Networking

Hey all! I’m keeping busy in my little workshop and so far, I have almost all the Disney princesses made in one particular collection. I’m missing Merida and Ariel for this one, but I also need to make Anna and Elsa, and hopefully Moana at some point.

However, this past weekend I did something that was both very scary and very rewarding in the end. I’ve never been one for networking with other people in any particular field. I’m even afraid to network with other writers, though I have in the past on occasion. Sharing some of my deepest and most personal thoughts and written pieces gives me a lot of anxiety so I tend to hide them, and the same feelings bubbled up in me when I went to a craft expo in a nearby city.

It was a fairly large event with vendors who were selling only homemade items, so it would have been the perfect venue for me to have showcased some of my items had I known about it months before. But I opted to go anyway just to see if I could get some connections within the community and maybe some new interested customers. When I got there, I was scared to death about what to say, who to approach, whether anyone would want to take my card…all these negative thoughts came in to try and dissuade me from talking to anyone.

But once I started talking to some of the vendors, all those worries went away because everyone I talked to was so welcoming and supportive, and they knew exactly how I was feeling, having been there once themselves. Their comfort with discussing the process and giving advice made me feel at ease and made me comfortable talking about my own processes and concerns. And to my greatest surprise and relief, everyone I talked to took my card! Of course, I took cards from each of them as well and did my part in liking their pages on Facebook.

Afterwards I was glad that I went, even though I felt drained once I left, but it was definitely worth the trip to get the advice and the insight from people who have been in my shoes. For now, while I wait for a letter for a future convention I applied for, I’ll keep making amigurumi dolls for Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney (none of which I am affiliated with), and hope I get some orders coming in.

**If you’re interested in seeing what’s available, please click here and check out my page! I am currently only listed on Facebook, but can accept PayPal payments.

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Trials of Self Employment

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. As it turns out, starting and running your own business, even a small one, requires a lot of time, energy, and dedication, which has kept me beyond busy the past six months. Who knew, right?!

All joking aside, since my new work involves making plush toys, 80% of my time has been spent crocheting new dolls and fulfilling custom orders. The other 20% has been doing busy-work, like creating inventory lists, invoice trackers, expense spreadsheets, and trying to get set up on various sites like Etsy to be able to sell to more people. Which, for someone with little to no business/management experience, has been a challenge for sure. Even my sales skills could use a refresher, though after my first craft show, those skills did start to come back to me.

For those who are curious, my new little business is called Nerdvana Crafts, which can be found on Facebook here. Right now, I only have the Facebook page up and running, but with that page, future updates will be added.  Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been kept busy with custom orders for six months so I don’t have much inventory as of yet and thus didn’t have the necessary funds or products to be able to open up an Etsy shop. But now, my custom orders have taken a lull so I can focus on new inventory in order to set up shop.

If you’re interested in something, my repertoire consists of Disney princesses, Marvel superheroes, the cast of Frozen, Star Wars, and some Zelda characters, primarily Link in his different tunics and his fairy companions. I can also do custom people as well, as long as I’m given specific parameters: hair color/length, clothing styles and colors, and desired character size, to name a few. Feel free to email me at nerdvana.crafts.ls@gmail.com for a quote! I use cotton acrylic yarn, polyester fiberfill, and plastic safety eyes.

For more examples, please click here.

Sewing Project #2

After my last sewing project, I was very nervous about doing another one, but as this one is for my best friend, I wanted to try harder to get it done for her for Halloween. This time, however, I chose to go into the store to pick out some of the fabric so I wasn’t as overwhelmed as my first adventure.

This will be my first cosplay attempt. I’m making a Pokemon trainer outfit that includes a romper, half jacket, and belt, and today I bought the fabric for the jacket, jacket/romper trim, and the craft foam for the belt. The pattern is already cut out so I just have to pin the fabric and get it cut out.

The difficulty in this project lies in the type of fabric we’re using. The sweater fleece should be ok, as it’s not too stretchy, but the romper fabric and the trim is an activewear type of fabric, which means it stretches a lot. The pattern calls for stretch knit, specifically activewear, but in getting what I got, it was simply a happy accident that it was the right type and color I needed. Now, I didn’t get all of the fabric I needed. The color that my best friend wanted is considered a fall color so I went in with the intention just to see what, if any, fabric was available in the desired color. Since it was, and there was so little of it, I decided to get it and it was also on sale. I still have to get the black stretch knit for the romper and I’ll do that next week.

But my mother and I have never worked with anything stretchy before so we’re hoping to get some help from a fellow seamstress/sewing teacher, either to help teach us how to sew this fabric without it stretching too much or to commission her to sew it for us. Given the time crunch, it might be more ideal to have her sew it for us, but I personally would like to learn how to sew with stretch knit fabric because I intend to work on several cosplays in the future that may require stretchy fabric. I just need to find time.

Until then, you’ll find me cutting out patterns and watching anime. ❤

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On the plus side, I finished my massive crochet blanket, at least for the moment. I’m still deciding on doing crocodile stitches on the straight edges, but I want to see how they look on the blanket before committing to that particular design. Here’s what the finished product looks like:

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And it’s warm, cozy, and big enough to wrap myself up like a burrito, exactly how I wanted. ^_^

Facing the Future Part 2

On a different, but related subject, today while dredging through my workload, my mind wandered to a variety of other tasks I would rather be doing instead of my daily grind. Things like cutting out patterns, playing video games, trying to catch up on recorded anime while crocheting, sleeping (which I actually did before noon; I took a half hour nap because I was so drained), etc.

As it was, I managed to push through my work so that I could spend the rest of my evening watching Netflix and cutting out a pattern. But these wandering snippets got me thinking on how much I dislike my work. Lately, it really does feel like work. Whereas other things like crocheting and gaming make me feel energized and alive. Even the prospect of cutting out a sewing pattern was more appealing than working.

Which got me thinking on how much better (or worse) life would be if I could actually spend my time making things for other people. I love crocheting blankets especially, but I can also make hats and I recently began making amigurumi, but as long as I have a pattern, I could make pretty much anything, because crocheting soothes my anxiety. And I might still be learning how to sew, but I think once I became skilled enough, I could probably do some cosplay stuff for other people beside myself. I think I would enjoy creating beautiful cosplay items.

This also comes on the back of someone close to me wanting to make and sell jewelry on Etsy, and this makes me want to do something similar because I have this love of creating things. I already work on my own schedule, but it would be nice to not have to be at a laptop all day since I also have problems with my eyes. Still, there’s no guarantee of success there either, especially not right now. Crocheting blankets is great and all, but blankets take time and on top of my other work, they take that much longer.

So while it was a nice thought to get me through my day, I’m not sure it’s quite right for me at this particular moment. Still, I’ll continue to make things as a hobby to soothe my anxious mind. Until next time…<3

Finding the Silver Lining

It’s another one of those days. Those slow days of work that I’m starting to unfortunately get used to. And yesterday, we had a conference call that indicated an eventual possibility of limiting hours so that our night staff has some work to do. Which I totally understand; I wouldn’t want to not have any work at all just because I work nights. But limiting hours means less money coming in and I’m seriously considering looking for other work, even though I have no idea where to start looking because I’ve been doing this for four plus years and I’m no longer well trained to be around people. Plus waiting to get busy again is testing my patience.

So instead of looking at only the negatives here, I’m trying to find the silver lining to this mess and “enjoy the break,” as our supervisors told us. For me, enjoying the break is likely more difficult than for others because of my anxiety issues and needing a set routine as opposed to just going with the flow. But anyway, I guess my silver lining is being able to work more on my crocheting, which I’m also actually thinking about doing as a side business, because if I have all this time, I can get a lot more done than I have in past years because I was purposefully taking my time on those projects. Currently I have three or four blankets in the pipes, one of which I’ve started and had to restart because it ended up being bigger than a king size bed and I only want full size. But I have yarn for three additional blankets, one of which is going to be a reversible blanket, so it’s basically like doing two blankets and sewing them together into one. Additionally, in the past couple weeks, I’ve finished three hats and although I don’t wear hats myself, I’m happy to make them for someone else. I can also do scarves and probably whatever else gets thrown at me. I’m pretty adaptable with crochet items.

I could also do more weekly gaming and free up some of my weekend time for watching anime (or playing catch-up as it is now) or hanging with family. I’m two dungeons away from beating Final Fantasy V, but seeing as the second dungeon is the last dungeon, it’s likely going to require a bit more time than the other ones and I just want to be done with it. I can hardly wait to move on to Final Fantasy VI because it’s one of my absolute favorite games, probably tied for first with Final Fantasy VII. It’s also the one that got me started on Final Fantasy so it has an extra special place in my heart.

And I could probably be doing more writing, especially in working on revisions for my novel, which desperately needs my attention, and there are a couple character profiles I need to finish working out yet.

But most importantly, I need to focus on taking care of myself and getting back to a more normal sense of balance. With my aunts here last week, and my dad home this week, I haven’t really had much time to myself to mellow out since going off my birth control and I still have the lingering twinges of a tension headache and some stiffness in my neck from yesterday. (I also wanted to punch my dad in the nose when he said he should be telling me to “suck it up” whenever I have a migraine or headache of any kind. Even though it might have sounded like joking, it wasn’t funny. You don’t just “suck it up” when you have a migraine. Unless you have really good meds to make them go away, you basically have to wait for a migraine to pass and hope it doesn’t eat up too much of your day because you really can’t do much with a genuine migraine. Or at least I can’t. Nothing helps except laying down in a dark, quiet room.)

So my silver lining in not having much work and being limited on hours is finally getting time to take care of me and make sure my body and soul are nurtured and soothed before I try to take on anything else. As Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Too Little, Too Late/Making Plans

I know today isn’t my usual posting day, but I have a fun story to tell from yesterday. I was visiting my cousin-in-law and her new baby with my mom, and I was texting my friend Jared, who lives in the area, but was in school. We have this thing that if we’re passing through the area, we text each other something silly like, “Waving hi from ‘x-city’, etc.” and so I texted him saying I was in the area. Anyway, as I’m sitting on the couch cuddling with my baby cousin, I get a message out of the blue from Gia saying something along the lines of, “Hey, I feel like I haven’t heard from you in ages. Just wanted to check in and see what’s up with you.”

My first thought was, “Oh, NOW you decide to message me, after we haven’t spoken directly to each other since January, and even then, I left early on New Years Day because I didn’t want to be around you.” I think I may have actually rolled my eyes too. In any case, I responded so as not to appear rude, and come to find out, the only reason she messaged me was to see if we could get together for lunch at the end of the month because she’s coming home for a family vacation. So, in all honesty, it’s not that she’s making any special effort to come and see me just for the heck of it. She’s only asking to see me because she’ll be in the area anyway. At least Jared and I make more of an effort to see each other just because. I’m actually thinking of planning a trip up there again soonish. Clearly, I was putting more effort into the former friendship with Gia than she was.

So my plan is to be busy on the day she wants to get together. Or, maybe I’ll go and rub my latest adventure in her face, since she couldn’t be bothered to give me a solid yes or no answer on the matter.

Now, for the other, happier part of this post. Wednesday night, my mother made the mistake of taking me into the store she works for in order to find a color combination of fabric I liked for a shirt they were doing as a demo for one of their education classes. We ended up getting fabric for the shirt, as well as three dresses, the pattern for which is for a different class at the same store. After we got home, she had me help her cut out the pattern for both the shirt and the dress, which actually wasn’t too bad, despite me having to use the scissors I’ve had since kindergarten. They’re literally four inches long and terrible for pattern cutting because of their size.

Anyway, we got the patterns cut and while I was actually in the store, I was very excited about picking out fabrics and thread and zippers, all that stuff to make clothes, and when I was looking for the adult Belle dress pattern, I ended up finding four cosplay patterns I really wanted. And the best part? I got the four of them (plus one other one, our own copy of the shirt pattern) for less than the price of one because they were all on sale. So super win there! I also mentioned that I would really like to learn to make my own cosplays because I’m kind of a weird shape, and a little on the larger side, and I don’t feel comfortable ordering from someone else without knowing how it’ll fit when I get it, especially since most commissioned orders like that are expensive because they’re all handmade. At least if I make it myself, I can try it on as I’m making it to see how it fits.

The problem with that is I don’t actually know how to sew…But mom told me she would be glad to start teaching me as soon as next week, since she has three days off (as of right now) and we can do little projects during my afternoon work breaks, and possibly at night when she’s home. I also got an offer from one of my new friends, Lucy from a previous post, to get together with her for a sewing day and she would help teach me how to sew. She tried to set up yesterday as our day, but I was gone most of the morning. 😀

She did mention getting together on Sunday, as that’s her usual day off, but I already have plans for Sunday as well, so I’m thinking about doing it the following Sunday, since that next Monday I’ll be helping my parents clean our mountainous Christmas collection. And I really would like to sew. Our home economics class in high school basically taught us how to handle a baby and how to cook. I’ve only hand sewn two things in my whole life and only because they were on a seam so it looked pretty easy. And to my knowledge, the sweater I sewed is still intact. So now, I would like to learn what I would consider another essential life skill, even if it takes me a little while to get the hang of it. Plus then, I can make my own cosplays and feel the same source of pride I imagine other cosplayers have after spending hours and hours of time on their own outfits. I have a deep respect for those people, and being among other cosplayers puts me in my element. Being able to make my own outfits would just add to the circle of my reinvention.

Don’t Be Afraid

I had meant to write this yesterday but I was still just flat out exhausted. Grocery shopping was enough to wipe me out, if you can believe it. So anyway, the anime convention I mentioned in a couple previous posts was this past weekend. I only went on Saturday, February 18th. And guess what? I went to it not only by myself, but in cosplay as well! I went dressed as Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. Needless to say, this was kind of a scary endeavor for me because not only was I by myself but also in costume as well so I had to be my own handler.

But I did it. I was exhausted and sore as f**k afterwards, but I did it.

So the main reason I wanted to go was because some of my absolute favorite voice actors were going to be there. Two of them ended up canceling because their flights were grounded due to weather. Not a big deal, that was out of their control. But the one I wanted to see most was still there and I was determined not to miss him.

It was a little scary just walking in the building and trying to navigate my way around a place I had never been before, but I basically knew I had to be on the third floor to register and the escalators were right by the entrance so I went up and followed some other cosplayers right to where I needed to be. Easy enough. After I registered, I kind of wandered a little and eventually back to the registration area because it was right next to the vendor hall and I needed to find something for one of the voice actors to sign. The vendor hall was amazing, like this overwhelming labyrinth of anime, gaming, and general nerdy merchandise, and I did several laps. I didn’t buy as much as I could have, and probably would have liked, but I think that was mostly my subconscious telling me, hey, you still have to carry all of this around all day and you don’t have a lot of room in your bag. So I only bought three shirts for myself and a notebook for my bestie, which I was going to use to have one of her favorite voice actors sign.

So after finding some stuff, I started wandering the halls, 1. To try and find my panel rooms and 2. To waste time while taking pictures of cosplayers I really liked. I ended up taking like 70-some pictures and a couple videos, and that wasn’t even everyone I had wanted. There were a couple really excellent cosplays I didn’t get pictures of because I was either waiting in line or too tired to get up and ask them. One of the honorable mentions was a Bob’s Burgers family minus Bob. So it was Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise, and the great thing was the “kids” were actual kids that fit the general age range of the show’s characters. I’m actually sad I didn’t get their photo because they were awesome. Other honorable mentions included a Super Saiyan God Mode Goku doing the power up Goku challenge, which was awesome; Vegeta in his pink shirt, which read World’s Greatest Dad on it; Noctis from FFXV; a group doing Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio from FFXV; some awesome Edward Elric cosplays; two members of the Elite 4 from Kill la Kill (the girl and the guy who loses his eyes, I can’t remember their names); several furries in their elaborate (and likely hot as hell) animal costumes; and several Steven Universe ones including a really awesome Pearl, Peridot, and a couple that was Pearl and Greg…? Steven’s dad, I think Greg is his name.

Ok, so I decided to head to the first panel I wanted to go to, which didn’t start until 1 and it was only 12:30. I am SO glad I went to wait in line then. The room ended up being packed to the brim with no empty seats. The girl I sat next to, both in line and at the panel, was very friendly and we chatted a bit. (I actually chatted with several people during the course of the day which was huge because I’m not usually very chatty with people I don’t know.) So this Q&A session was about 90 minutes long. It started a little late because of how many people they had to squeeze into the room, but it’s all good. I was in a seat second from the aisle so I had a pretty great view, and the best part was, the actor, Vic Mignogna, wandered the room while he talked. So I got some great close up shots that were not zoomed in because he was literally within arm’s reach of me. I got some great video too.

The reason for the title of this post actually comes from something Vic said when asked what advice he would give his younger self. His answer was to not be afraid, of how things turn out, of what’s going to happen next, etc. Don’t be afraid. And this really resonated with me, especially on this particular day, because for a good month or so I was afraid I was going to be coming  to this convention alone, even after finding some new friends who were also supposed to go and couldn’t due to financial struggles. And one day I just decided, I am going to go regardless of who is coming with me. And I did, and I regret nothing. I basically spent the afternoon with Vic because right after his Q&A session was his autograph session and I spent another hour and a half in line there.

So after an hour and 45 minute wait I got to meet, hug, take a photo, and get autographs from Vic freaking Mignogna!!!! If I weren’t so tired I’d have been screaming and crying, but I was exhausted. I ate some candy to try and soothe my starving stomach and charged my phone for Matt Mercer later. Unfortunately I didn’t make it as long as I would have liked. I decided to skip Matt Mercer because I was flat out exhausted with a food headache. And having been up 12 hours by the time I left didn’t help either. In any case, not only did I get some good photos and video of Vic Mignogna; I got his autograph both for me and my bestie, and I went to this convention by myself, had a blast, and got to hug Vic as well. And to my friends who decided not to go, I say suck it. You can never take away from the amazing experiences I had today.

So even though I was exhausted the next day to the point where even grocery shopping was too much, and I’m still sore all over today, especially in my legs, my back, my feet, and my left shoulder, which was carrying my bag all day, I have no regrets about facing this convention alone. I am sad I didn’t have the energy or strength to make it to the autograph session for the actor my bestie wanted, but after seeing the group of people already waiting, some of whom had been waiting since 3:30 and his session wasn’t until 7:30, and being told they had only let in 60 people the previous day, AND after standing in line for an hour 40 minutes for Vic’s autograph, I was wiped out and didn’t think I could handle another long wait on my feet, which I had already been on for 8 hours almost straight, just to be turned away at the door if they capped off his session before I got there. So I told my bestie I would try again another time and hope he came to the area again soonish. She understood.

I also know how jealous she is when I go to cons like this, and I try to rein in my enthusiasm some so as not to make her feel bad. But I also know that she knows I would take her to one in a heartbeat. Because taking her with me means really, truly, genuinely going in a judgment-free environment. That’s what these cons are supposed to be anyway, but certain people, like Gia, I feel would judge me six ways to Sunday for wanting to go to certain panels, or for liking certain things from vendors. At least with Arabella, she would be geeking out as much, if not more, as I am, and she would likely drag me to the panels I was curious about because that’s how awesome she is. She doesn’t care what I like and will join me in it because she wants to. Because she’s interested too.

So I’m going to pass along the message that stuck with me most from Saturday’s adventures. Don’t be afraid. If there’s an event you want to go to, a new relationship you want to work, a promotion you’re working for, a career change, whatever it might be, don’t be afraid of the outcome. Don’t be afraid to make the leap and do whatever makes you happy. Whatever happens will happen, and it might be scary at first, but it will all be worth it in the end.