Tag: knitting

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.

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!

The Hue Shift afghan saga, part 2: starting over

So, remember the Hue Shift afghan I started a month or two ago?

I ended up starting it over again, and I blame KnitPicks and their holiday sales.

If you remember from my previous post on this blanket, due to me being impatient and wanting to start the project right away, I went to Michaels and bought yarn that was as close as I could get to the colors used in the pattern.  And they were definitely pretty colors, but not quite what the pattern called for.

Super bright, but a little off from the colors KnitPicks suggests…

I was knitting along, making alright progress with these colors, when I saw an ad for KnitPicks in my Facebook feed mentioning that all pattern kits were half off that day.  My curiosity got the better of me, and I went to see just how much the Hue Shift kit cost – and when I saw it was right around $20, I caved in and bought it, and figured “what the heck, I’ll just start it over again with the right colors this time.”

Basket of 12 skeins of yarn - 10 of the skeins are in various rainbow hues, while the remaining two are black.
As you can see, I came close with some of the original colors, but others were way off.

I will say, take two of the Hue Shift afghan is going to be a bit smaller, since the yarn KnitPicks put in the kit is sport weight instead of worsted weight, but that’s okay.  I’m really pleased with how the afghan is turning out, and the Brava Sport yarn is so much softer than the yarn I was using from Michaels.

Three and a half squares of the Hue Shift afghan, laying atop a basket of yarn.
It’s coming along pretty well so far!

You might be wondering, though, what I’m going to do with the yarn I bought previously.  Well, I’m one step ahead of you there – over Thanksgiving, I cranked out a new blanket for my desk with most of the yarn from the original Hue Shift yarn batch.

A rainbow blanket draped over a desk chair.
It gets cold in my office building, but this blanket has done a good job of keeping me warm this week!

This was pretty simple to work up – I just used two strands of yarn and an L hook, and the stitch is a double crochet.  I switched out one of the colors every 4 rows, which let me blend the colors together a little bit instead of having stripes of a single color.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’ve got enough yarn left to make a smaller lap blanket, too.

After I finish the Hue Shift afghan, I think I’m done with making blankets for a while.  I have way too many blankets already, between crocheting and quilting, but I figure one knit blanket to add to the pile can’t hurt, can it? 🙂

The Crafty Nerd tackles the Hue Shift afghan

I’ve been wanting to make a Hue Shift afghan for years. Many, many years. Before I got back into knitting and started getting better at it, I was a little intimidated by the mitered squares, and also by the prospect of knitting an entire blanket. I’ve never knit a blanket before, and the Hue Shift afghan looked like it’d be a heck of an undertaking.

However, last week, I went and bought the pattern and headed over to Michaels to find the closest colors I could to what Knit Picks called for in the pattern. I think I came pretty close, but some of them are a little different — and that’s okay. I want to make this blanket my own, since there are so very many other Hue Shifts out there. Why not try to be a little unique?

I do love how these colors look together.

I just started the fifth mitered square – only 95 more to go, haha.  I was originally thinking “hey, if I crank out a square a day, I could have this blanket done in 100 days!” But I know me too well. You folks know me too well. If I try to crank out the blanket on a deadline, it’ll end up taking me three years.

The blanket so far.

Instead, I’ll work on it at whatever pace I can manage (and try not to give myself repetitive stress injuries in the process!), and post some updates on its progress from time to time.  I want to enjoy making this blanket, instead of feeling guilty about it like I did with the Woodland Blanket. I’ve been wanting to make this blanket for so long, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

How to make your dragon a shawl: part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The eternally distracted nerd

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

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

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

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

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

Ëlinyr and a newcomer to the Adventurer’s Guild.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I started a pair of socks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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