Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quick Update: Doctor Who Big Bang Generation

I tried to get into this book. I really did. But after several weeks of slowly picking at it, I've made it halfway through the story and I just can't get myself to care about the characters or the plot. It's a fairly short book, and I'm not entirely certain where the problem lays.
  • I like Dr. Who, but I don't live and breathe for the show. Maybe I'm not a big enough fan?
  • I haven't watched much of the show beyond when David Tennant was the Doctor. Maybe I'm not caught up enough? This story has the newest Doctor in it and he doesn't show up for almost half of the book.
  • Maybe I only like watching the show, instead of trying to read about wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff. 
Whatever the case, I've made it halfway through and I still don't care, so I can't imagine it's going to get much better. I'll finish it, because I'm a completionist, but it'll be like eating your least favorite vegetable because you're just so used to cleaning off your plate. Doable, but not enjoyable. That being said, it isn't terrible, either. So don't be completely discouraged from trying this one out if you love the series. I think maybe it just wasn't for me.

This review is based on a free copy I received from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

P.S. Last Minute Notes!
  1. I will be off on vacation for the next view weeks, so there won't be any updates through most of January. Sorry!
  2. I'm aware that my blog is doing strange and kooky things with this post. I don't know why. Several attempts to fix it have failed. Again, I'm sorry.
  3. I'm going to try to finish this book and have a proper review for it next time, so stay tuned!
And that's it! See you guys next year! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Not even Christmas Haul!

Equal parts creativity machine and actual reading.
Hey guys! I thought I'd try something a little different this week and share with you some of the things I've been playing with, reading, and generally squee-ing over this past week!

I had an opportunity to get together with some of my friends this past weekend, including Stephanie from Reading with Cupcakes, so of course Coloring happened. A lot of coloring.

I'm gonna clue you guys in on a little (not so) secret of mine: I don't half-ass my hobbies. It's full ass or no ass! So when I started getting coloring books, I needed to also get colored pencils. Simple crayolas would not do to start, so I picked up some Prismas. I couldn't wait for my copy of Lost Ocean to arrive, so I got Time Chamber and Time Garden for free from Blogging for Books to tide me over. Then, when I had those three books (with plenty of pages to keep me occupied for quite some time), I realized that I had only really complex coloring books. Realizing my mistake in focusing only on the fancy, I went out and got myself a copy of Owls as well. Creative Cats was a gift for a friend, but I realized I really liked that one also and ended up getting myself a copy. A different friend gifted me Secret Garden. Now I have six coloring books. Is that enough? It might be. For now...

I am a weirdo, but hopefully you're still reading this because you find my weirdness mildly entertaining and perhaps even charming. You're welcome!

Gift-giving Frenzy is in a couple of days, and I look forward to giving and receiving my fair share. Amazon was having a book sale (I think it was 25% off one book of your choice), and I agonized over whether I should get Edward's Menagerie, The Big Book of Amigurumi, or Edward's Menagerie - Birds. Ultimately, I decided on Edward's Menagerie and I've been happily staring at it (while keeping it safe as a gift for someone else) as well as trying to figure out some of the descriptions. As you can clearly see in the picture above, I also received The Big Book of Amigurumi, and I know I'll be getting the Birds book as well. Expect a review about these in 2016, because I have several things to say about them!

That's it. She's reviewing only craft books from here on out!
Well, no. Not quite. I do read other books, but it takes me longer to mull those over. There are even a few of them that I feel the need to reread, in order to give it the most accurate review possible. So there are a few of those coming, but in the meantime, expect a barrage of crafting books! Yaaaay!

One more thing I'd like to mention:
Since Christmas is (by my timezone, anyway) in about 24 hours and 2 minutes, I will probably be taking a little break on reviews for the next couple of weeks. So I'll try to schedule a couple of reviews for while I'm gone, but if you notice a lack of updates, that's why. Just saying.

So the official list of reviews coming up next month (in no particular order):
Edward's Menagerie
Edward's Menagerie - Birds
Big Book of Little Amigurumi
Outsider in the White House (oooh, topical)

And that's it for this evening! Enjoy your holidays, my friends! Whatever those holidays might be!

Funny extra story-time.

I thought you were done?
Almost, I swear. I sent my husband out to the mailbox (before midnight, I promise), and he found a copy of Edward's Menagerie in there waiting for me courtesy of one of my best friends. I am winning this holiday season. There will be stuffed animals everywhere!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Generation T: Where high fashion meets bum comfort!

T-shirts are an integral part of my wardrobe. They're soft, comfortable, and my favorite way of displaying fandoms and/or art. The problem I run into, however, is that t-shirts are generally not made for ladies with, shall we say, "ample" bosoms in mind. Or even just with ladies in mind.

Let me rant to you about clothes for a minute here. I know you can go out and get "girl tees" which are specifically designed to fit lady parts better than your average tees, but think about how those work. A guy's t-shirt with a cool design on it can run you anywhere from $5 to $10. Maybe, if you're shopping at Hot Topic and you see one that you really love, you'll spend about $20 (because you just have to have it). The same t-shirt made to fit women? $20. No, they do not have it for $10. If it is made to fit a woman better than it fits a man, it will cost more. How unfair is that? And what about the sizes? If guys are buying a t-shirt, the cost of sizes extra-small all the way through extra large is exactly the same. Once they start hitting that 2XL or higher, they get charged a dollar or two more. Well, sorry guys: if you're 2XL or higher, that makes some sense. After all, that is LOT of shirt and requires more material. Women's t-shirts work in pretty much the same way, except that they are made primarily to fit thin women. And even then, if you're a skinny lady, prepare to feel fat because these are essentially children's sizes. So sizes XS to XL are the same, and they start charging more from 2XL and higher. But it isn't really more fabric that's at play here. For example: I fit into a men's medium. I can get in it with no problems. It covers my boobs, my stomach, has a nice length to it; it just doesn't fit nice. It doesn't hug my curves or anything. In a women's sizes, I'm suddenly an extra-large. The 2XL would fit better, but I don't want to pay more money, so I squeeze into the smaller shirt. Does it fit better than the men's shirt? Sure. It hugs my curves, that thing is on me. Is it more fabric? NO! I didn't suddenly need more fabric because the shirt is 2XL, but I'll still get charged more. Yet it's the same amount of fabric! Maybe even less!

This is a long rant. I thought you were going to review a book?!
I am. I'm setting up context. Keep your shirt on. OR, take it off and alter it to fit your needs!

Nice segue.
Thank you. My point is, I don't like paying more for a shirt just because I have boobs. That's where Generation T: 108 ways to transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay comes in. I came across this book at a Barnes & Noble many years ago. At the time, I worked at a GameStop and we would receive promotional t-shirts constantly, but never in the sizes that we actually needed. They were always way too big, and never in women's sizes. Finding this book was like an answered prayer! It includes 108 different ways to cut, slash, resew or no-sew your shirts.

I can't sew!
So maybe it's not high fashion. But it could be!
That's okay, because you don't always have to! One of the things I pulled from this book that I do constantly is simply cutting out the collar to men's shirts I like. Men's tees always feel too tight at the collar, and by simply cutting it out I have made the shirt fit better and also look cuter. Sometimes, that's all you need to do. This book taught me not to be scared of using my scissors. Many of the projects also have "no-sew" alternatives. Maybe you like a corset-style shirt, or you want to cinch up the sides of your favorite tee, but you don't want to sew? No problem. Instead of sewing up the sides, simply cut off a length of fabric from the bottom of your tee, poke some holes along the sides, and weave that length of fabric through the holes. Tada: No sewing! And if you're interested in doing a little bit of sewing, but have no idea how to start, the first chapter will take you through the basics. The writing and directions are easy to follow, so you should have no problems following along! There are so many cool things about this book, that the only way we'll get through them is if I just start listing them off, so:

  1. There are places for you to write in this book. There is a place in the first chapter where it tells you how to properly take your measurements, and gives you a spot to jot them down.
  2. There is a section toward the back of the book where you can sketch out your own ideas for how to alter t-shirts. There are pictures of plain tees already on there and you can just sketch away at them.
  3. The projects are not limited to shirts. Yes, they all start with a t-shirt, but they may very well end up as skirts, arm warmers, quilts, or pillows. There is even a pattern for a wedding dress.
  4. Speaking of "wedding dress," let's talk difficulty. This book contains a nice mix of patterns ranging from easy to challenging. The more challenging patterns, like the wedding dress, might be something you just work your way up to.
Wow! It sounds like you only have nice things to say about this book!
Well, not quite. I definitely have more great things to say about this book than bad ones. There are a couple of things I'm not super thrilled about, but they don't stop me from enjoying it. The first peeve I have with it is that none of the models look like me. Not at all. As I flip through the book, I get the sneaking suspicion that not a single one of these women is as short as I am (and I'm not exactly minuscule at 5'2", just fun-size), and my boobs are definitely bigger than all of theirs. This may seem like an odd thing to get annoyed at, but when the point of the book is to alter clothes to fit you, it'd be nice if you could see some of the items on a person that shares your body type. But the models are all models: mostly tall, all thin, all relatively compact in the chest area. Because of this, I can safely say that there are some patterns here that would only look good on models. That leads me to my second annoyance: the patterns are not universally usable. 
In any craft book, there will always be patterns or projects that are not your favorite, or that you simply have no interest in making. It happens. But I would like the option of being able to make the majority of them. I think I have 3 alterations, in a book of 108 things to do, that I really like and use on a regular basis. Some of these, again, just won't work for me because I find bras (at least sports bras) to be necessary. I'm not going to lie: I almost made the t-shirt wedding dress for my wedding. I absolutely adore the skirt, and the top was really nice also but it is not big boob friendly and I just couldn't come up with an alternative that would work for me. And there you have it: my only frustrations with this book. It is still well-worth the money I paid for it. I almost never bother buying t-shirts that are already fitted for women because I find it more fun to resize my own, and with Generation T I have the tools, inspiration, and encouragement I need to really make my tees my own.

That still sounds like fun! Anything else I should know about it?
Yes. While this book keeps total newbies who don't own a sewing machine in mind, some of these projects will move along a lot faster if you own a sewing machine (a basic one is fine, no need to get crazy), and know how to use it. Sewing things by hand is annoying.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves t-shirts, crafts, and has even a passing interest in sewing and altering their clothes. I would not recommend it for guys, though, since there aren't enough projects geared towards them to keep them entertained. Maybe you thought that was obvious, but I just wanted to make it really clear. There are actually a couple of patterns for things you could do, as a man, to alter your t-shirts but they consist primarily of just frankensteining a couple of them together. I think that's it. One pattern. Maybe two. 

And that's it, guys! I hope you enjoyed the review! Happy reading, crafting, and wearing!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Quick and Dirty: Owls

Owls as far as the eye
can see...
Pssst... Hey, guys! Look what I found! Another coloring book! I'm gonna review it!

Stephanie from Reading with Cupcakes recommended this to me a while back and, like a bad friend, I initially dismissed it. You see, while Owls appeared to be a cute book, it didn't have the level of minute detail that Lost Ocean or The Time Garden did. At least that's what I wrongly assumed... It doesn't have a cute little story to follow through the book, or myriads of hidden treasures to find and keep track of. It does, however, feature a myriad of owls with chaotic-creative backgrounds that beg to be colored in experimental and offbeat ways.

Story time!

Last weekend, I had a few friends over for tea. Since it was the first weekend of December, I figured we were close enough to Christmas to just go ahead and give them their gifts which happened to be coloring books (both from Creative Haven) and colored pencils (Crayola, of course). Our tea party thus included coloring, and I busted out Lost Ocean and my own colored pencils. Maybe two hours into this, one friend has colored three pages (she had markers, so could lay down color faster), my other friend had made excellent progress on her own page, and I was bogged down in all the tiny details of one part of my beautiful page. The rest of my page remained fairly white. Several days later, I'm still working on that single page. The moral of the story is, sometimes when you want to finish something, simplicity is key. So I went out and got myself Owls. And it's not that it's simple, really, so much as the details you're coloring are somewhat bigger and therefore you can lay color down a bit faster. Macro-coloring, as opposed to micro-coloring.
Another nice aspect to these books is that you can use markers with impunity! Remember how I mentioned my friend who blasted through three different pages in two hours? (The pages looked great, by the way!) She used markers, and made me super jealous. The markers bled through the backs of the page, but not on to the following page. Since all the pages in the book are one sided, it worked out! Did I mention that all the pages are tear-aways as well? So if you really like how you brought out that one thing's personality with your amazing coloring skills, you can take the page out, frame it, and show it off.

Overall, I like this book. I would recommend it to everyone. I'm using it to practice my coloring and blending, but if you just need something to chill with this is a great book to do it with. Enjoy, and happy coloring!

Unrelated to coloring note:
The last couple of weeks I shared with you some of my favorite crochet books along with examples of some things I've made. This week, I would like to briefly point out that some of those things are available for sale on my new Storenvy shop! Woohoo! So if you're curious about what else I may have made or you'd like a quirky toy or hat of your very own, please check out DapperFuzz on Storenvy. Thanks again and see you next week!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tis' the Season! Kind of... Creepy Cute Crochet

Come for Cthulu,
stay for the monkey.
Click here for the Amazon link!
I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to making toys. So much, in fact, that I hope my gravestone will bear the title "Master Crafter & Toymaker" along with a goofy-looking octopus wearing a top hat imprinted somewhere on it like a hidden Mickey (only not so hidden).
On that slightly morbid note, let me tell you about Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden! This, along with Amigurumi World was one of the first books I purchased when I started making toys. My relationship with this book might best be described as "complicated." Unlike Amigurumi World, this book is still very much in one piece. Of course, it helps that it's hardcover. If you were to flip to any page in this book and set it down, you don't need to set anything on top of it while you work to keep it open. I assure you, when you're in the middle of a project and all you want to do is briefly glance at the page to remind you what to do, it helps if the book will stay open on its own. That. Is. GREAT. But aside from the fact that it's hardcover and will stay open without my abusing it, my copy of Creepy Cute is in fantastic condition because I just don't use it as much as some of my other books.

But WHY Ly? Everything in here is so creepy and/or cute! How can you resist?!
Well... Hayden's work IS adorable, but the devil's in the details. Unless you follow the directions quite precisely, your work will vary wildly from what is pictured in this book. I'm not saying that is either good or bad. I'm only saying that if you want things to stay in the same style as Hayden's creations, you have to go the extra mile. And you might enjoy it! One of the things I admire most about Haden's work is how she has accessorized her creations. She describes a number of ways to make your own eyes for creatures (using polymer clay), weapons (with clay and felt), and tiny little outfits for them if the pattern also calls for outfits. I just like her little monsters so much that I'm disappointed when mine don't turn out quite as well. To be fair, that's just my own laziness because I won't go out and start experimenting with clay as well. I may be a "master crafter & toymaker," but I do have my limits. So I'm disappointed in myself, on this score. But I wanted to warn you, in case you have a tendency to be lazy also.

I'm not lazy! I will make ALL the things! OR totally make them my own! I know no disappointment!
Good for you! How long have you been crocheting, if I might ask? While I would describe Amigurumi World as perfect for the total newbie and up, I cannot say the same for Creepy Cute Crochet. I would recommend this book only if you have at least some basic knowledge of crochet, how to follow a pattern, and how to wing it when things get confusing. And things do get confusing sometimes. I'm never totally sure, on any given round, whether I'm supposed to count my connecting slip-stitch or not. Generally, in most other patterns, you wouldn't. But here, you sometimes do and you sometimes don't, and it's a surprise whether or not you're supposed to be doing that from one row to the next on the same pattern. I've learned to deal with it, but I just wanted to give you fair warning. Again. That being said, I have learned things from within these pages that I use daily when I crochet, and not just for making toys! A magic circle, pretty edging, top hats, hair-- I learned all of these from this book!

What are you going on about now?
Techniques! Excellent, practical techniques!

  • A magic circle is a way to start your work that does not involve a slip knot. What's neat about it is that you can tighten it closed to the point where it looks like there you crocheted into nothing. That means, no unseemly looking top-hole on your work (like when you're making the head of a toy). This is officially how I begin all of my toys, and all hats, and anything else that starts with a circle.
  • I learned an edging on this book that is simple but immediately fancifies and beautifies anything you attach it to. The best part is, you just do it as part of your work, not as a separate thing to attach later. Win!
  • Top hats! ... Okay, did you guys happen to notice on my previous post that a number of things I've made include hats? This is the book I learned that pattern from. I no longer use the pattern as is described because there are points in her descriptions that just confuse me. But I did simplify it some, and I make little hats for my toys constantly.
  • Hair. Oh. Dear. GAWD. You guys... have you ever tried making a yarn wig for your toys? It is surprisingly easy! Well... Straightforward, anyway. I learned the technique in this book and bastardized it to fit my purposes. But you gotta start somewhere, and this is as good a place as any!
If I might draw your
attention to Thurston's
Hat of Mystery...
Did you notice TechGal's full
head of hair, perchance?
There are many techniques contained within this book that will help you make your own little critters, even if you don't want them to look anything like Christen Haden's stuff. So, is this my absolute favorite crochet book EVER?! ... No. But it's good, and I would recommend it if you have at least a little experience. And if you have no previous experience crocheting, you'll probably still enjoy it. Just be mindful that you may have one or two more frustrating experiences with it than if you started elsewhere. Enjoy!

Quick note! 
Sorry for not having any new pictures to demonstrate my work as it pertains to this specific book. As it turns out, I've given away the little creepers I made from these patterns without taking their pictures. (I've done that a lot.) And while I do use patterns from here regularly, they're more of the little trimmings rather than the full critters.