Sunday, November 2, 2014

Be True To You: An Exercise in Honouring Your Soul (or What Installing Rainbow Dreads Taught Me)

 This is me now... but I wasn't always quite so happy to be me.


I have been marching to the beat of my own drum for as long as I can remember. It's a practice that I highly recommend to all individuals. Sure, it comes with its own set of hazards and pitfalls but it is exceedingly rewarding if done honestly and openly. And since we're talking about honesty, I must say that the whole going-against-the-current thing was not always my choice. As a younger youngster, whenever I tried to follow the trends of my peers it just. didn't. work.

Yours Truly in Grade 4, trying to convince my curly hair that it was straight.

I was destined to be the black sheep whether I wanted to or not. Feathered bangs? No, I ended up with something akin to cotton balls. Side ponytail? Doesn't happen for a kid with a 4 inch afro who is actively trying to grow her hair longer. But when I managed to talk my mother into buying me a pair of purple suede leather flats to wear with my white First Communion dress, and after she added little purple  roses to the front for some co-ordination, THAT was the moment that I started to see the wonderful world of possibilities that can found when you leave the trends behind. But it was still hard for me to fit in with the kids in my elementary school.

Make your OWN trends, my mother would say.

My rep basketball team- we're all wearing items from my closet

So, finally, I did.

When I went off to high school, I started wearing my Dad's old graphic college tee's. You know, like the ones which have made a major resurgence in stores like, um, all of them, but when I was in high school they could only be found in sketchy second hand stores. I covered my binders in fun fur, used an old electrical supply box as a purse, brought stuffed animals to my sporting events, and even sewed my own unusual Mod Robes knockoffs. Needless to say, I let trend reports fall by the wayside early enough in my socially formative years that I have no problem ignoring them now as an adult.

 Showing off my handmade ModRobes knockoffs at a random building in New York City

So I was surprised by the reactions that I saw and heard from some people when I installed a rainbow array of dreadlocks in my hair.



My day jobs are all customer-service related, so I get to have mini-conversations with lots of different people during my shifts. I'd see children peeking their heads over the top of their booth (one of my jobs is working as a waitress) pointing in my direction whispering "rainbow hair!" in an excited way. I see customers eyes get a little wider when I welcome them and they look up at me and sense they might be in for a bit of different dining experience. I get to enjoy the occasional shout from across a street or from inside a moving car, "Your hair is awesome!". And it's always fun to have a mini-bonding moment with someone else who is equally as adventurous and has brightly coloured hair.

But some of the things that people have uttered hurt my heart just a little; not for me, but for them:
"I'm too old to do something like that to my hair."
"I could never pull off something like that."
"I work in an office."
"My boyfriend/girlfriend wouldn't like it."

That's just your lack of confidence showing. Confidence goes a long way- do what you want to do, hold your head up high, put your shoulders back, look in the mirror and tell yourself you're awesome and keep believing it and you can pull anything off.

It's amazing how committed we are as a society to micromanaging our images and making sure that people perceive us exactly how we want to be perceived, whether that's being true to our own unique natures or not. It's so easy to lose touch with who you are if you are always trying to present something different to the world.

Having these dreads have shown me how many people really want to break out of some sort of social confinement, and they just don't think it's an option for them. Some people don't even realize that they're being inhibited until they have a chat with me about my crazy rainbow hair.

To those of you who may be feeling this way, what are you waiting for? Of all the things that other people might think about you, what YOU think of you is the first and most important opinion out there. Everyone else comes second.

So go out there and find your own rainbow dreadlocks, in whatever form they might appear in your life and wear them proudly without apology.

*Maria

Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Who did that for you?
- I did it.
2) How long did it take?
- 10 hours of wrapping hair to install them, and about 2 weekends of binge-watching Netflix to make the dreads in advance.
3) How do they stay in?
- My hair is woven through a loop at the top of the dreadlock and then wrapped around in a criss-cross fashion with a little elastic band where my natural hair ends.
4) WHY?
- Because I love rainbows... AND because I wanted to see if I could successfully make my own (synthetic) dreadlocks. It was a craft challenge that I gave myself and whole-heartedly accepted.
5) Can you wash them?
- Yes, just like normal hair, but I get to use much less conditioner.
6) Are they heavy?
- Only during the week while I was getting used to them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Handmade Holidays

Well, most of the happy madness has come to pass and I hope all of you had a wonderful festive Christmas full of family, friends, food, frivolities, and any other fabulous things that start with the letter 'f' that you can think of ;) I spent most of my time crafting like crazy, and although most of my handmade gifts have been given and I didn't get photos, I do have a couple that I can share, and links to the patterns as well!

For my parents and for Jim's parents we presented some beautiful crocheted sugar cookie tree ornaments. I absolutely love them and just may tackle creating the multiples needed to make the scarf from which the cookie pattern came. Here's Twinkie Chan's Snowflake Sugar Cookie Scarf pattern, which I found incredibly easy to follow.


This is my favourite colour arrangement so far. I used Bernat Softee Chunky in "Natural" for the cookie, Bernat Super Value in "Cool Blue" for the icing, and a Shimmer yarn for the snowflake (I lost that tag). For some of the other cookies I went with a bulky light-gingerbread tone for the cookies, more pastels for the icing and white for the snowflake.

One of my dear friends absolutely loves owls. She just can't get enough of them. So I thought I'd give her one more. I found this pattern through Pinterest on the blog "Love the Bluebird". Here's Love The Bluebird's Owl Pattern.
After crocheting the owl, I added a felt back attached with a hot glue and a 38mm pin back with an alligator clip and brooch pin so that it can be worn as a pin or a hairclip. It is SO CUTE and the pattern was pretty easy to follow (I'd like pointier ears though). I hope my bestie loves it!
Some of the gifts that I made I need to create again because I want to have them for myself! So maybe in the new year I'll have more photos of things that I made for the awesome peeps in my life.

Craft on!
*Maria

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Con-G Art Submission

We missed the deadline to apply to an awesome convention in our hometown of Guelph called Con-G, but the grand prize for the art contest is a table in Artist's Alley. So Jim composed something delightful to submit and we're sharing it here with you :)


I love Kon, the Con-G mascot :) At least we'll get to enjoy this con from the aisles and panels instead of behind a table if Jim doesn't win the grand prize. It's been a long time since we attended a con without working it.

*Maria

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mirror Mirror, On The Wall...

Wow this crafter's life has been busy! There are so many things that I want to share but finding the time to get it organized into posts has been a challenge. So how about a peek into my life, as though you're looking through the magic mirror in an evil queen's lair? Except you're not an evil queen, just a way cool person with awesome taste if you've landed here at the Nerdifacts blog ;)

First up, I've got 2 fun outfits that I wore to a local convention last month. I'd love to have full costumes, but I never have enough time to get something like that together so I generally dress up as myself. There have been times that I've done this at bigger conventions and for some reason a random person or two still ask me for a photo... which makes me feel like a superhero of course.

Above I'm wearing a bunch of my favourite things: black stretchy maxi skirt, my Bill and Ted "Be Excellent to Each Other" t-shirt with black long sleeved shirt underneath and blue legwarmers on my arms (because you do that when you're me), blue, pink, white and black scarf, and I've always got to try to get a rainbow somewhere.

Here I'm rocking my favourite Wonder Woman hoodie with a denim mini-skirt and black leggings with rainbow legwarmers (on my legs this time) and my favourite pair of star chuck taylor knock-off zip-up-the-side kicks. There's also a lollipop pin which I made and a Mario Star clip in my hair that you can see a sliver of.
Love. These. Shoes.


 Hallowe'en just happened. I was making a lot of these cosplay ears. So many colour combinations! I'll be jumping into another cosplay ear marathon next week to get some ready for the Canterlot convention in Toronto. Yes... 2 days of pure My Little Pony goodness. I have no idea what to expect.

They attach with easy to use snap clips! I've had them on a headband before and with my mess of hair it's just a disaster waiting to happen. Clips are easy, virtually tangle-free, and you can place them where you like which gives you more cosplaying options :)

A pretty standard behind-the-table workshop when I'm working at a convention or show. Coffee and a snack, yarn, tools, and my book of patterns which currently resides in this cute cupcake folder that one of my besties Amy gave me. She also made my cute rainbow tool pouch!

When I look to my right, this is what I see. *just looked to the right* It looks virtually the same right now because I'll be finished those My Little Pony Mini Wristees today. I picked up this cool piece of art at Project Play in London and thought it was perfect for my studio.

And finally, a photo that is just 100% Maria. This was probably in the wee hours of the morning when working in my studio degenerates towards giggling, trolling the internet, and playing with photo apps. I'm wearing my cherished Hoodie Footie Snuggle Suit which Jim gave for Christmas 3 or 4 years ago... it has thumbholes in the sleeves, a drawstring hood, pockets on the front, and even removeable feet. And it's pink fleece. So awesome... and ridiculous.

Thanks for stopping by,
*Maria



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fan Expo Toronto 2013

I know there has been a lot of blog silence over here at Nerdifacts, and for that I apologize. I'm still trying to figure out how to work 2 part-time jobs, maintain the online shop, make awesome goodies, attend shows and conventions, develop new ideas, write up crochet patterns, and keep a regular blog, all at once. I know it can be done, I'm just still searching for my groove ;)

I still feel like the whirlwind weekend that was Fan Expo Toronto happened yesterday, but it was 3 weeks ago. I'm still recovering. Over 100,000 people flooded through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre over the 4-day event, so it was busy from the time the doors opened right through to that special moment when a voice comes over the loudspeaker to announce that the showroom floor is closed on the last day and you can hear all of the vendors take a big breath and a sigh. And then start clapping for another successful show in the books.


Here I am at the Nerdifacts table in Artist's Alley, rockin' my Iron Man tank dress alongside my very own pair of Iron Man Power Wristies. Makes a pretty awesome ensemble, don't 'cha think?

Let's look at some people whose lives were enriched by their new Nerdifacts :)

Left: A Soot Sprite Brooch was the perfect final touch for this awesome and cozy Totoro cosplay outfit.
Middle: This lovely gal was looking for a finger puppet to hide the bandage she had to wear on her finger. I didn't have any, but asked her to return to my table 15 minutes later to see what I could whip up. Now everyone could see right away that her finger wasn't happy!
Right: He spent his entire smile reserve during the moments of excitement after he noticed the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Wristwarmers on display at my table. Die hard Brony :)

Left: Cosplaying Poison Ivy, she couldn't resist the allure of the Octopeep Hair Fascinators. Of course, green was her colour!
Middle: A set of 4 Adventure Time themed coasters (designed by my partner in crafty shenanigans, Jim) could not be denied to this LSP cosplayer! (sorry folks, coasters aren't available for purchase online because they are ridiculously expensive to ship. Gotta see me in person for that magic!)
Right: I think this enthusiastic youngster examined everything on my table, but the Iron Man Power Wristies sent him over the moon and right into action! I watched him practicing action poses as he strolled away to enjoy the rest of the show.

Just a little peek at some of the happenings while I was working. I hope that I can call events like this "work" for the rest of my life!

*Maria

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Crochet Brains: Easier Than You Think!

Who doesn't love a good brain? We all have 'em, some get used more than others, some are more appreciated, others overlooked, and if zombies dream of anything I expect brains would be on the list. I was playing around with some ideas as I get ready for Fan Expo and wanted to try my hand at crocheting some brains of my own. I love the result! And it's not that hard either. In fact, I'll tell you just how not-hard it is :)

Ever heard of "hyperbolic crochet"? It's pretty awesome and exquisitely nerdy- some universities have adopted the practice of teaching crochet for certain math / physics courses so that students can create models that are impossible to visualize on 2-dimensional diagrams. Hyperbolic crochet occurs when the number of stitches per row expands exponentially, the same way that a plane does for the mapping of a hyperbolic function. It's easier to create than it is to understand ;)

So here's what you do!
Grab a G size hook (4mm or 4.25mm), a darning needle, and some size 4 yarn in pink, or green, or flesh, or grey...or any other colour :)

1. Decide approximately how long and large you want your brain to be and crochet a chain of corresponding length (your brain will come out a little longer than this chain). For a brain that will fit in the palm of your hand, a range of 6-9 chains is adequate. The longer the chain, the bigger the brain.

2. Start crocheting hyperbolically! That means that you choose an expansion factor for each row and watch your original chain morph into awesomesauce. I chose a factor of 3 for my first 2 rows and then a factor of 2 for my third (last) row.
Example: Row 1- (3sc) in each ch, at end of row ch 1 and turn. Row 2- (3sc) in each sc, at end of row ch 1 and turn. Row 3- (2sc) in each sc, at end of row cut yarn leaving a long tail (like an arms length), tie off. Thread your darning needle onto the long tail.

3. It won't look quite like a brain when you finish crocheting, but if you look at the outer shape, it should be the size you were aiming for. If not, you may want to add another row, or try another attempt with different factors for your rows. Now you have to get playful and rearrange where all of the folds go. Just keep playing until it starts to resemble a brain. Once it does, hold the folds gently in place and start working the darning needle through in a haphazard kind of fashion to secure the brain layout you've just created.

4. I used the tail ends to create a brain stem with some friendship-bracelet-style knotting, but it will look like a brain without it.


And there you have it! BRAINS! Would make a funny cat toy ;) If you whip one up I'd love to hear about it in the comments or to see a photo shared on the Nerdifacts facebook page, or Twitter (@Nerdifacts).

*Maria

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Got Geek Pride? You Should!

 My Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure T-Shirt

It seems like only yesterday being labelled a "geek" or a "nerd" landed you somewhere close to the bottom of the social totem pole. But these days with a flood light being aimed at all the bullies and a major push towards honoring ones own individuality and uniqueness, all of the self-proclaimed nerds, geeks and dorks are coming out into the sunshine where the whole world can see their awesomeness- YOUR awesomeness.

Attendance at conventions with a geeky twist has been steadily climbing over the years as people decide not to hide the facts like they're truly a Trekkie at heart. I regularly see Whovians sporting the long striped Dr. Who scarves- even in the summer! And better yet, these passionate people are having kids who are often spoon fed well-balanced diets of Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, Lord of the Rings and a plethora of other awesome geekdoms. We are preparing the next generation well ;)

The great thing about being a nerd or geek these days is that they have become generally broad terms to describe people who really really love SOMEthing and want to know as much as they can about that thing and immerse themselves as much as they can into that thing. It's about more than videogames, fantasy and sci-fi worlds, comics, anime and manga. It's about a passionate love for a thing that you just can't get enough of, and that is a very welcoming umbrella to be underneath.

My Feature Bookshelf

"How I Know I'm A Geek" or "Major Points of Nerd Pride"
- I want all of my novel series to match (ie same cover artist and matching spines and publication size)
- I don't leave home without a Wheel of Time book in my purse (currently Book 9, which I have already read, but I'm on my way through the series again now that it's complete)
- I have a collection of Lisa Frank pencils
- I crochet fun things inspired by different nerd- and geekdoms
- I collect those mini My Little Pony figurines
- I listen to albums like "The Masterharper of Pern" when I'm working
- I named my cat Willow, after Willow Ufgood (played by Warwick Davis in the 1988 film "Willow")
- One wall in my living space is dedicated solely to Star Wars art
- I have a "feature" bookshelf that is home to my precious limited edition signed copy of the graphic novel adaptation of Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, my growing collection of Wheel of Time graphic adaptations, my special edition graphic adaptation of The Last Unicorn, and some of my favourite novels like The Neverending Story, Moonheart, and the Pern Harper Hall Trilogy

If you're a nerd, I'm proud of you! And if you're not, what are you waiting for?!

Happy Geek Pride Day!!

*Maria