Category Archives: Craftiness

New Adventures (in Art)

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a new creative outlet that I had never really explored before: painting. Not just on the computer with imprecise tools but with a paintbrush on a canvas.

Okay, so I painted a faux Door of Durin (complete with Elvish script containing my own name, of course) on my bedroom door at my parents’ house, but that was the most I had ever done besides paint a wall. So when the opportunity arose to paint something with a group of friends, I figured it was worth a try. I ended up discovering that painting isn’t unattainable magic. It’s more like writing a story.

When I say it’s like writing a story, I mean that there are many elements. Certainly more than I know from one couple hour group painting lesson. But it’s a bunch of tiny things put together that create the magic. And there’s so much variety that can happen with those tiny things. It’s not that there’s no wrong way to do it, but it seems that there are many right ways to make it work.

The most mind-blowing revelation of the evening was that the entire canvas needed to be painted one color before anything else happened. In my case, we used acrylic paints and a brown base. When the instructor told us to paint over it with other colors (blacks and grays) but not completely cover it, I didn’t quite understand. However, as I painted, I realized that the brown shows through. Adds depth. I would have thought it would mess up the painting. Instead, it makes it more interesting.

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One of the fun things was watching how everyone interpreted the different instructions we were given. Only one person in the group had any painting experience before this. Her strokes were pretty effortless. I fiddled until I understood how it was being done. Once I did, it was amazing to see how each of us painted the trees, shrubs, and fields so differently, yet they all looked great.

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After we finished the main body of the painting, we were allowed to add our own details. Some people added flowers. Several of us added cats (because we’re crazy cat ladies). I decided to add some very apropos things into mine…

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I know one pretty good painting doesn’t make me even a novice artist, but the thing I discovered through the process is that I like doing this. A lot. Maybe enough to buy some acrylic paints, brushes, and an easel to play with it on my own…

Do you paint? Have you discovered any unexpected hobbies?


Portrait of a Kitty

Some people tease that I’m obsessed with my cat. I guess there might be some truth to that. I end up talking about him often, but one of the most frequent things I end up doing is drawing him. That’s not to say that I’m particularly skilled at art by any means, but it’s relaxing, enjoyable, and gives my creativity a different outlet so that’s good enough for me.

Since my Surface has its accompanying pen, I decided to use it to play with the Fresh Paint program and try my hand at “painting.” Okay, so it’s not really painting, but considering that I don’t have a canvas, any brushes, or paints, it’s the next best thing. And there’s an undo button, which comes in handy when one isn’t the most adept artist. (I use it all the time.)

So below is my most recent cat art.

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Do you enjoy creating art? If you’re a writer, what other creative outlets do you have?


Nerd Propagation (Or, the BB8 Lovey)

So my best friend is having a baby. It’s very exciting, especially because she and her husband are fellow geeks. This child will be brought up well.

Since I tried my hand at an R2D2 lovey for my nephew earlier this year, I decided to give it another shot. However, good ol’ R2 isn’t quite the right fit. My best friend is obsessed with BB8. Like ready to sneak onto a soundstage and borrow one. Okay, that’s really hyperbole, but you get the idea. So, for that reason, I had to make this lovey a BB8, which was definitely a little tricky since that meant some alterations to the pattern.

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The first trouble was finding the right shade of orange. What I ended up with still is a little darker than BB8, I think, but it’s close enough that someone would know who it’s supposed to be at a glance.

I skipped 4 rows (of the 36 stitches) on the head part of the pattern to give it the rounder, smaller look that BB8 has. Obviously, the difference in colors also means that there’s no switching back and forth between the white and blue partway down the head (where the “eye” is). I’m not best at switching yarn, so that’s a bonus.

One mistake I made and wish I had realized was the second set of front post triple crochet stitches. I didn’t include them since they weren’t needed for aesthetics. I didn’t realize that they were functional, providing a place to start the blanket portion. If you make one, you’ll want to include those for your own sanity.

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So there it is. A BB8 lovey. Now here’s to meeting the little one when he arrives in the next few weeks.


Zero Suit Samus Shirt (A Little How-to, a Little Rambling)

All my friends are nerds. This means that sometimes we do some crazy things just for the sake of it. This month’s adventure: an event at church during which we will all dress as Smash Bros. characters.

It started off as one of those, “I wonder what would happen if…?” moments and turned into a plan.

One of the hardest parts was choosing who to be. The obvious choice is my favorite: Sheik. Ever since she was first introduced in the game, I’ve loved the way that she can hop in, pop a few people, then hop back out of the middle of the fray. Considering that I’m less practiced than the guys I normally play with (including my husband), she was my go-to for the longest time. As the years have gone on, though, I’ve branched out, so I wanted to do so in this case too.

So I ended up choosing Samus Aran. As much as I’d like to make her signature suit, it was a little much for my purposes, so I made a Zero Suit Samus shirt. If you ever want to make one too, I have some tips on the process. (After all, I think it turned out pretty well, considering it was an afternoon project and that it was made from pre-made clothing with no pattern.)

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How to Introduce Your Nephew to Star Wars (or That Time I Made an R2D2 Lovey)

So, I have a nephew. He’s just turning a year, and even this early, my husband and I are determined to ensure he’s fully exposed to geek culture. (He needs to be fully prepared for our geeklings when they finally come.) So far, our gifts have all been Star Wars related, and with his first birthday on the way, I wanted to give him something special. What better thing to do than make him something?

My mom came across a pattern for a Star Wars lovey. I never knew what they were before, but they’re basically a doll/blanket hybrid, and it seemed like just the thing. And thus began the quest to make an R2D2 lovey.

While I enjoy crocheting, I’m not a master by any means. Most of my life, I’ve done rather simple patterns, and every pattern began with asking my mom (who is a master at a variety of crafty things) what all the shorthand actually means and how to do it. Seeing that this is not a normal blanket, I was a little apprehensive, but I decided to give it a try on my own.

Much to my surprise, magic rings (no, not ones from The Lord of the Rings) are more simple to make than anticipated, and a front post double crochet isn’t as scary as it sounds, thanks to YouTube.

Like everything I’ve ever handmade, it’s not perfect. I missed changing the yarn at one point, making the blue band at the bottom of R2’s head too wide and taking away the effect of the lines (done by front post double chains). But, like with other things I’ve made, those little mistakes aren’t what people noticed when they saw it. Instead, my sister-in-law was delighted with it, and I now have pictures of my little nephew snuggled up to his own little R2. That’s what it’s all about.

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Want to try your hand at an R2 lovey? Here’s the link to the pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/r2-d2-lovey

If you try it, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Or if you have a great geek craft, let me know!


Making Mondays Better: Nintendo, Dr. Who?, and Star Wars Themed Fabric

It’s been a while since I’ve done much sewing beyond clothing alterations and costumes, but that may be changing very soon.

This week, my husband found out that Jo-Ann’s Fabrics has a new line coming out. Over the years, I’ve started shying away from the store since most of the fabric in my local one is either for crafts or has patterns/colors/etc. that just aren’t my style for clothes. Unfortunately, since it’s the only fabric store in the area, that also leaves me with little options, hence all of the refashioning over creating something new from scratch. And while this new line of fabric likely wouldn’t become part of my wardrobe, it screams “quilt” all over it.

They’ve released Nintendo, Dr. Who?, and Star Wars fabrics. When I checked about a week ago, there were only a couple available. Now, the list is growing, and some of them are perfect for quilting and other projects. (And maybe a skirt or something. Maybe.)

Check out the full list available right now here.

Now, for what style of quilt to make…


Superbowl Survival: Arm Knitting

Happy Groundhog’s Day! Since there are six more weeks of winter coming, this post seems quite apropos.

I’m not much of a sports fan, and I come by it honestly. My mom grew up in a football town and never really cared for it. And my dad, who used to like football, changed his tune after his team lost a Superbowl. For that reason, I didn’t really grow up around sports. However, my husband’s family is quite the opposite, which means that we usually end up watching the Superbowl at their house.

While I usually bring a book or chat with another family member who’s not particularly interested in the game (like my husband’s sister or grandmother) between the commercials, this year my husband’s grandmother introduced me to a new craft: arm knitting.

For those familiar with regular knitting, it follows the same idea (though is more unforgiving if you need to get up while in the middle of a row). Since my husband’s grandmother is a serious crafter, she has countless skeins of yarn hanging around, so I’m not sure of the brand or other specifics of the yarn I have. All I know is it was thick and makes for a great, chunky scarf.

Nice thick yarn is perfect for a cozy scarf, and I love the color!

Nice thick yarn is perfect for a cozy scarf, and I love the color!

My Marsala arm-knitted scarf!

My Marsala arm-knitted scarf! (And yes, that is Arwen’s pin from The Two Towers.)

What you need:

2 arms
1 skein of thick yarn

For my scarf, I did twelve stitches across and made it long enough to wrap around my neck twice. It took about an hour to learn how to arm knit and make the scarf itself.

Since the stitches are very loose, I bound them closer together by creating a small, finger-knitted cuff (on the opposite side of the pin in the picture). (Finger knitting uses the same idea as arm knitting but instead is done on the index fingers. I did five stitches across to create the cuff.) Then I used spare yarn to “stitch” the layers together through the cuff to keep everything arranged the way I want it.

Ready for a quick tutorial on arm knitting? Here’s the tutorial we used.

Did you watch the Superbowl? Do you like crafting? If you give arm knitting a try, let me know how it goes!