The Harry Potter Knitting / Crocheting House Cup (HPKCHC) Spring 2014 Term started on May 1. Before term starts, I usually plan out my projects. I did some of my usual planning for this term, but did not finish or get a chance to write a blog post about it because of getting ready for and attending Maryland Sheep and Wool. Today, I am finishing my planning. I did talk about this topic in the one podcast episode I published, but in case you haven’t seen that episode, I will explain in detail how the game works and how I plan for a new term.
The Basic Set Up
The Harry Potter Knitting / Crocheting House Cup is a game played on Ravelry, and founded by PrincessOnica in 2008. It has become much bigger since it originally began, both in terms of the number of people playing and the number of options available for game play. The game is, as the name implies, set in the Harry Potter universe. The game is played over a three month period, called a term, with a one month break between terms. Winter Term is January – March. April is a break month. Spring Term is May – July. August is a break month. Fall Term is September – November. December is a break month.
During break month, players sign up for sorting. The Sorting Hat and his minions sort everyone into the 4 Harry Potter canon houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw (I am and, Sorting Hat willing, always shall be a Ravenclaw!). Each house has approximately 175 players assigned to it, for a total of 700 players each term. The Cup is run entirely by volunteer staff, and 700 is the current cap on enrollment. For the past couple calendar years, more people have applied for sorting than the Cup had the capacity to handle. Those who are not sorted into a house for a particular term are called Students on Sabbatical (SOS) if they have been sorted in the past and Not Quite First Years (NQFY) if they have not. SOS and NQFY students can play along and submit projects in all categories of play, but do not earn points for any house. Sorting applications close about a week before the end of the break month, and the Sorting Hat announces the House rosters a couple days before the end of break month. If you miss the sorting application deadline, you can not apply or be sorted until the next break month.
Once term starts, players craft projects to meet certain prompts. Points are awarded for completed or partial projects turned in before the applicable deadlines. Deadlines and points are based on the prompt category: Classes & Detention, Advanced Studies (OWLs, NEWTs, and Order of the Phoenix (OOTP)), and Quidditch. At some point during the term, there is also a Headmistress’s Challenge.
Classes & Detention
Classes are projects that take up to one month to complete. Prompts are posted on the first day of the month at 12:00 am Princess Onica Time (POT) (that’s Pacific Standard Time to muggles) and projects meeting the prompt must be posted by 11:59 pm POT on the last day of the month to receive points. Completed projects receive 15 points; partial projects receive 5 points. You can only submit one project to each class. Each month, 8 classes are posted. You can only receive a total of 90 base points between all the classes. If you submit complete projects, that means you only receive base points for 6 of the 8 classes. If you have a combination of complete and partial classes, you may submit to and receive points for all 8 classes, but the total will never exceed 90 points.
The minimum participation requirement for HPKCHC is to submit one class per month; partial projects count towards this minimum. If you complete the minimum required projects, you have priority for Sorting the following term. You are more likely to be sorted rather than being involuntarily put on SOS status, and you are more likely to get your first choice of House. Neither Sorting nor House are guaranteed when applications exceed available spots, but the Sorting Hat and his Minions do their absolute best!
All classes have bonus points available. Bonus points are available based on the yardage of your project. The exact formula used to determine yardage bonuses is not published and non-staff players do not know how it works. But it can be significant. I have turned in a 500 yard shawl for a class project and received 29 bonus points. Since the Professors do not usually explain why you get the bonus points, it is not possible to know if the bonus is due solely to yardage or if it was for other factors as well. Sometimes other factors are mentioned in the class prompt. Sometimes the Professors have predetermined certain bonus factors, but not publicly announced them. Sometimes, Professors give bonus points when a project strikes their fancy in some way. It isn’t just the project that can earn you bonus points. You can also earn bonus points based on the way you write your turn in post. Although you can only earn base points for 6 out of 8 completed classes, you can earn bonus points for 8 completed classes. A few people do turn in 8 classes per month in order to get those bonus points.
Detention projects are projects that were started prior to the current month, but completed during it. Completed projects earn 10 points. A Detention project does not have to be turned in as a partial credit for Classes or any other prompt category to be eligible for Detention points. That WIP that’s been sitting in a drawer for 5 years? Finish it up and submit it to Detention!
Order of the Phoenix (OOTP)
The Order of the Phoenix is the newest of the Advanced Studies Options. The OOTP is for projects that will take 6-8 weeks to complete. Too much crafting to fit into a class, but too little to fit into the other Advanced Studies Options. All students are eligible to complete an OOTP Mission. Completed Missions earn 100 points; if you finish at least 25% of the project, you can turn it in for 25 points. The tricky thing about the OOTP is remembering the deadlines. OOTP has a very specific schedule, and it is always published in the first couple posts of the thread. For this term, the deadlines are:
May 4 – 14 Submit your Basic Request for an Official Order Mission (BROOM). Type up a paragraph or so, explaining to the Mission Chiefs how your project fits into one of the prompts. BROOMs should be as vague as possible, while still conveying the information necessary for the Chief to understand your plan. You are held to the exact letter of your BROOM, so don’t back yourself into a corner. If you name a specific pattern and a specific yarn, you will be required to use those. If you say a blue shawl, you must produce a blue shawl. Your proposal must be approved by a Mission Chief, and some discussion may be necessary to ensure your project meets Mission parameters.
May 18 Begin crafting. You are not allowed to start on the project (aka Mission) before this date.
June 29 – July 13. Submit your complete or partial project. If you submit a partial project, you can not later submit it for complete points, even if you finish it before the deadline.
Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations (OWLs)
OWLs are projects that will take you 8 – 12 weeks to complete. OWLs are available in 12 subjects: Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Divination, Herbology, History of Magic, Muggle Studies, Potions, and Transfiguration. Each subject has multiple prompts describing how you can earn that OWL. You only need to meet one of the requirements to earn the OWL. All students are eligible to earn an OWL.
As with the OOTP, you must submit a proposal and receive approval from the OWL Professor prior to beginning your crafting. OWL proposals are much more detailed than BROOMs. Your OWL proposal must include the exact project you plan to complete. You must include pictures of a swatch, your yarn, and your pattern, so the Professor knows you have all tools necessary to complete the project. You describe in detail how this project meets the prompt for the particular OWL you are attempting to earn. You must describe your crafting sequence, if it is not immediately apparent from the pattern, and you must identify the 50% mark.
OWLs are worth a total of 200 points. If you make the 50% mark by the end of the second month of term, you get 75 points. If you finish by the last day of term, you get an additional 125 points. If you do not make 50% by the end of the second month, you lose the opportunity to get those points, but can still get the 125 points for completion. If you do not make 50% by the end of the second month, and you do not finish by the end of term, you get zero points.
OWL proposals are accepted for the entire first month of term. You can begin crafting immediately after receiving approval from the Professor.
Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests (NEWTs)
NEWTs are projects that require at least 4 months of crafting. Students are not eligible to sit for a NEWT until they have completed 4 OWLs. Like the other Advanced Studies, you must submit a proposal and receive approval prior to crafting. NEWTs consist of 2 complex and related OWLs worth of work. The available subjects are the same 12 as the OWLs, but the prompts for a NEWT are different than those for the OWLs. Students must meet the requirements of 2 subjects in order to earn their NEWT. Proposals are submitted and approved during the break month, and students begin crafting as soon as receiving approval. NEWTs are worth total points, which are broken down and awarded upon meeting deadlines for 50%, 75%, and 100% completion. Students may propose and complete both a NEWT and an OOTP Mission in the same term, but may not do a NEWT and an OWL in the same term. I have never completed an OWL, so I am ineligible to attempt a NEWT.
Quidditch is the most confusing part of the game for me. All other prompts retain the same structure from term to term. Quidditch does not. Not only do the prompts change, but so does the structure and method for earning points. Quidditch usually has 2 -3 short challenges, lasting for 2 weeks each, and one longer challenge lasting about 4 weeks. That’s about all that is consistent. Everything else changes. This term’s Quidditch looks to be pretty awesome. It is based on the Quidditch World Cup and features an elimination bracket. We start with 32 countries participating in the Quidditch World Cup. There’s 5 rounds of crafting, with the number of countries cut in half each time. Every project must be linked to a country in some way; in the project turn in post, we have to identify which country the project represents and why. In order to participate in a round, you must have submitted at least one project in all previous rounds.
- May 2 – 11: Round 1. Submit up to 3 projects for 15 points each, no minimum yardage.
- May 16 – 25: Round 2. Submit up to 2 projects for 20 points each, 100 yards minimum. If it is a project for charity, the yardage minimum does not apply.
- May 30 – June 8: Round 3. Submit 1 project for 25 points, 200 yards minimum.
- June 13 – 29: Semi-final Round. Submit 1 project for 30 points, 300 yards minimum.
- July 4 – 27: Final round. Submit 1 project for 45 points, 450 yards minimum.
That’s 185 base points available, if you complete all the projects. Bonus points are sometimes available in Quidditch, but are not given with the same frequency as in classes. In prompts like these, with minimum yardage requirements, yardage bonuses are usually not available.
During the break month, I do extensive planning for the upcoming term. I identify projects for 8 classes / month (though never complete that many), print patterns, find the yarn and put the two together in a ziploc bag. For the first month’s project, I put the needles in the bags. I identify an OWL project and write a draft proposal. I print the OWL pattern and put it with the yarn and needles in a Ziploc bag. I identify an OOTP project and put the pattern, yarn, and needles in a Ziploc bag. I do not write the BROOM until I see the Mission Prompts on the first day of term. I collect each month’s projects into a large bag, usually one of my carry on size bags, and line them up in my office so I know where to find everything. On the first day of term, I submit my OWL proposal, read the OOTP prompts and draft my BROOM. I read the prompts for the first month of classes and the Quidditch prompts and decide if I need to rearrange any projects. I calendar out deadlines I need to meet if I am going to finish everything that I want to finish. Then I cast on for my first class project.
At least, that’s what I aspire to do. This term, I’m much less organized than usual, due to the traveling I did during break month. The floor of my home office is covered with projects in Ziploc bags. I did manage to submit an OWL proposal on the first day of term, and my BROOM yesterday. I’ve also cast on my first project. But the rest of the planning is happening today. I’m typing the rest of this blog post while I plan.
Care of Magical Creatures OWL, Option 4: Bowtruckles
Bowtruckles are prickly little critters that must be handled with care. The COMC OWL, Option 4: Bowtruckles requires students to craft in a new-to-them technique, echoing the careful and difficult handling of bowtruckles. My OWL proposed, and is now approved, to spin 24 ounces of fiber using my brand new spinning wheel. I picked the fibers based on their preparation, and am spinning them from easiest (the pin-drafted roving I bought from Ohio Valley Fibers at The Fiber Event) to most difficult (from a batt). The approval came when I was at MDSW, so I have not yet started spinning.
Order of the Phoenix
I submitted my BROOM last night, after getting back from MDSW. It is not yet approved. My plan is to knit the Begonia Swirl Shawl using the Good for Ewe Mirrorball yarn I bought from Nomad Yarns at The Fiber Event. So that you have an idea how the OOTP proposal process works, here’s the prompt I’m trying to meet:
Guard the Hall of Prophecy – Stay awake on night patrol at the Hall of Prophecy! Craft something which you must concentrate on or something eye-searingly brightly colored. Who would suspect a witch wearing a chartreuse waistcoat to be a clandestine member of the Order?
And here is the BROOM I submitted.
The Hall of Prophecy is a precious place. It must be guarded with vigilance! Especially that one prophecy about you-know-who and that other guy, the one-who-must-not-be-named. I have not been informed regarding the contents of the prophecy, but I know it is of grave importance to all of us.
Therefore, I propose to keep myself alert and practice my concentration by knitting a shawl. The one I have in mind calls for 825 yards of yarn, but I only have 749 yards in my lace weight skein, so I must make minor modifications to the repeats in order to ensure that I do not run out of yarn. Shawls of this size generally require 6-8 weeks of work for me (most recently I completed the Birch Leaf Shawl, which took 6 weeks for a 780ish yard shawl with an easy repeat), but the pattern I am using for this Mission requires particular concentration. I usually knit shawls from charts, but this one will be knit from the written pattern. While the pattern includes charts, they are on a single page and so small as to be illegible. The written pattern is confusing also, with some rows running to 3 or more lines of type. It will definitely require focus to make sure I do not lose my place!
I look forward to your return owl, approving the parameters of my Mission.
My BROOM is not yet approved, but even if it was, I can not start crafting until May 18.
Detention projects are always the easiest to pick. I go through my stash of unfinished objects (UFOs) and pick the three I most want to complete. For this term they are:
May: Baltic Blue Quinn Bag I started this project in July 2013. It was supposed to be a Christmas present. I did wrap it up and give it to the recipient, but it was missing the handle and liner. I have knit the handle, but I need to braid it, sew it in, and sew in the liner.
June: My first ever pair of socks. These socks were supposed to be my OOTP mission for the Fall 2013 term. I am knitting them two-at-a-time on two circular needles with self-striping yarn, toe-up with an afterthought heel. I got the leg bound off and discovered that I could not get them over my ankle. I have to pick out the bind off, re-bind off with bigger needles, and finish the heels.
July: Baby Blue Monster Hugo. I am knitting monsters to send my cousin Avery. She is a nurse in a Children’s hospital, and she can give them to kids on her ward. This particular monster is already knit, but I need to stuff him, sew him together, and sew on his face.
Classes and Quidditch
I had some plans for classes, but after seeing the Quidditch prompts and a last minute decision to do some blanket squares, I am totally confused. I am reviewing everything to figure out what to assign to classes and what category.
- Palindrome Scarf. I cast on this project on May 1, using the Cascade Pinwheel yarn I got at the Nomad Yarns store in Indiana. It is a charity knit, going to a homeless shelter that just opened and does not yet have a stash of warm items.
- Ladder Stitch Dishcloth. I have made three of these before. This was my first crochet project, and I have been making them to keep up my skills. Since I am doing the granny squares for blankets, I was almost thinking that I would not do the dishcloth. But I am trying to build a stash of dishcloths, so I am going to keep it on the list.
- Experiments in Dyeing. I was working through learning to dye last summer, but I put it aside when life got a little hectic. I want to get back to that. Dyeing is a great project for classes because it is relatively quick. No bonus points available for yardage, though.
- One Granny Square for the blanket.
- Maple Leaf Shawl. I’ve already done one of these, and I’m going to make several for gifts.
- Another Monster for Avery’s hospital.
- Back up / Extra classes will be Granny Squares
- Dye my second batch of handspun.
- Knit the handspun into a scarf for charity, pattern TBD.
- Ladder Stitch Dishcloth
- Maple Leaf Shawl
- A pair of socks.
- One Granny Square for the blanket.
- Back up / Extra classes will be Granny Squares.
Granny squares all around, to make sure I have enough time to finish my OOTP Mission, OWL, and Quidditch.
- Round 1: 3 granny squares, one in each of the three colors I am using for the blanket.
- Round 2: Irish Hiking Mittens to match the scarf and a Monster for Avery’s Hospital. These are for charity, so it doesn’t matter if they come in at 100 yards each or not, but the patterns say they are 200 yards each.
- Round 3: A Palindrome Hat to match the scarf.
- Semi-Final Round: A Kitty Pi. I have made two of these, and I have three cats. Obviously, I must make another!
- Final Round: Another Maple Leaf Shawl. They come in at 500 yards, so easily meet the yardage requirement.
Knitting Schedule for May
Finally, I have to make a rough schedule for May, so I know that I can get everything done. Right now, I seriously doubt my sanity. I’m probably going to have to substitute in some blanket squares for bigger projects in classes this month.
May 1 – 11: Finish Palindrome Scarf and 4 granny squares (one for class, three for Quidditch).
May 11 – 15: Cast on Maple Leaf Shawl. Complete dyeing experiment for class. Spin at least 2 ounces for OWL.
(Out of town May 15-17 for sister’s graduation).
May 16 – 25: Complete Irish Hiking Mittens and a Monster for Avery’s hospital (Quidditch projects). Spin at least 2 ounces for OWL. Cast on Begonia Swirl Shawl for OOTP on May 18. Knit 12.5% of Begonia Swirl Shawl.
May 26 – 31: Complete the Maple Leaf Shawl and the Monster for classes. Consider substituting a blanket square for the Monster. Ladder stitch dishcloth for class. Spin at least 2 ounces for OWL. Knit 12.5% of Begonia Swirl Shawl for OOTP.
May 30: Cast on Palindrome Hat for Quidditch.
I will make schedules for June and July at the end of the preceding month, and re-evaluate my plans based on what I have actually completed during May.