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