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!)
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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 bag – made 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!)
A fantastic looking Jareth.
This whole family cosplayed as Steven Universe characters!
Awesome Star Wars cosplayers.
Finn! I’m so happy I saw a Finn, he’s my favorite from the new trilogy.
Awesome Borderlands cosplay!
This Stevonnie was adorable,.
Ross says this guy’s from Cromartie High School, so I’ll take his word for it.
A victorian Luigi from Luigi’s Mansion!
I love her ghost trap.
A tiny Rey! Now, if only I’d seen a Poe…
It was really awesome to see someone cosplaying as Daria.
Rick, Morty, and a Gazorpazorp!
This lady was dressed as Starry Night – I loved her costume.
Disney princesses, ready for battle.
I found THREE Waldos! Does that mean I win?
Pan and The Great Sayiaman – I love how they posed.
A very elegant Belle and Queen Amidala.
Pearl and Rose! I love that they got into a fusion dance pose for this picture.
This Wario costume, complete with cart, was one of the coolest costumes I saw at Gen Con.
Okay, so J’s just dressed in steampunk, but I thought he looked awesome, so here he is.
This Mario and Peach couple is adorable!
Tiny Pearl! She’s so cute.
These guys did a great job with their Sailor Moon costumes!
Miss Gen Con 50!
I especially like her bouquet.
Lapis! She also made her Pumpkin, and he doubles as a purse, which is awesome.
Professor McGonagall and Mad Eye Moody. Thankfully, neither of them chided me for skipping classes. 😛
Another one of Rose and Onion, with Steve and Greg this time too! Greg was handing out Mr. Greg business cards. 😀
A couple of Hogwarts students, ready for adventure.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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!
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.
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…
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’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.
And what was really awesome was the fact that Gen Con took over Lucas Oil Stadium – the home of the Indianapolis Colts!
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.
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 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.)
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…
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.
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.
If you’ve been around the internet during the past few years, you’ll at the very least heard of Kickstarter – the crowdfunding platform that allows people with great ideas to get help from others to bring their ideas to fruition. So many awesome things have come out of Kickstarter campaigns – I’ve backed comic books, games, mini figures, and most recently I backed the sixth Dumbing of Age book on Kickstarter, as well as the Tentacle Kitty Little Ones – Earth Colors project. (Because there can never be enough tentacle kitties.)
After I backed the Tentacle Kitty Kickstarter, I poked around my backed projects, to see what I’ve gotten and if there was anything I hadn’t received yet. And, well, there was something alright. One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter is that backing a project doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually get something. The Kickstarter FAQ mention it, and mention that if a project doesn’t deliver, it’s on the creator to deliver news, or refunds, or both. The one Kickstarter project I’ve been waiting to receive my rewards for is for what appeared to be an awesome notebook that I’d love to bullet journal in – the Mont Notebook. I backed it last August, it was funded early last September, books were expected to be delivered in October. Seemed pretty straightforward. However, there were printing issues, and the whole run of notebooks had to be sent back, and then they got stuck in customs, and now, nearly eight months after the promised delivery date, there are still no notebooks. The creators disappeared for a while, then posted a short update nearly a month ago saying that they were planning on sending out the books, and that we should update our addresses if we needed to – however, the pledge manager page they were initially referring people to doesn’t exist anymore.
With so much uncertainty involved in backing a project, you might think, “Why do I want to throw money at something that might not exist? Is it worth it to even try?” Well, not all Kickstarter projects are the same – and not all of them are going to end up in lost money and frustration.
I’ve backed Kickstarters that had issues before. My first ever Kickstarter, run by Impact Miniatures for a set of Chibi Dungeon Minis, ended up delayed because one of the project creators ended up in the hospital for weeks. Dressing Your Octopus, a paper doll book made by one of my favorite artists, Brian Kesinger, encountered printing delays, and to make up for those of us who were going to give the book as a holiday gift, a Christmas card was sent out to everyone with a code for a free downloadable version of the book – and the book got to everyone almost two months late, but there was communication. And the Bones II Kickstarter by Reaper Miniatures, oh, that one was fraught with issues. I think the Kickstarter ended in November of 2013, and the minis didn’t start shipping until early 2015.
However, there are also a number of things I’ve backed that wouldn’t exist without a Kickstarter project to get them started, like the Tentacle Kitty Little Ones and my beloved Fidget Cube. Lots of successful companies use Kickstarters as a way to gauge interest in a project or a game, and end up finding out whether or not an idea is a good one – like, for example, Exploding Kittens. It’s one of the most highly backed Kickstarters of all times. Apparently, people really wanted a game by The Oatmeal about kittens making things explode! Others use Kickstarter as a way to handle preorders for something they intend to make anyway, like the Dumbing of Age books that come out every year and get shipped on time, like clockwork – even last year, when the author had newborn twins to take care of. (I swear, David Willis must be part robot.) Despite delays for some projects (like the Chibi Dungeon minis and the Bones minis), I always got what I pledged for, and sometimes a little extra as a thank you. Even if there were delays, there was always communication, like with the bones minis and their weekly updates, or the Dressing Your Octopus one with regular updates and a Christmas card to all backers.
So what do you do if it looks like a Kickstarter you backed isn’t going to pull through?
Don’t panic – there might be an entirely valid reason for delays! There might be production issues with the item, or health issues with the creator or their family, or something else that might end up with a lack of communication on the creator’s part – but the project might still be moving along merrily.
Look at the comments on the Kickstarter – if others have gotten their rewards, then maybe there might just be shipping delays – contact the creator and see what’s up. It’s possible they recently shipped your reward but forgot to notify you.
If there are other complaints of not receiving items, and especially if there are no responses from the creator, like with the Mont notebook, then it’s time to see what recourse you might have. Contacting Kickstarter would be a good place to start.
One thing to keep in mind: not everyone on Kickstarter is out to grab your money and give you nothing in return. Take a look, for example, at this collection of goodies I have that likely wouldn’t exist without Kickstarter.
Yes, there is a bit of a risk with backing projects on Kickstarter – however, in my experience, I’ve almost always gotten the rewards promised for projects I’ve backed, and I’ve helped a lot of people get games, books, and toys from the drawing board into reality. I think the latter part, helping people bring their ideas into reality, is the best thing about Kickstarter – and so even though I’ve been burned by that one pesky notebook, I’m going to keep on backing projects and helping creators out.
You might have noticed from my post in March that I started LARPing recently, and oh how fun it is – it’s like Gen Con meets summer camp! It really is. There were two big things that were a little intimidating to me as I got started, though: costuming and fighting.
Fighting is something I can probably get better at with practice, but costuming? Most of the costumes I have in my closet are either My Little Pony, steampunk, or renaissance faire appropriate – and Kishar has an Asian/Arabian Nights mix of costuming and setting – how do I get myself costumed for this? And how do I get myself costumed in a way that everyone’s not going to look at me with pity because I’m a newbie who has no idea what she’s doing? I’m so used to just regular cosplay – I’ve got a character that I can then make a costume for, whether it’s an existing outfit that a character’s established as something they wear, or something inspired by a character (like Pinkie Pie – she doesn’t often wear clothes, heh.) Starting from scratch was intimidating as all heck.
I ended up tackling this in a couple of steps, once I got over being so overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of not only creating a character, but costuming one too.
The first thing I did: asked for help. Lots of it. J and Kasi were extremely helpful in determining what would make good costume pieces, but then again, since they run the game, they know what’s good for costuming!
Next: I cruised Amazon, Etsy, and other places to find things that I might not be able to make on my own, like elf ears. There’s a lot of places out there where you can buy LARP gear – and again, I asked J and Kasi for suggestions on where to shop, so I made sure I was getting quality stuff.
After that: I dug through my existing costuming to see what would work. The results: a fair bit of my costuming was easily repurposable for my character’s costume. Even stuff I didn’t initially think would be good, like some of my steampunk stuff (the little bag I showed off in this post about my steampunk gear works crazily well!) and a lovely bag my mom-in-law bought me for my birthday, ended up being pulled in as costuming bits.
Lastly: I made some stuff. (I mean, come on, I’m The Crafty Nerd, after all!) like my spell packet bag (which is ugly but functional) and my overdress bits (unsure what to call them, but we’ll stick with overdress). And as I went through all that, I started to come up with a fair idea of what I wanted to wear.
When figuring out my costume, I had a couple of criteria for what I’d be wearing:
one: it had to look good. I didn’t want to be the one awkwardly dressed noob at my first game.
two: it had to be somewhat comfortable. I’d be wearing this for hours, likely, while walking through the forest.
three: I had to be able to run in it. No ifs, ands or buts. I knew I was gonna have to run from monsters at some point
With those three things in mind, and a giant list of ideas added to my Amazon Wishlist, I ended up emerging with two costumes – one of which I wore to my first game!
I ended up deciding on two main costume styles: one with a dress, one with pants.
The dress outfit:
The dress, obviously: I chose this because it was light, flowy, and would probably make it so I don’t overheat while playing outdoors. Plus, it was easy to alter to make it shorter, so I wasn’t tripping over it – I ended up taking off the bottom tier of the dress, because I’m short.
Corset vest: wanted some sort of corset, but wasn’t sure I’d want one that was super-sturdily boned – turns out this one is a little long for me, but I was able to get some corsets from Kasi that work that I can also wear with this dress!
Overdress bits: I made these myself, they’re the black pieces in the photo above that look like they’re extending from the corset. I thought it’d make a nice touch to a fantasy costume – and it’s a work in progress, as I might add some embellishments to it such as embroidery.
Leggings under the dress: gotta keep my legs covered, because poison ivy/ticks/brambles are no fun. These were a pair I’ve had hanging around for years.
Boots: My good ol’ scooter boots. They handle tromping around in the forest pretty well.
The pants outfit:
Harem pants: oh lord these are comfy. They haven’t made it out to an official game yet, but I bet these’ll be fantastic for running in. And they’re light, too, so I won’t overheat in them.
Scarf: this can be used as a belt, or a wrap, or to keep one’s hair back – the uses are endless! love how versatile this is.
Corset: planning on using one of the corsets I got from Kasi.
Shirt: I have a couple options here: a peasant shirt I made myself, or a peasant shirt I got from Kasi, or I could even use a tanktop if I wanted!
Kimono top: light, breezy, and setting-appropriate. I can wear the scarf as a belt over it, or wear it loose over a costume.
So there you go! For someone who’s never really done a LARP before, once I figured out how to get started, it was really easy to try and find costume pieces that were readily available, so I’ve got something to wear while I try and craft my own stuff from scratch! Hopefully this will help out other new LARP players as you get geared up for your first game!
Well, apparently that tiny little game has spawned a tiny little parody. World, meet Munchkin: Loot Letter.
A quick refresher: in Love Letter, your goal is to get your love letter to the princess. You’ve got a small deck of cards which are numbered, and there are various amounts of those numbered cards – there are far more of those lower number cards than higher number cards, and there’s only one 8 – the princess. Once you get the princess, you pretty much win the game unless someone forces you to discard her.
Well, Loot Letter is pretty much the same – only there’s no princess. Only loot. And Ducks of Doom, and a Dread Gazebo. And a lot of potted plants.
I got the chance to play Loot Letter with some dear friends over dinner recently, and it was quite a bit of fun. J and Kasi had played it on their own previously, and found out there’s a lot less strategy involved and a lot more luck when playing with just two players. Adding a third player, though, made things more fun, and introduced more strategic moves to try and win the loot. Even though I goofed up a few times by not entirely thinking through some of my moves (like using a Dread Gazebo to swap hands with someone without really thinking about the effects of someone else ending up with the cards in my hand), I somehow managed to win the most loot!
If you’re in need of a short game to pass the time while waiting for food at a restaurant, or for a TV show to start, but don’t feel like something sappy, then Munchkin: Loot Letter is the game for you.
One of my earliest entries into the world of fantasy novels was the Harry Potter books. (The other was Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince series, which ties into this little story…) I remember trying to find something to read one day (mom had told me I was forbidden to read the Dragon Prince series, because there was a dragon on the cover, I’m not even kidding), with a huge limitation – “NO DRAGONS on the cover, they’re associated with the devil! And none of that fantasy crap!” I scoured the bookshelf in the room I shared with my sister, trying to find something remotely fantasy-related, as I’d been bitten by the fantasy bug hard and my seventeen-year-old self wanted to lose myself in a world of magic and mysterious creatures.
My eyes widened when I came across a new-looking copy of the first Harry Potter book. I don’t remember when we got it, and I don’t think it’d even been opened at that point. I looked at the front cover leaf, determined it was about wizards, and thought to myself, “hah – I can’t read a fantasy novel with dragons on the cover, but this one has a WIZARD. And mom must have bought it, since it’s here on the bookshelf, so I’m gonna read it!”
Yes, I finally did it: I went to a LARP. A real, actual LARP.
And it was FUN.
A little backstory for everyone: when I was a freshman in college, many many years ago, a couple of friends felt it’d be a great idea to start a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP. They loved role-playing, and they thought it’d be awesome to do some live-action Vampire: The Masquerade stuff. So, they herded together a bunch of friends who they thought would have fun in a Vampire LARP, and nudged us in the direction of character creation, and then bam! LARP night at their house!
It didn’t work out all that well.
First off, we didn’t have actual character sheets – we were just told to pick a vampire clan and go with that. We ended up with a very unbalanced group, given that 3/4ths of the people playing chose to play characters from one clan. Second off, there was no combat. Or story. Just a bunch of college kids, sitting around in the living room of a former fraternity house, acting crazy and wearing costumes, drinking wine if you were old enough and pretending it was blood.
I went to maybe two games before I gave up and said “this LARP stuff really isn’t for me.”
But then I met J. And learned what LARPs are really like if they’re run well.
When I met J last year, he told me about the LARP he ran – Kishar – and said I was welcome to come to a game if I wanted to. And I ended up waffling about it for a year or so, based on my bad experiences in that Vampire: The Masquerade LARP I went to back in 2000. I kinda wanted to join up, because as you probably know, I do enjoy any excuse to get into a costume. And I was always interested in boffer fighting (where weapons are made out of foam and latex), even though I wasn’t ever sure where to get started with that. And the setting, which draws on the Arabian Nights stories for inspiration, was intriguing.
So I said “heck, why not? I’ll go to a game, see what it’s about.” And I did – at the end of March.
I wasn’t feeling super well that weekend, so while new players typically play monsters, I ended up trailing the group while they were out in the woods fighting, and taking pictures. It was a really good way to get a feel for how combat works, and to listen to the story and see some action as it happened. While I only knew a handful of people in the group, everyone was welcoming and friendly, and despite feeling pretty cruddy physically, I had a pretty darn good time.
After I absorbed everything going on in Kishar for a weekend, I ended up deciding “yes, this is a thing I want to do” and started crafting a character in earnest. My character will be Ëlinyr (pronounced ay-lin-ear), a sun elf scholar who studies and uses magic. And as I started putting together my character, I realized this is the most perfect way to get my crafty nerdiness on. Not only do I get to make a roleplay character (and therefore indulging in my nerdy side), I also get to put together a costume (which brings in the crafty side of things). And as I said earlier, you all know how much I lovemakingandwearingcostumes. Most of this past weekend was spent working on Ëlinyr’s costume, to get it ready for the next game.
So, I’m really excited about having this new place to get my craftiness and nerdiness on. As I said to J after the game ended, Kishar feels like Gen Con and summer camp combined, and it’s awesome. And who knows, maybe I’ll get Ross into it too, and we can run around the forest in costumes together!