a sequel called The Magic Snowflake.

This movie of course takes place after Santa's Apprentice so I won't talk much about this movie but I will say it's even more wonderfully animated and has a wonderful story with great characters. Actually this movie released in November of this year, 6 years after the original movie.

These movies, with their beautiful artstyle, smooth animation, wonderful soundtrack and awesome characters makes them great additions to your Family Holiday movie collection so check them out on iTunes! If you're not too sure about these you can also rent them.

It's also not to late to add a wonderful song to your Christmas collection to play over Christmas weekend!

I know I've promoted this a lot over the past month but it's an amazing song sung by the staff and students of Redbridge High School (Liverpool, England) for Special Needs students. It encompasses a wonderful message about what Christmas really is and my little brother (Who is also a special needs kid, this is why I'm so passionate about this.) absolutely loves listening to it. All funds from this song go help the school build better equipment to make these kid's lives even brighter. You can check it out on iTunes for a very small price of $0.99 cents! (Price may vary by your country of course due to currency changes.)

Before I wrap the blog up I got something Pokemon related to talk about. So in preparation for Pokemon Sun and Moon (Be sure to check out the awesome blogs related to this I'll be making after Christmas!) I've been playing some previous Pokemon games such as Pokemon Alpha Sapphire. Well two evenings ago I was trying to catch a certain Pokemon I didn't have and I was fishing... Out of nowhere I ran into a Shiny Remoraid!

It's not that easy to see it on this screen shot but I wasn't even purposely looking for this guy... Or even a Remoraid in general. I know that shiny hunting with a fishing rod is easier then other methods but this is still a really big shocker. I don't know what a Shiny Octillery looks like (Yes... A fish evolves into an Octopus, this is why I love Pokemon, haha.) so I'll level this little guy up and see! This shiny distracted me so much I forgot what Pokemon I really was looking for, haha.

Be sure to keep up with my blog to see more Pokemon blogs! I'll be unboxing Pokemon Sun and Moon Christmas day and the Alola Journey will begin! I have tons of cool ideas for blogs related to those games.

Anyway that's about it for today. Merry Christmas but also Happy Hanukkah to everyone! Hanukkah surprisingly starts on Christmas night so this weekend is a double Holiday weekend. I know Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are both on days not on my blogging schedule but I may be posting something small on either day so stay tuned! If you're busy be sure to come back Monday for my After Christmas/Boxing Day blog! Be sure to check me out on Instagram as I'll be posting a lot on their but also Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat as ZAKManK, and of course Ravelry!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Finishing My First Pair of Socks & Baking Christmas Cookies

We're on the home stretch for Christmas! Just a couple of days away on this Sunday! Welcome back to the blog everyone. How's your day going? Make sure you stay safe and warm if you're traveling, the roads are getting very icey.

Today I bring you a big Knitting Update/Recap! If you're new to the blog I'm a beginner male knitter who picked up knitting back in September when my Mum offered me the chance to take over a blanket she was knitting for my little brother Chrissie. I had attempted knitting when I was younger but I had regrettably given up on it. I wasn't sure if knitting would work out for me but after doing some rows on the blanket I got hooked... Or casted on... Because this knitting not crochet, haha. Anyway there's no turning back now I've officially become a knitting nutter and I absolutely love the projects I've completed so far. You can check me out on Ravelry as ZAKMan and I plan on doing a big knitting recap at the end of the year talking about all my projects and finished objects from this year! For now though let's talk about one single project that I just completed. To be honest there's been a bit of a dry period considering knitting topics on the blog hasn't there?

This has been in the works for over two months now... After a lot of hard work and second sock syndrome... I have completed my very first pair of socks!

While these socks are not tasty (Don't let the plate fool you.) they are warm and festive! I dubbed these socks the Fall Leaves Socks because of the color. They're plain vanilla socks as these are my first and I didn't want to get carried away (Like I did on my hat, though that still came out nice.) I knitted these socks using Patons North America Kroy Socks FX with Copper Colors and a Dye Lot of 210981. FOR THE MOST PART I used Size US 3 Addi Turbo circular needles using the magic loop technique. Though if you've been reading about these socks from when I first started them you'll see I actually started the first sock of this pair on DPNS (Double Pointed Needles.)

I really did not like DPNs (Especially when casting on... Ack) as they got quite fiddly so Mum helped me switch them over to magic loop and I never went back to DPNs after that. I did 12 rows for the ridge, it gave the sock just enough ridge not to curl but also made it look nice. The body is just a simple stockinette stitch. Magic Loop is so much more enjoyable for me and I actually made a ZAK Knits episode talking and showing off the differences between the two.

I learned quite a few new things about knitting despite these socks being vanilla socks. For one I learned how to make an enforced heel flap that won't wear out easily when worn with shoes

Nothing was really ever that difficult, not even the heel turn and gusset, which I found out was just doing short rows on your heel flap until it turns into a flap then pick up your side stitches and the yarn on your scrap cotton. I really recommend using cotton when making a heel flap, that way your loose stitches won't get tangled up or drop off.

You see in order to make the heel flap you need to take half your stitches off, which as I was doing a 64 round stitch sock I had to take 32 off. Cotton is probably the best option for this. The enforced heel flap, by the way, was done by slipping the first stitch and knitting the next stitch. You repeat this slip and knit pattern to the end of the row (making sure you end with a knit) then turning, slipping the first stitch and then purling all the way to the end. I repeated this for 24 rows, that way it covers my ankle to the bottom of my foot. This stops any wear and tear from my shoe.

Of course after the heel turn and gusset the rest of the sock was a straight beeline to the end using stockinette stitch for the foot. Then comes the toe, in which I decreased using SSKs (Slip slip knit) and Knit2Togs (Knit 2 Together) until I had 12 stitches on both needles. To finish of the toe I did a kitchener stitch. Now I had already practiced some kitchener before this sock by making this little earbud pouch.

So yeah I had some practice before my sock and this was a good idea too as I actually messed up the kitchener on this earbud pouch.. oops. I didn't have any problems with my sock though and the toes of my sock came out perfectly.

The second sock has come along a lot faster as I already had everything written down from the first sock (Okay I didn't write down everything and I had to take some risks... If mum wasn't helping I probably would of made some mistakes.) and I didn't have to make any corrections either. I did slow down a bit last week (Hence the lack of knitting blogs) as Christmas was here and I was busy doing things with the family as well as having some business stuff to take care of. I have my first pair completed finally though and they feel nice and warm.

Excuse the hairy legs but this is how they look on my feet, I don't think they would fit anyone else's feet. I am going to be going down a size in needles for future projects to 2.75 MM needles. This should solve my size issues for the future. Anyway that ends another project in my knitting saga! I may actually get one more project done before the New Years, my washcloth, but we'll just have to see on that. I really enjoyed making these socks, I thought they would be hard and I had absolutely no idea how you got a heel turn in there, actually it's kind of magical how the heel turn just happens with  just a couple of short rows on the heel flap. I will definitely be making more socks in the future so stay tuned! I'm thinking of perhaps making a pair of gloves before my next socks though.

Moving on from the knitting we've been breaking out the flour and cookie dough to make some cookies!

I've been baking some Chocolate Chip Cookies for Christmas! Don't worry though all the cookie dough went into the cookies, not my mouth, haha. My sister, Annie, was also making some awesome red and green Christmas sugar cookies!

Here's the cookie dough before it's actually dough.

Now I add the butter and eggs and mix it all together until it all melts together and turns into cookie dough.

And onto the tray it goes! Time for the oven! This part got very goey...

The final product! They're not perfect but I think they turned out pretty great. They're super yummy and I'm having to resist eating them all... Though I do have more dough to make a second batch.

Here is Annie's Sugar Cookies! The green ones anyway.

Here's the red ones. Annie also added some contrasting red and green sugar to the tops of these cookies making them super sweet and yummy.

So yeah that's part one of our Christmas baking! We got more baking on the way so be sure to check out Friday's blog for some more Christmas yummies!

So we've come to the end of the blog for the day but before then I want to talk about this wonderful Christmas song from Redbridge High School for Special Needs students in Liverpool, England. It's called Message of Christmas.

It's sung by the wonderful staff and students of the school and it's an awesome addition to your Christmas music playlist! Also all funds from this song go to help the school improve their equipment and give this kids a better life. You can buy it on iTunes!

Anyway that's it for now! See you Friday! It's going to be the last blog before Christmas so...

See you on the next blog!

PS I'm on Snapchat now apparently as ZAKManK