NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner!

I have a real knack for abandoning this blog for months on end.  I don’t do it on purpose.  Really and truly, I don’t.  Anyway, this latest absence has two explanations.  The first I will be vague about, because… reasons.  The online geek community has just been kind of toxic lately and I haven’t wanted to be a part of that.  I honestly don’t want to elaborate any further so let’s leave that one alone.

The second reason is that I’m a winner.

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I am winning so hard. Even if I am utterly exhausted and want nothing more than to sleep after thirty days of writing into the wee hours of every morning.

I did NaNoWriMo for the first time ever and I TOTALLY won!  Here’s the rundown, in case you don’t know:  NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a thing where you write a 50,000 word novel, or 50,000 words of a longer novel, in the month of November.  That averages to 1,667 words a day.  You “win” by simply writing 50,000 words!

I am slap worn out and can’t wait to go to sleep at a normal hour every night, but it was so worth it.  I have been writing original stories since I was, oh, ten?  Yet I’ve never finished anything worthwhile other than school papers and blog posts.  So, I wanted to do NaNo this year.  And I did it.  My crafts and other hobbies suffered terribly during November, but I wrote fifty.  Thousand.  Words.  I also created lots of characters who will eventually die horrible deaths.  No regrets, y’all.

Assuming that I work up the courage to reveal it publicly, I’ll try to make a post talking about my story.  In the meantime, I just wanted to brag about my accomplishment and explain my blogging absence.  That’s all.  I hope you all had a beautiful November.  Mwah!

Blankets, Big Knitting Needles, and Inappropriate Comments About Cows and Doctor Who

You are probably already aware that I’m kind of a terrible person.  I say a lot of stupid stuff and make poop jokes way too often.  My friends, thank goodness, pretend not to be disturbed by my odd brand of off-color humor.  It must be a difficult feat because anything can trigger unsettling thoughts in my head that shouldn’t be funny, but are so outlandish that they make me laugh myself into a coma.

One of these moments happened recently during a Facebook conversation with my friend Marcy.  While we were discussing the harmless topic of knitting blankets with great big needles and multiple strands of yarn, she made an innocent comment that was a catalyst for my signature creepy thoughts.  I have to share the conversation because it got bizarre as hell.

I have altered our profile pictures for this post.  Marcy is wonderful and squee-tastic, so her new picture is Pusheen the cat.  I am awful and take too much pleasure in things that should repulse me, so my new picture is Me Gusta.

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To see that David Tennant gif in action, go to this tumblr page.  Now imagine a cow is giving birth right in front of the Doctor.  Congratulations.  You can now enjoy the same lovely mental image that I will have every single time I have to save a dropped knit stitch.  Allons-y!

Marcy, here’s The Christmas Invasion. It’s $1.99 on Amazon Instant Video. Just thought I’d drop this little link here in case you wanted to get an episode of Doctor Who AND support my blog at the same time. But, you know. No pressure.

Here are some massive knitting needles. You can get a pair of US size 50 (25mm) circular needles that are 47 inches long. I kind of want some just to use as nunchuks.

To hear more of my weird thoughts, follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. I’m good at weird thoughts.

I Am Excited About Never Alone

I’ll just come right out and say it:  I want – nay, need to play Never Alone.

Never Alone is a puzzle platformer by Upper One Games that is scheduled to release on November 18, 2014 for Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.  In it, the player controls Girl (sometimes called Nuna) and Fox.  Each of them has different abilities that are essential to progressing through the environment and its puzzles.  In two player co-op, the second player controls Fox.

Nuna and Fox are on a mission to “rescue her homeland from an endless blizzard.”  Oh, that homeland?  It’s the home of the Iñupiat, a group of Inuit people living in Alaska.

That’s right!  This isn’t just another game starring yet another generic white guy that’s marketed to – surprise! – white guys.  Never Alone is a game about indigenous Alaskans that is made by indigenous Alaskans.  It’s something new, something different, something empoweringAnd I am excited about it.

Before I continue, let me say that I have nothing against white guys in general.  My father is one.  My brother is one.  I’m married to a white guy, for crying out loud!  But, we hear stories from white guys’ perspectives all the time.  I love the white men in my life, but they aren’t the only people who exist.  I appreciate it when entertainment mediums acknowledge that fact.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the reasons I’m so excited about Never Alone.

First of all, the game looks absolutely gorgeous.  It looks like a cuter, less frightening version of Limbo.  The atmosphere of gameplay videos is, well, I don’t know how best to describe it.  Haunting.  Ethereal.  Otherworldly.  I just love it.

Second, I love that I would support a Native Alaskan studio with this purchase.  Upper One Games was actually founded by a nonprofit organization – the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) – that seeks to better the lives of Native Alaskans through addressing unemployment, alcoholism, and other issues.  That’s a worthy cause.

Besides that, Never Alone is also a beautiful attempt by the CITC to connect with their youth.  Instead of shunning video games as a waste of time, Iñupiat elders saw them as a new platform for sharing their folklore and values with the young, Xbox-loving generation.  That’s just so inspiring to me.  Games are a great storytelling medium, and I’m glad that Upper One Games sees that.  Watch the video below to hear it from their point of view.

Third, the protagonist is female.  Not only that, she’s Iñupiaq.  Meaning?  She isn’t white.  Video games with exclusively female protagonists are hugely outnumbered by male-centered games.  They get only half the marketing support, too.  Games featuring characters of color, especially female ones, are rarer still.  A game that stars one as a protagonist is practically a unicorn.  (Movies don’t fare much better.)  I desperately want to support diversity in any media, but especially in video games.

Fun fact!  The traditional protagonist of this story – which is based on an old tale called Kunuuksaayuka – is actually a boy, but the game studio changed the character’s gender.  According to the Never Alone website:  “The team really wanted to create a strong, resourceful, smart, brave character who could be a great role model for girls. Great female characters have historically been woefully under-represented in video games and the team wanted to help change that – particularly since many have young daughters themselves.”  They get it.  They really get it.

Lastly, I hope Never Alone will spark a new movement in video games.  I hope that it will be wildly popular and show developers and publishers that courting the generic dudebro gamer isn’t the only way to success.  I hope that it leads to more women and people of color working in the video game industry.  It’s a lofty hope, I know, but it’s not impossible.  The gaming audience is a diverse one, and it’s time that the industry reflected that.

Some gamers crave diversity and a new experience.  We want characters and stories that represent a wider audience.  If you give us that in a quality video game, we will gladly support your efforts.  We know that stories are powerful, and we feel that all people deserve to have their stories told.

Marvelously Bumpy Potholders – Free Knitting Pattern

I like practical projects.  That’s one of the reasons I love knitting with cotton.  After I bought a massive amount of discounted cotton yarn a few months ago, I figured I ought to put some of it to good use.  Since I love baking cookies and casseroles, I decided that I should try knitting some potholders.  The thing about potholders, though, is that they need to be thick.  Really thick.  Poorly made potholders can cause serious burns!  So, instead of risking injury by creating an impromptu pattern, I did a little bit of potholder research.

I tried a few nice patterns, but I wanted a very specific look.  I’m not sure why, but I wanted bumpy potholders.

And that is how my Marvelously Bumpy Potholders were born!

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As always, please forgive my photography. I do my best, but my skills are still lacking.

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Angle changed to highlight bumpy texture.

I’ve made most of my potholders with variegated yarns (two strands held double the whole way), but you could just as easily use solid colors.  I made one set with a strand of yellow/white variegated yarn and a strand of solid yellow.  I think it turned out nicely!

wildblueysohi, wildblueyoshi.com, knitting, knit, potholder, cotton, yarn, handmade, yarn tails, marvelously bumpy, yellow, variegated, peaches and creme, preaches & cremewildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, knitting, potholder, yellow, white, variegated yarn, yarn, cotton, peaches and creme, marvelously bumpy potholdersThese potholders make great gifts.  I’ve given out several sets, and all the recipients liked them.  Besides, Christmas is only fourteen short weeks away.  I suggest my fellow crafters get to work!

Without further ado, here’s my Marvelously Bumpy Potholders pattern.

Materials

  • 2 balls Peaches ‘n Creme 100% cotton yarn* in any color (yarn will be held double throughout)
  • Size 8 (5mm) needle, or size needed for gauge.  Please take time to check your gauge.
  • Size I/9 (5.5mm) crochet hook.  If you don’t size 8 knitting needles, just use a hook that’s one size larger than your needles.
  • Darning needle

Gauge

28 rows and 16 stitches = 4 inches (10.16 centimeters)

Note:  In case you didn’t notice, gauge is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for this project!  You need a tightly knit fabric to make the potholder sturdy enough to protect yourself from burns.  People say “take time to save time” regarding gauge, but in this case, you need to take time to save skin.

Pattern

Holding two strands of yarn double, cast on 24 stitches.

Rows 1-2:  Knit.

Rows 3-4:  Knit 2.  *Knit 2, Purl 2, repeat from * 5 times.  Knit last two stitches.

Rows 5-6:  Knit 2.  *Purl 2, Knit 2, repeat from * 5 times.  Knit last two stitches.

Repeat rows 3-6 9 more times.  (If you have large hands and want a longer potholder, feel free to add extra rows.  Just make sure that you write down how many rows you added so that you can make the second potholder the same size.  To make the potholders wider, simply cast on four extra stitches and add one [knit 2, purl 2] repeat to rows 3-4, and one [purl 2, knit 2] repeat to rows 5-6.)

Knit one more row.

Most of that is pretty easy, but binding off is a little different in this project.  It’s not difficult, though.  Please read through the next two paragraphs before binding off!

I suggest that you use the crochet bind off.  (This link goes to a how-to video.  Watch it if you’re confused.)  Personally, it’s my favorite because it looks so nice and neat.  It also manages to be looser than the generic “leapfrog” bind off while still leaving a sturdy edge. To bind off the potholders, I normally use a size I/9 crochet hook (5.5mm).  It’s a good idea to use a crochet hook that’s one size larger than your knitting needles to prevent puckering.  Confession:  I typically go up TWO sizes on other projects because my crochet gauge is so tight.  But, since the potholders need to be super sturdy, I tend to stick with a 5.5mm hook for their bind off row.

Alright.  Now bind off as you please, leaving one stitch left on your crochet hook or knitting needle.  (If you didn’t use the crochet bind off, just slide that last unfinished stitch onto your crochet hook.)  To make the final little loop, crochet a short foundation chain.  My chains always turn out really tight, so I usually make a chain of 12 on these potholders.

Now look at the photo below.  Insert your crochet hook, front to back, into the space where I stuck the darning needle in the photo.  It’ll go under what looks like two “legs” of a stitch.  Be careful not to twist your chain.  Meaning:  keep the “V” side of the chains facing the outside of the loop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pull up one loop and make a slip stitch. Cut yarn and pull the tail through. Make it snug, but not too tight. Imagine the slip stitch hugging the potholder without strangling it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Now weave in your yarn tails.  Ta-da!  You’re done!  Uh, except for blocking.  The potholders will be functional right off the bat, but they will probably be kind of misshapen and awkward looking until you block them.  So don’t be lazy.  Block them!  I’m the laziest of the lazy, but I still block all of my potholders before gifting them.

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PROOF! I blocked mine on a towel, but it’s probably better to block them on a self-healing mat. They’ve got fancy grids and rulers on them, which makes it easier to block the potholders into a uniform size.

So there it is!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Note:  Make as many Marvelously Bumpy Potholders as you want, but please don’t share this pattern without linking back to me.

Fake geek girl? (Crossposting from my tumblr)

I wrote a short little text post on my tumblr last December after I got mad about that stupid “fake geek girl” crap that some jerks prattle on about.  The post got like sixteen likes and reblogs at first, and gathered a note or two each month after that.  That pretty much made it my most popular tumblr post.

Then, a few days ago – a full nine months after I wrote it – Wil Wheaton himself reblogged my post.  My head exploded a little bit when I saw all the new notes and pieced together what happened.  The post has gotten over 3000 notes in the five days since Mr. Wheaton’s reblog.  So, um, I guess people like what I said?

Since the post seems to have struck a chord with other folks who are frustrated with the “fake geek girl” bullshit, I figured I should post it here on my main site, too.  Maybe it’ll strike a chord with you, too.  My original post is here

Fake geek girl?

I like running.  That makes me a runner.

I like knitting.  That makes me a knitter.

I like reading.  That makes me a reader.

I like playing video games.  That makes me a gamer.

I like nerdy stuff.  That makes me a nerd.

I identify with my hobbies and my interests because they are important to me.  You don’t get to choose what I should call myself.  You don’t get to decide if I’m a “real” gamer or a “real” nerd.  You can create arbitrary criteria for what makes a person “real” or “fake,” but that has absolutely no bearing on my life whatsoever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to play.

Not-so-weekly Update: Happy Things

I haven’t written much lately because all the yucky stuff going on in the world has me feeling a bit stifled.  I have a draft post filled with my opinions on the sad, frustrating, and scary current events, but I’m not going to publish it yet.  Honestly, I may never publish it.  It’s not like the world would be missing much if I never do.

But whatever.  You didn’t come here to read about my unpublished blog posts.  You came here for happy stuff.  So, without further ado, here are my happy things!

First, this video from the Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? crew called “Local Multiplayer Etiquette” cracked me up.  Actually, pretty much every episode of HAWP cracks me up.  You should watch all of them if surreal humor, foul language, and video games do it for you.  Even if they don’t, just watch them.  My favorites are probably the (very NSFW) Psychonauts and Quantum Conundrum episodes.

Warning:  NSFW.  Every episode is NSFW.  Unless you have the best job ever.

On to my other happy things!  I’ve listed them in the same format I used for my last “weekly” update.  If you need cheering up, I hope one or two of these can help you out.

Video Games

In bigtime gaming news, it appears that Never Alone was well received at PAXNever Alone looks amazing and great and groundbreaking and I can’t freaking WAIT to play it, but for now I’m glad to see it have this tiny little bit of success.

In my personal video game adventures, I’m still playing Borderlands 2.  I’m working on my Mechromancer playthrough.  Apparently I’ve played it just a teensy bit too much because I recently dreamt that I was Gaige.  Apparently I needed to pee during the time that I was dreaming because Katy-Gaige was searching for a bathroom.  (Luckily, what I found was much cleaner than anything I’ve seen in the Borderlands games.)  I would’ve preferred to summon Deathtrap, but I still got to run around as one of the cutest/deadliest game characters ever.  I’ll take it.

I’ve returned to my PC games, too.  The internet has invoked my rage and general feelings of sadness about the state of humanity so often that now I frequently choose to open Steam instead of Twitter or Facebook.  I FINALLY came back to Breath of Death VII, which I started way back during Four in February.  The difficulty spiked to a downright rude level, though, and my progress has slowed to a snail’s pace.  Fortunately I can just level grind whenever I want, so the game is still pretty fun.

I also started new games of Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle.  I’ve beaten PvZ on both Xbox 360 and DS and have played the 360 version of Peggle to death, but it matters not.  These games are fun on all consoles.

Knitting

I learned to knit intarsia.  I’m not very good at it yet, but I knit this… thing.  It might become a change purse or a cell phone cozy if I ever weave in all those awful yarn tails and sew it into a vaguely bag-like shape.  That’s a big “if.”

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It looks like a gaudy squid right now.

Books

I found a copy of The Gift of Fear that I can borrow!  I’ve wanted to read this book since a fellow blogger left a comment about it on my “Bedhammer” post.  I have only read the introduction, but DAMN.  It is a great big ol’ dose of reality.  It’ll be an informative read, I’m sure, but I won’t be able to binge read it in one night.  That’s a lot of information to absorb, and some of that information is disturbing.  I hope it’s useful, though, and makes me feel less anxious less paranoid totally badass better prepared to face a world that’s not always safe.

Other internet stuff I did

Sunday, September 7 was Creepy Face A Day’s first anniversary!  I dubbed it our first creepyversary.  Here’s to many more!

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This is actually a bigger version of our profile picture. I realized this weekend that we never posted it. Derp. (Click the picture for a link to its post on creepyfaceaday.)

A couple of weeks ago, I told my facebook followers about the mean nicknames I’ve given to some of my Pokemon. There’s the Rattata named “Catfood,” the Psyduck named “Psyfuck,” and the Ekans named “OMGshoes.” Then a follower told me about her Metapod named “Penis.” She thought it would be funny when it used the move “harden.” I humbly accept defeat, madam.

Highlights (both good and weird)

These I shall present to you in bullets so that I don’t feel like I need to make them coherent or connected in any way.  They are unrelated to my usual topics, but I feel the need to inform the world of them for some reason.

  • I baked cookies.  Cookies are so good.
  • We started watching Doctor Who.  It seems to be filled with Britishisms that my American sensibilities don’t quite understand, but I think I like it.  It’s so cheesy and campy that it makes me laugh.  Can anyone hear a Dalek say “EXTERMINATE!” without laughing?
  • I planted some cilantro seeds last week and they’re starting to sprout.  Mmm.  Cilantro.

Those are my happy things.  They make me happy.  That’s really all there is to it.  What’s making you happy today?

Like my goofy blatherings?  Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.  You can also subscribe by email.  Just go to my homepage and find the “Subscribe to WildBlueYoshi via Email” field a little ways down on the right.

The Baby Blanket Saga

In my weekly wrap-up post on Sunday, I posted a picture of the garter stitch baby blanket I’m knitting.  I also mentioned that its “saga” was kind of ridiculous and deserved its own post.  Well here we go.

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I am aware that the name is stupid.

First, the backstory.

Two Christmases ago, my dad and stepmom gave me a bunch of yarn.  By “a bunch” I mean something like fifteen big skeins.  They don’t know much about yarn, though, and gave me cheap acrylic stuff that they found in a big box craft store.  Now, I can appreciate pretty much any type of yarn that I don’t have to pay for.  Even the scratchy and exceedingly cheap stuff – you know, the yarn that practically squeaks as you work with it? – has its uses.  And boy, howdy!  I will use the hell out of that yarn when I find the right pattern for it.  And, when it comes right down to it, they were really sweet to get me all that yarn.

However.

Six skeins of the yarn was Bernat Pipsqueak.  It’s cute enough, I guess, but I don’t really like it.  For one, the colors are pastel and I am not a fan of most pastels.  For two, the yarn and I do not play nicely together.  It feels flimsy and I’m constantly scared that I’m going to break it.

The biggest problem, though, is that it is so fuzzy that I can barely see what I’m doing with it.  The fuzz does hide mistakes, which is nice, but also makes it harder to correct booboos.  I actually tried crocheting with Pipsqueak at first.  That was a disaster.  I couldn’t see where to stick my crochet hook in order to make more stitches.  There are published crochet patterns for this stuff, though.  I don’t understand!  How can ANYONE crochet with it?

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SO FUZZY. This colorway is called “candy girl.” Notice the baby on the label? That means it’s for babies. Pastel yarn is always for babies. Because, um, babies just love pastels?

Fortunately, the beauty of knitting’s culture of gift giving means that I’m not required to put up with this yarn forever.  I can always knit something for an actual baby instead of for myself.  One could make a strong argument that I’m more of an overgrown child than an actual adult, but I digress.  As fate would have it, this is exactly why my dad bought the Pipsqueak yarn that Christmas.

My niece was born earlier that year, and Daddy insisted that I knit a blanket for her.  He bought the yarn, after all, so I suppose the request is reasonable enough.  (Thank goodness my sister-in-law likes the “candy girl” colorway.)  However, Daddy started to get on my nerves because he kept asking me “When are you going to make a blanket for Clara?”  Every single time I saw him, he’d ask me again.

Before I go any further, I want to state that my father is usually a pretty nice guy.  He buys me beer and gives me blueberries that he grows and picks himself.  He hates gossip and is the best secret keeper I have ever met.

But, bless his heart, he is a little clueless.

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No, Dad. NOT winning.

After hearing “When are you going to make a blanket for Clara?” one too many times, I got what my mom calls “snippy.”  I told him that I was working on another blanket that I had been planning for weeks before he gave me yarn for Clara’s blanket.  I also told him that it takes a LONG time to knit or crochet something as big as a blanket.  I appreciated the yarn, but bugging me about when I’m going to make something with it is not very nice.

I could tell that I kinda hurt his feelings and I felt like a heel.  However, he was a teensy bit presumptuous about the blanket.  Non-knitters like my father are often oblivious to the amount of time and effort required for knit projects.  Even if they mean well, they can be frustrating.  He did not ask about it anymore, though, so something resembling peace returned to the family.

Alrighty.  Let’s fast-forward approximately fifteen months.  I have FINALLY started Clara’s blanket.  I figured I’d bite the bullet and get it over with before the kid goes to prom in sixteen years and tells her friends all about her loser aunt who wouldn’t even knit her a baby blanket.

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“I’d do it, too!”

But, Clara obviously is no longer a newborn.  This means that I should probably make a blanket that is larger than what six skeins will make.  So, I went ahead and got a skein of white Pipsqueak a few weeks ago just to see how it looks with “candy girl.”  As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, it works.  So now I need to get more white.  Unfortunately, our local Wal-Mart no longer carries ANY Bernat Pipsqueak yarn.  Those bitches.  Now I’ll have to hit up expensive internet retailers or drive for miles just to get a few more skeins of that dinky, fuzzy yarn before I can finish the blanket.  Sigh.

This situation got so much more complicated than I ever anticipated.  First, my well meaning father and stepmother give me some yarn that I don’t really like.  Then, I hurt my dad’s feelings and took FOREVER to start the blanket.  Now Wal-Mart is punishing me by drying up the local supply of Bernat Pipsqueak.

This has gotten just plain silly.  I should write an epic poem about it and set the saga to sad music.  I’m as tragic as Oedipus Rex.  Uh, minus the you-know-what with relatives.