Category: Life in general

The social distancing nerd: two months later

Oh, how optimistic I was two months ago when I wrote that post about what I’ve been doing, and how I was weathering the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. I thought, “surely I can write more blog posts. I’m home all the time and have no excuses!”

I was wrong.

Peridot from the show Steven Universe, flumped over the side of a bathtub in a depressed funk.
This picture does a darn good job of summing up how I’ve felt lately.

I underestimated just how much energy I spent on dealing with what’s going on in the world, though. How hard it would be to switch gears from work-mode to relax-mode at 4 pm each day. Since I’m working from home for the foreseeable future, I have one space for both work and recreational computer time — which makes everything I do at the computer here feel like work even if it’s not. Whether it’s video games or blog posts or coloring in drawings, if it’s in front of my computer, it feels like work.

I’ve also been struggling with a lot of life issues at the moment. I don’t quite want to talk about them right now but suffice it to say; things are rough in my little corner of the world.

Plus, this is me. Even in a good year, I can never keep up posting regularly for long. I think 2019 was a record-setting year in that I posted almost weekly from the end of January to Gen Con in August. Long-time blog followers know I struggle with posting regularly. I ended up giving up on the Crafty Nerd Podcast because I recorded two episodes and then paid for an unused Libsyn subscription for six months. We know I have issues with following through on things, heh.

So, what have I been doing during the two months since my last post? To be honest, it doesn’t feel like I’ve done much — at least, not much that’s worth writing about.

I have been reading — a lot. I read through the entirety of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels. Well, re-read almost all of them is more accurate — I hadn’t read the last book until this most recent re-read of the series. I started watching True Blood back in March (since I never did finish it) and wanted to see just how wildly different the TV show was from the books in the later seasons of the show. I also tore through Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series, because I needed more easy-to-read urban fantasy in my life. Between those two series, I read 25 books over two months. (I’m a speedy reader, it’s kind of ridiculous.) Now I’m reading The Kingdom of Copper, which is book two of The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty — and I’m enjoying it.

Another thing I’ve been doing is crocheting a lot. I finished the Trio blanket I started in May, and then immediately started two more projects. My startitis is flaring up again, it seems. I’m going to try to finish all the projects I’ve currently got going before I start something new, though. (I know, I know, easier said than done.)

A whiteboard with a list of all the craft projects I'm working on - some date all the way back to 2017.
Not entirely sure if this is a complete list, but there’s definitely a lot on there…

You might have noticed that I mentioned coloring in drawings earlier — that’s because I’ve actually picked up drawing as a hobby again. I used to draw a lot when I was in high school and college, but ended up drifting away from it years ago. With some encouragement from my friend Kasi, I figured I may as well start drawing again.

Photo of a sketchbook, open to a pencil sketch of Ëlinyr.
This one’s still a work in progress, and I love how it’s turned out so far.

So far everything I’ve drawn has been Kishar-related, since I really, really miss playing in Kishar. I’ll branch out to other stuff eventually, heh.

One exciting thing I’m working on is planning out what I’m doing at Gen Con Online this year! With everything being online, I can schedule events back-to-back and not have to worry about finding out I’ve scheduled myself to be in LucasOil Stadium immediately after something held in one of the connected hotels. I’ve got a whole post in the works about my Gen Con online plans, so stay tuned for that.

Photo of my Gen Con 2020 commemorative badge. A label with my name, the blog's name, and my Gen Con ID number printed on it has been applied to the back.
You know I just had to customize my Gen Con 2020 badge.

Even though I’m not officially attending as press for Gen Con Online, I was granted a press badge for Gen Con 2020 — and covering Gen Con is a blog tradition. (I need to see if the folks over at Five(ish) Fangirls are attending any of Gen Con Online — if not, I’m definitely going to miss doing the post-con report with Rachel like we’ve done the past few years.)

In addition to all this, the Blue Rose game Kasi’s running on Roll20 is still going, and I also got the chance to do some Kishar dress-up recently too! (although honestly, do I really need a reason to throw on Ëlinyr’s gear?)

Photo of J dressed as his Kishar non-player character Alair, and myself dressed as Ëlinyr
Ëlinyr and her elf-sweetie Alair. 🙂 And the cloak I spent so much time making that I love so very much.

… huh. Writing this blog post has helped perk up my mood. I went into WordPress this morning with the goal of at least writing something. This post started kind of cranky and self-deprecating, but after writing a bit I’m feeling better — despite the Grammarly tone detector indicating my tone is gloomy. (I will say, the sad-looking emoji hits me in the feels.)

Screenshot of the tone detector in Grammarly - the top listed tone is Gloomy, with a rather sad-looking emoji.
Don’t cry, little gloomy emoji! I’ll try to cheer up, I promise.

Maybe I should try to blog more often, even when I don’t quite feel up to it. It’s definitely helped my mood today, that’s for sure.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been doing the past two months. It might not be all that thrilling, but it got me to weite a post, and that’s something.

Nerdy tidbits: June 2019

Well, we’re almost at the end of June, which means it’s time for another edition of Nerdy Tidbits! Read on to learn more about the fun nerdy tidbits of June 2019 that didn’t quite fit into their own posts!

A crafty and nerdy tidbit: Picking up cross stitching again

Oh, cross stitch. Back when I was younger, it was one of the first crafts I picked up, along with sewing and knitting. I really enjoyed making cross stitch projects, but was never very good at finishing them. (For example, I’ve got a Sherlock wallpaper cross-stitch project I’ve been working on for my friend Josie’s birthday for… four years now?) Eventually, I told myself that after I finished the two projects I had in progress, I was done with cross stitching for a while. Since I hardly ever finish cross-stitch projects, it seemed like the best idea.

Then I found this pattern, which I thought would be perfect to make for Ross.

A June 2019 nerdy tidbit: Picture of the cross stitch pattern "Evening in the Shire".

So, I bought it and supplies to make it, and I’ve made some pretty good progress on it! I’m almost to the point where I can start all that backstitching. For those of you who are interested to see how it’s coming along, I’ll be posting occasional updates to The Crafty Nerd’s Facebook page – so if you’re not already following it, you should! If you want to make the pattern for yourself, you can buy it here on Etsy.

An awesome tidbit: Captain Janeway monument in Bloomington!

A June 2019 nerdy tidbit: Photo of a Captain Janeway Christmas ornament next to an Indiana vanity license plate that says JANEWAY.

Here’s a Star Trek tidbit for you all! My fellow Star Trek fans might remember that Captain Janeway’s birthday was last month – May 20th, to be exact. In fact, according to the show, she was born right here in Bloomington! To celebrate the occasion, I posted the picture above on Facebook – and it was shared to a group of Bloomington Janeway fans! The Captain Janeway Bloomington Collective is in the process of getting a monument to Janeway built in town. How awesome is that? Fundraising is starting soon, and if you’re curious to learn more about the monument, check out the group’s Facebook page.

An old nerdy tidbit: Echo Chernik’s Auri sketch, and where it ended up

This is an older tidbit, but one that still makes me happy. When I was digging through my Gen Con archives recently, I was reminded of something that happened at last year’s Gen Con: Ross and I getting to look at Echo Chernik’s sketchbook. Specifically, we were excited about the Auri sketch for the Name of the Wind playing card Kickstarter.

A nerdy tidbit from last year: Auri sketch from Echo Chernik's sketchbook.
Here’s the Auri sketch, still in Echo’s sketchbook!

I figured that would be the end of things with that sketch, but I was wrong!

It turns out my good friend J went and visited Echo Chernik after I sent him a picture of the sketch, and he went and bought it. And it was actually in my house at one point. I may have flailed a bit when he brought the sketch over, because honestly, I never thought I’d see it again.

The same Auri sketch from earlier, being held by my friend J.
And here’s the sketch, inside my house! *flail*

Tiny tidbit: I love Bloomington Stitchery

And last, a final little tidbit about Bloomington Stitchery -I mentioned recently that I brought my Starfleet science officer uniform over to them to get it altered. Well, this morning I had the brilliant shower thought about adding pockets to the uniform. Then I realized I should have asked to add pockets to it while I was there. (Cue me facepalming.) Of course, I rambled about it on Facebook, and they said “hey, we might still be able to do that, just email us to remind us!”

I seriously love these folks, and I can’t wait to see how my Starfleet uniform turns out! If you’re in the Bloomington area and need alterations done, you should check them out.

Well, that’s the Nerdy Tidbits for June 2019! Stay tuned for next month’s collection of tiny nerdy stories, which will probably include a lot of Gen Con prep.

Little things that make me happy

Work has been crazy lately, hence the lack of a post last week.  Until I’ve got some bandwidth to come up with a more interesting post, here’s a little bit of something to tide you over: some little things that have made me happy over the past few weeks.

First off: I found Star vs. the Forces of Evil socks at Hot Topic! Of course I had to buy them.

Yaaay for Star socks!

Also, it might be silly, but seeing Toothless in his costume for Kishar makes me giggle.  Since the sand dragon hat I made him looks more like a baseball cap, I dressed him up with a headband and tunic, much like humans playing NPCs and monsters might dress in Kishar.  I think he’s adorable.

Toothless is the cutest sand dragon.

And I can’t forget about Mia, the best little scooter in the world!  It’s riding season, and through the help of my friend Jake at work, I got some new vinyl decals made for her.  I doodled up the designs in Illustrator, and Jake turned them into decals!

I love how the decals turned out – Mia looks a lot more like I’m used to again.

I also got to nerd out about playing Magic with one of the interns at work recently, haha.  I need to play more, but my brain’s been consumed with work.  Poor Saheeli needs more attention!  (She’s the Planeswalker for the Commander deck I’ve got.)

I love raining down thopters on my opponents, haha.

Oh, the fact that Detective Pikachu comes out three days after my birthday (on May 10th – which is also a bunch of my friends’ birthdays too!) makes me pretty darn happy.  I can’t wait to see it!

I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to see Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu?

And finally, on May 11th, we’ve got the first official Kishar game of the season!

The “Fan Club” will be reunited, yay!

That’s a little bit of what’s keeping me going lately while work’s been crazy!  I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll be able to put together a very brief “What I’ve Been Watching” post (long story short: a lot of Battlestar Galactica) for April, before April’s officially over!

It’s a cat picture kind of week.

I totally had all these grand plans to finally put together the Toothless shawl I’ve been working on for… well, I can’t remember how long now, and write up a post about it.  But then I ended up having to present at a conference, and I’m still trying to kick this stupid cold I’ve been fighting for three weeks now, and every night this week I’ve come home with absolutely no energy.

So, instead of an actual post with substance, I bring you Steve, helping me make an English paper piecing quilt out of tiny hexagons.

“oh hey, this is a new craft, how can I involve myself in it?” -Steve

Thanks for bearing with me as I’ve been dealing with a complete lack of energy – it’s much appreciated.  I promise I’ll have something more substantial for next week.

State of the Nerd - Winter 2019

The State of the Nerd, winter 2019

I’ll be honest, I hit a bit of writer’s block with the original post I was writing for this week – and between that and the cold I’ve been battling, it’s been a bit of a rough week.  I’ve managed to get something posted every week so far this year, though, and I really don’t want to end that streak, so I figured I might as well do a State of the Nerd post.  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and I’m pretty sure some of you folks are curious about what I’ve been up to!  So, without further ado… the State of the Nerd!

This winter’s been a particularly rough one, mostly due to the weird weather we’ve been having. I’ve been trying to keep my spirits up with as many nerdy and crafty pursuits as I can, though.

  • I’m still working on learning how to play Magic: The Gathering – and I think I’m just about at the point where I might be able to play a game without “training wheels”, so to speak. I’ve still only played against J so far, and since he knows I’m still learning the game, he doesn’t mind when I stop and ask him about how a specific card works or how many creatures I should attack with. I’m definitely still enjoying the game, and I’ve got a post in the works in the “keeping organized” series about how I keep myself organized when it comes to Magic.
  • I’m itching to get Ëlinyr’s stuff out of the garage and play in Kishar this season. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve worn the bright red dress that’s been dubbed “Ëlinyr’s stealth dress” and put the sand dragon mask on my Toothless plush, and gotten ready to play.  I’m especially excited about this season, as Ëlinyr bought a house in-game with a couple of her friends, and also bought a business! Plus, there’s a whole bunch of new plot lines to explore, and new people for Ëlinyr to meet. Before all that, though, I’ve got some new costume pieces to make for her.  I really need to get on that, since I think we might start playing again next month…
  • I’m actually going to try to play more board games, especially the ones Ross and I have bought at past Gen Cons or through Kickstarter and then let sit on the shelves in the living room, gathering dust. Board games are fun, and I think it might be a good way to add some variety to our weeknight evenings. (Currently, our evening routine involves watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica or two and then going off to do our own things – I’ll go read a book while Ross goes off to play with the flight simulator he bought recently.  Which isn’t bad, but it’d still be fun to do something different now and then.) I’ve pre-ordered a game from Amazon that I’m really looking forward to – Scram by TeeTurtle! It’s about collecting cats – how could I say no to that? Plus, the artwork looks adorable, and I do have a soft spot for cute things.
  • I think I finally settled on at least one cosplay for Gen Con – I think I’m going to dress as Lapis from Steven Universe.  I still haven’t decided on whether I’m going to wear her old outfit or her new one, but I think it’ll be a fun costume to put together either way.
  • I actually finished a craft project recently!  I finished the Russell Street shawl that I started late last year – I struggled with it a bit in the second half of the pattern, and as a result I’m not entirely too thrilled with how it came out, but hey, it’s finished! Of course, I finish one project and then start two more – I’m working on another shawl, and also picked up English paper piecing and am making a quilt out of tiny hexagons. It’s a good break from knitting, that’s for sure.

And, well, that’s about all the interesting stuff that’s been going on with me lately.  Here’s hoping writer’s block doesn’t last a second week on that one post I’m trying to write, as I think it’s another one people will really enjoy.

Happy 6th birthday, The Crafty Nerd!

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

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

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

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

Over the past six years…

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

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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2018: the year in review

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

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

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

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

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

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

State of the nerd: July 2018

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these, and I can’t really think about much else to post about for this week that I haven’t already rambled about recently (considering both Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Steven Universe left me going AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH for a few days with their season finales), so here we go!

I mentioned this in a few other posts recently, I think, but I GOT A NEW CAR YOU GUYS. Her name is Lapis 2.0 (or Lapis for short), she’s a 2018 Subaru Impreza, she’s actually BLUE (unlike old Lapis), and I love her dearly and I’m gonna drive her until she dies.

Here she is, all dirty after a weekend of LARPing a few months ago.

I’ve been doing a lot of fun nerdy stuff at work, involving two of my favorite things: making research posters and making videos. The big thing I’ve been tackling this week is learning how to use Adobe Character Animator a little better, and using it to make some videos for the Creating Research Posters course I’m updating. I showed off some of the stuff I’d been working on to my friend J, and he thinks I should make an animated version of my LARP character, Ëlinyr. (Challenge accepted.)

At some point I’ll make a less work-related animated video, but for now, here’s a screenshot from a video I was working on!

Speaking of Ëlinyr: she’s no longer an elf! Long story short: she decided to give up her elven-ness to anger her mother. I wrote a long rambly in-character account of how she initially dealt with being human, and if you’re interested, you can read it at Ëlinyr’s blog.

I’ve been knitting like crazy lately. I found a shawl pattern that I love so much, I’ve actually started on a second shawl with that pattern. It’s Drachenfels, and you can find it on Ravelry here. There’s also a kit on Craftsy that has the pattern as well as the yarn needed – I got the kit in the Energy colorway, and I love how it turned out.

Here’s the first Drachenfels, made from the kit I bought from Craftsy.

I had to move my sewing studio out of the garage due to the ridiculous amount of spiders in there lately. Ugh. I’m making some progress with making enough space in my craft room to actually use it for sewing, though, so hopefully I’ll have a permanent home for my sewing machine soon.

I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon Go lately, and I’m really enjoying the new features they added to the game. Plus, it helps me get away from my desk at work and get active every so often.

I love how Pikachu and I match, haha.

So, that’s the State of the Nerd right now! Next week should bring us back to our regularly scheduled blog postings, I’ve got quite a list of ideas to write about, including a special series of posts for Gen Con!

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.