What I’m Watching: February 2019

I’m back with another edition of What I’m Watching! This month, I’ve got three shows in my TV-watching rotation, although what with being sick this week, I’ve been binge-watching the heck out of one of these shows.

First off, I’m still working my way through Battlestar Galactica – somewhat slowly, because Ross and I have had a busy couple of weeks at work and by the time we get home, we don’t have much energy to process an exciting and action-filled episode of BSG.  We’re just about to season 3, though, and I’m still loving the show!

Another show I’ve been watching this month is RWBY! You might remember that I started watching this last year, and I ended up having to take a break from it because I had a bit of RWBY overload. Now I’m watching it again, and I’m up to season 5 – where things are starting to get even more serious.  And seriously badass.  I won’t mention more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone (and also because my brain is fuzzy on the details, curse this nasty cold). I’ll just say you should watch it for yourself.

Now, to the show I’ve been binge-watching while I’ve been miserably sick this week: Lucifer. I stumbled upon it through Netflix’s suggestions for things I might be interested in, and a week or so ago, I figured “eh, what the heck, I’ll watch this while I knit.” And I fell in love with it.

Lucifer is a comedy/crime drama with a dose of fantasy thrown in the mix for good measure. It follows the story of Lucifer Morningstar, the devil himself, and his adventures after leaving Hell to set up a nightclub in Los Angeles – and help solve crime as a consultant for the LAPD. He’s partnered up with Chloe Decker, a detective who seems to be immune to Lucifer’s charms. He’s got irresistible sex appeal, and can make you tell him your deepest, darkest desires just by looking into his eyes – yet none of that works on Chloe, and Lucifer’s very curious about why that is.

With a great cast and a great story, Lucifer has been making my week home sick with this miserable cold much better than I thought it would be.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out – the first three seasons are on Netflix, and season 4 should be coming out soon!

Cosplay musing: the 2019 convention season

Well, the 2019 convention season is near, and with that, the eternal question: what costumes am I going to wear this year?

That’s actually a really good question – and one I’m not entirely sure of the answer to. There’s a lot of factors that go into figuring out costumes for conventions: if Ross and I are driving to a convention daily from home or staying in a hotel nearby, what the weather might end up being like, how detailed a possible costume might be, and how faithful I want to be with my representation of a specific character.

Given all the effort I put into Sailor Moon for Gen Con last year, do I want to try and do something elaborate again this year, or do I want to do something more casual? The hotel Ross and I currently have for Gen Con isn’t nearly as close as the one we were at last year (although we might get lucky and snag a closer hotel!) – will I want to deal with being stuck in a costume that might not be all that comfortable for hours on end? Just thinking about wearing the boots for my Sailor Moon costume for more than a half hour is making me cringe, how could I deal with that for an entire day? Plus, I have to plan out costumes for any LARPs I might be involved in, too. Do I want to try to do multiple costumes in a day? And can I quickly swap costumes if I decide to do that?

Those are all things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to my cosplay for this year’s conventions. So far, I’m definitely planning on going to Gen Con and the Indiana Toy and Comic Convention for sure, and I might also go to Indy PopCon. Whatever I choose, it’ll need to work out for at least one convention, if not three. With all that in mind, I’ve narrowed things down to three possible cosplays for this year’s convention season.

  • A casual version of Usagi from Sailor Moon: This could be a fun cosplay to do – you don’t often see people dressed up as Usagi. I’ve got some clothes in my closet that I think would work pretty well for a casual version of Usagi, and I could easily find clothes that match some of her outfits from the anime if I wanted to do something more show-accurate. I want my beautiful Sailor Moon wig to get some more use, and I think casual Usagi would work out pretty well – especially if I don’t end up with a nearby hotel for Gen Con, since I’d be wearing comfortable clothes and can handle wearing that wig for hours at a time, even with how heavy it is.
  • Lapis Lazuli from Steven Universe: I originally wanted to try cosplaying as Lapis last year, but Sailor Moon ended up eating up all my focus for costuming, and therefore Lapis ended up being set aside. However, this is another one I could also do pretty easily, if I don’t go all-out with body paint and such. I found a skater dress on Etsy that would work pretty well if I wanted to do a more casual Lapis, and there’s a wig on Arda that I could get in blue that with some styling would make a pretty good Lapis wig. A short wig and a comfy dress would make for a really comfy cosplay, that’s for sure. Plus, if I do end up feeling crafty and want to make the outfit myself (or with some help from my mom-in-law, who’s a great seamstress), I don’t think it’ll be impossible to make a Lapis costume from scratch.
  • Bring Pinkie Pie out of retirement: For those of you who haven’t followed the blog since I started writing, my first big cosplay was Pinkie Pie. I originally wore the first version of Pinkie Pie to Gen Con 2012, and made some much-needed updates to the costume in 2013. In 2014 I perfected my Pinkie Pie outfit, wore it to all of the 2014 and most of the 2015 conventions I went to… and then quietly retired it. To be completely honest, I’m not even sure where all the pieces are – the tutu is under the bed in my craft room somewhere, the wig (which seriously needs replacing) is on a wig head in my living room, holding up my hats, and I think the leggings and shirt might be in my costume closet somewhere. If I find all the parts, though, and get a new wig, I could easily bring back Pinkie for another convention season. It’s a rather comfortable costume, and people recognize it, so it could be fun to wear it again. (Plus, maybe I could convince my friend Rachel from The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast to take her Pinkie costume out of retirement so we could be ridiculous together!)

Of course, these probably won’t be the only costumes I wear – especially at Gen Con, where I also have to plan for costuming for the LARP I’ll be playing in. And who knows, I might end up coming up with other ideas before convention season is in full swing! For now, I think I’ve got a good collection of cosplay ideas for this year, and a pretty good chance of wearing them all at least once at conventions this year – and I’m definitely looking forward to putting these cosplays together! (Or, in the case of Pinkie Pie, hunting down the various parts of her costume from assorted spots around the house.)

Happy 6th birthday, The Crafty Nerd!

Wow, has it really been six whole years since I started the blog? Wow, time sure does fly when you’re blogging.

Screenshot of what The Crafty Nerd looked like shortly after the blog was first started, back in 2013.
Things have sure changed since 2013…

That’s right, six years ago I posted my first post here, and started what would ultimately end up being a pretty big chunk of my life.  Heck, if it weren’t for the blog, I probably wouldn’t have met Ross!  (And that would be a huge bummer, having a life without Ross.)  I’ve gone to many conventions, played lots of games, and made a bunch of craft projects, all for my wonderful little blog.

Now, typically I write about the stuff I’ve done during the past year on the blog’s birthday, but I recently rambled about all that in my new year’s post – so for this year, I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to indulge my inner data nerd this year and share some stats about The Crafty Nerd!

Over the past six years…

I could share more random bits of data about the blog, but I think they might be more interesting for me than for everyone else, heh. Thank you all for reading and commenting on the blog over the years – it makes me a very happy nerd!

Blue Rose: the romantic fantasy RPG that I’ve fallen in love with

I’m no stranger to tabletop RPGs – I’ve played in a number of different systems, including Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and White Wolf’s World of Darkness.  However, in all my years of gaming, I’ve never played anything quite like Blue Rose.  For over a year, I’ve been part of a group that plays Blue Rose somewhat regularly, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.

What is Blue Rose?

Blue Rose is a tabletop RPG published by Green Ronin, and is labeled as a romantic fantasy game. It’s set in the world of Aldea, and players can play as a number of different humanoid races or as a rhydan (which encompasses many different types of psychic animals). Player characters have three classes to choose from: adept, which is your typical magic-using class; expert, which includes scholars, spies, tricksters, and negotiators; and warrior, which is your classic fighter class.  There are plenty of other aspects that go into developing a character, including their background, goals, destiny/fate, and, of course, their relationships with others – including friends, family, and romantic relationships.

The main focus of the game is on developing relationships, but depending on the storyteller, there may be a fair bit of exploration and adventuring involved as well.  The world of Aldea is definitely large enough to do plenty of exploring in, and the core book includes details about many countries outside of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose.

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Keeping organized: the role-playing game edition

It’s no secret to you readers – I enjoy a good role-playing game, whether it’s tabletop or live action. It’s also no secret that I’m not exactly the most organized person at times – I try really hard, though. If I’m not careful, I lose track of my game stuff easily – just ask me how many character sheets I made for my Blue Rose character before I finally figured out an organizational system. (Pretty sure there’s four of them floating out there, including two versions of the digital character sheet I keep as a backup.) I can also get distracted pretty easily during games, and if I’m not careful, I’ll miss something important. After years of gaming, I’ve figured out a few ways to help keep myself organized when it comes to the various role-playing games I’m in.

Interested in learning about them? Read on!

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Projects I’m working on – the winter edition

I recently had the idea to write about the craft projects I’m working on – not just to show them off, but for other reasons as well.  I’m thinking sharing what I’m working on might help keep me accountable, and remind me “hey, I should probably finish these things at some point”.  Plus, it’ll be good to see the progress I’ve made on some projects – like the Hue Shift blanket, which is slowly but surely getting bigger.  I don’t think I’ll make this a monthly series, but I do want to make a post like this semi-regularly – so we’ll see how well this works out.

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Another new hobby – Magic: The Gathering

I’ve been meaning to write a bit about how I’m finally learning how to play Magic: The Gathering – and, well, what better time than now?

My first attempt at learning to play was back in 2005, when I was in college – a couple of the guys in SUNY Potsdam’s Gaming Club built me a simple deck, I watched them play one game, and then I think I got pulled into a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign and forgot about learning Magic entirely.  I had that deck for years – I think I ended up donating it to Goodwill a few years ago, before Ross and I moved into our house.  (I’m kicking myself for that now – I wonder how much some of those cards might be worth now!) I was still vaguely interested in learning, eventually, but I didn’t know anyone that played – until I met J, anyway.

Last year, I finally decided maybe I should try learning to play again – and J was more than happy to teach me.

A Magic: The Gathering game in progress
The beginning of a game where I got whomped by a pile of merfolk. And yes, I do have a Doge playmat.

I’ve been learning for a while now – I think J started teaching me the game last summer, and I only recently got to the point where I decided “okay, I’m going to stick with this, maybe I should get a deck of my own instead of borrowing one of J’s many decks every time I play.”  So, with J’s help, I picked out one of the 2018 premade Commander (or Elder Dragon Highlander, depending on your preferences) decks and did a little tweaking to make the deck a little more powerful.  I ended up choosing the Exquisite Invention deck, after looking through J’s copy of it – I’ve been calling it the Thopterpocalypse Deck, because when my deck is behaving, I can generate a lot of thopters and servos to rain down doom on my opponents.  (I say when my deck is behaving because the last two games I’ve played, all my land has ended up at the bottom of the deck, no matter how many times the darn thing gets shuffled.) Now that I’m getting a feel for the game, I’m comfortable enough to be silly – like giving personalities to creatures I play, for example.  It’s ridiculous, I know, but sometimes it’s fun to say “oh, the Master Thopterist is in a bit of a mood, so he’s going to attack with his two thopter buddies.”  It’s fun to be a little sassy while I’m playing, haha.

One thing is for sure – I definitely don’t know nearly enough to make decks on my own.  Deck building is insanely complicated.  You have to think about how all the cards interact with each other, and how certain cards can trigger combinations that may or may not wipe out another player’s creatures.  It’s mind-boggling.  I don’t know J does it – then again, he’s been playing Magic for far longer than I have.

I will say, sometimes it’s hard for me not to just buy all the cards I can. I like collecting things, and if there’s something I’m enthusiastic about, I end up wanting to throw money at it and buy all the things. I’m really glad J is guiding me in what to buy and what not to buy, because otherwise I’d probably end up with a hot mess of somewhat useless stuff because I think the card art is pretty. Also, good lord this hobby involves buying so much stuff – not only did I end up buying a deck of cards to play with, I had to get a deck box, and I bought Saheeli-themed card sleeves (since she’s the commander for my deck), and of course I had to get that Doge playmat, and yesterday I just picked up some token counters because Saheeli likes to make ALL THE THOPTERS  – and speaking of thopters, I got lucky with that blind bag draw!

Three Magic: The Gathering token counters - one with a dinosaur on it, another with a thopter, and the third with Liliana.
why yes, Saheeli, let’s make 50 thopters and rain down the thopterpocalypse, yesss

I sort-of knew what I was getting into when I got into the hobby – at least with the fact that cards can get expensive and there are LOTS of them, heh – but I didn’t quite absorb just all the little things you need to play Magic. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s not stopping me from wanting to play.

I’m really enjoying learning how to play.  Each game is like a constantly shifting puzzle that you need to solve. Sometimes you get lucky and can solve the puzzle early and knock out your opponent, and other times you just end up stuck waiting for a needed card or two that never come up.  It’s fun, and exciting, and sometimes overwhelming – and I love it. I’m really glad I got into this hobby.

What I'm watching: January 2019

What I’m watching: January 2019

Hi folks, and Happy New Year!  You might remember a post I made a few weeks back, about some resolutions I made for the blog for the year — one of them was writing more reviews, especially for TV shows. I watch (or at the very least, listen to) a lot of TV while I’m crafting, and I mean a lot. While I don’t know that I’d be able to write great, in-depth reviews on the shows I’m watching, I could at least share some of the shows in my Netflix and Hulu queues and share my thoughts on the shows without too many spoilers.  (And possibly share some shows I tried out but didn’t quite get into.)

So, here’s what I’m watching this month: Battlestar Galactica and The 4400.

Battlestar Galactica (2004)

The main cast of Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica is a show I’ve been meaning to watch, well, since it came out almost 15 years ago. I had friends in college who were obsessed with it, and I’ve had friends in the years since who were big fans. When I started dating Ross, he was working through re-watching the series and was somewhere in season 2 before Neftlix lost the licensing to it.  Now it’s on Hulu, and we’ve started watching it together as our evening “let’s watch this together” show. I’m sure most of you readers have at least heard of it before, but if not, here’s a short summary from Hulu (who explains it better than I could):

Battlestar Galactica continues from the 2003 mini-series to chronicle the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Man after their nuclear annihilation by the Cylons. The survivors are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander (later Admiral) William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica, a powerful but out-dated warship at its head. Pursued by Cylons intent on wiping out the remnants of the human race, the survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled and long-lost thirteenth colony: Earth.

We’ve only watched the first six episodes (and the miniseries) so far, but I’m already ridiculously attached to many of the characters. When Starbuck ended up in mortal peril in episodes 4 and 5,  and then managed to get herself out of it and back to Galactica, I cheered with the rest of the crew and got a little misty-eyed. I feel for President Roslin and Commander Adama as they make some tough decisions in order to keep what’s left of humanity alive and safe. I’m always looking forward to the next episode — and I’m glad Ross and I are watching an episode or two a night so I don’t binge-watch the entire thing over a weekend.  I like being able to enjoy each episode, process it, and then go watch the next episode tomorrow.

Battlestar Galactica on Hulu

The 4400

The main cast of The 4400.

The 4400 is a show I stumbled across on Netflix while trying to find something to watch while crafting.  I’d just blasted through Season 3 of Travelers (a show I really enjoy) and was looking for more sci-fi to watch, and Netflix suggested this.  The premise seemed alright (albeit a little cheesy): 4400 people, each of whom disappeared in a beam of light anywhere between 1938 and 2001, are deposited on the shores of a lake in Washington state by a bright ball of light.  None of these people have aged a day since their disappearance, and some of them have come back with special powers (such as the ability to heal or see the future).

The show follows Tom Baldwin, an agent of the National Threat Assessment Command (NTAC) as he and his partner, Diana, investigate events involving the 4400.  It also follows a handful of the 4400 themselves, including the following:

  • Maia, an 8-year-old girl who disappeared in 1946 and returned with the power to see the future
  • Shawn, Tom’s nephew who disappeared in 2001 at the age of 18 and returned with the power to heal/kill
  • Richard, a 29-year-old Air Force pilot who disappeared in 1955
  • Lily, who disappeared in 1993 at the age of 27 and returned mysteriously pregnant

While the show does have some cheesy moments, it’s pretty enjoyable.  It also doesn’t hurt that the show’s creator, René Echevarria, was a writer on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and one of the producers (Ira Steven Behr) also worked on DS9. (And speaking of DS9: Jeffrey Combs, who plays Weyoun and Liquidator Brunt in DS9, also stars in The 4400!) I’m in the middle of season 3 right now (I think I started the show sometime last week), mostly due to all the time off I’ve had recently, and I’m curious to see where the show ends up going.  If you’re looking for something in the sci-fi realm to watch and don’t mind if the show gets a little silly at points, you should try The 4400.

The 4400 on Netflix

Five free craft patterns to keep busy with over the holidays

It’s the holiday season — a time when many of us have some time off from work, school, or other obligations.  And if any of you are like me, you’ll want to spend that spare time crafting, so I’ve pulled together a collection of five free (and in many cases, easy) craft patterns to keep you busy with during the holidays!

The World’s Simplest Mittens by Tin Can Knits

A set of four knit mittens in different sizes and colors.

If you’re looking for a way to keep your hands warm this winter, and have never tried knitting mittens, check out this pattern from Tin Can Knits!  With sizes from toddler to adult, you can make mittens for just about anyone.

The World’s Simplest Mittens – Ravelry

Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder

A foot on tiptoe in the grass, showing off a sock made from the Hermione's Everyday Sock pattern

Here’s another free and simple knitting project — this one’s actually been in my queue on Ravelry for quite some time.  And come on, what Harry Potter fan wouldn’t want to make these simple socks inspired by Hermione?  You could even try making them in Gryffindor red and gold, too.

Hermione’s Everyday Socks – Ravelry

Lazy Waves Shawlette by Dedri Uys

A shawl with a simple wave texture pattern.

I love this pattern — in fact, I love it so much I’ve made two of these shawls.  This pattern works especially well with yarn that has a slow color change to it, like the Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake yarns, as it results in a really pretty striping pattern.  The shawl works up quickly, and the rhythmic pattern is somewhat soothing to do.  If you’re looking for a quick and simple shawl to make, this one’s for you.

Lazy Waves Shawlette – Ravelry

Finn and Princess Bubblegum Cross-Stitch Pattern by Monica

Finn and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time, hugging.

Who doesn’t love Finn and Princess Bubblegum?  Here’s a quick little cross-stitch pattern of them hugging.

Finn and Princess Bubblegum Cross-Stitch – by Monica (site is in Italian)

I Aim to Misbehave by Quaternion Creations

Cross stitch pattern with the quote "I aim to misbehave" from the movie Serenity.

A great quote from a great captain, from the movie Serenity.

I Aim To Misbehave – Quaternion Creations

2018: the year in review

We’ll just pretend that in the featured image, Steven and friends are getting ready for the new year, haha.

It’s December!  (Well, it has been for two weeks now, actually.) And with the end of the year nearly here, I figured there’s no better time to look back at some of the more exciting things that happened here in Crafty Nerd land, and look forward to next year and where I’m hoping to go with the blog!  So, without further ado, here’s a look back at 2018!

  • In January of this year, I took part in my first ever crochet-a-long!  It was an interesting experience, especially trying to focus on one specific project for roughly two months. Eventually, I got distracted by other projects (as is often the case with me and crafting), and finally finished the darn blanket in June.  Given my propensity to lose focus on a project and switch it out for something else for a little bit, I’m not sure if crochet/knit-a-longs are for me, but I did have fun making the Woodland Blanket!
  • Back in May, I started learning how to play Magic: The Gathering!  FINALLY.  It’s something I tried to pick up back in college, way back in the day, but the guys from the Gaming Club who were going to teach me Magic got distracted by another game and I never actually learned to play — until this year, when J started teaching me the game.  I recently picked up my first deck, and did some customizing to it (with J’s assistance, as he’s been playing for many, many years), and won the first game I played with it!  I’d been meaning to post about how I started learning how to play, but I only got so far as a half-written draft of a post.  Ah well — I’ll likely do a post soon that goes into a little more depth on my start into the crazy world of Magic: The Gathering.
  • I read a fair amount of books this year, too.  I beat my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 25 books, and I’m on my way to having read 29 books this year (I’m almost done with Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay).  I really should talk more about books here on the blog, given how much I love reading and how much I tend to read in a year. (If anyone’s interested in keeping up with what I’m reading, you can find me on Goodreads here.)
  • One of the biggest things I focused on this year was putting together my Sailor Moon costume for Gen Con. This is a cosplay I’d been dreaming about doing properly for, what, half my life now?  And I was finally in a position to actually get all the pieces I needed and put together a costume I’d only dreamed about up to this point.  Heck, my Sailor Moon cosplay even won a Hall Costume Contest award at Gen Con, which made wearing those terribly uncomfortable boots so worth it.  (Next year, I’m investing in a good pair of gel inserts for those boots.)
  • I started collecting fountain pens, which has been a fun hobby to get into.  Granted, I’m not planning on buying incredibly expensive pens or anything, but I’ve got a couple nice ones, and I do love that I can keep using a favorite pen while putting new ink into it to keep things interesting. My 9th pen is due in the mail any day now, and I’m excited to fill it up and add it to the collection!
  • I started 16 different yarn craft projects this year, and managed to finish 10 of them — which, for me, is actually pretty impressive. I made a lot of shawls, a couple of blankets, and worked on a couple of sock projects I started last year (and still haven’t finished).  I still need to block some of those shawls I made, and I really need to give my neighbor the mitts I made for her, but overall, I’ve made some pretty darn good progress in my yarn crafts this year.

As always, I have a lot of ideas of where I could improve and what I want to do in the future.  Granted, I may not actually end up following up on everything (my eternally distracted brain will probably throw me off track a few times), but for next year, I’m going to try to…

  • Post more reviews: I read a lot, play a fair number of different types of games, and watch a heck of a lot of TV — which has largely been an untapped resource for interesting blog posts.  However, I’ve got that reviews category here on the blog, and I should fill it up with posts on things I’ve discovered that I want to share with everyone.  I’m going to try to do one review post a month next year, in hopes that’ll give me something to write about when I can’t really think of much to share on the blog.
  • Finish more craft projects: While I managed to finish ten of the projects I started this year, there’s still a whole bunch of unfinished projects lurking around my craft room, waiting to be completed.  I want to make a list of all those projects, and try and get them all crossed off if I can.  (It might be a good use for that craft project database I’ve been working on over on Dreaming Pixels, my personal website.)
  • Maybe start a Crafty Nerd podcast: I’ve been wanting to do a podcast of some sort for The Crafty Nerd for ages.  I do a lot of video and audio editing at work, and I really love it — and I’d love to incorporate it into what I do here at The Crafty Nerd.  I’ve been learning how to work with Adobe Character Animator, and I’d really love to use that for a video podcast of sorts here on the blog.  We’ll see what next year brings!

So, that’s what happened this year and a little of what I’m hoping for next year!  I hope everyone reading this has a happy holiday season and a fantastic new year, and as always, thanks for reading The Crafty Nerd. Here’s to making next year awesome!

The Hue Shift afghan saga, part 2: starting over

So, remember the Hue Shift afghan I started a month or two ago?

I ended up starting it over again, and I blame KnitPicks and their holiday sales.

If you remember from my previous post on this blanket, due to me being impatient and wanting to start the project right away, I went to Michaels and bought yarn that was as close as I could get to the colors used in the pattern.  And they were definitely pretty colors, but not quite what the pattern called for.

Super bright, but a little off from the colors KnitPicks suggests…

I was knitting along, making alright progress with these colors, when I saw an ad for KnitPicks in my Facebook feed mentioning that all pattern kits were half off that day.  My curiosity got the better of me, and I went to see just how much the Hue Shift kit cost – and when I saw it was right around $20, I caved in and bought it, and figured “what the heck, I’ll just start it over again with the right colors this time.”

Basket of 12 skeins of yarn - 10 of the skeins are in various rainbow hues, while the remaining two are black.
As you can see, I came close with some of the original colors, but others were way off.

I will say, take two of the Hue Shift afghan is going to be a bit smaller, since the yarn KnitPicks put in the kit is sport weight instead of worsted weight, but that’s okay.  I’m really pleased with how the afghan is turning out, and the Brava Sport yarn is so much softer than the yarn I was using from Michaels.

Three and a half squares of the Hue Shift afghan, laying atop a basket of yarn.
It’s coming along pretty well so far!

You might be wondering, though, what I’m going to do with the yarn I bought previously.  Well, I’m one step ahead of you there – over Thanksgiving, I cranked out a new blanket for my desk with most of the yarn from the original Hue Shift yarn batch.

A rainbow blanket draped over a desk chair.
It gets cold in my office building, but this blanket has done a good job of keeping me warm this week!

This was pretty simple to work up – I just used two strands of yarn and an L hook, and the stitch is a double crochet.  I switched out one of the colors every 4 rows, which let me blend the colors together a little bit instead of having stripes of a single color.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’ve got enough yarn left to make a smaller lap blanket, too.

After I finish the Hue Shift afghan, I think I’m done with making blankets for a while.  I have way too many blankets already, between crocheting and quilting, but I figure one knit blanket to add to the pile can’t hurt, can it? 🙂

Habitica: four years later

Lately, I’ve been struggling a bit with keeping up on my daily habits and chores (and, obviously, posting regularly here in the blog) – more often than not, I forget to do part of my routine, or space out on some housework I’ve been meaning to do.  So, I thought it was about time to revisit an old friend: HabitRPG.  Or, as the site is now called, Habitica.

Boy, how things have changed since I was last on Habitica!

The Habitica interface, showing the Habitica Market.
Wow, things have gotten fancy since I last played regularly.

There are lots of new costumes, lots of new quests, and so many new quest-related pets – I’ll probably never be able to hatch them all!

I’ve also made a lot of progress over the years in Habitica…

Images of my Habitica avatar at different levels.
From level 4, to level 65, and now at level 89!

…I’m actually pretty close to hitting level 90, and I’m excited about that.  Habitica’s done a good job of motivating me to get things done – granted, I’ve only been back at it for a week now, but I find myself adding to-do items to my list as things pop up (the mobile app really helps with that) and actually working to get things done, so I can make some more progress with quests I’m working on as well as leveling up my character.  I really hope I can stick with this, because I’ve actually managed to get a lot done with this extra motivation.  Sometimes that’s all my brain needs – a little extra motivation.

If you need a little boost with motivation and keeping on top of your tasks and habits, but want to have fun doing it, you should check out Habitica.  It’s available on the web, as well as for iOS and Android.  It’s free to play (but donating or subscribing will get you some extra goodies), and there’s lots to keep you coming back to the site.  Four years on, I still recommend it as a great way to help you get things done.

Game review: Patchwork

Yes, there is a board game that’s essentially about making a patchwork quilt. My friends J and Kasi bought this game recently, and when J pointed out that they had a game about making quilts, I had to play it.

The box for the board game Patchwork, with game pieces surrounding the box.

In Patchwork, two players compete to make the most complete (and highest-scoring) quilt they can on a 9×9 game board. Gameplay is pretty simple — players move tokens along a board (called the “time track”) to determine whose turn it is, and as players move along the board they can collect extra buttons or small patches to help fill in empty spots on their board. Each space on the board represents a unit of time, and each of the patches has a time listed on them, indicating how many spaces you’ll be moving along the board.  (After all, quilting does take time!)

Around the time track is the collection of quilt patches you can choose from. During each turn, players have the option to purchase a quilt patch or earn extra buttons by moving to one spot ahead of your opponent.  You’re limited in which quilt patches you can buy, however: a marker works its way clockwise around the circle of patches, and you can only choose from the three patches in front of the marker. This is where sometimes moving ahead of your opponent can come in handy, if there aren’t any patches you can afford or any patches that fit on your board — you can simply choose to earn extra buttons, one per spot you end up moving along the board.

The game Patchwork set up and ready for play, with a square board that keeps track of player turns and differently shaped pieces of various colors representing quilt patches surrounding the board.
The game, set up and ready to play!

The buttons that players collect are really important.  Not only are they the game’s currency, but they also help determine who wins at the end of the game: whoever has the most buttons at the end of the game wins.

Game pieces from Patchwork, each displaying a button cost and a "time" cost. One patch has three buttons on it.
The patches that have buttons on them really help you out in this game.

As you can see, some patches have buttons on them – and those help you out as you move around the time track.  If you move past a button on the time track, you earn a button for every button that’s on your quilt.  The bigger your quilt gets, the more buttons you can earn at a time. (At one point, I think I was earning 15 buttons every time I hopped over a button on the time track — my quilt was very decorated!)

Patchwork game board with a couple of pieces on it, arranged to make a small, irregularly-shaped quilt.
My patchwork quilt, early on in the game. I didn’t end up winning – I had too many blank spaces at the end, boo.

When both players get to the end of the time track, that’s when you figure out who the winner is.  First, you count up how many buttons you’ve earned, and then subtract the amount of blank spaces on the board from the amount of buttons you’ve earned.  Whoever has the highest point count after that is the winner!  I didn’t win yesterday’s game, but I certainly had fun playing and will definitely be picking this game up for my collection.

Patchwork on Amazon

The Crafty Nerd tackles the Hue Shift afghan

I’ve been wanting to make a Hue Shift afghan for years. Many, many years. Before I got back into knitting and started getting better at it, I was a little intimidated by the mitered squares, and also by the prospect of knitting an entire blanket. I’ve never knit a blanket before, and the Hue Shift afghan looked like it’d be a heck of an undertaking.

However, last week, I went and bought the pattern and headed over to Michaels to find the closest colors I could to what Knit Picks called for in the pattern. I think I came pretty close, but some of them are a little different — and that’s okay. I want to make this blanket my own, since there are so very many other Hue Shifts out there. Why not try to be a little unique?

I do love how these colors look together.

I just started the fifth mitered square – only 95 more to go, haha.  I was originally thinking “hey, if I crank out a square a day, I could have this blanket done in 100 days!” But I know me too well. You folks know me too well. If I try to crank out the blanket on a deadline, it’ll end up taking me three years.

The blanket so far.

Instead, I’ll work on it at whatever pace I can manage (and try not to give myself repetitive stress injuries in the process!), and post some updates on its progress from time to time.  I want to enjoy making this blanket, instead of feeling guilty about it like I did with the Woodland Blanket. I’ve been wanting to make this blanket for so long, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Sheet of paper with the words "Fountain pens: My new obsession" written on it, with a fountain pen laying on top of the paper.

Fountain pens: my new obsession

I’ve fallen into a new… hobby? obsession? Whatever it is, it ties in nicely with my bullet journalling hobby (yes, I’m still keeping up with that!), and given my love for pens, color, and fancy paper, I’m not surprised I fell into this hobby.

Calling it a new obsession isn’t exactly truthful, though – I was always really intrigued by my dad’s fountain pens when I was a little girl. They were so fancy! And my dad would do silly things like draw smiley faces on my fingers and toes with his fountain pens. It always made me laugh when he’d do that.

Pointer finger with a smiley face drawn onto it.
Just like my dad used to do, haha.

When I was a little older, maybe in my teenage years, I decided that someday, I’d own a fountain pen, just like my dad. And, well, now I own six!

Photo of six fountain pens - two Pilot Metropolitans, a TWSBI Eco, and three Pilot Kakunos.
From left to right: two Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop pens, a TWSBI Eco, and three Pilot Kakuno pens.

What’s interesting about writing with fountain pens is that they all feel slightly different – it’s almost like they have personalities of their own. My green Metropolitan Retro Pop feels like it’s grumpy, and isn’t always the smoothest to write with. (That might be because when I first bought it, I only used it a little bit, then let it sit for two years to dry up… At least I learned how to clean fountain pens, thanks to Green Metro!) My clear Kakuno feels precise, peppy, and energetic. The purple and white Kakuno feels welcoming, friendly, and stable.

Oh god, I’m ascribing personalities to my fountain pens. Please send help. 🤣

More seriously, though, they make writing much more fun, whether it’s for work, in my bullet journal, or in a letter to a friend. I have a different color of ink in each pen, and even more colors to choose from if I want to switch out the ink I’m using. (The Goulet Pen Company’s little ink samples are perfect – I get to try out lots of different colors, and if I find one I love I can buy a big bottle of it.)

It’s been really hard resisting the urge to buy more pens and ink.  My wish list on Goulet Pens just keeps growing and growing, haha.

Screenshot of part of my Goulet Pens wishlist, containing a couple of different pens and bottles of ink.
This isn’t even my entire wish list!

I’m looking forward to seeing what other things I can do with fountain pens aside from writing a lot and playing with different ink colors.  Having fancy pens to write with might actually get me working on making my handwriting neater, at least. 🙂