What Is Happening?

When I started WildBlueYoshi, way back when it was a wee little blog on xanga with just a few subscribers, I intended only to write about video games.  Then, a year or two later, I added crafts and books to my blog topics, making for a really unique (read:  weird and not at all relatable) niche.  I read all the blogging advice columns I could find and tried like hell to find a comprehensible meaning of SEO.  But, nothing I did worked for me, and I felt like I was grappling to find topics I could write about.  It was all very forced, and I didn’t like it, and I ended up barely posting anything for nearly two years.

Now, I kind of don’t give a shit anymore.  I think I’ll blog about whatever I want, whenever I feel like it.  Topics will no doubt vary wildly, but I’ll still include way too many pictures of my kitties.  The second half of that last sentence is wholly unsurprising, I’m sure.  If you like that, cool.  If not, I’m sure there are plenty of cat videos you can find elsewhere to distract yourself from real life.  None of those cats are cuter than mine, though.  Just so you know.

This has been a useless PSA.  Please enjoy this picture of our foster kitten, Camellia, for whom I still haven’t found a home, even though she’s adorable.  (She’s evil, too, but I don’t exactly advertise that to potential adopters.)

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“Hello. I’m Camellia and I destroy all of Mrs. Katy’s ponytail holders because I believe that they are the only thing more evil than I am.”

Six Months?

Okay, I didn’t totally abandon this blog.  I have thought about it a whole lot and isn’t it, like, the thought that counts?

Yeah, yeah, that’s not going to cut it.  I know.  So, here’s the deal on why I’ve been MIA for so long.  Part of it, anyway.

1)  I hate the internet a little bit lately.  Assholes are shaming others for DARING to critique video games while female, or insulting trans people, or just being all out dicks about stuff that shouldn’t bother them in the least.  When surfing the net makes me that mad or depressed, I steer clear of the computer altogether.

2)  Speaking of computers, mine is dying.  A lot of websites make it freeze up… Including mine.  Do you know how depressing it is to pull up my own website and watch it totally kill my computer?  Or to write part of a post just to have the browser crash and erase everything I wrote?  I need a new computer, stat, but I haven’t had the money to get one.  Which actually brings me to my next point.

3)  The “no money” thing?  Yeah, I got tired of that and got myself another job.  That means I’m working three part time jobs.  It’s a bit of an adjustment, and blogging has taken a backseat to stuff that actually pays the bills.

4)  There’s family drama, too.  I won’t give you the details because holy shit why is there so much drama.

5)  Due to something I alluded to in my first point above (I refuse to namecheck that bullshit), I have almost entirely lost interest in video games.  I don’t make money from playing or discussing games.  Why the hell should I put myself out there just to give internet trolls an excuse to dogpile me?  No, thank you.  Although, I really should get around to playing the copy of Dragon Age:  Inquisition that Hubbs got me for Christmas…

I think that about covers it.  You’re probably bored to tears by this point, so here’s a silly picture of me and my rescue cat, Crybaby.

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We cute and we know it.

Thank you for reading this far.  You are a saint and an angel and I love you and I wish I could send you a cookie.

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 use 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)
One potholder is 5.5 x 5.5 inches.

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 * 4 times.  Knit last two stitches.

Rows 5-6:  Knit 2.  *Purl 2, Knit 2, repeat from * 4 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.