Tag: crochet

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.

The social distancing nerd (or, how I’m surviving staying at home)

Yes, folks, I’m still here! I didn’t give up on the blog — although I’ll be honest, the past two months have been rough. I’ve been a hot mess half the time, between anxiety and depression and stress. It’s kind of hard to try to come up with topics to write about when you’re struggling emotionally, and it’s been a rough time in general for pretty much everyone I know. However, it hit me yesterday: I do have something to write about! I can talk about what I’ve been doing to help keep myself occupied while staying at home. Surprise, surprise – it’s been a lot of crafting and gaming.

Crafting

I’ve been doing a lot of crafting lately. For a little while, it was the only thing keeping me sane. I only had to focus on where to put the next stitch, or how to piece fabric together.  I’ve made quite a few things since I went into staying-at-home mode in March.

Hand sewing: more relaxing than using a machine

I did a lot of hand sewing because, for some reason, I find it less stressful than sewing with a machine. I made a lot of face masks! Everyone’s making them, everyone should be wearing them, and I made a couple of really nice ones for myself and friends. I hand-sewed them, too,

A couple of hand-sewn masks - one is made out of rabbit fabric, the next is Star Trek themed, and the last is made out of sewing machine print fabric.
A couple of masks in progress.

I also picked up quilting again! With some of the leftover fabric from the masks, I started a simple small quilt that’ll likely end up becoming a wall hanging.

Quilt top featuring fabric with cats, dragons, and rabbits on it.
My tiny little quilt top!

Yarn crafts: because I can’t just sit and watch TV

You know I’ve just about always got some sort of yarn craft in progress, too – and stay-at-home time is no different. With all the TV I’ve been watching, I need something to keep my hands busy with. I’m currently working on three yarn craft projects, all crochet:

  • a large Rozeta in worsted weight yarn (affectionately called Rozetazilla)
  • a corner-to-corner wrap using a couple of Caron Cakes
  • a Trio blanket, using three Scheepjes Whirls, which is probably the most expensive blanket I’ve ever made (Whirls are lovely, but also pricey!)

Gaming at home

Of course, I wouldn’t be The Crafty Nerd if I didn’t play any games! They’ve all been online for the most part – playing games online has been my primary mode of socialization over the past two months, and have been a good way to socialize while staying at home.

Depths of the Weald: playing Blue Rose online using Roll20

While my usual Blue Rose game is on hiatus, Kasi (who plays Paroum in the game J runs) decided to start her own Blue Rose campaign!

Screenshot of Roll20 interface, in the middle of a game.
A screenshot from the middle of an epic battle we had yesterday.

J and I and a few friends from Kishar have been playing in that game, and Kasi runs it on Roll20. I hadn’t had much experience with Roll20 before the Depths of the Weald game, but I’m enjoying it as an online alternative to tabletop games. We can use maps, I can keep track of my character sheet inside the app, and if we wanted to, we could even do video/audio chat over Roll20! (Our group tends to use Facebook Messenger’s video chat options, though.)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons — the next best thing to having an actual social life

The new Animal Crossing game came out at the PERFECT time. Everyone’s stuck at home for an indeterminate amount of time, and we needed some way to cope with it. Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Screenshot of a celebration in Animal Crossing.

Not only do you get to make friends with cute animals, but you can also hang out with your real-life friends! For example, Kasi, Rana, and I took a field trip to one of our museums. We wandered around explored all the bugs and fish and fossils in the museum and took lots of pictures too.

Screenshot of people in Animal Crossing looking at an aquarium full of fish. Visiting the museum in Animal Crossing is something fun to do while staying at home!
From left to right: Rana, me, and Kasi checking out some fish.

Plus, when it’s your birthday, your animal friends throw you a party! (Yep, I celebrated my birthday almost two weeks ago, and partied with my Animal Crossing buddies Katt, Melba, and Hamlet.)

Screenshot of a birthday party in Animal Crossing.
They even made me cake!

It’s silly, how attached I’ve gotten to my Animal Crossing villagers – I won’t lie, when I came back to the game after a week of not playing, and they all said some variation of  “where’ve you been the past week? we missed you!” I just about started to cry. (I won’t leave you alone again for that long, animal friends, I promise!)

Blog posts

Now that I’m starting to work myself out of the worst of my anxiety and depression, I’m going to try to write more. Work doesn’t drain my energy as much as it used to (seriously, while I love driving, dealing with traffic in Bloomington is stressful!), so hopefully, I’ll have it in me to write once a week again. I’m going to get the What I’m Watching series back up and running again, and while I won’t have any posts about Kishar or my other Blue Rose game for a while, I’ll try to write about the games I am playing.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks — I hope everyone’s hanging in there during these downright scary times.

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!

Gen Con: day 4

or: Gen Con: the day I officially ran out of spoons.

But it’s okay that I ran out of spoons today, because it was the last day of Gen Con, and I didn’t really have anything planned!  So I went and did the one event I was signed up for – a crocheting event.

Soon to be a dragon scale scarf.

Do you know how hard it is to attempt to crochet at 9 am on a Sunday at Gen Con? My sleepy brain spent a few minutes thinking “does this pattern use American or UK crochet terms?” before I realized I was being silly, this pattern totally uses American terms, the image at the top of the pattern uses the same double crochets you’re used to.  Then I spent some time trying to get all those double crochets where they needed to be.  Eventually, after an hour of talking to my yarn and telling it to behave, I got two rows of scales done.

The rest of my day, outside of packing and loading stuff into the car, was spent wandering the dealer’s hall – I won’t lie, it was a little overwhelming with so many people crammed in there.  I got some tea and some dice, and Ross went on a bit of a wild goose chase looking for a fancy leather writing/sketching book.  We eventually found something close to what he liked at the Medieval Collectibles booth, and so he’s perusing their website as we speak to find the book he wants. 

Around 1 pm, we finally gave up and decided to head home – we were both exhausted (especially after 6 straight hours of cosplay photos, wandering around the convention center, and participating in the costume parade), and I almost fell asleep in the car on the way home. Now, I get to unpack, spend time with the cats, and slowly rehydrate myself.  Plus, I get to spend tomorrow writing up blog posts, reacclimating to normal life, and guest-starring on another episode of The Five-Ish Fangirls Podcast where Rachel and I (and the other podcasters) ramble about the past four days. 

I miss Gen Con already.

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.

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

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

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

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

So I started a pair of socks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Crafty Nerd tries a crochet-a-long

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

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

This bag of yarn taunted me for weeks.

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

And it was exactly the size it needed to be!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Classy Crafting and the Ugly Blanket

I apologize for the goofy picture, Siobhain!
I apologize for the goofy picture, Siobhain!

First off, I’ll say this: I miss my classy crafting buddy, Siobhain.  She graduated last May – but before that, whenever we were in class together, she’d knit and I’d crochet.  And it was awesome.  It made classes a little easier to pay attention in, and crafting together was better than awkwardly crocheting in the back corner of the room, like I do in Public Library Management nowadays.  (I still proudly crochet in the front of the room for Metadata, though, as the professor for that class only remembers me because I used to do yarn-craft-stuff at the front of the room with Siobhain!) I’m the only one still doing any sort of yarn craft in my classes – unless I try to encourage people to craft with me, I guess.  And that’s if they’re even interested in doing yarn stuff.  I get a little bit of a social crafting fix when I crochet with Ellie on rainy Thursdays instead of going for our weekly walk, though, so that’s good!  And this May, I’ll be graduating too, and then I won’t need a classy crafting buddy because I won’t be crafting in class! (Unless I go for the Specialist in Library/Info Science degree…)

But yes, classy crafting is in full force.  And this semester, so far, I have made a pretty blanket (which lives at my desk), and I’m working on a delicate shawl to go with my wedding dress and the focus of my post today, an ugly blanket.

An ugly blanket, but oh so soft!
An ugly blanket, but oh so soft!

This blanket came about due to having a huge mess of Mighty Stitch yarn at home left over from the corner-to-corner blankets I made for Ross and myself – it’s so soft, and I love working with it, but the mess that’s left is an odd arrangement of blues and greens with some purple, gray, pink, and white thrown in.  So, the only thing I can think of to do with all that yarn is to use two strands of it together and make a thick, snuggly, small, and ugly blanket.  It’s actually a rather sentimental ugly blanket, considering it’s a combination of the yarn I used for both mine and Ross’s blankets, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy, figuratively as well as literally, to work on it.

I haven’t done much work with two strands of yarn before – it’s a little trickier to work with, that’s for certain, but it results in a really unique look.  One of my classmates in Metadata, Samantha, said that Ugly Blanket kind of resembles some of those woven rugs you might see in specialty shops, and I think she’s right.  It doesn’t really stop it from being somewhat homely-looking, though – some of these colors don’t quite go together well, heheh.

I’ve never actually worked on a blanket in class before.  I figure at some point, it’ll get unwieldy, and I won’t be able to cart it along with me anymore. Until I get to that point, however, I’m gonna load it into Mia (or into my backpack, which I shall take on Mini-Mia, my new bike!), and drag it to Metadata and Public Library Management every week this semester, and keep adding onto this semester’s big classy crafting project: the ugly blanket.