What’s been going on in Crafty Nerd land

I said I was going to start posting more regularly, so here I am! (Even though it’s been almost a month since my last post. At least it hasn’t been half a year, right?)

I’m currently in the process of coming up with some more exciting topics for blog posts, which has been a slow process. In the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit of what’s been going on in my corner of the world.

Rediscovering cross-stitch

I recently got back into the hobby of cross-stitching. I’ve completed two projects since last November, and I’m currently working on a third. Apparently I have a thing for hobbit-themed cross-stitch projects, since two out of the three projects I’ve worked on so far have little hobbit-houses as the focus:

Long-time blog readers might remember the one I’m currently working on. Back in June 2019, I posted about starting that cross-stitch for Rana. After she passed, I dug it back out and started working on it again as a way to process some of my grief, and to give myself something to focus on. I’m going to give it to her mom when it’s done.

If you’re interested in the patterns, here are links to them:

Final Fantasy XIV: my first MMO in forever

I got back into MMOs again recently! I started playing Final Fantasy XIV back in… September, I think, and while I haven’t played in a few months, I’m going to pick it up again soon.

My Final Fantasy 14 character, Ëlinyr.

I fight using books! Because knowledge is power! 😀

Yeah, I’m playing Ëlinyr as an MMO character. Did you honestly expect anything different from me?

Ëlinyr is a summoner, which is the closest I could get to her Kishar class – in name, at least, since summoners are also referred to as evokers in FF14. The black mage class aligns more with her actual Kishar powers, but I like playing a summoner more – summoners get to use books as weapons! And if you’ve followed the blog for a while, or if you’ve played Kishar in the past few years, you know Ëlinyr loves her books. I play on Crystal/Zalera, in case anyone is curious, and I would be happy to play with other folks who play if anyone’s interested.

Preparing for season 10 of Kishar

Speaking of Ëlinyr: the new season of Kishar is coming up at the end of the month! Some big things happened at the end of last season for Ëlinyr – she lost one of her closest friends, Flint, during one of the final battles. Flint was previously the longest-running member of the Adventurer’s Guild, but with him gone, Ëlinyr is the next-longest-running Guild member, and may end up having to become the “responsible adult” for the Guild. Will she take on more of a leadership role in the Adventurer’s Guild? Is she just going to hide in the library forever and only come out when she needs to rain meteors down on the enemy to save the Guild? And will the event I’ve been referring to as the “elf wedding” actually finally happen this season? We’ll find out as the season progresses, and I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated on what’s going on in Ëlinyr’s corner of the world as it happens!

Virtual races and Running for Rana

One of the things I decided to do just after Rana passed away was to participate in the 2022 season of Whovian Running Club virtual races, since Rana loved Doctor Who and she used to run with her mom when she was younger. Not only have I done the first Whovian Running Club virtual race, the Roar Your Light 5k, but I also completed the Keep Your Feet 5k, a Lord of the Rings-themed Fandom Running Club race.

Two virtual race medals I earned recently - on the left is the one from the Keep Your Feet 5k, which looks like the door to a hobbit house, and the second is for the Roar Your Light 5k, which looks like Van Gogh's Starry Night painting with the TARDIS from Doctor Who flying through the sky.

I walked the Keep Your Feet 5k in January, and two days ago I did the Roar Your Light 5k as a combo of walking and jogging and managed to do a 5k in under an hour! I know it’s not exactly fast compared to a lot of runners, but I’m still kind of new at this, and hadn’t gone for a run in AGES. Managing to complete a 5k in under an hour was a big accomplishment for me. (You can keep track of my Fanthropy Running Club races in the sidebar on the right side each page on the blog.)

Aside from everything I’ve already written about: I’ve been rewatching the heck out of Avatar and Legend of Korra to distract my brain from being depressed, reading a lot of books, migrating back to working in the office more regularly, and I’m slowly beginning to feel more like a human being and less like a depressed blob. Which is a good thing, right?

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.

A ramble about ArchRavels

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

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

Tangled Cat card from ArchRavels.

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

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

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

Ten nerdy cross-stitch patterns under $5!

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

The Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even thinblooded elves have to do laundry sometime…

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

So stealthy. 😛

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

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

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

Projects I’m working on – the winter edition

I recently had the idea to write about the craft projects I’m working on – not just to show them off, but for other reasons as well.  I’m thinking sharing what I’m working on might help keep me accountable, and remind me “hey, I should probably finish these things at some point”.  Plus, it’ll be good to see the progress I’ve made on some projects – like the Hue Shift blanket, which is slowly but surely getting bigger.  I don’t think I’ll make this a monthly series, but I do want to make a post like this semi-regularly – so we’ll see how well this works out.

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Five free craft patterns to keep busy with over the holidays

It’s the holiday season — a time when many of us have some time off from work, school, or other obligations.  And if any of you are like me, you’ll want to spend that spare time crafting, so I’ve pulled together a collection of five free (and in many cases, easy) craft patterns to keep you busy with during the holidays!

The World’s Simplest Mittens by Tin Can Knits

A set of four knit mittens in different sizes and colors.

If you’re looking for a way to keep your hands warm this winter, and have never tried knitting mittens, check out this pattern from Tin Can Knits!  With sizes from toddler to adult, you can make mittens for just about anyone.

The World’s Simplest Mittens – Ravelry

Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder

A foot on tiptoe in the grass, showing off a sock made from the Hermione's Everyday Sock pattern

Here’s another free and simple knitting project — this one’s actually been in my queue on Ravelry for quite some time.  And come on, what Harry Potter fan wouldn’t want to make these simple socks inspired by Hermione?  You could even try making them in Gryffindor red and gold, too.

Hermione’s Everyday Socks – Ravelry

Lazy Waves Shawlette by Dedri Uys

A shawl with a simple wave texture pattern.

I love this pattern — in fact, I love it so much I’ve made two of these shawls.  This pattern works especially well with yarn that has a slow color change to it, like the Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake yarns, as it results in a really pretty striping pattern.  The shawl works up quickly, and the rhythmic pattern is somewhat soothing to do.  If you’re looking for a quick and simple shawl to make, this one’s for you.

Lazy Waves Shawlette – Ravelry

Finn and Princess Bubblegum Cross-Stitch Pattern by Monica

Finn and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time, hugging.

Who doesn’t love Finn and Princess Bubblegum?  Here’s a quick little cross-stitch pattern of them hugging.

Finn and Princess Bubblegum Cross-Stitch – by Monica (site is in Italian)

I Aim to Misbehave by Quaternion Creations

Cross stitch pattern with the quote "I aim to misbehave" from the movie Serenity.

A great quote from a great captain, from the movie Serenity.

I Aim To Misbehave – Quaternion Creations

The Hue Shift afghan saga, part 2: starting over

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

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

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

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

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

Basket of 12 skeins of yarn - 10 of the skeins are in various rainbow hues, while the remaining two are black.

As you can see, I came close with some of the original colors, but others were way off.

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

Three and a half squares of the Hue Shift afghan, laying atop a basket of yarn.

It’s coming along pretty well so far!

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

A rainbow blanket draped over a desk chair.

It gets cold in my office building, but this blanket has done a good job of keeping me warm this week!

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

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

The Crafty Nerd tackles the Hue Shift afghan

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

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

I do love how these colors look together.

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

The blanket so far.

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

Sheet of paper with the words "Fountain pens: My new obsession" written on it, with a fountain pen laying on top of the paper.

Fountain pens: my new obsession

I’ve fallen into a new… hobby? obsession? Whatever it is, it ties in nicely with my bullet journalling hobby (yes, I’m still keeping up with that!), and given my love for pens, color, and fancy paper, I’m not surprised I fell into this hobby.

Calling it a new obsession isn’t exactly truthful, though – I was always really intrigued by my dad’s fountain pens when I was a little girl. They were so fancy! And my dad would do silly things like draw smiley faces on my fingers and toes with his fountain pens. It always made me laugh when he’d do that.

Pointer finger with a smiley face drawn onto it.

Just like my dad used to do, haha.

When I was a little older, maybe in my teenage years, I decided that someday, I’d own a fountain pen, just like my dad. And, well, now I own six!

Photo of six fountain pens - two Pilot Metropolitans, a TWSBI Eco, and three Pilot Kakunos.

From left to right: two Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop pens, a TWSBI Eco, and three Pilot Kakuno pens.

What’s interesting about writing with fountain pens is that they all feel slightly different – it’s almost like they have personalities of their own. My green Metropolitan Retro Pop feels like it’s grumpy, and isn’t always the smoothest to write with. (That might be because when I first bought it, I only used it a little bit, then let it sit for two years to dry up… At least I learned how to clean fountain pens, thanks to Green Metro!) My clear Kakuno feels precise, peppy, and energetic. The purple and white Kakuno feels welcoming, friendly, and stable.

Oh god, I’m ascribing personalities to my fountain pens. Please send help. 🤣

More seriously, though, they make writing much more fun, whether it’s for work, in my bullet journal, or in a letter to a friend. I have a different color of ink in each pen, and even more colors to choose from if I want to switch out the ink I’m using. (The Goulet Pen Company’s little ink samples are perfect – I get to try out lots of different colors, and if I find one I love I can buy a big bottle of it.)

It’s been really hard resisting the urge to buy more pens and ink.  My wish list on Goulet Pens just keeps growing and growing, haha.

Screenshot of part of my Goulet Pens wishlist, containing a couple of different pens and bottles of ink.

This isn’t even my entire wish list!

I’m looking forward to seeing what other things I can do with fountain pens aside from writing a lot and playing with different ink colors.  Having fancy pens to write with might actually get me working on making my handwriting neater, at least. 🙂