Author: Beth

A brief (and random) interlude: good things about this week

I swear, I had a real post written up for yesterday.  It was only missing some photos, ones I had to take as I do the tutorial I’m hoping to share with you all soon (probably next week at this point, though).  I got it all written Wednesday night.  I was going to take the photos on Thursday, and post it on Friday, and keep up my posting streak of one post a week.  I had this.

And then my brain intervened, and said “oh we’re not going to do that, we’re not going to do anything but knit when you’re not at work, knit and feel miserable.”

Thursday ended up being a pretty rough day, and Friday wasn’t much better.  So here I am on Saturday morning, at 7 am, not wanting to break my posting streak.  So, instead of a tutorial, or cosplay planning, I’m going to share some of the good things that happened this week.  Because this week wasn’t just full of my brain being ridiculous like it tends to be at times.  There were some cool little things that happened that made me smile.

Please ignore my scruffy bath mat and oddly lit legs, my phone apparently decided that the boots were the only thing that needed a correct color.

First off, I got my Sailor Moon boots in the mail this week.  There was a little bit of frustration with them at first – they didn’t come close to fitting my calves – but the owner of the Etsy shop I bought them from told me how to stretch them so they’d fit, and it worked! (Obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take this picture.)  They look so fantastic, and I can’t wait for Gen Con so I can wear them around the convention on Saturday.

Peridot and Lapis, together again on the back of my car!

I also finally got a Peridot decal to go with the Lapis decal on the back of my new car!  (who is also named Lapis – that’s a story for another time though)  A friend of mine from work, Jake, makes vinyl decals, and when I couldn’t get the original decals I’d bought for Old Lapis because the seller’s Etsy store was on (seemingly permanent) vacation, I sketched up some stuff in Illustrator and had Jake make me some decals.  They came out really well!

And it’s not exactly a nerdy thing, but I can’t help but show off one of my kitties, Hannah, who was trying to make me feel better last night when I hit a rough patch:

My sweet, photogenic girl.

Isn’t she beautiful?  She curled up next to my feet after this and slept there all night.   (And then decided to use me as a landing pad early this morning when she jumped out of the window above the bed, oof.)  She doesn’t often snuggle with Ross and I, especially not in the summer, so it was an extra special treat to get Hannah snuggles last night.

Here’s hoping next week will be better.  At the very least, I’ll have more than enough time to get that tutorial I’ve been working on finished by Thursday or Friday.

Sailor Moon at Gen Con: it’s actually happening

This has been hanging on my craft room door since last Halloween, reminding me that this is going to be probably my one big cosplay for Gen Con this year.  I’ve actually been a little afraid to ramble about the costume on the blog, because every time I say “oh hey I am SO GOING TO COSPLAY AS THIS” on the blog, it never happens.  (Like Toothless.  And Rose Quartz.)

This one is actually going to happen, though.  I mean, I’m too close to having a completed costume for this to just say “eh, maybe next year”.  I’m remembering how I felt at Halloween when I put on this costume, when my inner sixteen-year-old let out a near-constant fangirl squeal every time I looked in a mirror.  I saw myself and said “I am Sailor Moon.”

This is one happy Crafty Nerd, you guys.

For me, this is huge.  I’ve done a bunch of Sailor Moon costumes over the years.  I made one by hand during my senior year of high school (and I do mean by hand, I lost sewing machine privileges during the middle of that project and some parts were held together by staples). I found a pre-made Sailor Moon costume at a Spencer’s back during my sophomore year of college — it was a child’s XL, I had to cut the bodysuit out to make it fit and wore it all over a white t-shirt.  I made a Sailor Jupiter costume for I-CON 2006 that turned out really impressively, and I wish I’d hung onto it because it was the best hand-sewn costume I’d made up to that point.

This year, I’m going to have a costume that’s well put together, that I won’t have to worry about falling apart because of my iffy hand-sewing skills.  It won’t have staples in it.  It won’t be a cobbled together collection of whatever I can find that’s “close enough” to certain costume pieces that I can’t make on my own or afford to buy somewhere.

There are three pieces I still need to get for my costume — one I just bought and am waiting for it to be shipped, one I’m pestering a friend for on Tuesday, and the third I think I could get away without if I need to.

The first thing, and something I’ve never actually had for a Sailor Moon costume before: the boots.

Oh my lord, they’re so beautiful.

I found these boots on Etsy, in the shop Catzia’s Collectibles.  This shop is full of beautiful Sailor Moon cosplay accessories, and I can’t wait to get the boots and see how they feel.  I’ll definitely want to break them in before Gen Con, so I don’t accidentally destroy my feet like I’ve done with just about every costume I’ve worn that involves heels.  (I wonder if I could get away with wearing these under jeans for work, haha.)  I’m ridiculously excited about these boots, you guys.  I’ve done Sailor Moon costumes with plain red heels, with black flats, even with a pair of grey and black Mary Janes with Sailor Moon socks.  I’m gonna have actual boots for this costume.  Sixteen-year-old me could cry happy tears right now.

The next is the wig.

Even this well-loved Sailor Moon wig is awesome.

I’ve told you about my wonderful wig-making neighbor before — and Oriana is hopefully going to start work on my very own Sailor Moon wig soon, which has me ridiculously excited.  (You need to see her Queen Beryl – I’m really hoping she brings that to Gen Con, it’s such a fantastic costume!  At the very least, maybe we can throw on costumes and do a photoshoot in our neighborhood.  I’m pretty sure most of our neighbors won’t even bat an eye.)

The last thing I need is the wand.

For an unofficial wand, this looks pretty darn good!

There are lots of places I could get a Sailor Moon wand. I’m kind of kicking myself for selling my old Cutie Moon Rod years ago, and I miss my old Crescent Moon Wand (which had an untimely demise due to a friend accidentally stepping on it, it’s my fault for leaving it on the floor).  I could hope to win an auction on eBay for an older Sailor Moon wand like the one I had in high school, or I could spend a stupid amount of money on a Proplica wand.  (And if I did buy a Proplica wand, I’d be terrified to bring it to Gen Con because what if something happened to it?  Then I’d be out $100, and I’d be a very sad Crafty Nerd.)  The pictured wand is one I might get, if I do decide to go with a wand. It looks pretty close to the original wand. While it’s a little expensive for something that’s not an official Sailor Moon item, it’s still better than worrying about breaking a Proplica wand on accident or going with modifying a bootleg toy to look a little more official.

You guys.  This costume is actually happening.  I am actually going to wear a Sailor Moon costume to a convention and not be slightly embarrassed by it because it’s not perfect.  Because this costume is going to be just about perfect.  And I can’t wait to wear it.

Four crafts to try this summer

With the warmer temperatures arriving here in Bloomington, I’ve been looking for crafts to do that don’t involve me being buried under a pile of yarn — and I’m sure a number of you folks out there reading this are too. Or, you might just be looking for some new crafts to try out, to add some variety to your crafting life! So, based on a blog post suggestion from my friend Katherine, I’ve come up with a couple of fun summer crafts to try out. Some of these might not be new to you, but you might end up finding some new techniques to try out for some of these crafts!

Make a hand-carved wood sign

This idea I got from Kasi while we were camping together at a festival recently. A bunch of us were crafting around the fire, mostly knitting, and we joked that we should call ourselves the Crafter Circle — and that prompted Kasi to try her hand at making a sign for us, using wood carving tools to carve the letters out of the sign.

Almost done – just needs some paint for the word “crafter”!

It’s a work in progress, as you can see, but it’s looking pretty awesome so far – especially for this being Kasi’s first time doing wood carving!

To get started with something like this, you’ll need wood carving tools (which you can get at craft stores like Michaels or Jo-Ann’s), a blank wood sign, some paint or wood stain (depending on how you want to finish it), and a pencil to sketch out your design with. Check out this tutorial on DoItYourself.com for a quick guide on how to get started.

Dye your own yarn

I’ve been wanting to dye my own yarn forever, and this summer, I think I’ll finally get the chance.

Look at all these lovely colors! (Image from Fiber Arts Bootcamp.)

For me, this would definitely be an outdoor craft, since I know I’ll end up making a mess — I mean, come on, every time I try to dye my hair at home, it looks like someone got murdered in my bathroom, what with all the red hair dye that ends up everywhere. This guide from Darn Good Yarn should help you get started with dying your own yarn at home.

Make a crochet mandala

Crochet mandalas seem to be all the rage today — and with it being too hot to do much yarn work with anything bigger than a sock, making a mandala might help keep your hands busy with without you overheating in the process. Lucy from Attic24 has made some lovely mandalas in hoops, as you can see in the following picture.

Mandalas made by Lucy of Attic24.

You can also make some non-hooped mandalas of varying levels of intricacy – check out this post on The Crochet Crowd for some free mandala patterns. Lucy also has a tutorial on how to make hooped mandalas on her blog.

Tie-dye all sorts of things

Okay, so I already mentioned dying yarn, but tie-dying is a little bit different… plus, tie-dying is a craft that I’m definitely not new to. I used to work as a camp counselor during the summers when I was in high school and college, and more often than not, I’d lead the tie-dying evening activities. In the process, I learned you can tie-dye just about anything — shirts, socks, pants, bandannas, pillow cases, bed sheets… if it’s made out of cotton fabric, you can tie-dye it.

Photo of a rainbow-colored tie-dye t-shirt.
T-shirts are just the beginning!

There are lots of ways to tie-dye things, and many different dyes and processes you can use. At summer camp we’d use Rit dyes, but they tended to fade pretty quickly if the garment was worn often, so I’d suggest stronger dyes if you want something that will last. Jo-Ann’s has an awesome tie-dye t-shirt technique guide that’ll help you get started, if you want to have some fun with tie-dying your clothes (and bedding, and random quilt fabric, and other miscellaneous items).

These are just a handful of fun crafts you could try out this summer — if you’ve got suggestions of your own, share them in the comments!

Getting back into sewing

I’m pretty sure you folks all know I love to sew.  I’ve rambled about it a number of times on the blog.  Unfortunately, I haven’t really done much of it lately — largely because I don’t really have space to permanently set up my sewing machine.  It’s kind of a pain in the butt to set my sewing space up in the kitchen, sew for a few hours, and then take it all back down because we need to eat.  And unless I want to try to sew standing up, with the sewing machine perched on my giant dresser, there’s not really space to set it up in my craft room.

Not pictured: the messy bed with the cat sprawled on top of it, or the huge dresser covered in a mess of craft supplies.

Eventually I’ll have the space, since I’m planning on getting rid of the giant dresser (which takes up nearly an entire wall) and getting a much more reasonably sized one from Ikea at some point, and rearranging the furniture that’s left.  However, that’s going to involve some help from friends and a trip up to Fishers to get a new dresser, and a number of other things that I can’t quite get done right away.

In the meantime, I figured out a space where I can semi-permanently set up my sewing machine!  You’ll probably laugh, but hey, it’s working out pretty well for me.

My tiny sewing studio, complete with Super Mario trash can, motorcycle, and ugly garage floor. (I never said this was a glamorous studio!)

Yes, I’ve set up my sewing machine in the garage, of all places. Sure, it smells a little bit like motorcycle fumes when it gets warm in there, but I don’t mind it.  I have both my sewing machine and my ironing board set up at the same time, and can switch between them easily — which is wonderful.  When I try to set everything up in the kitchen, inevitably I end up tripping over something or knocking something over.  I used to flop the ironing board on top of the washer and dryer, but since Ross and I got new ones last year with rounded tops, I can’t quite iron in the laundry room anymore.

It’s actually not so bad, sewing in the garage.  Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous at all, but since when do all craft rooms have to be shiny and pretty and Instagram-worthy?  And I have the added benefit of being able to enjoy lots of fresh air, since I can just open up the garage door and practically be sewing outside.

Lapis: “can I help? 😀 “

Plus, that means I can sew with New Lapis! Who I’ll probably ramble about in more detail at a later date.  After all, she is The Crafty Nerdmobile!  (And once a month, she’s Lappy the LARPmobile too.)

Anyway, I’ve managed to put my sewing studio to good use so far — I’ve started work on a disappearing 9-patch quilt, and I’m to the part where I can start sewing the completed squares together.

The start of the disappearing 9-patch square — this is before I chopped it all up.

I’m really impressed with how these squares are coming out, on most of them the seams are lining up perfectly.  I learned some new quilting techniques (or, more accurately, ironing techniques) that really helped with this.  I didn’t know until recently that when you’re working with quilt squares, you shouldn’t iron them like you’d typically iron a shirt or other sewing projects.  Instead, you just flop the iron down on the seam you want to press flat and let gravity do the work.  I’ve been setting the iron on the seam for a few seconds, then lifting it and setting it further down, and it’s working out really well for me.

And here’s the square after! Doesn’t it look fantastic?

I think once I’m finished with this quilt, I might actually get working on the Sailor Moon quilt again – which also might end up being a disappearing 9-patch as well.  This pattern is fun, and ends up looking really nice when it’s done.  Not sure what I’ll do with either of these quilts when they’re finished, as I’m starting to run out of places to put them, but I’ll figure it out eventually.

I missed sewing.

Steven Universe: whaaaaat

I think Amethyst’s reaction at the end of the most recent episode of Steven Universe sums up my feelings about the events of said episode perfectly.

whaaaaaaAAAAAT?!

Before I go into too much more detail about all the stuff going on in my brain about the most recent Steven Universe episodes, Can’t Go Back and A Single Pale Rose, I should warn everyone that there will be spoilers. Lots of them.  So, if you haven’t already watched the most recent two episodes of Steven Universe: stop reading this, go find those episodes, and watch them.  And then when you’ve recovered, come back and read with me.  Beyond the jump is spoilers, so you’ve been warned!

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May the 4th be with you! (or, happy Star Wars day)

Yes, it’s May the 4th, and as all my fellow nerds know, it’s Star Wars Day!  I figure, what better day is there to ramble about how I ended up a fan of Star Wars than on Star Wars day?

You’ll probably be surprised by this, folks, but I hadn’t seen the original trilogy of Star Wars movies until I was in high school – in fact, I watched them for the first time ever the week before Episode 1 came out.  Lots of kids I knew in school liked Star Wars, and I remember some of my fellow high school band members being really excited when our band director had us prepare a medley of the Star Wars soundtrack for a band concert. All I knew about it was that there was some guy named Luke in it, and a girl named Leia, and maybe Luke and Leia were romantically involved because all the pictures I saw were of them together.  Oh, and that the guy who voiced Mufasa in The Lion King was Darth Vader.  That was the extent of my Star Wars knowledge up until one of my friends in high school, horrified when I told him I hadn’t seen any of the movies, sat me down in his living room one Saturday afternoon so we could watch the original trilogy on VHS.  And me, being the nerd I’ve always been, fell in love with the movies.  (And felt really awkward when I found out that Luke and Leia were actually siblings, and not lovers, hah.)

If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you know that when I get really interested in something, I go all out with my nerdiness.  And Star Wars was no exception, when I first got into it.  I had a tie-dyed Yoda shirt I wore until it fell apart.  I bought plastic lightsabers and had duels in a friend’s front lawn, once all the Episode 1 toys went on sale just before the Episode 2 toys came out.  I saw Episode 1 a total of 8 times in the theater (although that was mostly due to the fact that it was the first movie of a triple-feature every weekend at the drive in for the entire summer of 1999).  I gave Yoda a standing ovation with the rest of the Star Wars fans at the midnight showing of Episode 2.  I got ragey as heck when I found out that Lucas swapped out the original Anakin Skywalker in A New Hope with Hayden Christansen.  And every Halloween, I wished I had enough money to get a Princess Leia costume.

After a while, my Star Trek nerdiness mellowed out a bit – after watching the prequels enough to realize how bad they were in comparison to the original trilogy, and after not knowing if they were ever going to make anything focusing on the story past Return of the Jedi, Star Wars took a bit of a backseat to other fandoms I was interested in.   Until it was announced that there was, in fact, going to be an Episode 7, and that J. J. Abrams was going to be directing The Force Awakens. And I got flaily again.

The Force Awakens – or, more accurately, The Flaily Fangirl Reawakens.

Folks, you should have seen me when the opening credits started to roll for The Force Awakens.  I think I almost started crying.  I got hit with such a wave of nostalgia that it was almost overwhelming.  And the new movies, both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, are the Star Wars movies I’ve needed for a long time.  Sure, people complained that they took too much from the original trilogy – but I love the original trilogy, and to see familiar stories told in a new way makes me a happy nerd.

Porg is my co-pilot.

I’m gonna take a moment to ramble about porgs here.  I freaking love the porgs, they’re so adorable – and a bit less creepy than the Ewoks.

You’ve gotta admit, they’re a little creepy.

For ages I was trying to hunt down a plush Ewok so I could have one of my very own – one of the original Ewoks, not the recently-released Build-a-Bear ewoks. Now? I want a porg.  They’re amusing comic relief for what was otherwise, for me anyway, a very emotional movie.  With Carrie Fisher’s passing, The Last Jedi was full of feels for me, as I really loved her portrayal of Leia and could identify with Carrie’s struggles with mental health – and I swear, when Luke said to Leia “No-one’s ever really gone,” I burst into tears.  Those little porgs kept me from weeping through the entire movie.

I’m curious to hear from other Star Wars fans how you ended up coming to the fandom – were you following the movies right from the beginning?  Did you end up becoming a fan, like I did, just before Episode 1 came out?  Are you relatively new to the world of Star Wars?  Tell me in the comments – I’m always curious to hear how people end up coming to like things that I enjoy too. 🙂

How to make your dragon a shawl: part 1

Recently, I finally got brave enough to try making the Wingspan Shawl – while I’ve been knitting for… gosh, nearly 25 years, I’ve never really been confident in my skills beyond the the garter stitch until recently.  Now that I’ve made a number of pair of socks, though, I figured I could finally tackle the Wingspan Shawl.  I’ve been wanting to try it for years, and so I decided to try my hand at it with some yarn I picked up at a trunk show recently.  (It’s Blackberry Brambles by Oink Pigments, for those curious!)

Shawl that somewhat resembles a dragon wing, in shades of cream, pink, blue, and green.
Doesn’t this look lovely?

Once I got into the swing of things, I found out I really love working this pattern – it’s just interesting enough to keep me from getting bored, but simple enough that I can work it while watching TV.  I chugged through quite a bit of this wingspan shawl, but then encountered a problem: I ran out of yarn.

Toothless the Dragon from How To Train Your Dragon, with a grumpy look on his face.
“… are you telling me we’re out of yarn?”

While I was working on the Blackberry Brambles wingspan, though, I had an idea: I could make a Toothless-inspired wingspan shawl, with most of the shawl being black and the last two panels being red, like Toothless’s tail.

Toothless the Dragon from How To Train Your Dragon, showing his red prostetic tail fins.
Yeah, it’s his tail and not his wing (like the shawl’s name), but hey, it works, right?

So while I waited for my next skein of Blackberry Brambles to get here from Oink Pigments, I went to Jo-Ann’s and snagged some red and black yarn and whipped up this awesome little shawlette:

Plush Toothless the Dragon, sitting on the floor next to a shawl that resembles a dragon's wing.
It turned out really well, I think! I might be biased, though.

It’s not quite finished, yet – I want to add the dragon insignia that’s on Toothless’s tail fin, but that’ll involve another trip out to the craft store for some felt.  Once I’ve got that added, I’ll share the finished product with you all, as well as the template I create for the dragon insignia and instructions for how to add it to your own wingspan shawl!

RWBY: how did I go so long without watching this?

So, sometimes I’m a slacker when it comes to pop culture – especially TV and movies.  I’ll hear about a new show or movie that’s particularly awesome, and say “oh, I should watch that!” (Which is what I’ve been saying about Guardians of the Galaxy for so long that there’s a sequel to watch now.  Oops.)  Then, my brain files that information away somewhere to be forgotten about for months or years, until I’m reminded of it again, and realize that I’ve been meaning to watch it forever.

Like RWBY.  I’d seen people referencing it online years ago, and talking about how good it was, and I saw merchandise for the show in Hot Topic (yes, I shop at Hot Topic sometimes, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine despite how pricey everything is in there), and said “oh, that looks kinda cool, I should watch that someday.”  Well, that someday finally came – a couple of weeks ago, in fact.

Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang, oh how I love you all

Holy crap, why did I wait so long to watch this show?  It’s hilarious and badass and awesome, all at the same time.  It’s like Final Fantasy meets the Blue Rose tabletop RPG I’m playing in (where all the characters are essentially learning how to become guardians of the realm at a special academy, grouped into squads, and the GM hadn’t ever seen RWBY until we were four or five games in, so it’s eerie as heck how the game parallels the show).  It has sneaky references to fairy tales and other stories, and I love how subtly it’s all worked into the story.  And one of the first things I noticed, having watched a fair amount of Red vs. Blue back in the day, was the Rooster Teeth feel to it all, especially in season 1.  I spent a lot of time excitedly flailing as I watched season 1 of RWBY, as I’d see familiar joke timings, or epic battle scenes that make me think of Final Fantasy 7’s Limit Breaks, or even just cute goofy stuff that made me happy.  I love this show.  I seriously love this show.

How can you not enjoy a show where every melee weapon is also a gun? Like this set of nunchucks, which not only can turn into a staff, but are also freaking SHOTGUNS.

The soundtrack is great, the animation keeps getting better with every season, and the storyline is engaging.  And I’m only a few episodes into season 2 at this point. I’m quite sure this weekend is going to be spent binge-watching the rest of the show while I recover from my LARPing adventures last weekend.  (I have to remind myself that I’m not exactly as young as I used to be, and running around in the forest for two days will leave me hurting if I’m not careful, hah.)  And, to be honest, trying to convince myself not to try to throw together a Ruby cosplay for Gen Con, hahah. Whenever I do finish RWBY, I’ll come back and post a more thorough review of the show, something more substantial than my fangirl flailings of today’s post.  So far, though, I’m enjoying the heck out of this show.

The eternally distracted nerd

Twilight Sparkle with a book
Imagine that book is my blog, and that Twilight Sparkle is me, happily chugging out a post a week…

I was on a really good posting streak there for a while, wasn’t I?

And then my brain got in the way and decided “hey, let’s focus on everything that’s NOT the blog!”  And silly me went and followed it down a bunch of rabbit trails.  I started three craft projects, in addition to the two unfinished pairs of socks and poor neglected Sailor Moon quilt.

Oh hey there, started-but-not-finished projects.

And then Kishar started back up again, which meant I got to don my elf ears and red dress again and run around as Ëlinyr the Sun Elf for a weekend!

Ëlinyr and a newcomer to the Adventurer’s Guild.

Then there are the cosplay ideas Ross and I have been coming up with for the conventions we’re going to.  (I’m not going to post about them, because it seems that any time I post about costumes I want to do for conventions here, I never end up actually making them, like Toothless and Rose Quartz…)  And of course I get wrapped up in those and get excited for conventions, and all the fun that comes along with them.

And then I remember my poor neglected blog, and feel bad.

That happy Twilight from earlier? Now she’s buried in craft projects and books and half-started projects and unwritten blog posts. :/

Then something else distracts me, and off I go!  *sighs*

So that’s where my brain has been lately, folks.  Lost in a bunch of ridiculous distractions.  I need to actually develop a blog posting routine – set down a day and time every week to write some stuff.  Even if it’s just “hey, I’ve got nothing this week, so here, have some pictures of dogs dressed up in costumes”.

Speaking of which – yes, it’s old, but I do love seeing Pudge dressed up as the Eleventh Dogtor.

Pudge the Corgi, dressed as the 11th Doctor from Doctor Who.
Because how can you be sad when looking at a corgi dressed as the 11th Doctor?

What this rambly post boils down to, I think:  I’m still here, I’m still distracted by everything, but I’m gonna try my darndest to put new blog posts out on a regular-ish basis.  There’s definitely no shortage of things I want to post about, like my idea for turning a Wingspan Shawl into a Toothless shawl.  Or how ideas for keeping track of my yarn tourism fun.  And don’t forget about how I managed to read through almost all the Dresden Files books this year – that merits a post of its own, I think.

There I go, getting distracted again!  Anyhow.  Expect some more regular posts from me – and feel free to pester me if you don’t see anything for a while.  Friendly reminders from readers are always welcome, hah.

The crochet-a-long, two-ish months later

Well, the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long I posted about a little while ago came to a close a few weeks ago.  How’s my blanket looking, you ask?

Blanket in multiple colors draped over a basket.
It’s definitely a blanket!

Well, even though the crochet-a-long wrapped up recently, I’m still 11 or 12 stripes away from finishing the blanket.  I managed to keep up with the rest of the group pretty well for the first month or so, and then my ADHD caught up with me and my brain said “hey, let’s find something else to work on, we’ve worked on this blanket for like a month straight, so let’s do something new and exciting!”

So I started a pair of socks.

Beginning of a knitted sock, roughly three inches long.
This sock is much further along now, I’ve rounded the heel at this point!

And then I dug out a cardigan that I’d started a few years ago and hadn’t finished yet.

Close-up of crochet stitchwork that's part of a cardigan.
It still looks like an amorphous blob at this point, but the stitch pattern is pretty.

And then I decided to go back to another pair of socks I was working on and do some work on those.

Two socks, one still being knitted, only completed up to the heel of the sock.
This pair is actually pretty close to being finished!

And then I felt guilty about not working on the blanket and went back to working on that for a little bit, but then got distracted by socks again.  I know I’ll finish that blanket soon – I keep telling myself that I’ll finish it after I finish the socks with the zigzag pattern, that I won’t start any more projects until I get some others finished.  Will I actually be able to stick to that, though? Who knows.

Anyhow, I’ll post about the blanket when I get it finished, I promise.  And I will get that finished.  I’m determined.

Five more free nerdy cross-stitch patterns

Everybody loves free things, and especially free cross-stitch patterns!  So, here, have another collection of nerdy free cross-stitch patterns.

Rick and Morty Big Heads

Preview of Rick and Morty Big Heads cross-stitch pattern

Because everyone loves Rick and Morty, here’s a pattern of our favorite dysfunctional interdimensional travelers.

Home Is Where My Butt Is

Cross-stitch pattern with a cat on a couch, with the caption Home is where my butt is.

Oh, Pusheen.  So cute and sassy.

Navi in a Bottle

Cross-stitch pattern of a little fairy in a bottle, with the text Hey Listen.
Because sometimes, you just want to cram Navi in a bottle.

Bowie Cross-Stitch Pattern

Cross stitch pattern of David Bowie, with the lightning bolt on his face from Aladdin Sane.
A little bit of Bowie is always good.

Totoro Bookmark Cross-Stitch Pattern

Image of a cross-stitch bookmark featuring Totoro.

I’ll let you all in on a little secret… I actually still haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro yet.  I know, it’s shocking!

Photo of different types of teas arranged around a mug, with the text The tea nerd superimposed over the image

The tea nerd

Tea: it’s what fuels all my craft projects.  And my work. And, well, my entire life.  When I had to give up coffee last year due (it’s a long story), I needed something caffeinated to fill the hole in my life.  It turns out that tea more than filled that empty space.

Photo of a crocheted blanket next to a mug of tea.
Ahh, tea. Plus, my favorite mug – an old Beauty and the Beast mug I found at a thrift shop years ago.

I almost wonder why I never got into the tasty world of tea earlier.  There are so very many different flavors of tea out there, and different varieties of the same kind of tea – for example, did you know that every variety of Earl Grey I’ve had tastes different?  Some have a stronger bergamot taste and smell, some have different flavors added, and they’re all unique and tasty.  Beyond just Earl Grey, there are so many different delicious teas out there – like Lupicia’s Rose Royal black tea, Adagio’s Cream Tea, Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice tea, and my morning staple, Yorkshire Gold tea.

There are some serious tea nerds out there – like J and Kasi, who have a tea shelf that’s taller than me and FULL of different types of tea.

Photo of a shelf unit, full of different varieties of tea.
Seriously. Look at that tea shelf. And that’s not even all their tea. (and there’s even a little bit of courtesy coffee at the top left!)

Me, my tea shelf is nowhere near as impressive, but it’s definitely full of tasty tea.  I’ve acquired a variety of teas from all over the place, thanks to friends and discoveries online.  And I just keep finding more tasty tea.  And nerdy tea, too! Like the Fandom Blends from Adagio Teas, who let tea lovers make their own tea blends based on favorite TV shows and books.  It’s fun to try them out, and see what sorts of blends people come up with for your favorite fandoms.  I can vouch for the tastiness of the following teas – I especially like the Sailor Moon blend, it’s incredibly tasty.

Photo of three small tea tins, one with Rose Quartz from Steven Universe on the front, another with Sailor Moon, and the third with Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony.
The Rose Quartz and Pinkie Pie teas are really good, too.

Dryad Tea also makes nerdy teas – and plenty of them, too! (My favorite of theirs is based off of an SJ Tucker song, Ravens in the Library.)  In addition to tea, though, they make absolutely beautiful mugs and nerdy tea infusers too! Check out this lovely handmade mug I got from them at Gen Con.

Photo of a handmade mug, with a tin of tea labeled Ravens in the Library.
I absolutely love those colors together – this is one of my favorite tea mugs, for sure.

Dryad Tea is definitely one of my favorite discoveries from Gen Con last year, for sure.  I plan on loading up with more of their tea soon, and purchasing another mug from them during Gen Con – look at these beautiful mugs they’ve just finished up!

A collage of 9 different photos of different handmade mugs, some with floral patterns, made by Dryad Tea.
These mugs are so very beautiful! (Photo by Dryad Teas.)

I think you can safely say that tea is now a thing I officially nerd out over, especially given the amount of tea I have crammed onto the tea shelf in my pantry, and the amount of different mugs and infusers and tea cups I’ve got crowding up my kitchen, and the fact that I even have a travel tea kettle I bring with me to conferences and on vacations so I’m sure I can make a good cup of tea wherever I’m at…

… yes, I think I’m definitely a tea nerd. 🙂

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. 🙂