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! 😀
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!
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.
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?
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how I messed up my shoulder a few months ago: too much crocheting. Who knew there was such a thing as too much crocheting? Then again, I was cranking out a cardigan like a madwoman for a little bit, and even tried crocheting some socks… (which is a different story for another time, my adventures in sock creation) So, yeah, The Crafty Nerd was out of crafting commission for a while there while I underwent physical therapy and tried (and sometimes failed) to give my shoulder a rest.
The good news: I can now do yarn-crafts again without being in stupid amounts of pain! The bad news: I’ve been a slacker of a blogger in the meantime. I’ll make up for it, though, I promise. I’ve got some cool nerdy things to show off in regards to creating a personalized start page for your browser (yes, I am that nerdy), and I’m making socks! With double pointed knitting needles. Which used to terrify me. And I have a new favorite show to share my thoughts on: Steven Universe.
I swear, I love that show SO MUCH. It may have knocked My Little Pony and Sailor Moon out of the top spots of my favorite animated shows ever. I’ve rewatched the entire series at least three times. It’s amazing. But I’ll ramble about Steven Universe in a later post!
While I don’t ramble about work often here, I’m sure most of you longtime followers know I work for UITS at Indiana University – and every year, UITS hosts the Statewide IT conference, which is a fun few days of seeing what colleagues are up to, learning new things, and for me, teaching a workshop or two. This year, they’re doing something a little different.
There’s going to be an Artists Showcase. And I’ve submitted a “proposal” to show my crochet!
I’ll likely hear back in a few weeks about whether or not I’ll actually get a table there to show my work, but here’s hoping that I do. For the most part, my colleagues don’t really know about my crafty nerdiness, and tend to be surprised when I’m wearing something I made or have something flopped in my cube and realize I made it myself. It’ll be fun to get the chance to show things I’ve made, as well as hopefully make some new crafty friends who work for UITS as well.
I’ll keep everyone updated as to whether or not I get a table – given that my convention schedule is far lessened this summer due to wedding things, being able to show off my crafty goodness is probably going to be one of the high points of the Crafty Nerd’s year here. If I do get to show off my work, I may put up a poll to see what everyone thinks would be good for me to show off! (I may have to borrow my crocheted Toothless back from Morgan, to show off some of my awesome amigurumi skills…)
Wow, it’s really been three years! (Well, almost three years and one week at this point!) Three years since I started blogging about my crafty, nerdy adventures. In the past three years, I’ve…
… owned three Crafty Nerdmobiles – Scooterlou, the original Crafty Nerdmobile, as well as Mia, and the newest little scooter in my family, Max – he’s a 1989 Honda Elite. (I also call him The Spaceship, because to be honest, he looks kinda like a little spaceship!)
I also went to lots of conventions, and met lots of amazing people, including Christian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones), John DeLancie (Q/Discord), Nicholas Brendon (Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Peter Davison (The 5th Doctor), Joel Hodgson (from Mystery Science Theater 3000), and of course, Patrick Rothfuss (author of Name of the Wind, Wise Man’s Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things). I also met Ross, who is probably the best person I’ve ever met at a convention, but I might be biased.
Of course, with conventions there’s also costuming fun – and I’ve done lots of different costumes, including various variations on Pinkie Pie, a gender-bent version of the 4th Doctor, a glasses-wearing Twilight Sparkle, a steampunk lass, and an exhausted nerd at all those conventions I’ve been to over the past few years. I’ve met many fantastic people, played awesome games, seen many amazing costumes, and picked up loads of nerdy stuff.
I’ve also finished quite a few craft projects, my favorites being highlighted below…
I’ve done lots of fun stuff over the past three years, and I’m hoping to keep on doing more awesome stuff this year! I’ve got plans to go to three (maybe four) different conventions, I’ve got lots of new cosplay ideas, and of course I’m going to keep on crafting up cool stuff to share with everyone! Here’s to many, many more years of The Crafty Nerd!
First off, I’ll say this: I miss my classy crafting buddy, Siobhain. She graduated last May – but before that, whenever we were in class together, she’d knit and I’d crochet. And it was awesome. It made classes a little easier to pay attention in, and crafting together was better than awkwardly crocheting in the back corner of the room, like I do in Public Library Management nowadays. (I still proudly crochet in the front of the room for Metadata, though, as the professor for that class only remembers me because I used to do yarn-craft-stuff at the front of the room with Siobhain!) I’m the only one still doing any sort of yarn craft in my classes – unless I try to encourage people to craft with me, I guess. And that’s if they’re even interested in doing yarn stuff. I get a little bit of a social crafting fix when I crochet with Ellie on rainy Thursdays instead of going for our weekly walk, though, so that’s good! And this May, I’ll be graduating too, and then I won’t need a classy crafting buddy because I won’t be crafting in class! (Unless I go for the Specialist in Library/Info Science degree…)
But yes, classy crafting is in full force. And this semester, so far, I have made a pretty blanket (which lives at my desk), and I’m working on a delicate shawl to go with my wedding dress and the focus of my post today, an ugly blanket.
This blanket came about due to having a huge mess of Mighty Stitch yarn at home left over from the corner-to-corner blankets I made for Ross and myself – it’s so soft, and I love working with it, but the mess that’s left is an odd arrangement of blues and greens with some purple, gray, pink, and white thrown in. So, the only thing I can think of to do with all that yarn is to use two strands of it together and make a thick, snuggly, small, and ugly blanket. It’s actually a rather sentimental ugly blanket, considering it’s a combination of the yarn I used for both mine and Ross’s blankets, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy, figuratively as well as literally, to work on it.
I haven’t done much work with two strands of yarn before – it’s a little trickier to work with, that’s for certain, but it results in a really unique look. One of my classmates in Metadata, Samantha, said that Ugly Blanket kind of resembles some of those woven rugs you might see in specialty shops, and I think she’s right. It doesn’t really stop it from being somewhat homely-looking, though – some of these colors don’t quite go together well, heheh.
I’ve never actually worked on a blanket in class before. I figure at some point, it’ll get unwieldy, and I won’t be able to cart it along with me anymore. Until I get to that point, however, I’m gonna load it into Mia (or into my backpack, which I shall take on Mini-Mia, my new bike!), and drag it to Metadata and Public Library Management every week this semester, and keep adding onto this semester’s big classy crafting project: the ugly blanket.
As I’m sure many of you have heard last week, David Bowie passed away – his music had a profound impact on my life, and was the soundtrack to my early college years. When Ross shared the news last week, I thought he was kidding, to be honest – but my Facebook feed said otherwise. I spent the rest of the morning trying not to burst into tears while I got ready for work. As I went through my day, I saw the reactions of my friends on social media, and wished there was something I could do to help them, and to help myself feel better. We were all hurting.
And then I saw this tweet from my friend Josie:
I wish I had any sort of graphic design skill, I have an idea for buttons to hand out at “Lazarus” tomorrow but alas :-/ #DavidBowie
I have graphic design skills. And I wanted to do something creative as an outlet for my Bowie-related feels. So I responded to Josie’s tweet, and together, we took her idea and turned it into a button. She told me she had an idea for a button with the lightning bolt from Bowie’s makeup from the Aladdin Sane cover, behind the letters RIP – and that the spaces in the R and P were Bowie’s eyes. I took that idea, and turned it into the following design:
Josie thought it was great, and so I shrunk it down into a button-sized graphic, which she printed and turned into buttons with her button making machine.
Josie came up with the idea to make more of these buttons, and sell them on Etsy to raise money for the New York Theater Workshop, which is currently running Lazarus, a musical written by David Bowie, as well as to raise money for cancer research – and I thought it was a great idea, so she’s selling the buttons we’ve made. If you want to pick up one of your own, you can get one from Josie’s Etsy store for $3.
Josie’s got a little something to share about the process, too:
Anyone who knows me knows I love buttons. I have a bag covered in them and am planning a button-covered dress to debut at New York Comic Con (or an earlier event, if I complete it before then). I got a button-making machine for my birthday, but had not yet designed or created any of my own pins by the time David Bowie died a few days later.
I’m not ashamed to say I was devastated by the death of my idol, and creating this button with Beth gave me an outlet to do something with my grief. Even if nothing comes of it, even if I only sell a few, turning my grief into something proactive and positive helped me to heal. I hope it did the same for her.
And it did help me heal. Together we ended up crafting for a cause, with my design skills and her button maker. Making the design felt like a good creative outlet for my feelings, and helped me process them in a productive way, and it helped Josie as well.
Happy New Year, everyone! I’ve got a good feeling about 2016 – I think it’s gonna be a great year. And I want to make sure it’s great, too. I’m not normally the type to make resolutions, but I think it feels right for this year – so here’s The Crafty Nerd’s Resolutions for 2016!
Post at least one new blog post a week. Even if it means spending a bunch of time wracking my brain to put together new ideas for blog posts. I’m creative. I’ll figure out something to write about!
Actually talk about my craft projects regularly. Did you guys know I crocheted three blankets between August and Christmas? Three blankets. I think I’m about ready to swear off crocheting for a while. But you guys haven’t heard about that because I haven’t really been talking about my craft projects! Which is sad, considering the blog I write.
Make at least one new costume for convention-wearing. I’m pretty sure the regular Indiana convention-going crowd recognizes my tutu-and-little-blue-jacket Pinkie Pie costume (and is probably bored with it by now) – so for this year’s conventions, I’m going to make at least one new costume. Will it be Grand Galloping Gala Pinkie Pie? Will it be Captain Janeway? Who knows!
Keep up with my tasks and to-dos with Habitica. For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember HabitRPG, the website that turns keeping up with your habits into a game. Well, the crew over there changed the site’s name to Habitica, and things are looking pretty awesome! A new mobile app was just released, and it looks really slick – and of course the same old “complete tasks, fight monsters, and level up” gameplay is there. (If you’re on Habitica and want to join a guild for crafty challenges and friendly chatter, check out the Crafty Nerds guild!)
Experiment with a new type of craft project. There’s gotta be something out there I haven’t tried yet. I’ve just barely dipped my toes into the Tunisian crochet pool, and could try making a blanket or a scarf with a fancy design… And there’s way more out there to experiment with, and even more crafts that I haven’t done since I was a kid, like making a latch-hook rug! (Although given the massive amount of little yarn pieces that ended up exploding all over my room when I was a kid, maybe latch-hooking isn’t the best craft idea…)
Organize my craft room! You don’t even want to see my craft room right now. It looks like Jo-Ann Fabrics and KnitPicks exploded in there. There might be a bed in there somewhere, too, and a ton of ponies. So, massive organization is in order.
That’s my crafty plan for next year! I hope all of you have a wonderful and crafty 2016! 🙂
Last year, I did a collection of free cross-stitch patterns – and everyone loved it! I think that’s one of the most viewed posts on the blog. So, as a holiday treat, I’m going to share ten more awesomely nerdy cross-stitch patterns that are completely free! Simply click on the image for your desired pattern, and it’ll take you to the pattern’s website.
A friend of mine (hi Ellie!) just got started crocheting, and asked me for a shawl pattern that was relatively simple for a beginner. I’ve been cranking out Corner to Corner blankets like nobody’s business for the past couple of months, and Ellie and I both figure that half of a Corner to Corner blanket would make a pretty awesome shawl. However, the pattern for the Corner to Corner blanket is written rather complicatedly, despite it being a simple pattern to work. So, here comes The Crafty Nerd’s first ever crochet pattern – even if it’s just a simplified writing of an existing pattern! And, of course, I’m including pictures.
In the fourth chain away from the hook, make one double crochet.
Double crochet in remaining two chains. You will have a little square at this point.
chain six, turn the work over to start the next row
in the fourth chain from hook, make one double crochet
double crochet in remaining two chains – this will result in two squares next to each other. We’ll be joining these two squares together with a slip stitch in the next step.
In the chain space at the end of the first row, make a slip stitch, and then make a chain of three. It’ll look like the following picture:
In the chain space, make three double crochets. You’ll end up with something that looks like a little heart. That’s it for this row!
All the rest of the rows:
Chain six, turn the work over to start the next row.
In the fourth chain from the hook, make a double crochet.
Double crochet in remaining two chains.
Here’s the steps you’ll repeat until you get to the end of the row.
In 3-chain space, make one slip stitch, then make a chain of three.
In the same 3-chain space, make three double crochets.
Move to the next 3-chain space, start from step 4 again.
Repeat until the end of the row. Once you get to the end of the row, start from step 1 in this section.
Here’s what you’ll come up with after one repeat…
…and after lots and lots and lots of repeats. (Granted, this is an entirely different project, but still the same corner-to-corner pattern!)
Once you get to the desired size, just fasten off your last stitch and you’re done!
If you learn better by watching, check out this video by Stitchinstacy on YouTube! She walks you through the process of doing the corner-to-corner stitch, but in more detail than the pictures I’ve got here.
If you work through this pattern and have questions, let me know in the comments! Or if there’s something that needs better explanation, let me know. I’ll happily rework this until it’s easy enough to understand for crocheters of all ages! (And if anyone wants me to break down the other half the blanket pattern… let me know!)