EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the first of our brand new crop of writers, C! She’ll be posting every Thursday with all sorts of geeky goodness. Don’t miss it. Welcome, C!
Imagine your dream store, catering to one of your favorite pastimes. The shop is full of nothing but creative goodness. Aisle upon aisle of things just waiting, hoping you’ll purchase them, take them home, and use them to their full potential. Some items are great for beginners, wanting to try something new but needing a lot of guidance in the beginning. Others are for the more experienced, and in the hands of someone who really knows what they’re doing can become wondrous and magical. Absolutely everything piques the imagination, and whets the appetite of a creative soul.
Are you picturing your friendly local gaming store? You easily could, but my description could also be of your friendly local craft store!
Crafts are prime geek hobbies. Geeks are a creative bunch, after all. Look at the hours upon hours we put into developing character background for our RPG characters (or that a GM puts into their campaign!). Who hasn’t thought of a different ending for Serenity, or an X-Men story arc involving only our favorite characters (some characters aren’t dead in my Marvel Universe, yo), even if we don’t go as far as putting it down on paper as fan fiction? If you’ve ever painted a D&D mini or put together your own cosplay outfit, you’ve already got one foot in the door toward becoming a crafty geek.
Since the best hobbies are the ones that can feed your other hobby needs, let’s take a look at just a few of the fun crafts that can be used to accentuate your current geekdom.
Painting Warhammer minis and building terrain for battlefields makes for an easy transition to putting together models. Besides looking cool (which they do), models can be used in a game to serve as superb visualization of the party’s current location. Look beyond the Millennium Falcon and U.S.S. Enterprise kits available at the game store – hobby shops have kits for cars and planes (D20 Modern, anyone?), trains (Steampunk!), and ships, among others. I recently played in a homebrew game set on the Titanic, and one of my fellow players brought in a model of the ill-fated ship that his father had made for him. We all thought it added a lot to the game, as instead of trying to describe to us where the second-class dining hall was, the GM was able to simply point to the model and say, “You are here.”
Cosplaying can be a seriously expensive hobby. Custom-made costumes can cost an arm and a leg (and let’s not even talk about the shipping if your seamstress or tailor is in Japan!), and it’s even more heartbreaking when you get the costume and something about it still doesn’t fit right, or look right (“Sango’s armor is black and pink, not black and red! ARGH!”). The solution? Learn to sew.
Those of us who took Home Economics in high school may have some bad memories of, say, misshapen stuffed animals and sweatshirts with crooked seams. *whistles innocently* You have to purge those memories. Home Ec. teachers are working with a slew of students who would rather be anywhere than at a sewing machine, and said machines are old, cantankerous, and difficult to work with.
Today’s sewing machines are slick and easy to use, and a good one can be purchased new for under $200 (mine sews at the touch of a button – no foot pedal needed!). Most larger craft stores, like JoAnn and Hobby Lobby, as well as locally owned shops offer sewing classes for very reasonable fees, but you can teach yourself by reading the manual that comes with your machine, watching online tutorials, and picking up sewing books at the bookstore. Fabric and sewing notions can be pricey, but if you get on the coupon mailing lists for craft stores and watch their sales, you can get lots of goodies for just a little money.
Beyond sewing costumes, you can make lots of other things – bags for lugging your game books, cool curtains for your bedroom, and “normal” clothes – plus you can mend and alter existing items. So you can sew up the ripped seam on your nice dress pants for your day job (a spool of thread costs around two bucks), and spend the money you would have used for new pants on a video game instead. Awesome.
Embroidery and Cross-Stitch
Hand embroidery sometimes gets a bad rap, and with the plethora of sickly-sweet-cute Precious Moments cross-stitch patterns and dancing tomatoes on dish towels out there, it’s no wonder. The good news is, embroidery patterns have come a long way, baby. Sublime Stitching (“This ain’t your gramma’s embroidery!”) has patterns for everything from cute little wiener dogs and space robots to Mucha Lucha masks and zombies (yes, zombies!). Spend a few minutes (or hours…oops) searching on Etsy, and you’ll find all sorts of fun patterns for cross-stitch and embroidery alike. A quick browse through the cross-stitch kits at the craft store will reveal some gorgeous wizards, unicorns, and other fantasy scenes. I even own a book with a CD-ROM entitled Manga Cross-Stitch.
The even better news? You can turn anything you want into an embroidery pattern with dressmaker’s carbon paper, a transfer pen, or even a good ol’ mechanical pencil. You can also turn any image into a cross-stitch pattern; there’s special software available, but a quick internet search will turn up a couple different ways to do it in Photoshop or whatever photo-processing software you use.
With just needle and thread, you can decorate your clothing or anything else made of fabric in your home. Make pillows with cross-stitched Horde and Alliance symbols. Make a family crest for your Pathfinder character and hang it in your game room. Embellish your newborn’s onesies with beholders! The possibilities are endless. And it’s easy. If you can sew on a button, you can embroider or cross-stitch.
Crocheting and Knitting
Knitters and crocheters are geeks in their own right, though I don’t know how many would admit it. Hook and needle preferences closely resemble dice superstition. The specs for a project read like the stats on a character sheet. And if you’ve ever heard one of us having a nerdgasm over yarn…well, that pretty much settles it.
Yarn crafts have been experiencing an upswing in popularity lately, and it’s easier than ever to learn. “Teach yourself” kits and classes are available at craft stores, there are more books out there than you can shake a stick at, and YouTube is full of instructional videos that experienced needleworkers have made to help the masses.
What can you knit or crochet that’s geeky? Seriously? What can’t you? You can make dice bags that are super soft and keep your luckiest d20s safe and sound. There isn’t much cuter than a plushie Cthulhu monster. Do you cosplay? The internet abounds with patterns for Weasley sweaters (there’s even been a book published of nothing but Harry Potter-inspired patterns), cunning Jayne Cobb hats, and Dr. Who scarves. Why pay the big money for that stuff when you can make it yourself?
I could go on and on about other crafts, but you get the picture. Craftiness and geekiness can not only co-exist, they can be one and the same. If you haven’t already ventured into the world of crafts, don’t be afraid! There’s lots of fun to be had, cool stuff to be made, and all sorts of new things to obsess about and geek out over.
How about you?
What types of crafty geeking out do you do? Feel free to link us to your website or Etsy store, too. We’d love to check out your geeky creations.