Author: Beth

What’s on the nerdy radar: February 2018

I’m trying out a new post series – one that details things my local geeky and nerdy friends are up to!  I figure this’ll start out with smallish posts, but hopefully soon I’ll be able to add more to these!

What’s on the nerdy radar for February?

  • My friends over at Geeking in Indiana are headed off to the JoCo Cruise as I type!  I’m incredibly, incredibly jealous – Tony gets to spend a week on a boat with Patrick Rothfuss.  A WEEK.  With Pat Rothfuss!  Maybe someday I’ll get to go – I’ve never been on a cruise before, and going on a nerdy cruise sounds like absolute heaven.  (Except for the 75 cents a minute cost for wifi.  Bwuh.)
  • Over at The Five-ish Fangirls Podcast, they’re talking about season 4 of The Librarians – given that I’ve got a masters in Library Science, I feel like I should watch this show, hah.  I’ve heard good things about it – maybe I’ll go hunt it down on Hulu and watch it this weekend.
  • Granted, this already happened, but my friend Jen hosted a learn to paint minis class at Common Room Games here in Bloomington last weekend!

    It looks like they had lots of fun – and there’ll be more painting nights coming up soon, so for those of you who are local, come out to Common Room and paint with some cool people!

  • It looks like Gen Con might sell out for the second year in a row – which is exciting and impressive!  (And a little terrifying for this socially anxious nerd, haha.)  Given that approximately 60,000 badges were bought last year, and the convention officially sold out just before the convention last year, I’m curious to see the official attendance numbers this year after the convention’s done with – and I’m definitely curious to see when badges sell out this year!  Ross and I are definitely going to Gen Con this year – I’ve got my press badge, and we’ve got a downtown hotel room (although it was outside of the housing block and ridiculously expensive), and with this being Ross’s first year staying at a hotel at Gen Con, we’re excited.

Is there anything I missed?  Do you want me to add your nerdy news to next month’s post?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Book review: Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies—elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal. But in the remote Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy—the Marat horde—return to the Valley, Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness will be a power greater than any fury, one that could turn the tides of war…

-from the Amazon Kindle book description of Furies of Calderon

You might be more familiar with Jim Butcher’s other works, especially his Dresden Files series, but he writes more than just the adventures of Harry Dresden – more recently, he wrote The Aeronaut’s Windlass (which I’ve read and will likely review later), and back in 2004, he wrote the first book in the Codex Alera series – Furies of Calderon.  I’d been meaning to read through the series for quite some time, and started the series late last year – and I’m currently working on the last book in the series.  Furies of Calderon is the start to what I feel is a really great series – it seems like a bit of a hidden gem in the fantasy world, as I don’t really hear people talk about the Codex Alera series as much as, say, Game of Thrones.  The world of Alera gripped me more thoroughly than the world of Westeros – I couldn’t put down any of the books in this series, and Furies of Calderon is no exception.

Furies of Calderon and The Codex Alera series has some very interesting inspiration.  The series was, believe it or not, inspired by a writing challenge where, at one point, Butcher said “give me two terrible ideas for a story, and I’ll use them BOTH” – and the ideas given were the Lost Roman Legion and Pokémon.  I was a little skeptical about the possibility of the series being based on ancient Rome and Pokemon (both things I enjoy), so I did some research – and it’s apparently true. (Check out the sources at the bottom of this post – there’s an interview at Comic Con with Jim Butcher where he talks about this!)  This book series is totally based off the Lost Roman Legion trope and Pokémon.  Somehow, Butcher took those two terrible ideas and made an engaging and enjoyable fantasy series out of them – and Furies of Calderon is the first book in this series.

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Five years of The Crafty Nerd!

And you know what?  I almost forgot today was the blog’s birthday!  But I didn’t – and here I am, with the yearly birthday post.

This is a big birthday, folks.  Five whole years of crafty nerdiness, costuming, and accidental posting hiatuses.  Five years of Gen Con trips, flailing about Patrick Rothfuss, and saving My Little Pony manes from horrible tangly fates.  Writing this blog has been one of the biggest parts of my life the past five years, outside of grad school and work.  I still get excited every time I see a comment on a post, or a like on The Crafty Nerd’s Facebook page.  Whenever someone says “oh hey, I’ve heard of your blog!” when I’m at a convention or hanging out with friends, I get flaily.  This blog is something I’ve poured a lot of heart and soul into.  I end up feeling bad when I fall into one of those accidental posting hiatuses that happen every so often, due to getting wrapped up into a big craft project or not having the energy or focus to write posts.  (Seriously, folks, you have no idea how bad I feel every time I fall into one of those accidental hiatuses.  It’s rough.)  I love this blog, and I love what it’s helped me to do and who it’s brought into my life.

This past year, a lot of fun stuff was covered on The Crafty Nerd.  I did some exciting stuff, like…

  • joining a LARP.  Playing in Kishar has been incredible amounts of fun – during my first game, I told one of my friends that Kishar felt like what would happen if you combined Gen Con and summer camp.  It’s inspired me to try new costuming things, and make interesting little craft projects to help Ëlinyr really come to life.  I’m really excited for Season 7 of Kishar, which starts next month! (Which reminds me, there are some costume pieces I need to make before March…)
  • going to Diagon Alley!  It was like I was actually in the world of Harry Potter, and it was fantastic.  I hope Ross and I can go back soon.
  • FINALLY learning how to drive!  Do you know how fantastic it was for me, making my first trip to Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics without having to plan my purchases strategically on how much could fit into a scooter?  Now, my only limit is how much yarn I can fit into the back of a Versa Note.  (Which is probably a ridiculous amount of yarn.)  Driving Lapis has been fantastic, for many reasons – and yeah, it may not be a crafty or nerdy thing, but it enables me to do way more crafty and nerdy stuff.  This year, I might finally tackle learning how to ride a motorcycle…
  • covering Gen Con 50 on the blog!  I think this was the best Gen Con I’ve ever been to – and that’s saying a lot, since I did end up meeting my husband at Gen Con back in 2013.  I’m pretty excited for this year’s Gen Con – I’m going to try to put together some new costumes, and I might even bring Pinkie Pie back out with a new wig!

This past year has been a great year, Crafty Nerd wise, and the fact that the blog has made it to its fifth birthday is amazing.  Thank you, folks, for reading my little blog, and for helping make the past five years pretty darn awesome. 🙂

Five awesome nerdy DIY projects

Stuck home on a rainy weekend with nothing to do?  Looking for something fun to make for your home office or living room?  Check out this roundup of five awesome nerdy do-it-yourself projects to help make your home a little extra nerdy.

DIY D20 Lamp from Our Nerdy Home


This incredibly easy IKEA lamp hack would make an awesome addition to your office, game room, or anyplace else that needs a little extra light.  And with the materials costing less than $25, this is a relatively inexpensive project!  (Which is always good, so you can save some money for more games, right?)  🙂

Don’t Panic Towel Messenger Bag from Nerd By Night

Alright, this is something I’m probably going to have to make for hauling around Gen Con goodies.  I think this is quite possibly the nerdiest bag I’ve ever seen – and I need it in my life.  I mean, come on, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy themed bagmade from a towel.  And for the cost of a towel, you can be a hoopy frood with a towel bag of your very own.

Light Up and Talking PotatOS from Portal 2, by codename-3c

Looking for something a little more complicated to make?  Why not try your hand at this talking PotatOS from Portal 2?  (Note: there are spoilers for Portal 2 in the instructions for this project, so keep that in mind if you haven’t played it yet!)  I’m half tempted to try making this for Ross.

Geek Welcome Mats from Our Nerd Home

Our Nerd Home has a lot of awesome DIY projects on their site – and this is another awesome project of theirs!  These geeky welcome mats look relatively simple to make, and you could easily do all sorts of designs with this technique!  (I’m imagining Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark as one idea for a welcome mat…)

DIY Comic Book Lamp from A Girl and A Glue Gun


I like this comic book lamp project. It looks like it’d be a lot of fun to do with not just old comic books, but all sorts of nerdy artwork – and you could easily just make a new lampshade for an existing lamp, or snag a lamp from a thrift store that needs a little bit of TLC!

Hopefully these five project ideas might spark your DIY side and give you some ideas for fun stuff to make the next time you’re bored and looking for something creative to do!  I know I’ve got some ideas, that’s for sure.

The Crafty Nerd tries a crochet-a-long

Did you folks know I’ve never, ever done a crochet-a-long before?  Ever?

Well, that changed at the beginning of January – and I’m having a lot of fun with it.  For those curious, I’m taking part in the Woodland Blanket Crochet-a-Long, led by Lucy of Attic24.  Kasi suggested we do the crochet-a-long together, and so we bought the yarn in December and waited.

This bag of yarn taunted me for weeks.

And on January 5th, the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long started!  And I did a first for me – I made a gauge swatch before jumping headlong into a blanket.

And it was exactly the size it needed to be!

I was ridiculously excited that the gauge swatch turned out exactly as it should – and I jumped right in after that, and crocheted until my wrist hurt.  It’s been a while since I crocheted anything, what with my recent obsession with sock making, hah, and my wrist was out of practice.

Steve’s been really enjoying me crocheting, too.  A warm human, sitting still for hours while making a thing to snuggle under? Count him in.

I think he’s already claimed the blanket as his own.

And I’ll admit, instead of writing blog posts, I’ve been crocheting furiously and hanging out around the Facebook group for the crochet-a-long.  There are so many pretty blankets being showed off there, and I love seeing all the different ways people are working with the colors and following their own path through the crochet-a-long.  It’s almost addicting, working on the blanket and looking at others’ blankets as they’re in progress.  The pattern for this blanket has a nice rhythm to it, and the colors we’ve all been working with the past few weeks are delightfully warm and have really brightened up the recent string of snow days I’ve had.

The best thing to do on a snow day: crochet and drink chai.

I’ll post about the blanket again closer to when it’s finished, so I don’t end up overwhelming everyone with blanket posts like I’ve been doing on Instagram.  It’s been a great project to unwind with when I get home from work.  Especially on days like today, when I had one of the least pleasant commutes home ever – I’m so tempted to hibernate until all the snow melts.  Driving in snow is scary.  Crocheting is not.

 

A long overdue post about Patrick Rothfuss

It’s no secret around here that I absolutely love Patrick Rothfuss.  Why, though?  How the heck did this crafty nerd end up so ridiculously obsessed with some bearded dude from Wisconsin?  Why does she toss so much money at the wonderful folks at The Tinker’s Packs for merchandise focusing on a bunch of books?

It hit me that I’ve never exactly told the whole story of how I ended up being a borderline rabid Rothfuss fangirl on the blog.  And as I was trying to come up with a blog post for this week, I thought to myself, “why not make it this week’s blog post?  You need to write something, and that Sailor Moon quilt has done absolutely nothing since last week, so ramble about Pat!”

And so here we are.  So come, sit, and listen to me ramble about the long and winding road that brought me to being the huge fan of Pat Rothfuss that I am, and the wonderful stuff that’s happened along the way that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t picked up a copy of The Name of the Wind on one chilly March afternoon, back in 2013.

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The trials and tribulations of quilt pattern making

Goodness, quilt pattern making is hard.  I never realized just how hard until I started work on the Sailor Moon quilt.

First off, trying to figure out how much fabric I needed for this quilt has been… an adventure, to say the least.  I started off with very uneven amounts of old Sailor Moon fabric, and thought to myself, “okay, I’ll try out making a pattern where the main squares have a moon pattern in them, and then alternate them with 9-block squares!”  I roughed out a pattern based on 12-inch quilt squares, made up of 9 pieces, and figured I’d at least have enough Sailor Moon fabric to make that pattern work.

Side note: holy crap the Livescribe pen makes it super easy to share random notes like this

It was a great idea, and I was super excited – however, I’d actually ordered the fabric I was going to use for the quilt before I actually built the pattern.  Which was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had.  However, I cut my existing fabric into squares while I waited for the fat quarters I’d ordered from Spoonflower to come, and did some research to figure out how many 4.5 inch squares I could get out of a fat quarter.  Turns out, you can theoretically get sixteen 4.5 inch squares from a fat quarter!

If the fat quarter is appropriately sized, anyway.

For those of you who’ve never ordered from Spoonflower before, they custom print your chosen design on whatever fabric you choose at the time you order it.  Which is pretty darn cool, I think – but with the fat quarters, they’re not exactly a standard size – and on top of that, the printing was a little off, size-wise, resulting in some quilt squares that have a white border on one edge.  (I’m sure it’ll be hidden when I start piecing things together, but still, it’s annoying.)

Either I really suck at cutting, or something was off at the Spoonflower printers when I got that fabric printed…

I did, however, make a quilt pattern.  And I think it’ll look pretty cool, once made – but I’m not even sure I want to make it with this fabric, given all the ridiculousness with different amounts of different fabric patterns and all. I might end up doing the disappearing 9-patch pattern I’ve seen around the internet, though – I’ve been wanting to try it for a while, and with a couple solid fat quarters, I should easily be able to make it.  What I will do with that pattern, instead, is polish it up into a nice PDF and possibly post it here for people to test out, if I’ve got any followers who are nerdy quilters who’d want to beta test a pattern for me…

And you know what’s really sad?  I finally got the solid colored fat quarters I needed to help break up the crazy patterns, and I still haven’t cut them up yet.  I’ve had them for a few weeks now and haven’t touched them.  Maybe when I’m on vacation, I’ll finally tackle this quilt in earnest…

The Crafty Nerd gets her nerdy crafting on, finally (and rambles a lot in the process)

Or at least I will be, once Spoonflower ships out my latest fabric order.

So, there’s a bit of a story behind this latest crafting endeavor.  Maybe two stories, actually, that converge into one – but they both focus on my favorite anime ever, Sailor Moon.  The first story is from about… gosh, ten years ago.  (It really doesn’t feel like that long ago!)  A close friend of mine, Katie, bought me some Sailor Moon fabric for my birthday – at least I think it was for my birthday, it’s been so long ago that I’m not entirely sure.  I ended up using some of it for craft projects, a little of it for some Gamma Sigma Sigma shirts (yes, I was in a sorority, but not your typical one!), and then stashed the rest away because I couldn’t think of a good project to use it in, and I didn’t want to use it all up.

Fast forward about ten years, and look what’s still lingering in my fabric stash…

These are the oldest pieces of fabric I’ve got right now – I’ve managed to hang onto them through a LOT of life changes!

Now, recently I’ve had a resurgence of Sailor Moon fangirling – mostly because I got hit with the best idea for a Halloween costume ever.  I remembered seeing a Sailor Moon costume at my local costume shop about a year and a half ago, and while I didn’t have the chance to look at it too much when I’d seen it, I figured if it was a decent costume I’d snag it and maybe make some modifications to it after Halloween to make it fit for cosplaying.  Shortly before Halloween, I went over to Campus Costumes to go seek out that Sailor Moon costume – it was a long shot, as it’d been a while since I’d seen it, but maybe I’d be lucky, right?

Well, after a half hour of searching, one of the store clerks asked what I was looking for, and I told him.  And he said “Well, we’ve got one in rentals – I don’t think they ever sold very well, so we only hung onto one.  I bet if you ask the owner, she’ll sell it to you, though.”  And he walked me over to the rental costumes, and there it was – a store-bought Sailor Moon costume that actually looked halfway decent.  I brought it to the counter, trying to suppress the squeeing of my inner 17-year-old (who tried and was marginally successful at making her own Sailor Moon costume), and politely asked if I could maybe buy the costume.  I’d been looking for it forever, I told her, and I’ve been a huge Sailor Moon fan since forever, and I’ll totally pay the $60 price tag on the front, if you’ll please sell it to me.  I’ll admit, I probably got rambly.

She took one look at the costume, said “eh, I can probably order another one… For $60, it’s yours.”

And I walked out the door with a Sailor Moon costume that actually looked GOOD.

Then I had another dilemma: the wig.  There was no way in hell I’d be able to get a cheap store-bought wig to look remotely close to Sailor Moon’s trademark odango.  I flailed around with the cheap yellow wig I’d bought for about a half hour, unsuccessfully trying to get it into pigtails or even just some buns, when it hit me: I knew someone who might have a Sailor Moon wig I could borrow.  And they lived right across the street.

Yes, I asked my neighbor if they still had a Sailor Moon wig, and if so, could I borrow it.  And the answer to both questions was yes.  (I have some of the best neighbors ever, I swear.  I’m not even going to get into the fangirl flailiness that happened when I went across the street and saw all the Sailor Moon posters hung up at my neighbor’s house, haha.)

So I totally dressed up as Sailor Moon this Halloween, and loved every second of it.

I couldn’t stop squeeing whenever I walked past a mirror and caught sight of myself, haha.

So that finally brings me to this nerdy craft project I’m going to start, which will probably be the first of many Sailor Moon themed craft projects I’ll be working on until convention season starts next year.  You all know I’ve been obsessed with making quilts since the beginning of the year, and when I came across that little stash of old Sailor Moon fabric I’d been hanging onto, it hit me: I should make it into a quilt.  And with the help of some awesome artists on Spoonflower who made some delightful Sailor Moon themed fabric, and a handy sale on fat quarters, my Sailor Moon quilt will be a reality.  (Once I get the fabric, anyway.)

My first challenge will be to make a pattern that’ll work well with the fabric I’ve got – I’ve never actually designed a quilt before, but it shouldn’t be hard.  (The hard part’ll probably be putting it all together correctly!)  I might just design a couple of squares that I can then put together to make the quilt, or find some existing patterns that I could take parts from and reuse as I need to.  I’m actually really excited about having a nerdy project to work on – it’s been entirely too long since I made a nerdy craft project.  The closest I’ve come recently is making a pair of socks with some yarn that’s Twilight Sparkle colored, but that almost feels like it doesn’t count, because it’s socks…

I’ll be posting pictures and rambling about my progress on the quilt from time to time – hopefully it’ll encourage me to start posting regularly again, too.

The Crafty Nerd hangs out with The Five(ish) Fangirls!

First off, I apologize for the inadvertent hiatus – work was absolutely crazy, especially with preparing to go off to my first-ever professional conference!  However, that’s all done now, including all the pre-conference poster-making (I made a poster about making research posters, and made it Spaceballs-themed, and everyone loved it, haha), flailing around in airports as I try to figure out where to go, dealing with ridiculous jet lag, and consuming ridiculous amounts of caffeine to balance out said jet lag.  Now that the majority of the work-related craziness is done, I can focus more on fun stuff – like the poor neglected blog.

Although speaking of work… I might have mentioned my co-worker Rachel a time or two on the blog – she’s one of The Five(ish) Fangirls, and has a weekly podcast focusing on all sorts of fandom fun-stuff.  (And her cube at our Indianapolis office is just as nerdy as mine down in Bloomington.)  With the My Little Pony movie recently having been released, the Five(ish) Fangirls decided to do a podcast on My Little Pony, and guess who they invited to be on the podcast! 😀

So, yes, I got to hang out with the Five(ish) Fangirls last night and ramble about nerdiness and ponies – which was so awesome.

Alright everypony, time to gather round for today’s friendship lesson! Join us, along with special guest Beth from The Crafty Nerd, as we discuss the phenomenon that is My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. We get tangental, and possibly a bit deep into why this fandom has grown to the size and reach that it has, without any signs of slowing down. Plus we bring back the news!

Please ignore my ridiculous moment of completely forgetting what company is responsible for doing the new Sailor Moon dubs – it was at the end of a long day and my brain was mush, hah.  I had so much fun rambling about My Little Pony with everyone, though – and hopefully I get to go back on the show again for other fangirly stuff!  (Like Sailor Moon – my inner rabid Sailor Moon fangirl could talk for hours about all the Sailor Moon things, hah.)

Check out The Five(ish) Fangirls’ site here!

Gen Con 50: The Cosplay

Oh, cosplay.  It’s my favorite part of every convention – and Gen Con had loads of fantastic cosplayers this year.   I love the wide variety of costumes from all corners of geekdom that end up on display during Gen Con, from movies and books to video games and comics.  Seeing all the creativity on display made me one happy crafty nerd, and gave me lots of ideas for future costumes!

Speaking of costuming, I only came up with mine a few months before Gen Con, to be completely honest – I know I’d mentioned dressing as Rose Quartz for Gen Con, but I realized that maybe I should hold off until next year so I can do the costume justice. Instead, I put together a couple of fun costumes from my costume closet – I only needed to snag a few items from Amazon to complete them!

Thursday: Hogwarts Students

A pair of Hogwarts students!

Thursday, Ross and I put our Hogwarts robes to good use and dressed up as a pair of Hogwarts students – we had a couple of people chide us for skipping classes, hahah.

Friday: Ëlinyr Andaleh

She had to be pried from her books in the Royal Academy…

On Friday, I pulled out some costume pieces I haven’t used in a while, as well as my elf ears, and Ëlinyr made her first non-Kishar outing!  I actually had quite a few people stop me for my picture, which was surprising, given that I was pretty much one of many random elves running around Gen Con.  I didn’t mind it, though – and I really enjoyed wearing this costume.   Almost as much as I enjoyed my Saturday costume…

Saturday: Denna from the Kingkiller Chronicles

Denna, with all her names. 🙂

While only maybe four people recognized who I was, I had the most fun with this costume.  (Plus, two of the people who recognized me were Brandon Sanderson and Pat Rothfuss, so I think this one was a win.) The folks at The Tinker’s Packs booth really liked my costume, too!

Now, onto all the other fantastic costumes I saw at Gen Con!

(If I took a picture of you and you want a higher resolution copy of the picture, I’m happy to share it with you!  Just comment with what costume you were wearing, and I’ll make sure to get you the high quality version of your picture!)

Gen Con 50: The Events

Gen Con is usually packed full of all sorts of awesome events, and Gen Con 50 was no different.  I only ended up going to a couple of events this year – I might have done more if we had a hotel, but I didn’t want to end up overwhelming myself, so I went event-lite.  (And even then, I ended up skipping two events because I was exhausted, bleh.)  The ones I did get to go to were fantastic, though – I did some crafting, some book signings, and got to introduce Ross and J to my favorite Gen Con event ever…

An Evening with Patrick Rothfuss

Yes, I started out my Gen Con with some Pat Rothfuss. Did you expect anything different?

Of course the first event of Gen Con 50 that I went to was An Evening with Patrick Rothfuss.  It was a great way to start out the con – two hours with one of my favorite authors!  I brought Ross and J along – Ross has heard me ramble on about Pat and how awesome he is, both as an author and in general, and while J’s a fan of Pat’s (in fact, that’s how we met – J saw my talent pipes while we were at an academic conference together, and said “hey, are those talent pipes?” and I got all flaily and excited), he’d never actually been to An Evening With Patrick Rothfuss before.  So we all went, and oh, it was even better than when I went in 2013.  We all filled up a ballroom this time – the 2013 event only had 200 people, but this year there were 1200 seats with a line of people waiting outside!  It was super exciting, and Ross and J and I couldn’t wait for Pat to get on stage.

Even Ross was excited, and he’d only read The Princess and Mr. Whiffle and the Thing Beneath The Bed, hahaha.

It was run similarly to the 2013 session, with him giving us the option of having a session we could record, where he’d be less candid about things and a little more censored, or we could put our phones and cameras away and we’d all get to pretty much hang out with Pat.  I don’t think anyone raised their hands when he asked if we wanted to record the session, hah.  Pat broke the session up into a couple of different chunks – he’d answer questions from the audience, with mix of notecards with people’s questions and people asking out loud, and he also read us both of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle books.  (If you haven’t read them, you definitely should – but don’t let your kids read them until you’ve seen what’s in them, haha.)  While answering questions, Pat rambled on about great things – mental health, raising kids, silly random things, and life in general.  I especially appreciated his discussion on mental health – as someone who deals with anxiety, depression, and ADHD, it’s good to hear one of my favorite authors publicly encouraging people to go to therapy – even if they don’t really think they need it.  Having someone to talk to about life and all that goes on in it, someone who’s not currently connected to everything you’re experiencing and can provide an outside perspective, is pretty much essential to keeping yourself emotionally in good shape.  I love that Pat cares about us all enough to tell us “go to therapy!”

Things weren’t all seriousness, though.  He told us some adorable stories about his kids, and even sang to us in the process!  He sang a couple of songs, very briefly, from the Rankin Bass version of The Hobbit, which was great. (And reminded me that I really need to see that version of The Hobbit.  I’ve got it on DVD somewhere…)  The questions from the audience were great, and the more amusing ones that stuck out in my mind included “Can I go to dinner with you?”, “Could you have Lin-Manuel Miranda call my wife?”, and “If you had to choose between breaking both your legs and eating 10,000 Go-Gurts, which would you choose?” J asked a question that made me giggle – “If you were to cast a live action version of Slow Regard of Silent Things, who would you cast for the inanimate objects?”  Pat initially responded with Nathan Fillion, which got us all cheering, then he thought about it, realized we were cheering because we all love Nathan Fillion, and changed his mind to Keanu Reeves, which was actually way funnier, hah.  (Oh, Keanu Reeves and your uninspired acting…)  Much like the 2013 event, the evening ended with all of us singing together – which was delightful.  I’m really glad I managed to get tickets to this event.

Featherweight Armor for Costuming

I got to learn about making costume armor from Agent Peggy Carter and her friend, haha.

This was a great workshop, put on by the fine folks at …And Sewing is Half The Battle!  I learned so much about new materials for making cosplay props and armor, and new ways to use materials I’ve worked with before, like craft foam.  And I picked up some techniques to make things look their best, and also learned how to be safe while working with some slightly more hazardous materials.  I even got the chance to work with some Worbla, which I’d never used before!  I also found out I probably need to add a heat gun to my crafting arsenal.

Bracers in progress!

The folks at …And Sewing is Half the Battle did a fantastic job with the workshop, and were really thorough – they showed all sorts of materials to work with, talked about the pros and cons of each, and detailed any safety measures you might need to take when working with certain materials.  I hope Gen Con gives them a bigger room next year – this one definitely needs more space for everyone to work in, especially when we’re trying to use heat guns, haha. It was overall an awesome session – and it’s given me lots of ideas for next year’s costumes!

Brandon Sanderson book signing

I did not actually get to take a photo of Brandon Sanderson, so here’s one from the internet.

I only recently got into Sanderson’s books, and have been reading them pretty much since May – I tore through all six books of Mistborn, and then the two books of The Stormlight Archives.  (I’m now very eagerly awaiting the third Stormlight Archives book!)  His books are pretty darn awesome, and his writing style pulls you into the story and just won’t let go.  When I found out he was going to be at Gen Con, I knew I’d have to get a book of his signed – so I grabbed a hardcover copy of Mistborn: The Final Empire and on Saturday, I made my way over to his book signing.  I had lots of fun geeking out with other fans in line, especially over the end of Words of Radiance (don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything!).  It’s always fun to talk to people who share common interests with you!  When it was my turn to get my book signed, Sanderson was incredibly friendly, and he even commented on my Denna costume, from Pat Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, with all of her names on a name tag, haha.  He told me to tell Pat Rothfuss that he doesn’t have to worry about releasing the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicles anytime soon, as he’s got a 3rd book in a fantasy series coming out this year so Pat can take his time, which made me giggle.  I really like how friendly Sanderson is – he was very approachable, and really warm and welcoming!  I’ll definitely get more of his books signed if he comes back to Gen Con next year.  (Which I’m pretty sure he will.)

Harry Potter Ornament Painting

This was a nice, relaxing event.  I’m really glad I signed up to do this.  I got to sit and paint for a little while, and chat with other Harry Potter fans, which was lots of fun!

Ornaments before painting.

These are some really nice ornaments – they’re made out of clay, and were fun to paint, albeit a little fiddly in some spots.  My painting job was… less than stellar in some spots, hah.

Here they are, freshly covered in Mod Podge!

Pat Rothfuss Book Signing

This turned out to be such an epic event for me that I’m going to make it into its own post. So stay tuned.

In short, I had loads of fun at all the events I went to this year – and I’m seriously pondering hosting some sort of crafting event next year…

Gen Con 50: the best Gen Con ever

This is going to be the first of a bunch of posts about Gen Con 50, which has turned out to be the BEST Gen Con I’ve ever been to. I’ve done so much and seen so many cool things over the past few days – and it’s not all going to fit into one post, so I’m going to do a handful of them – one on the overall experience, one on events, one on awesome experiences in the Dealers Hall, and one entirely devoted to cosplay!

The first thing I noticed about Gen Con, mostly because it was the first place I went, was the fact that Will Call was EMPTY.

I think this was honestly the busiest I saw Will Call during the entire convention.

I’m guessing it was probably due to no on-site ticket sales because Gen Con was sold out for the first time in Gen Con history, but still, it was eerie to see Will Call so quiet! As always, though, everything went smoothly – I got my press badge quickly, got event tickets even more quickly, and enjoyed all my time at the convention. It was fantastic, I swear.

The ever-fantastic Cardhalla.

And what was really awesome was the fact that Gen Con took over Lucas Oil Stadium – the home of the Indianapolis Colts!

I swear, seeing Gen Con stuff on the Jumbotron got me all super excited!

I think spreading things out over three or four hotels, the Indy Convention Center, and Lucas Oil Stadium really helped spread out the crowds.  My introvert self really appreciated it. The game lending library was right there on the field at Lucas Oil, as well as a mini museum documenting the history of Gen Con – which was fascinating.

I went to awesome events, had lots of compliments on my costumes, saw SO MANY other awesome costumes, and got to spend lots of time with friends.

Ross and I, and our friends J and Kasi! 😀

I also got to help set up a LARP, got to listen to one of my favorite authors ramble about things and read his two “children’s” books, and ate tasty food from all sorts of places – food trucks, restaurants, and more.

I always love seeing Granite City’s Gen Con menu.

I used to say Gen Con 2013 was the best Gen Con, but I think this one trumps it. By a lot.  So many fantastic things happened – again, I can’t just cover it all in one post, so tomorrow I’ll share my experiences in the events I went to!  After that, it’ll be fun from the Dealers Hall, and then the final Gen Con post will be on the epic cosplay!  (And there may be an entire post dedicated to Pat Rothfuss, too.)

Costuming through the years: the Crafty Nerd edition

Oh, costuming.

I’ve been a huge fan of wearing costumes, ever since I was a kid – the more elaborate, the better.  Halloween was always my favorite time of year, because it meant dressing up – granted, Halloween in the mid- to late 80’s typically involved those costumes that came in a box, with the weird masks and vinyl jumpsuit things…

I’m Tenderheart Bear in this one, I think this might have been from… what, 1987?

Once I got a little older, I discovered the world of more exciting costumes.  I’d try and find something better and fancier than the previous one, because dangit, I wanted to pretend I was someone else for the day.  And once I got old enough to handle a sewing machine with some skill, I started making my own costumes.  They may not have been amazing, but I sure as heck felt awesome in them.  Case in point: my first ever costume, a handmade Princess Toadstool costume from 1997.

My first venture ever into costume creation. (Don’t mind the tape around the edges – had to use Google Photo Scan to scan this in from an old scrapbook!)

Granted, my sewing skills were still pretty limited at this point, so the only part of the costume that involved any sewing was the skirt – but my thrift store skills were epic even at the tender age of fifteen, and I managed to get everything else I needed to put together that costume – gloves, pretty red heels, and a floofy petticoat.  Sure, the crown and brooch were made out of construction paper, and my wig was a cheap one from Spencer’s that smelled horrible, but dangit, I was Princess Toadstool, and I was happy.

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Mia and Lapis: or, how I finally got my license

This post isn’t even remotely crafty or nerdy, so for those of you who follow the blog for my craft projects or nerdy rambles, I’m sorry.  If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll notice that I do occasionally talk about my life here – and, well, some pretty big stuff has happened in my life recently.

The biggest thing: I GOT MY DRIVER’S LICENSE.

holy freaking crap I DID IT OMG OMG

Yes, after seventeen years of anxiety, terror of piloting a vehicle at speeds faster than 20 mph, three scooters, one moped, and two cars, I’ve finally got my driver’s license.  At the ripe old age of 35.  But I did it.

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The return of Startitis

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

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

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

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

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