Category: Crafting

A ramble about ArchRavels

This week was originally going to be a podcast week, but I caught a cold. Recording a podcast with a cold is less than ideal since I sound weird right now and keep having to blow my nose. So! Instead, I’m going to post about one of the things I was going to include in the podcast: ArchRavels! It’s on Kickstarter, and as of right now, there are 34 hours left before the campaign finishes. It’s over 300% funded, and as of the time I’m writing this, it’s about $3000 away from unlocking the last stretch goal.

ArchRavels is a game that I’ve been interested in since I heard about it at Gen Con this summer, back when it was called ArchRavelry. I’m sure you can guess why I’m interested in it: it’s a game about yarn crafting! It’s like it was made for me, someone who enjoys board games and crafts. The game seems pretty straightforward: Compete against other players to see who can craft the most items before the end of the game. Just like in real life, you have to collect patterns and yarn before you can make things – and also just like in real life, some events can happen that’ll make crafting difficult, like the cat.

Tangled Cat card from ArchRavels.

Just like in real life, cats can come in and mess with your yarn, causing you to stop, untangle the cat (or in my case, splice ends together because someone decided yarn makes a good chew toy), and lose a turn while you sort things out.

I backed the game pretty quickly after it came out, and the stretch goals added since then have made me even more excited about the game! There are additional characters you can play as, more patterns to make (including the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Wizard packs), and even an upgraded insert for keeping game items organized. The last stretch goal is one I hope happens: they’re going to make a Cat meeple you can put in a player’s yarn bowl when you draw the Tangled Cat card if they hit that last goal.

If you want to learn more about ArchRavels, check out the campaign on Kickstarter or read the rulebook for the game here. Once I get my copy, I’ll be sure to review it for everyone!  (Now, to wait until next August for it to finish production!)

Ten nerdy cross-stitch patterns under $5!

Ahh, cross-stitching – it’s one of my favorite hobbies, especially when combined with nerdy stuff. There are lots of nerdy cross-stitch patterns out there, for almost any fandom you can think of! While I’ve done free cross-stitch pattern collections in the past, today’s post features inexpensive patterns available on Etsy. In fact, each pattern here costs less than $5.00! All of these nerdy patterns are available digitally, so you can buy one, run off to your local craft store and get supplies, and get stitching right away!

The Patterns

Here’s what you’re here for: the patterns themselves! Hopefully you’ll find one you like!

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Getting ready for Kishar: season 8 (or: LARP laundry day)

It’s officially spring, and the weather’s getting warmer – and that means LARP season is coming!

The “fan club” is ready for a fight, haha.

I am really excited for the next season of Kishar to start. Granted, the first game isn’t until May, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start getting things ready now!

And folks, I’m really glad I decided to go through my LARP gear bucket now, instead of just before the first game. Due to the garage flooding during some insanely heavy rains earlier this year, all the gear I stored in there was either really musty smelling or covered in mold. So, I guess today is Ëlinyr’s laundry day!

Even thinblooded elves have to do laundry sometime…

Thankfully I only lost a sword frog and a shoulder bag to mold – everything else is getting washed! And I’ve even got some new stuff for this year, too, which I thankfully did not store in the garage. Like, for example, new elf ears! (and yes, I am wearing them while doing LARP laundry.) They’re a little smaller than the old elf ears, and they’re slip-on ears as well – given that Ëlinyr’s now a thinblooded elf, I think the smaller ears work better. (I am so glad she’s not a full-on sun elf anymore, I am so done with sweating glitter on hot days.) I also made a new skirt to go with an old shirt I made ages ago, and together with the trusty ol’ corset vest they make up a new outfit for Ëlinyr!

So stealthy. 😛

I’ve also made some adjustments to the “stealth” dress, as it’s been named, mainly adding some bias tape to the bottom to keep the edge of the dress from snagging on everything it brushes past. I had to remove a tier off the bottom of the dress when I first got it, to make it so I wasn’t tripping over it constantly, and the raw edge kept getting stuck on all sorts of things – sticks, thorny bushes, the buckles of my boots, and so on. The stealth dress was my first costuming piece, and I want it to stick around as long as possible. 🙂

Anyhow! I’ve also been brainstorming some story-related ideas for Ëlinyr for this season – especially since she’s now the owner of a coffee shop and bookstore (which still needs a name), as well as the owner of a rambunctious juvenile sand-dragon (think scaly Golden Retriever). Between the coffee shop/bookstore, the pet sand-dragon, adventuring, and teaching at the Royal Academy, Ëlinyr’s going to be rather busy this season, I think.

Now, here’s hoping the musty smell comes out of her gear. There are a few things I think I’m going to have to rewash because they still smell a little bit, so here’s hoping a good soak will take care of the mustiness in those last few items. Otherwise, I’m going to have to go shopping for LARP gear…

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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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

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? 🙂

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. 🙂

The crochet-a-long: finally finished!

Well, it only took me six months instead of the two that the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long was originally planned to last, but I finally finished!

Holy crap, it’s done!

I’ll admit, some of why it took so long to finish was because I kept getting distracted by other projects.  Which happens a lot to me, and which is why I’ve got piles of unfinished stuff all over the house. (From what I can think of off the top of my head, I’ve got two unfinished cardigans, two unfinished pairs of socks, one shawl I’m actively knitting, one I’ve got stashed in a box until I feel like working on it again, a third that’ll be the focus of a blog post next week, and a pile of stuff in the “Corner of Shame” that will probably never get done.)  And the more I let the Woodland Blanket sit forlornly in my craft basket, the guiltier I felt about not finishing it, especially with so many other projects I wanted to do.  And I only had 8 stripes and the border left to do.  So I sat down one weekend and cranked it out.

The border came out really well – I’ve never done a border like this before, it’s simply a couple of rounds of slip stitches.

It’s not a hard blanket to do at all, especially once you get the hang of translating UK crochet terminology.  The wave pattern is soothing and rhythmic to work on, and I absolutely love the colors.  The whole blanket looks fantastic, and I’m glad I resisted the temptation to just stop a few rows short from the end and call it done.  It’s the first big thing I’ve finished in a while, and I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it.

I especially love the gradual change from warm tones to cool blues.

If you’re interested in making one of your own, the pattern is free on Attic24 (there are plenty of pictures included that walk you through the pattern) and if you want to create it in the same color scheme, you can buy the yarn pack here.

How to stretch vinyl boots (carefully)

A couple of weeks ago, I rambled about how I was so incredibly excited that I was finally going to have a pair of Sailor Moon boots to call my own.  The boots showed up on Monday, and I excitedly went to try them on, only to find out…

…that my calves were a little too muscular for these boots.  Curse you, muscular calves! (Well, not really, I like my calves.)

I ended up messaging the seller (Catzia) telling her the boots didn’t fit my calves, and I asked if I could exchange them for a larger size in hopes that they might fit my legs better.  She said she’d be happy to exchange them, but before doing that, I should try to stretch the boots out using a hair dryer to see if I could get them stretched out enough to fit. And it worked!  They were snug, but I could zip them up all the way!

While I was waiting to hear back from Catzia, I found a number of “how to stretch shoes” tutorials out there. When I came across the hair dryer method, I figured it’d work for the boots (but didn’t want to try it until I’d heard back from Catzia) – but most of these methods focused on making the foot area of a shoe wider, not necessarily the calves.  And they all focused on leather shoes, and not vinyl boots.

Enter The Crafty Nerd, armed with a hair dryer and a pair of epic Sailor Moon boots.

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