Category: Real Life (Page 6 of 28)

Where Did Stargrace Go?!


Welcome to the world, Leo.

I was scheduled for a c-section October 20th, my due date being October 27th – but Leo didn’t want to wait, and he decided to make an appearance September 23rd, 6:44pm. I was sitting at my desk reading a blog post by a friend when my water broke. He was 5 weeks early and had to stay at the NICU for 2 weeks, hooked up to machines and wires. I thought those would be the roughest part of this very early journey, but as we came home things were just getting started.

I still have a baby registry here for anyone who wants to help out or send little Leo a gift. My family lives far away and I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed with things as a brand new first time Mom to a preemie baby. I’m currently on some medication to help with postpartum depression. Things are certainly not easy. We’re managing, because that’s what humans are programmed to do, but I’m finding it difficult. I have a lot of guilt and shame over how difficult I find things, too. Everyone tells me this is normal, and that it will pass and get easier with time.

Leo was born at 4lbs 5oz. Just a tiny thing. He had a feeding tube for the first two weeks of his life. He’s now 4lbs 14oz, so he’s still very small but he’s getting bigger. Nothing prepared me for any of this, no matter how much I’ve read or how much I looked into everything. I also developed a complication from my c-section which is still ongoing today. I developed a hematoma that opened up and has been bleeding out since the 24th of September. On top of everything else this single incident has really taken its toll on me. It doesn’t hurt, but bleeding constantly 24/7 for so long means a lot of  bandage changes, packing (think like a wisdom tooth needs to be packed) and ruining clothing with blood. Plus it’s along my incision, which is just in an awkward not-fun place.

Still. We carry on. Because we must. It’s what we do.

How Gaming Influences


One thing I’ve been really fascinated with is the transition of Twitch (and other streaming platforms). Back when I first “knew” twitch, it was called Justin.TV and it was used to stream (mostly) TV shows (like sports that were blocked out on TV unless you paid for the package, etc). It has evolved quite a few times since then, becoming one of the more popular video game streaming platforms. It has since evolved even further, adding new and unique categories to streaming – categories that I wouldn’t necessarily even consider to be something someone would stream let alone watch. Turns out people enjoy watching the non-mainstream just as much.

There are people of all ages streaming all sorts of creative endeavors and it (quite frankly) blows my mind. No longer are crochet, knitting, and cross stitch a hobby that just older generations are partaking in. People streaming engage with their audience in various ways, encouraging others to pick up the craft and motivating everyone. Of course having a nice set up certainly helps, a way to automate things like thanking your followers and acknowledging donations. The fancier you can get with your set up the more hands-on your crafting can be and the less time you’ll spend trying to hook (see what I did there) viewers.

Personally, I love this new move. I enjoy watching video game streams but I enjoy watching crafty streams even more. I admire the talent these people have, and if you can find someone who has both the talent and the online charisma to make their channel into something special, well, then you’re set.

Have you found some of these fantastic creative streamers in your travels? Want to give them a shout out? Be sure to drop a link down in comments.

Just Married


A non gaming post today (gasp). It’s actually my wedding day! A very small affair, just two witnesses, myself, my husband and the lady doing the ceremony. It’s exactly what I wanted. I’ve never had dreams of big huge weddings and crowds are not something I enjoy, but it was perfect. Tomorrow I’ll get back to the regular scheduled gaming blog posts!

Turning Life into Games

Ravatar_TeamBKALAs I get older I notice that it’s not just video games that have grown by leaps and bounds and that have headed into mainstream, but all sorts of things that turn “gamification” into a major hit. There are games to get chores done, games to make productivity and tasks easier, games for fun, work, and pretty much everything under the sun. Competition (whether it’s between yourself and someone else, or just competition between yourself) is a strong motivating factor, and it encourages us to push forward and better ourselves in whatever it is we’re trying to do better in.

With so much gamification in our day to day lives though, when do we get a chance to relax from it all?

Right now the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are going on. I watch every year, proud of the athletes who are representing Canada, and yes, eager to follow up on the political mumbo jumbo that constantly goes along with this event. This year while the games are ongoing I’m also participating in the “Ravellenic Games” which is an event hosted by Ravelry for the love of all things fiber. Basically you enter projects into categories, cross a finish line, get awarded medals, and qualify for laurals. You can join a team, and in some cases those teams have prizes for people who earn medals. It’s a neat way to motivate and push yourself into completing projects if you tend to be a more relaxed craft person. This is my first year participating, and the sheer number of people partaking in the event is pretty astounding. I belong to ‘Team BKAL” which is my beginner’s knit-along group. So far I’ve submitted entries to two events with a third being completed today. I’m hoping to complete a total of 8 events, but it’s only a 16 day period so it really does take motivation and persistence to keep up with it all.

In this case, for me, gamification of real life works. It DOES motivate me to push myself harder, to keep on task, to work towards my goal. In some cases gamification works in the opposite way. It doesn’t motivate me at all and I find it awkward and annoying. I don’t think that all of life benefits from this type of scenario and I think in some cases we even go a bit too far.

Having games in our life is great, being motivated and helping us overcome hurdles is something I hope I constantly encourage – but sometimes we do need things to be a little more quiet. Take time to look around and enjoy and appreciate what we have without it being a competition even if it’s just a competition within ourselves. Find the balance.


Happy 10th Anniversary, MmoQuests


June 25th, 2006 marked the first post I ever made here on MmoQuests. 10 years has gone by since then. Ten. Years. So much has changed, and yet, not that much has changed. I started this blog writing about EverQuest 2. There are a total of 2,889 (soon to be 2890) posts, and 1,349 of them are related to EQ2. That’s a lot of posts. 260 of them are related to EQ. 225 to WoW, and 195 to Wurm Unlimited. Those are my top game categories and it’s pretty easy to see that those are also my top games. Even today, 10 years later.

This blog has changed my life in ways that I could have never imagined. A few years after I got started, I got a job working for Beckett Massive Online Gamer, and wrote articles for their video game magazine. That’s right, articles that are out in print (or were in any case). It was one of my proudest moments. I wrote guides for EQ2, Wizard 101, Aion, and others. Unfortunately the magazine shut down, it was right as the surge of video game web sites was coming up and lets face it printed publications are typically outdated by the time a buyer sees them, especially compared to web sites. It was still pretty damn awesome to go to a big box store like Chapters and buy a magazine that had my articles in it. Sometimes there was just one, other times there were as many as four or five.

Because of the connections I made at Beckett, I was invited to visit the Sony Online Entertainment studio back in 2009. It was another experience I won’t ever forget. I met with dev teams from EQ2, EQ, and they managed to slip in a Vanguard tour for me which was spectacular. I wrote about it all on my blog and it’s just so apparent to me how much of a fan of these games I was even before meeting with the people behind the games.

When Beckett shut down I started volunteering for SOE, both as a guide for Vanguard and EQ2. After some time, I was also invited to sit on their community council. A good portion of my blog and blog-related changes happened because of my love of EQ2 and the fact that I had found a method of discussing my unhappiness with some aspects of the game without being incredibly rude. I learned that developers most certainly DO listen to players but you really have to word it a particular way so that it doesn’t come across as crass. Too many people like to spout hate and disrupt things – that’s not how you get the proper attention of anyone in charge at all.

Eventually I started applying to game companies for remote jobs that were not SOE. These jobs are rare, but they’re out there. It meant I had to break my ties with the SOE Community Council though, which I still miss. Through some luck and a man named David who was willing to take a chance on me, I was hired at Carbine as a forum moderator to help work with the WildStar players and their teams. Eventually this job shifted to me being hired at NCSOFT, still mainly working on WildStar but also dabbling in Aion, and Lineage 2. My job consisted of not only forum moderation, but feedback from players to developers, acting as that barrier. I interacted with players on a daily basis, wrote reports on an almost daily basis, and invented events and games to help keep things calm in times of turmoil. I started helping out with patch notes, and learned just how valuable my sense of organization was. I learned a lot, but unfortunately contract work is contract work, and we all know how those typically end, especially if you’re working remote.

None of this would have happened had I not started writing back in 2006. I don’t often get a lot of comments on my blog, and my readership fluctuates, but I like to think that I have stayed relatively steady through those 10 years. My writing doesn’t change that much, even when I’ve been angry or upset about a recent video game decision. One of my most valuable pieces of advice that I can give is – be persistent. Write steadily and reliably. Write for you. I never ever expected that blogging of all things would take me to where I have gone, but I am eternally grateful that it has. Hopefully my next 10 years of adventures will be just as grand.

As always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself.

Knitting Progress


Tom Thumb Spinning Wheel

February has been a pretty nice month as far as fiber crafts go. I have spun about 1/2 of my corriedale on a top whorl drop spindle, dyed the other half, and added more fiber to my slowly growing collection. I also managed to pick up an amazing deal on a Tom Thump spinning wheel. Very little is actually known about these wheels it turns out – but that’s the joy of spinning, wheels may look different, but they all have the same basic parts, that change depending on the type of spinning / wheel they are created for.

In the case of the Tom Thumb, it can be set up for scotch or double drive tension. It’s a single treadle, with a built in lazy kate. Mine came with three bobbins, the flyer and the flyer whorl, and is intact with the maidens, but it is missing a few smaller pieces that I can hopefully replicate. It’s missing the threading hook, and the knob for scotch tension. It’s also missing a pin out of the footman to keep the arm attached to the drive wheel, but that’s an easy fix with a split pin and some washers. The bottom of the wheel is signed “Tom Thumb – Handmade from New Zealand Kauri” and it’s an exceptionally sturdy wheel. I wish I could learn more about it, but as I said I’ve only found one single article that mentions the wheel here. A nice lady was selling it on Kijiji in my area, and I’m glad I picked it up. Once I get it fixed and in working order (basically attaching the footman properly) I’ll be learning to spin the rest of my corriedale, and I’m pretty excited about that.

This month has been a bit slow in terms of finished projects. I did complete my knit-a-long afghan square, it was double seed stitch and a pleasure to knit. I also finally completed the rainbow socks that I had begun in January. I really need to learn to knit two-at-a-time so that I don’t procrastinate quite so much. I’ve been working away on my entrelac scarf, which I may turn into a cowl, I finished my antler hat, and I’ve also been working on the lace shawl mystery kal that I’ve had on-going for some time. I hope to finish that up before too long, I’m just getting to the lace portions. I know I haven’t been as ‘active’ with my knitting as I was in January, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve been learning a lot, spinning a lot (which I really enjoy), learning to dye yarn and all of the rest. I call that some great progress!

Challenge Yourself

Entrelac2I tried for years (unsuccessfully) to teach myself to knit. I could do the basic stitch, but I couldn’t purl and I had no idea how increases or decreases worked. I kept at it off and on over the years, never progressing past flat scarf / blanket like objects, until September 2015 when it just all suddenly clicked. In that short amount of time I moved from knitting flat blankets to doing socks, lace, hats, and other items. One thing I try to do as I progress through my knitting is teach myself new techniques, and to challenge myself.

Learning these techniques is always much easier if you have someone else trying to learn it with you, someone you can ping ideas off of. When a friend suggested we start up a KAL together, I was ecstatic. I found some great videos on YouTube about this particular entrelac scarf, and before the day was out, we had learned this new technique. It’s not the most professional looking piece, but I really love the way the colours shift.

We then discovered a downside. Knitting entrelac, especially on a scarf, is very boring. The pattern is not complicated enough to be interesting but not easy enough to be mindless (so that you can do other things, like watching TV). I’ve got the squares down but still need to pay attention and look at the instructions for the left and right triangles. Plus I’m doing mine in fingering weight yarn, with two extra repeats. Lovely? Sure, but I am having a difficult time keeping myself interested in the piece, and that doesn’t bode well.

Still, we learned something new, and that’s awesome. Not every new stitch or project has to be something you love to the moon and back. On occasion you’re going to try a technique only to find that it just isn’t the one for you.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Sock Madness Forever

20160120_135517_resizedOne of the most satisfying things I ever knit was my first pair of socks. Then the second pair of socks, and the first sock to my third pair. They can be customized so many ways, with so many different parts, it’s a great way to learn new techniques. Once you’ve made one sock the “parts” of a sock rarely change. How you decide to knit them will. There’s a cuff, a leg, a heel, sometimes a gusset, a foot, and a toe. You can knit them cuff down, toe up, two at a time, add beads, zippers, lace.. the sky really is the limit to these versatile items.

That’s how I found myself looking into the ‘Sock Madness Forever‘ group on Ravelry. Their group details read:

Sock Madness is an international sock knitting competition based loosely on the basketball competition known as March Madness. There are 7 rounds of patterns. The first pattern is reasonably straightforward and as the rounds progress the socks become increasingly more complex in design.

Every registered competitor who completes a pair of socks in round 1 will be placed on a team with approximately 40 players per team. It is announced ahead of each round how many will proceed to the next pattern/round. By the 7th pattern there will be one member from each team left to battle it out.

I decided to sign up – and I’m incredibly excited. I know I’m still a new knitter, and I may not be as fast as others on the team, but I’ve put those details into my registration email and hopefully I get sorted appropriately. There are so many members that it can be hard to catch a lot of the chatter, but I am not going to let that deter me. I believe this is the 10th year that the competition has taken place, and that is pretty amazing. There’s already a ‘warm up sock’ pattern posted, a sock called ‘Mad Mix‘ and it’s supposed to look like a hot mess, using up bits and pieces of other sock yarns. I haven’t decided if I’ll warm up using this sock pattern yet, as I do have a few other WIP I’d like to complete, but we’ll see. The group also has quite a few rules, but they really help out when it comes to the competition.

This week I’ve also started my first adventures into spinning yarn from fiber,  but that’s a post for another day!

Getting Started With Spinning

Corriedalte natural wool roving combed topThis week I have taken a little break from knitting and swapped over to crochet. I’m not very good at crochet, but I know that takes practice. I’m working on a small amigurumi baby unicorn that you can find on Ravelry, and while I’ve been working on it I’ve also been reading up on spinning and everything that’s entailed with that.

Ever since I started knitting I have envied the yarns I saw spun up and hand dyed. Beautiful skeins with a homemade quality to them. Some obviously better than others, but that comes from time and practice in your craft, like any other.

When I first started getting interested in crochet I purchased a top whirl drop spindle, but I have yet to use it. With my new found love of knitting and all things fibre I decided to pick it up again. If I enjoy it as much as I think I might, my “end goal” is to save up for a spinning wheel. My LYS (local yarn store) sells a few models, and I’ve been looking into what I may potentially want in a wheel. I will probably stay away from second hand wheels as I’m not versed enough on what to look for in a smooth working spinning wheel.

They can be quite pricey. The one I’m looking at ranges at around $450 and it’s a beginner model. Then you have to figure out whether you want single or double treadle. This article here went into a lot of the particulars and gave me a better idea of what was involved.

Before I even think of buying a wheel I want to try out the drop spindle, and so that’s how I ended up buying a few things of roving combed top. The first one I purchased is corriedale (that’s the sheep it comes from), which is supposed to be a good starting wool because of the long draft. Draft is the section of yarn you pull out away from the bunch to spin. The braid is not dyed, and is a combination of grey / white.

I also bought a second type, this one merino dyed in a crab apple red. Merino is much harder to spin for a beginner, and even more so on a drop spindle. The draft is very short. That being said it’s also an incredibly nice fiber and I’m really looking forward to experimenting and practicing with both.

A lot of people think that spinning your own yarn is cheaper than buying yarn – but it comes down to around the same price or even more. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot more ‘hobby time’ to prepare / spin / knit yarn rather than just knitting it, so you may be getting more “value” out of your money if you do the whole process yourself. That’s what I’m hoping to do. If you have any good fibre suppliers that you want to share (especially those in Canada) please don’t hesitate to let me know! For now I’m still stumbling around getting myself familiar with the price ranges and terms.

Finding Inspiration

20160119_145559_resizedSometimes there are so many pattern options on Ravelry that you’ll spend hours combing through them instead of working on your projects. If you’ve got the winter blues (or you’re just feeling poorly) this can be even more apparent. This week I’ve been struggling to figure out what I want to work on next. Since I’m such a new knitter (I’ve been knitting since September 2015) there are lots of techniques that I haven’t mastered and lots of projects that are still too difficult for me. I’ve been feeling my way around trying to find the ‘best for me’ learning path, but it can be a frustrating experience. Take double knitting as an example. No matter how many times I practice I seem to get all wrapped up in the technicalities of it and by row 19 I’ve messed up so much that the original image is too hard to figure out. Frustrating, right?

I’ve got three WIP on the go right now. One is my second BKAL sock, the ones that are rainbow. I finished the first one last week and I adore it. The second is my baby blanket that I’ve been working off and on for the past few months. It’s an easy pattern but I get bored of it. The third project is my 2016 Sherwood MKAL which I love, but I have been feeling a bit lethargic so I put it aside in order to prevent mistakes. I’m almost up to the chart knitting portion and I’m excited for it but I’m also scared. It will be the first time I’ve attempted to read a lace chart pattern, and while they don’t look that complicated, I’m sure it’s very easy to make mistakes.

My queue is pretty barren too. I’ve got a newborn vertebrae in there that I’d like to knit with felici, along with the hue shift afghan but I don’t want to start that until my baby blanket is done. I’ve never knit mitered squares before, and I know I have a learning process to go through. I also have a simple shawl on there in the hopes of using up my Cascade Yarn kid seta, and I have the skywalker shawl in there which I’m hoping to do with a new batch of shadow lace from knitpicks that I bought from someone who was destashing – if it ever gets here. Mail has been a bit persnickety lately.

I also found someone who was destashing some hiyahiya interchangeable bamboo needles in the small size, and I decided to snag those while I could. I don’t expect that they’ll get here for some time yet (I’m not even sure if they’ve been sent at the time of this post) but I know I just need to learn some patience.

In the meantime I completed a quick headband this week while I took a short break from everything else. What inspires you when you’re feeling under the weather? What motivates you to pick up the needles and keep going on a project that may be putting you to sleep? Do you spend more time browsing patterns and FO on Ravelry and Instagram or do you discipline yourself into getting those projects done? Let me know!

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