The return of Startitis

Well, to be completely honest, it probably never left in the first place.

Ah, here we are again, making lists of unfinished projects…

As part of me trying to get some craft projects actually finished instead of lurking around my craft room or piled in the closet, I made a list of what I know I’ve started and haven’t finished yet.  And I gave myself an ultimatum: no spending money on craft supplies until I finish a good chunk of these projects.

Yes, that’s right – The Crafty Nerd isn’t going to buy craft supplies.  It’s scary, right?

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Speed crafting: the 3-hour tabard

Sometimes, you just have to spend three hours of your evening helping a friend out with some speed crafting.

In this case, my friend J (who runs the Kishar LARP I’m part of) was feeling a little panicked by the fact that he’s got a Game of Thrones LARP to go to this weekend, and didn’t have time to make a tabard to go over his leather armor to match his house’s colors.  With all the other things he had to tackle before Saturday, what was he to do?

Enter the Crafty Nerd and her trusty sewing machine! I volunteered to put my new Janome sewing machine to work and see if I could possibly crank out a tabard for him before Saturday.

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Kickstarter: is it worth it to back a project?

If you’ve been around the internet during the past few years, you’ll at the very least heard of Kickstarter – the crowdfunding platform that allows people with great ideas to get help from others to bring their ideas to fruition.  So many awesome things have come out of Kickstarter campaigns – I’ve backed comic books, games, mini figures, and most recently I backed the sixth Dumbing of Age book on Kickstarter, as well as the Tentacle Kitty Little Ones – Earth Colors project.  (Because there can never be enough tentacle kitties.)

I mean, come on, how can you say no to this?

After I backed the Tentacle Kitty Kickstarter, I poked around my backed projects, to see what I’ve gotten and if there was anything I hadn’t received yet. And, well, there was something alright. One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter is that backing a project doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually get something. The Kickstarter FAQ mention it, and mention that if a project doesn’t deliver, it’s on the creator to deliver news, or refunds, or both.  The one Kickstarter project I’ve been waiting to receive my rewards for is for what appeared to be an awesome notebook that I’d love to bullet journal in – the Mont Notebook.  I backed it last August, it was funded early last September, books were expected to be delivered in October.  Seemed pretty straightforward.  However, there were printing issues, and the whole run of notebooks had to be sent back, and then they got stuck in customs, and now, nearly eight months after the promised delivery date, there are still no notebooks.  The creators disappeared for a while, then posted a short update nearly a month ago saying that they were planning on sending out the books, and that we should update our addresses if we needed to – however, the pledge manager page they were initially referring people to doesn’t exist anymore.

With so much uncertainty involved in backing a project, you might think, “Why do I want to throw money at something that might not exist?  Is it worth it to even try?”  Well, not all Kickstarter projects are the same – and not all of them are going to end up in lost money and frustration.

I’ve backed Kickstarters that had issues before.  My first ever Kickstarter, run by Impact Miniatures for a set of Chibi Dungeon Minis, ended up delayed because one of the project creators ended up in the hospital for weeks.  Dressing Your Octopus, a paper doll book made by one of my favorite artists, Brian Kesinger, encountered printing delays, and to make up for those of us who were going to give the book as a holiday gift, a Christmas card was sent out to everyone with a code for a free downloadable version of the book – and the book got to everyone almost two months late, but there was communication.  And the Bones II Kickstarter by Reaper Miniatures, oh, that one was fraught with issues.  I think the Kickstarter ended in November of 2013, and the minis didn’t start shipping until early 2015.

However, there are also a number of things I’ve backed that wouldn’t exist without a Kickstarter project to get them started, like the Tentacle Kitty Little Ones and my beloved Fidget Cube.  Lots of successful companies use Kickstarters as a way to gauge interest in a project or a game, and end up finding out whether or not an idea is a good one – like, for example, Exploding Kittens.  It’s one of the most highly backed Kickstarters of all times.  Apparently, people really wanted a game by The Oatmeal about kittens making things explode!  Others use Kickstarter as a way to handle preorders for something they intend to make anyway, like the Dumbing of Age books that come out every year and get shipped on time, like clockwork – even last year, when the author had newborn twins to take care of.  (I swear, David Willis must be part robot.)  Despite delays for some projects (like the Chibi Dungeon minis and the Bones minis), I always got what I pledged for, and sometimes a little extra as a thank you.  Even if there were delays, there was always communication, like with the bones minis and their weekly updates, or the Dressing Your Octopus one with regular updates and a Christmas card to all backers.

So what do you do if it looks like a Kickstarter you backed isn’t going to pull through?

  • Don’t panic – there might be an entirely valid reason for delays!  There might be production issues with the item, or health issues with the creator or their family, or something else that might end up with a lack of communication on the creator’s part – but the project might still be moving along merrily.
  • Look at the comments on the Kickstarter – if others have gotten their rewards, then maybe there might just be shipping delays – contact the creator and see what’s up.  It’s possible they recently shipped your reward but forgot to notify you.
  • If there are other complaints of not receiving items, and especially if there are no responses from the creator, like with the Mont notebook, then it’s time to see what recourse you might have.  Contacting Kickstarter would be a good place to start.

A good article on how Kickstarter handles accountability explores even further what Kickstarter does to try and keep potentially bad projects off the site, and whether or not people who start a project are legally liable to give you the rewards you pay for.

One thing to keep in mind: not everyone on Kickstarter is out to grab your money and give you nothing in return.  Take a look, for example, at this collection of goodies I have that likely wouldn’t exist without Kickstarter.

This isn’t everything I’ve Kickstarted, not by any means!

Yes, there is a bit of a risk with backing projects on Kickstarter – however, in my experience, I’ve almost always gotten the rewards promised for projects I’ve backed, and I’ve helped a lot of people get games, books, and toys from the drawing board into reality.  I think the latter part, helping people bring their ideas into reality, is the best thing about Kickstarter – and so even though I’ve been burned by that one pesky notebook, I’m going to keep on backing projects and helping creators out.

LARP costuming: a different type of cosplay

You might have noticed from my post in March that I started LARPing recently, and oh how fun it is – it’s like Gen Con meets summer camp! It really is.  There were two big things that were a little intimidating to me as I got started, though: costuming and fighting.

Fighting is something I can probably get better at with practice, but costuming?  Most of the costumes I have in my closet are either My Little Pony, steampunk, or renaissance faire appropriate – and Kishar has an Asian/Arabian Nights mix of costuming and setting  – how do I get myself costumed for this?  And how do I get myself costumed in a way that everyone’s not going to look at me with pity because I’m a newbie who has no idea what she’s doing?  I’m so used to just regular cosplay – I’ve got a character that I can then make a costume for, whether it’s an existing outfit that a character’s established as something they wear, or something inspired by a character (like Pinkie Pie – she doesn’t often wear clothes, heh.)  Starting from scratch was intimidating as all heck.

I ended up tackling this in a couple of steps, once I got over being so overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of not only creating a character, but costuming one too.

The first thing I did: asked for help.  Lots of it.  J and Kasi were extremely helpful in determining what would make good costume pieces, but then again, since they run the game, they know what’s good for costuming!

Next: I cruised Amazon, Etsy, and other places to find things that I might not be able to make on my own, like elf ears.  There’s a lot of places out there where you can buy LARP gear – and again, I asked J and Kasi for suggestions on where to shop, so I made sure I was getting quality stuff.

After that: I dug through my existing costuming to see what would work.  The results: a fair bit of my costuming was easily repurposable for my character’s costume.  Even stuff I didn’t initially think would be good, like some of my steampunk stuff (the little bag I showed off in this post about my steampunk gear works crazily well!) and a lovely bag my mom-in-law bought me for my birthday, ended up being pulled in as costuming bits.

Lastly: I made some stuff. (I mean, come on, I’m The Crafty Nerd, after all!) like my spell packet bag (which is ugly but functional) and my overdress bits (unsure what to call them, but we’ll stick with overdress).  And as I went through all that, I started to come up with a fair idea of what I wanted to wear.

When figuring out my costume, I had a couple of criteria for what I’d be wearing:

  • one: it had to look good.  I didn’t want to be the one awkwardly dressed noob at my first game.
  • two: it had to be somewhat comfortable. I’d be wearing this for hours, likely, while walking through the forest.
  • three: I had to be able to run in it.  No ifs, ands or buts. I knew I was gonna have to run from monsters at some point

With those three things in mind, and a giant list of ideas added to my Amazon Wishlist, I ended up emerging with two costumes – one of which I wore to my first game!

I’m the one with the SUPER OBVIOUS elf ears, borrowed for the game. I now have a pair of more subtle ones, aheheh.

I ended up deciding on two main costume styles: one with a dress, one with pants.

  • The dress outfit:
    • The dress, obviously: I chose this because it was light, flowy, and would probably make it so I don’t overheat while playing outdoors.  Plus, it was easy to alter to make it shorter, so I wasn’t tripping over it – I ended up taking off the bottom tier of the dress, because I’m short.
    • Corset vest: wanted some sort of corset, but wasn’t sure I’d want one that was super-sturdily boned – turns out this one is a little long for me, but I was able to get some corsets from Kasi that work that I can also wear with this dress!
    • Overdress bits: I made these myself, they’re the black pieces in the photo above that look like they’re extending from the corset.  I thought it’d make a nice touch to a fantasy costume – and it’s a work in progress, as I might add some embellishments to it such as embroidery.
    • Leggings under the dress: gotta keep my legs covered, because poison ivy/ticks/brambles are no fun.  These were a pair I’ve had hanging around for years.
    • Boots: My good ol’ scooter boots.  They handle tromping around in the forest pretty well.
  • The pants outfit:
    • Harem pants: oh lord these are comfy.  They haven’t made it out to an official game yet, but I bet these’ll be fantastic for running in.  And they’re light, too, so I won’t overheat in them.
    • Scarf:  this can be used as a belt, or a wrap, or to keep one’s hair back – the uses are endless!  love how versatile this is.
    • Corset:  planning on using one of the corsets I got from Kasi.
    • Shirt: I have a couple options here: a peasant shirt I made myself, or a peasant shirt I got from Kasi, or I could even use a tanktop if I wanted!
    • Kimono top: light, breezy, and setting-appropriate.  I can wear the scarf as a belt over it, or wear it loose over a costume.

So there you go!  For someone who’s never really done a LARP before, once I figured out how to get started, it was really easy to try and find costume pieces that were readily available, so I’ve got something to wear while I try and craft my own stuff from scratch!  Hopefully this will help out other new LARP players as you get geared up for your first game!

Another tiny little review: Loot Letter

Anyone remember the tiny little review I did ages ago for a tiny game called Love Letter?

Well, apparently that tiny little game has spawned a tiny little parody. World, meet Munchkin: Loot Letter.

You know it’s going to be silly if it’s in the realm of Munchkin.

A quick refresher: in Love Letter, your goal is to get your love letter to the princess. You’ve got a small deck of cards which are numbered, and there are various amounts of those numbered cards – there are far more of those lower number cards than higher number cards, and there’s only one 8 – the princess. Once you get the princess, you pretty much win the game unless someone forces you to discard her.

Well, Loot Letter is pretty much the same – only there’s no princess. Only loot. And Ducks of Doom, and a Dread Gazebo. And a lot of potted plants.

I got the chance to play Loot Letter with some dear friends over dinner recently, and it was quite a bit of fun. J and Kasi had played it on their own previously, and found out there’s a lot less strategy involved and a lot more luck when playing with just two players. Adding a third player, though, made things more fun, and introduced more strategic moves to try and win the loot. Even though I goofed up a few times by not entirely thinking through some of my moves (like using a Dread Gazebo to swap hands with someone without really thinking about the effects of someone else ending up with the cards in my hand), I somehow managed to win the most loot!

If you’re in need of a short game to pass the time while waiting for food at a restaurant, or for a TV show to start, but don’t feel like something sappy, then Munchkin: Loot Letter is the game for you.

Munchkin: Loot Letter on Amazon

The quilt self-portrait

I recently finished my second quilt.  It’s nothing super fancy – I ordered a sampler pack of 10-inch squares of the Luna Sol sampler from Connecting Threads, cut them all in half, and stitched triangles together until I had a quilt.  Hand-quilting sounded like an amazing idea when I first finished it, and while I was absolutely tired of this quilt by the time I got to adding the binding, I am pretty happy with the hand quilting.

The quilt-in-progress – before I added the batting. And when I realized I stitched one row together with the triangles in the wrong direction.

This quilt is not without its faults.  As you can see in the picture, I stitched one row in the wrong direction – and didn’t realize it until I’d finally pieced the sucker out and laid it out for this picture.  I almost gave up on the darn thing then, to be honest, but then I took a closer look at that picture, and plotted out how I’d hand stitch things.  I ended up going with a sort-of lightning bolt arrangement of geometric shapes for the quilting.  It still looks a little awkward, but hey, I made it a beautiful sort of awkward.

Shortly after starting the hand quilting, I found another issue in the quilt – two squares weren’t exactly stitched together, and were coming apart in one corner.

It was at this point where I said “screw it, this quilt is already imperfect, I’m just going to stitch the hole closed and carry on, maybe patch over it when I’m done.”  And I did the patch you see above, and then went on about my quilting.

But the more I worked on this quilt, the more I saw it as something of a self-portrait.  It was imperfect, just like me.  It’s got some rough patches and parts that were hastily fixed.  It’s got some awkward bits.  But in the end?  It turned out beautiful.

The finished quilt, held up by Ross.

It’s a perfectly-sized little lap quilt, and I absolutely love how soft the fabric is.  Plus, the little bunnies are adorable.  (One of my nicknames is Beth-bun, so that may have highly influenced the choice of fabric, heh.)  Despite all the hiccups in making it, I love how it turned out.  And it really is a self portrait, in quilt form.  Awkward, not quite perfect, but wonderful all the same.

And good at snuggling cats.

Living the Harry Potter dream: Visiting Diagon Alley

One of my earliest entries into the world of fantasy novels was the Harry Potter books.  (The other was Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince series, which ties into this little story…) I remember trying to find something to read one day (mom had told me I was forbidden to read the Dragon Prince series, because there was a dragon on the cover, I’m not even kidding), with a huge limitation – “NO DRAGONS on the cover, they’re associated with the devil!  And none of that fantasy crap!”  I scoured the bookshelf in the room I shared with my sister, trying to find something remotely fantasy-related, as I’d been bitten by the fantasy bug hard and my seventeen-year-old self wanted to lose myself in a world of magic and mysterious creatures.

My eyes widened when I came across a new-looking copy of the first Harry Potter book.  I don’t remember when we got it, and I don’t think it’d even been opened at that point.  I looked at the front cover leaf, determined it was about wizards, and thought to myself, “hah – I can’t read a fantasy novel with dragons on the cover, but this one has a WIZARD.  And mom must have bought it, since it’s here on the bookshelf, so I’m gonna read it!”

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The State of the Nerd: May 2017

I know, I’ve fallen into that pattern of not posting again.  It’s been a crazy month or so here in my little corner of the world – there have been work changes, life changes, and all sorts of other things going on.  For those curious, let me break it down for you:

  • First off, I was diagnosed with ADHD last month.  It answers a lot of questions I’ve had for many, many years about why my brain operates the way it does, and now that I’m getting help for it, things are getting better.  With the meds I’m on, my focus has improved, my anxiety is greatly reduced, and it feels like my brain is finally working properly for the first time ever.
  • Work has changed.  LOTS.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.
  • I graduated!  With TWO Masters degrees!  Yep, I finally finished my dual masters in Library and Information Science, and while I didn’t walk in graduation, I had an epic gradu-birthday party that was probably much more entertaining than sitting through a lengthy commencement ceremony.

With grad school done, and my brain finally working properly, I’ve now got the time and energy to update the blog more regularly, with more than just status updates about how crazy life is.  I’ve got so much in the works, so many half-finished blog posts that I can finally wrap up and share with you all, and I’m hoping to finally settle on a new blog layout soon that’s a little more organized and less cluttered.  So, stay tuned – there’ll definitely be more of the crafty nerdiness you’ve all come to enjoy soon!

The LARPing Nerd

The cast of Kishar Game 43! (I’m the one in grey, to the bottom left of the banner.)

Yes, I finally did it: I went to a LARP.  A real, actual LARP.

And it was FUN.

A little backstory for everyone: when I was a freshman in college, many many years ago, a couple of friends felt it’d be a great idea to start a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP.  They loved role-playing, and they thought it’d be awesome to do some live-action Vampire: The Masquerade stuff.  So,  they herded together a bunch of friends who they thought would have fun in a Vampire LARP, and nudged us in the direction of character creation, and then bam! LARP night at their house!

It didn’t work out all that well.

First off, we didn’t have actual character sheets – we were just told to pick a vampire clan and go with that.  We ended up with a very unbalanced group, given that 3/4ths of the people playing chose to play characters from one clan.  Second off, there was no combat.  Or story. Just a bunch of college kids, sitting around in the living room of a former fraternity house, acting crazy and wearing costumes, drinking wine if you were old enough and pretending it was blood.

I went to maybe two games before I gave up and said “this LARP stuff really isn’t for me.”

But then I met J.  And learned what LARPs are really like if they’re run well.

Combat time! Our brave adventurers came upon a nest of sand dragons.

When I met J last year, he told me about the LARP he ran – Kishar – and said I was welcome to come to a game if I wanted to.  And I ended up waffling about it for a year or so, based on my bad experiences in that Vampire: The Masquerade LARP I went to back in 2000.  I kinda wanted to join up, because as you probably know, I do enjoy any excuse to get into a costume.  And I was always interested in boffer fighting (where weapons are made out of foam and latex), even though I wasn’t ever sure where to get started with that.  And the setting, which draws on the Arabian Nights stories for inspiration, was intriguing.

So I said “heck, why not?  I’ll go to a game, see what it’s about.”  And I did – at the end of March.

I wasn’t feeling super well that weekend, so while new players typically play monsters, I ended up trailing the group while they were out in the woods fighting, and taking pictures.  It was a really good way to get a feel for how combat works, and to listen to the story and see some action as it happened.  While I only knew a handful of people in the group, everyone was welcoming and friendly, and despite feeling pretty cruddy physically, I had a pretty darn good time.

Our brave adventurers examine the loot they got off a group of bandits.

After I absorbed everything going on in Kishar for a weekend, I ended up deciding “yes, this is a thing I want to do” and started crafting a character in earnest.  My character will be Ëlinyr (pronounced ay-lin-ear), a sun elf scholar who studies and uses magic.  And as I started putting together my character, I realized this is the most perfect way to get my crafty nerdiness on.  Not only do I get to make a roleplay character (and therefore indulging in my nerdy side), I also get to put together a costume (which brings in the crafty side of things).  And as I said earlier, you all know how much I love making and wearing costumes.  Most of this past weekend was spent working on Ëlinyr’s costume, to get it ready for the next game.

 

Our brave adventurers killed a baby scorpion monster!

So, I’m really excited about having this new place to get my craftiness and nerdiness on.  As I said to J after the game ended, Kishar feels like Gen Con and summer camp combined, and it’s awesome.  And who knows, maybe I’ll get Ross into it too, and we can run around the forest in costumes together!

The Overwhelmed Nerd

I know, I know – I didn’t post last week.  And here it is, Wednesday, and I’m just now getting around to this week’s post.

Long story short, I’m pretty overwhelmed at the moment.  Changes at work, combined with nearing the end of my final semester of grad school, with extra anxiety thrown on top, has made things a bit of a mess for me lately.  And trying to keep it all together lately is a bit of a struggle.

This pretty accurately describes how I feel right now. Overwhelmed Peridot, attempting to hide in a toilet… although I wouldn’t necessarily choose that as a hiding space…

I’ve been trying to find ways to calm my brain down, and reduce my stress – mostly they involve crafting.  I picked up quilting recently, and the intense focus quilting requires has done a good job at not giving my brain any room to process anxiety.

I made this quilt over the course of a few weeks.

That’s been helpful on the anxiety front, but not quite so much for the schoolwork front.  I’ve been trying to balance it all, and I’ll admit, I’m not doing a very good job of that.  And on top of it all, with so many work changes going on, things just are a discombobulated mess for me right now.

So, I apologize for not having anything of substance to share the past couple of weeks.  I’ll at least try to share some nerdy stuff next week, and post any quilting stuff I’m doing to help keep my brain sane, but bear with me if it doesn’t end up being as awesome as usual.

Thanks for sticking with me, readers – I do all this for you.  And a little bit for me, because I don’t want to overwhelm poor Ross with my crafty ramblings. 🙂

Wait, you can do WHAT with washi tape?

I’ve only got a short post for you all this week, what with being wrapped up in work, and homework, and crafting (I’m sewing a quilt, you guys!  It’s kind of lopsided but it’s a quilt!) and all.  However, I wanted to share something that I discovered while looking up ways to keep your seams straight while sewing.

Yes, that is a quick-and-dirty fabric guide made with WASHI TAPE, of all things.

Why the heck didn’t I think of this before?!  It’s resulted in a much better visual measuring guide than just trying to line up the edge of my fabric with the edge of the presser foot.

And of course I get that figured out when I’m 90% done with the quilt top.  Of course.

Anyhow, figured I’d share this with everyone, especially those of you who machine sew – washi tape really can be used for everything! 😀

 

Seven awesome free nerdy crafts

I can’t think of anything to write this week, so instead, I’ve lovingly curated a collection of ten free nerdy crafts for you all.  (If my Facebook friends come through with cool post ideas, there may be a second post this week to make up for this one!)  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I figured, why not? So, here we go – seven nerdy free crafts!

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Sick week

This week’s post isn’t going to have too much substance to it, I’m afraid.  I got sick last Sunday, and ended up in bed for half the week. You know how long it’s been since I’ve caught a cold, even a teeny one?  Two and a half years.  It was a rough week.  I was hoping I’d just be down for maybe a day, but nope – it turned into a sick week.

I was even too sick to crochet for a few days there.  Can you believe that? Too sick to crochet!

whaaaaaaat

Yeah.  It was rough.  I wanted to, and I even tried a few times, but after a few minutes I’d flump back down, exhausted and bleary-eyed.  I did end up spending all that time laying in bed like a useless lump somewhat constructively, though: I binge-watched two seasons of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Set in the late 1920s in Australia, the show follows the adventures of Phryne Fisher, a female detective who works with the local police (even though early on they’d rather not have her assistance quite so much) to help solve murder mysteries.  And oh, this show is fabulous.  It passes the Bechdel Test in the first 30 seconds of the first episode!  The show is full of strong female characters, and it seems like more and more keep showing up.   There are only three seasons of it out currently, all on Netflix (if you’re in the USA, at least, not sure about other countries), and while it’s unsure about whether there’ll be a season four, I’m guessing there will be once Essie Davis (who plays the amazing Miss Fisher) is done with filming for Game of Thrones.  (We can hope, anyway!)

The majority of my week was spent curled up under a pile of blankets, watching Miss Fisher, downing mug after mug of tea (earl grey, of course), and whining about how miserable I felt.  I’m still not feeling amazing (stupid sinuses just don’t want to unstuff themselves!), but I feel a little more alive than I did through most of last week.  That’s good, right?

I promise there’ll be a more interesting post next week.  Maybe I’ll finally get around to finishing that crochet pattern I’ve been working on writing…

Nerdy Valentines for 2017!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, folks!  One of the things I end up doing most years since I started The Crafty Nerd is collecting a bunch of nerdy valentines for people to share with their loved ones – and this year’s no different.  Here’s a selection of some fun, nerdy valentines for everyone!  Share them on Facebook, print them and leave them around the office, do whatever you like with them!

Happy 4th birthday, The Crafty Nerd!

Holy crap, has it really been four years since I started the blog?

A lot’s happened in the past four years.  And I tend to ramble about all the stuff that’s happened since I started the blog almost every time it celebrates a birthday.  (Although somehow, I manage to cover something different each year – how do I manage that?)  This year, I’m just going to focus on the awesome things – crafty, nerdy, and life-related – that have happened since the blog’s last birthday!

Since The Crafty Nerd last celebrated a birthday, I’ve…

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