Jun 15 2010

Bringing up baby, the nerd way.

Our friends, Tom and Stella, have recently been blessed with two precious little boys, Tyler and Connor. Tom is a gamer, an RPG player, and all around great guy.  When choosing gifts for his two babies, I had to make sure that they would help send these boys down the nerdly path right from the start.

Now, I love making quilts, especially baby quilts.  In terms of crafts, there’s a pretty good amount of instant gratification involved.  Once everything is cut out, it goes together quickly and pretty soon you have something that looks like you’ve gotten a lot accomplished.  I love that.  Plus, there are so many cute baby and kid fabrics out there that simpler patterns actually work better to accentuate the designs.  If making quilts was a financially viable career, I would do it in a heartbeat (sadly, it isn’t).

I went to the fabric store already knowing one of the fabrics I was going to buy.  It was an all-over castle print with knights and dragons and princesses looking out of windows and standing on walls. I had seen it when putting stuff together for another baby quilt, but it had been a little too “boyish” for little Grace, so I picked pink dragons for her.  I knew, though, that as soon as I had the chance to make one for a little boy nerd, that was going to be my first choice.

Detail of the knight quilt

The backing fabric was amazing too.  The same company puts out a fabric that is a map.  It has the same characters and names of Arthurian places.

The back. I fell in love with this.

The back. I fell in love with this.

I’m really happy with the way this came out in the end.  It was a good size, with some vibrant colors for a little fellow. The pattern that I chose was, as I mentioned, simple.  It’s just center squares with two borders around them and squares at the corners.  The only problem with the pattern was that it was a little older, so rather than coming with instructions on strip piecing for all of these borders, it called for cutting out all the individual squares and rectangles.  Instead of risking a miscalculation on my part, that’s exactly what I did.  Cutting took a bit longer, but everything more or less lined up in the end, so no harm done.

The full knight quilt

Of everyone that I showed these to, this one is pretty universally the favorite.  I’ll admit, that sweet little dragon is hard to resist. For the second quilt, I had been hoping to find something that was all dragons, but there was nothing to be found.  Fortunately, I found an alternative.


I fell in love with this fabric set a long time ago.  In fact, I fell in love with the designs when I saw them on scrapbook paper, before they were printed on fabric.  I was going through some of my quilting supplies the other day and found a set of small cuts of all these that I bought over a year ago.  So I guess, in the end, it was an easy choice.  I love that the colors are so different.  They’re vibrant without being primary colors.  Again, there was a fantastic fabric choice for the back.  It’s just a huge field of gears.  The whole quilt really makes an impact and is so different from the knight quilt, even though they are the same pattern.

The completed robot quilt

As much as I love the knight quilt, this one was my favorite.  If I was to make either of them again, the knight one would probably get a couple of fabric tweaks, but this one I would make exactly the same.

There was one more gift that I made for the birth of little Tyler and Connor.  This one was more for Tom, though.  We had been at a party where there were a bunch of babies and small children.  One of the fathers had a Steelers diaper bag.  While there was no accounting for his taste in NFL teams, the bag was really cool.  Tom asked him where he had gotten it, hoping to secure a Patriots one for himself.  The guy informed him that a friend had made it.  I told Tom I’d make him a Patriots bag, and he said it would be “the best gift ever”.  Well, that settled it.

Yeah, dude. Patriots.

I was really happy to find this fabric.  A lot of the sports fabrics are a little lackluster, probably because the licensing costs for the logos and team names are so high, they don’t want to go covering them up or going though the effort of designing something interesting.  They’re usually just the logos spread on a field of solid color.  I found the pattern for the biggest diaper bag with the most pockets.  It’s really a good size, and should be enough for the twins.  I enjoyed making it (other than the part where I put the zipper on upside down) and Tom really loved it.

I adore doing these sorts of projects.  I feel I have to do my part to make sure that the next generation of nerds are getting off on the right foot.

Jun 3 2010

The Story of Daniora

I’ve had a few internet names over the years, and most of them have been based around my interests at the time and abandoned as soon as those interests changed.  I have finally settled into my more or less permanent internet persona of Daniora (pronounced dan-YOUR-ah).  It’s the name I go by pretty much everywhere, and it adds a consistency to my internet presence that I’ve never had before.

Names are particularly important to me.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Any time I have to come up with a name for a character, it takes me ages.  If Brian and I start characters together in WoW, he is almost always level four or five before I’ve even settled on a name.  I don’t have a list of names that I regularly return to.  Each character is named individually, based on their background.  I scour the web looking for names that are from a particular ethnic background that I think fits or that has a meaning that matches some characteristic.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Many of you may know Daniora as my Blood Elf Warlock, but that’s not where the name originally came from.  She started life as Zingaran Pirate in the Conan pen and paper RPG.

There she is, 11 wisdom and all.

I hadn’t really intended to play.  I wound up at one session of the game and was suckered into playing an NPC for one part.  After that, the DM, my dear friend Sam, enticed me to stay by saying I could play a pirate.  Well, I figured, what the heck.  I was in.  It was a fabulous excuse to buy more books and hang out with people.  The Zingarans are a gypsy-like people, so those were the names I looked at when choosing one for my character.  I chose the male name “Danior” and added the “a” at the end to make it feminine.  The meaning of “born with teeth” seemed to fit my vicious little pirate.

I loved her.  She was tough, and she had to be; she was the only female in the party and lived in a world where women were more or less just expected to be naked and/or lamenting. Looking back at her sheet, I can’t help but notice that in addition to her high rope and balance skills, she could also play the trumpet.  I seem to remember that being some method of piratical communication, but so far removed from the game, it just looks funny.

It was my first roll playing experience, and I was a bit self conscious about it.  Especially because everyone in the group I was playing with were hardened veterans. My shining moment of roll play came when Daniora had stayed behind to guard a prisoner we had captured while the others went off for something or other.  When they returned, Sam prompted me to describe what they were returning to.  I said, “I’m sitting in a chair drinking from a flagon of wine. The prisoner is huddled in the corner, rocking himself back and forth and muttering softly.” That really did say everything about Daniora and how she operated.

In the end, I didn’t play for long, and never really got to use my pirate skills (we were mostly traveling across the desert.  I tried to get the other players to carry a boat along with me on it so I could get my skill bonuses, but that didn’t go over too well).  It was fun, and Sam is a great DM, but the sessions were a little long for my liking and it was hard to be enthused about spending all day every Saturday engaged in the same activity.

I had played World of Warcraft back when it first came out.  I remember having to buy the discs at the Mac store since all the regular stores were sold out (both Mac and PC were on the same discs). I made myself a human warlock, but back in vanilla, leveling was a grind.  The people I was playing with soon far out-leveled me, and I was left to face the mechanical harvesters of Westfall alone.  I quit after that.

When Burning Crusade was being released, the new group of friends I was hanging with were all getting back into it.  They loved it so much that I thought I’d give it another try.  New account, Horde side (boy, did that make a difference!).   Because the people I was playing with all had other characters, they all decided to level blood elves.  I figured leveling with everyone else would be easier, so I picked a blood elf too.  Besides, say what you will about them, but they are addicted to magic.  That’s pretty awesome.  I remembered really liking the idea of the Warlock class, so that’s what I made.

When it came to a name, Daniora just seemed right.  Really, I probably thought it was a shame to let such a great name go to waste, gathering dust on a lonely character sheet. For a long while, I was the only Daniora on the Armory.  More have cropped up since then, and I wonder how they got to that name. My choosing it seems so random, a masculine gypsy name made feminine, it’s hard for me to imagine how someone else could find it too.

I like this picture because she looks bored. She almost always looks bored.

Daniora and I have been plundering the lands of Azeroth and Outlands together for over three years.  Some players are alt-aholics, I’m a main-aholic.  I’ve tried playing other characters, but I never get very far.  We’ve gotten Loremaster together, ground out a lot of nonsensical reps, scraped together a fair amount of gold.  A lot of people lose interest in WoW because it’s not really story driven, there’s a lot of repetitive questing and the like.  I have stayed rapt because I adore my character.

When I started getting into Twitter and posting on forums, I wanted a name that I could use for all of them.  At first, I had a lot of trouble finding a name that wasn’t taken.  I had my distaste for reusing names to contend with, but Daniora tends to be odd enough that it’s available everywhere.  Besides, most of the places I was posting were WoW related, so one could do worse than be associated with their main character.  In the end, I could have done worse than pick the name “Born With Teeth” to stand between me and the internet.