It’s a cat picture kind of week.

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

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

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

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

State of the Nerd - Winter 2019

The State of the Nerd, winter 2019

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

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

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

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

Happy 6th birthday, The Crafty Nerd!

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

Screenshot of what The Crafty Nerd looked like shortly after the blog was first started, back in 2013.

Things have sure changed since 2013…

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

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

Over the past six years…

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

Projects I’m working on – the winter edition

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

Continue reading →

2018: the year in review

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

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

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

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

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

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

State of the nerd: July 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love how Pikachu and I match, haha.

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

The crochet-a-long: finally finished!

Well, it only took me six months instead of the two that the Woodland Blanket crochet-a-long was originally planned to last, but I finally finished!

Holy crap, it’s done!

I’ll admit, some of why it took so long to finish was because I kept getting distracted by other projects.  Which happens a lot to me, and which is why I’ve got piles of unfinished stuff all over the house. (From what I can think of off the top of my head, I’ve got two unfinished cardigans, two unfinished pairs of socks, one shawl I’m actively knitting, one I’ve got stashed in a box until I feel like working on it again, a third that’ll be the focus of a blog post next week, and a pile of stuff in the “Corner of Shame” that will probably never get done.)  And the more I let the Woodland Blanket sit forlornly in my craft basket, the guiltier I felt about not finishing it, especially with so many other projects I wanted to do.  And I only had 8 stripes and the border left to do.  So I sat down one weekend and cranked it out.

The border came out really well – I’ve never done a border like this before, it’s simply a couple of rounds of slip stitches.

It’s not a hard blanket to do at all, especially once you get the hang of translating UK crochet terminology.  The wave pattern is soothing and rhythmic to work on, and I absolutely love the colors.  The whole blanket looks fantastic, and I’m glad I resisted the temptation to just stop a few rows short from the end and call it done.  It’s the first big thing I’ve finished in a while, and I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it.

I especially love the gradual change from warm tones to cool blues.

If you’re interested in making one of your own, the pattern is free on Attic24 (there are plenty of pictures included that walk you through the pattern) and if you want to create it in the same color scheme, you can buy the yarn pack here.

A brief (and random) interlude: good things about this week

I swear, I had a real post written up for yesterday.  It was only missing some photos, ones I had to take as I do the tutorial I’m hoping to share with you all soon (probably next week at this point, though).  I got it all written Wednesday night.  I was going to take the photos on Thursday, and post it on Friday, and keep up my posting streak of one post a week.  I had this.

And then my brain intervened, and said “oh we’re not going to do that, we’re not going to do anything but knit when you’re not at work, knit and feel miserable.”

Thursday ended up being a pretty rough day, and Friday wasn’t much better.  So here I am on Saturday morning, at 7 am, not wanting to break my posting streak.  So, instead of a tutorial, or cosplay planning, I’m going to share some of the good things that happened this week.  Because this week wasn’t just full of my brain being ridiculous like it tends to be at times.  There were some cool little things that happened that made me smile.

Please ignore my scruffy bath mat and oddly lit legs, my phone apparently decided that the boots were the only thing that needed a correct color.

First off, I got my Sailor Moon boots in the mail this week.  There was a little bit of frustration with them at first – they didn’t come close to fitting my calves – but the owner of the Etsy shop I bought them from told me how to stretch them so they’d fit, and it worked! (Obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take this picture.)  They look so fantastic, and I can’t wait for Gen Con so I can wear them around the convention on Saturday.

Peridot and Lapis, together again on the back of my car!

I also finally got a Peridot decal to go with the Lapis decal on the back of my new car!  (who is also named Lapis – that’s a story for another time though)  A friend of mine from work, Jake, makes vinyl decals, and when I couldn’t get the original decals I’d bought for Old Lapis because the seller’s Etsy store was on (seemingly permanent) vacation, I sketched up some stuff in Illustrator and had Jake make me some decals.  They came out really well!

And it’s not exactly a nerdy thing, but I can’t help but show off one of my kitties, Hannah, who was trying to make me feel better last night when I hit a rough patch:

My sweet, photogenic girl.

Isn’t she beautiful?  She curled up next to my feet after this and slept there all night.   (And then decided to use me as a landing pad early this morning when she jumped out of the window above the bed, oof.)  She doesn’t often snuggle with Ross and I, especially not in the summer, so it was an extra special treat to get Hannah snuggles last night.

Here’s hoping next week will be better.  At the very least, I’ll have more than enough time to get that tutorial I’ve been working on finished by Thursday or Friday.

Sailor Moon at Gen Con: it’s actually happening

This has been hanging on my craft room door since last Halloween, reminding me that this is going to be probably my one big cosplay for Gen Con this year.  I’ve actually been a little afraid to ramble about the costume on the blog, because every time I say “oh hey I am SO GOING TO COSPLAY AS THIS” on the blog, it never happens.  (Like Toothless.  And Rose Quartz.)

This one is actually going to happen, though.  I mean, I’m too close to having a completed costume for this to just say “eh, maybe next year”.  I’m remembering how I felt at Halloween when I put on this costume, when my inner sixteen-year-old let out a near-constant fangirl squeal every time I looked in a mirror.  I saw myself and said “I am Sailor Moon.”

This is one happy Crafty Nerd, you guys.

For me, this is huge.  I’ve done a bunch of Sailor Moon costumes over the years.  I made one by hand during my senior year of high school (and I do mean by hand, I lost sewing machine privileges during the middle of that project and some parts were held together by staples). I found a pre-made Sailor Moon costume at a Spencer’s back during my sophomore year of college — it was a child’s XL, I had to cut the bodysuit out to make it fit and wore it all over a white t-shirt.  I made a Sailor Jupiter costume for I-CON 2006 that turned out really impressively, and I wish I’d hung onto it because it was the best hand-sewn costume I’d made up to that point.

This year, I’m going to have a costume that’s well put together, that I won’t have to worry about falling apart because of my iffy hand-sewing skills.  It won’t have staples in it.  It won’t be a cobbled together collection of whatever I can find that’s “close enough” to certain costume pieces that I can’t make on my own or afford to buy somewhere.

There are three pieces I still need to get for my costume — one I just bought and am waiting for it to be shipped, one I’m pestering a friend for on Tuesday, and the third I think I could get away without if I need to.

The first thing, and something I’ve never actually had for a Sailor Moon costume before: the boots.

Oh my lord, they’re so beautiful.

I found these boots on Etsy, in the shop Catzia’s Collectibles.  This shop is full of beautiful Sailor Moon cosplay accessories, and I can’t wait to get the boots and see how they feel.  I’ll definitely want to break them in before Gen Con, so I don’t accidentally destroy my feet like I’ve done with just about every costume I’ve worn that involves heels.  (I wonder if I could get away with wearing these under jeans for work, haha.)  I’m ridiculously excited about these boots, you guys.  I’ve done Sailor Moon costumes with plain red heels, with black flats, even with a pair of grey and black Mary Janes with Sailor Moon socks.  I’m gonna have actual boots for this costume.  Sixteen-year-old me could cry happy tears right now.

The next is the wig.

Even this well-loved Sailor Moon wig is awesome.

I’ve told you about my wonderful wig-making neighbor before — and Oriana is hopefully going to start work on my very own Sailor Moon wig soon, which has me ridiculously excited.  (You need to see her Queen Beryl – I’m really hoping she brings that to Gen Con, it’s such a fantastic costume!  At the very least, maybe we can throw on costumes and do a photoshoot in our neighborhood.  I’m pretty sure most of our neighbors won’t even bat an eye.)

The last thing I need is the wand.

For an unofficial wand, this looks pretty darn good!

There are lots of places I could get a Sailor Moon wand. I’m kind of kicking myself for selling my old Cutie Moon Rod years ago, and I miss my old Crescent Moon Wand (which had an untimely demise due to a friend accidentally stepping on it, it’s my fault for leaving it on the floor).  I could hope to win an auction on eBay for an older Sailor Moon wand like the one I had in high school, or I could spend a stupid amount of money on a Proplica wand.  (And if I did buy a Proplica wand, I’d be terrified to bring it to Gen Con because what if something happened to it?  Then I’d be out $100, and I’d be a very sad Crafty Nerd.)  The pictured wand is one I might get, if I do decide to go with a wand. It looks pretty close to the original wand. While it’s a little expensive for something that’s not an official Sailor Moon item, it’s still better than worrying about breaking a Proplica wand on accident or going with modifying a bootleg toy to look a little more official.

You guys.  This costume is actually happening.  I am actually going to wear a Sailor Moon costume to a convention and not be slightly embarrassed by it because it’s not perfect.  Because this costume is going to be just about perfect.  And I can’t wait to wear it.

Getting back into sewing

I’m pretty sure you folks all know I love to sew.  I’ve rambled about it a number of times on the blog.  Unfortunately, I haven’t really done much of it lately — largely because I don’t really have space to permanently set up my sewing machine.  It’s kind of a pain in the butt to set my sewing space up in the kitchen, sew for a few hours, and then take it all back down because we need to eat.  And unless I want to try to sew standing up, with the sewing machine perched on my giant dresser, there’s not really space to set it up in my craft room.

Not pictured: the messy bed with the cat sprawled on top of it, or the huge dresser covered in a mess of craft supplies.

Eventually I’ll have the space, since I’m planning on getting rid of the giant dresser (which takes up nearly an entire wall) and getting a much more reasonably sized one from Ikea at some point, and rearranging the furniture that’s left.  However, that’s going to involve some help from friends and a trip up to Fishers to get a new dresser, and a number of other things that I can’t quite get done right away.

In the meantime, I figured out a space where I can semi-permanently set up my sewing machine!  You’ll probably laugh, but hey, it’s working out pretty well for me.

My tiny sewing studio, complete with Super Mario trash can, motorcycle, and ugly garage floor. (I never said this was a glamorous studio!)

Yes, I’ve set up my sewing machine in the garage, of all places. Sure, it smells a little bit like motorcycle fumes when it gets warm in there, but I don’t mind it.  I have both my sewing machine and my ironing board set up at the same time, and can switch between them easily — which is wonderful.  When I try to set everything up in the kitchen, inevitably I end up tripping over something or knocking something over.  I used to flop the ironing board on top of the washer and dryer, but since Ross and I got new ones last year with rounded tops, I can’t quite iron in the laundry room anymore.

It’s actually not so bad, sewing in the garage.  Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous at all, but since when do all craft rooms have to be shiny and pretty and Instagram-worthy?  And I have the added benefit of being able to enjoy lots of fresh air, since I can just open up the garage door and practically be sewing outside.

Lapis: “can I help? 😀 “

Plus, that means I can sew with New Lapis! Who I’ll probably ramble about in more detail at a later date.  After all, she is The Crafty Nerdmobile!  (And once a month, she’s Lappy the LARPmobile too.)

Anyway, I’ve managed to put my sewing studio to good use so far — I’ve started work on a disappearing 9-patch quilt, and I’m to the part where I can start sewing the completed squares together.

The start of the disappearing 9-patch square — this is before I chopped it all up.

I’m really impressed with how these squares are coming out, on most of them the seams are lining up perfectly.  I learned some new quilting techniques (or, more accurately, ironing techniques) that really helped with this.  I didn’t know until recently that when you’re working with quilt squares, you shouldn’t iron them like you’d typically iron a shirt or other sewing projects.  Instead, you just flop the iron down on the seam you want to press flat and let gravity do the work.  I’ve been setting the iron on the seam for a few seconds, then lifting it and setting it further down, and it’s working out really well for me.

And here’s the square after! Doesn’t it look fantastic?

I think once I’m finished with this quilt, I might actually get working on the Sailor Moon quilt again – which also might end up being a disappearing 9-patch as well.  This pattern is fun, and ends up looking really nice when it’s done.  Not sure what I’ll do with either of these quilts when they’re finished, as I’m starting to run out of places to put them, but I’ll figure it out eventually.

I missed sewing.