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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My knit and crochet tool kit

Every crafter has one (or more) – a tool kit they use to crank out their projects.  I’ve actually got a handful of little tool kits, for each of my main hobbies.  As I was digging around in my most frequently used one, my knit/crochet kit, I thought “hey, why not show off what’s in your yarn craft kit? Someone might find it useful to see what you’ve got!”  And this week’s blog post was born.

This collection of goodies helps me while I make yarn crafts.

It’s a random assortment of goodies, but they all help me out while I craft! Here’s what I’ve got, top to bottom, leftish to right:

  • Knit Happy bag: I got this as part of a yarn swap years ago on Ravelry.  I wasn’t quite sure what I’d use it for back then, but now it serves me well as the bag that holds all the tools I use frequently.
  • Gauge counter: I’ve had this ever since I started crocheting, back in the early 2000s, but never really used it until recently.  It’s been helpful as I try to figure out the gauge for my projects!
  • Yarn cutter: I love this.  It’s way easier than carrying a pair of scissors around, and is far more likely to be travel friendly than most scissors.  Plus, it’s fun having what my friend J calls a “yarn shuriken”, heehee.
  • Buttons: you never know when you’ll need a button.  This heart one was originally destined for a skirt I made years ago, then I almost put it on a sweater I made recently, and now it’s hanging out in my craft bag.
  • Measuring tape: This is helpful for so many reasons – measure the length of a tube sock, measure around a coffee mug for a cozy, measure myself to make sure an object will fit.  It’s great to have.
  • Hairclip: This little guy serves multiple purposes.  It can be used to hold two sides of a project together for seaming, as an impromptu stitch counter, and it can also keep your hair out of your eyes if it’s getting obnoxious while you work. 😛
  • Needle point protectors: You have no idea how many times I’ve tossed a knit project into my bag, only to find that it’s slid off my needles by the time I’ve gotten to my destination.  These things are a lifesaver – and a project saver.
  • Yarn needles and needle holder: Most projects I make are going to need to be sewn together at some point.  Having needles on hand is good – and having them all collected into one place is better.
  • Itty-bitty circular needles: Honestly, I think the only reason these are in here is so I don’t lose them elsewhere.  I’ve used them for making socks, but they’re not all that comfortable to work with, since they’re so wee.
  • Tin full of stitch markers: Self-explanatory.  Stitch markers are always needed.  I’m actually going to have to reload this with some more, as stitch markers tend to disappear easily.
  • Foldable scissors: Yeah, I’ve got the yarn shuriken, but sometimes it’s nice to use actual scissors.  They let me get a bit closer to a yarn project than the yarn cutter.  Plus, these guys collapse, too.
  • Labels, sassy and non-sassy: I’ve got these for when I make really nice garments for myself or others.  The sassy ones tend to find their way into my own clothes.

And that’s what I’ve got in my yarn tool kit!  What do you all keep in your crafting kits?

The exhausted Crafty Nerd: rambling edition

Peridot resembles how my week went, pretty much.

I apologize in advance, folks – this week’s post isn’t going to be terribly entertaining.  I’m freaking exhausted.  I went from the craziest week ever (so much stress, so many things going on!) to the most relaxing weekend ever (Ross and I spend the weekend at the West Baden Springs Resort, a little trip we do every year around the end of January), so I didn’t really have much chance to even think about the blog.  I didn’t even do any crafting this week!  Blog-wise, I’m on a roll, though, and have been cranking out at least one post a week since the beginning of the year – and I really don’t want to lose my momentum.  So, this week will be devoted to a collection of nerdy rambles, in no particular order.

  • Remember the Rose Quartz costume I told you guys I was going to work on making in last week’s post?  Well, I have the first part, thanks to my friend Kasi – she’s loaned me her uber-poofy floor-length petticoat.  It’s going to be PERFECT for my Rose costume.
  • I got to borrow a fancy tablet monitor from work to use as a second monitor with my work laptop, and guess what – it’s a touchscreen, too!  After some fighting with drivers, I managed to get it to behave well enough to doodle in Photoshop, so I’m going to test it out for some more heavy duty drawing soon.  Plus, it’s going to be awesome to be able to have that little guy in my lap to take notes on PDFs on for work.
    You know me and technology – I always love having something new to play with.
  • I’m attempting to reduce my crocheting overwhelmedness by picking one of the myriad of in-progress projects and actually finishing it.  Right now, I’ve got a number of things in the works, including a sweater, a cowl cape, a dragonfly shawl, a hat (I’m seriously three rows away from being done with that sucker), and an awesome blanket I’m working on for a friend’s baby.  I’m currently working on said awesome blanket – that’s going to be my “work on this sucker until it’s done” project.
    I’m sure you Star Trek fans know what sweater was the inspiration for this blanket… 🙂
  • I almost dug out some cross stitch today.  I have two projects in the works that I haven’t touched in years – a Sailor Moon pattern that I made myself, and a Sherlock pattern for my friend Josie.  I hope I finish that Sherlock project before Josie’s next birthday – it’s already two birthdays late. :X

I promise there’ll be a far more entertaining post next week – if I can get my hands on my camera tripod, I’m going to attempt to record a video tutorial!  I’m excited about being able to use my video development skills on something new. 🙂

New cosplay brainstorming: Rose Quartz

Maybe I just like to dress up as pink haired characters.  Maybe I really am obsessed with Steven Universe.  Either way, it’s led me to my cosplay idea for this year’s conventions (yes, I’m actually going to make it to at least ONE convention this year, if it kills me or not) – Rose Quartz, from Steven Universe.  Finally, someone I can cosplay as who has a similar body shape to mine!  (Although I don’t think I’ll ever be 8 feet tall…)  Someone I can cosplay as and not feel so self conscious about!

… specifically, this version of Rose Quartz.

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Crafting for a Cause: The Pussyhat Project

I try not to mix politics and blogging, but given what’s happening in our country lately, and who’s about to become president… yeah.  I won’t go into my own feelings here, as this is a crafting blog, not a “rant about politics” blog.  However, I found a project where crafting and politics collide (thanks to my friends Josie and Kasi) – The Pussyhat Project.

Long story short: The Pussyhat Project aims to create hats that not only help keep protesters at the Women’s March on Washington warm, but also to make a visual statement to make those marching on Washington, D.C. in support of women’s rights in light of all that’s been spewed out during this past election cycle.  I’m going to try and crank out as many pink cat-eared hats as I can over the next week, and as I started crafting my first one, I ended up making a crochet pattern on the fly that might help others interested in making some pussyhats of their own.

The Crafty Nerd’s Crochet Pussyhat Pattern

What you’ll need:

  • an H hook
  • pink, worsted-weight yarn, any shade of pink will do

The pattern:

  • Foundation: Chain 40.
  • Row 1: Double crochet in fourth chain from hook and the rest of the row.
  • Row 2: Chain 3 (This will count as a dc in this and every future row). *Front post double crochet in next stitch, double crochet in following stitch*, repeat to last stitch, end with a double crochet in last stitch.
  • Row 3: Chain 3.  *Back post double crochet in next stitch, double crochet following stitch*, repeat to last stitch, end with a double-crochet in last stitch.  Back-post dc will be done around the front-post dc from previous row.
  • Row 4: Repeat row 2.  Front post dc will be done around back post dc from previous row.
  • Row 5: Double crochet entire row.
  • Repeat Row 5 until hat fabric is about 16 inches long.  (24-25 rows of double crochet)
  • Repeat rows 2, 3 and 4 to create the ribbing on the other end of the hat.
  • Fold fabric in half, sew or single crochet side seams together, and wear with pride, or mail off to the Pussyhat Project.

Bullet journaling: when to-do lists and crafting collide

I’m sure some of you have heard about bullet journaling, but for those who haven’t: it’s a combination of to-do list and daily planner that is infinitely customizable to what you need from a planner.  The “bullet” part of bullet journaling comes from the fact that most items in your journal will be in a bulleted list format (and oh how I love my bulleted lists, I swear the <ul> tag is the most abused HTML tag in my websites and my old online journals).  There are different bullets based on different types of items in your journal, and they’re typically outlined in a key at the beginning of the journal.  Certain bullets, like an “o” for events, a “-” for thoughts and non-to-do items, and a dot for to-do items, are present in all journals, and if you need more for other things you’re keeping track of in your journal, you can add them as you see fit.

My first bullet journal key!

Bullet journals start with a table of contents, with plenty of room for including new items you might want to find easily, often include a future log, and also make use of monthly, weekly, and even daily layouts.  My bullet journal makes use of all of those items, along with pages that are often referred to as “collections” – in short, a page or two that’s devoted to a specific topic.  I have collections for books that I’m reading, craft projects I’m working on, maintenance for my scooter and car, and important things for work.

I’ve long had an addiction with daily planners, which most likely started back when I was in elementary school and my dad would give me his outdated Day Timers to me to play with.  I’d use them to try and plan out the ever-so-thrilling day of a fourth grader – for a little while, anyway.  That’s always been the story with me and planners – buy something awesome with lots of features, like stickers or a fancy day marker or a nice leather cover, use it for a few weeks, and then let it gather dust for the rest of the year.

That is not the case with bullet journaling.

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Steven Universe: my new obsession

You may have seen some more Steven Universe images creeping into my blog as I’ve been posting (infrequently as its been, I know) – and there’s a reason for that, friends.

I am ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW.

omg omg omg

I haven’t been this enthralled with a show since I discovered Sailor Moon back in 1997, you guys. I love the characters, I love the overwhelmingly female-positive vibe of the show, I love the fact that it tackles issues like anxiety and relationships, I love the gripping and occasionally deep storyline, I love the music, I LOVE IT ALL.

I love it so much that I made it the focus of my research for a class I took last semester, Content Analysis for the Web.  (And once I polish up my papers, I’ll even post them here, for those curious.)  I love it so much that I’m considering getting a Rose Quartz themed tattoo.  I love it so much I named my new car Lapis.

She’s no longer rocking Janeway’s old plate, but there’s my Lappy!

Seriously.  I love this show.  So much.

huuuuuugs

I’ve got my desk covered in as much SU merchandise as I can find.  I’ve got a plush Steven on my bedside table.  I have Steven Universe boxers, for crying out loud, haha.  I feel like I used to back when I discovered Sailor Moon… but there are lots of others out there who like Steven Universe, too.  And episodes keep coming out.  And it’s all over awesome and wonderful.

So, yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, I like this show.  A lot. 😀

Going back to my crafty roots

The very first crafting obsession I ever had was sewing.  I learned how to sew by hand in Sunday school, back when I was 8 years old, and I turned out to be pretty good at it.  And on top of that, I really enjoyed it.  Really, really enjoyed it.  So much so that I was shortly begging my dad to take me to the nearest Jo-Ann Fabrics, two towns over.  And when he did take me, it was like walking into craft heaven.

So much fabric!

And thus, my crafting addiction was born, with scraps of fake fur fabric from the remnants bin, a couple of sewing needles, and some thread.  I made a rather homely looking bear, and then another homely looking animal, and then kept on sewing until my skills were passably good.  I even made a tiny doll quilt with the help of one of my neighbors!  I went on to make bigger and better things – clothing for dolls, clothing for myself, Halloween costumes, another quilt, and more stuffed animals.

The last sewing project I embarked on, until very recently, was my giant Toothless plush that I made back in 2012.  You’ve all seen pictures of him.  I’ve posted about him a bazillion times. And aside from sewing on the odd button on a shirt, or patching up the antique quilt I picked up in the Adirondacks years ago, I haven’t really sewn anything since.  Crocheting and cross-stitching and many other crafts got in the way, unfortunately, and my poor old sewing machine languished at the bottom of closets or in the garage for a while, waiting for me to pick it back up again.

My sewing machine – happy to be used again.

And thanks to the need for curtains, combined with a gift card for Jo-Ann Fabrics from my little sister-in-law, I broke out my trusty Brother sewing machine and picked up the fine art of stitching again.  I’m not amazing with a machine yet – I can do straight lines, and I know the basics of how to operate my sewing machine, but all the fancy options this guy has are kind of intimidating.  Curtains don’t need fancy stitching, though.

The finished product!

Aaaaand I made myself some curtains!  They’re pretty, and perfect for my craft room.  It feels more lived-in in here, far cozier than it used to.

During the process of making those curtains, I realized how much I missed sewing.  As I said, it’d been years since I’d picked it up, and I had fun doing it, so I was looking for other sewing projects to do – and one fell into my lap during a trip to, you guessed it, Jo-Ann’s.  My friend Kasi and I had headed over there so Kasi could get some thread and we could drool over yarn, and we almost walked out with little stacks of their Sweet Roll yarn, when we wandered over to the quilting section and found fabric we each fell in love with.  Neither of us had done any sewing projects in a while, and Kasi found so many beautiful collections of bright fabric she wanted to make a quilt from.  Me, I found fabric with scooters on it.  SCOOTERS.  I took it as a sign, gathered up both bundles that had the scooter fabric in it as well as some other pre-cut fabric, and set out to make a scooter quilt.

Scooter quilt in progress!

I’m using a Jelly Roll strip bundle in various black patterns, as well as a bundle of quilt fabric with roses, scooters, and the Eiffel Tower, oddly enough (I thought scooters were big in Italy, not France), and I’m doing a combination of strips and squares.  This is what I’ve got so far – and I’ll post updates as I go along.  The scooter quilt, as I’m calling it, is going to be mostly hand sewn – I might get lazy and do the actual quilting on the machine, but we’ll see.  So far, I’m still piecing things together.  I’m glad I got back into sewing, though – it’s something different to occupy my hands with, and it’s also something I’ve missed doing.