Happy Fourth of July!

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Crafts with Pizzazz: Ant-Man!

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Hello from Bee!

Have you noticed how the warm weather tends to bring out the ants? And of course, Marvel fans know that where there are ants, there is also Ant-Man!

I really loved “Ant-Man” last summer. It was definitely one of the funniest Marvel films, especially with Paul Rudd and Michael Peña, and it was great to see Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym. Of course, I was incredibly excited to see Paul Rudd back as Scott Lang in “Captain America 3: Civil War” a few months ago, and of course, I had to add him to my Avengers team.

While Ant-Man did not prove incredibly challenging to make – my usual “people pattern” accented with red felt and gray yarn decorations – the best part about it was that it gave me an opportunity to reuse my Batman cowl pattern. As I wanted to make an open version of the Ant-Man helmet to showcase his face, I eliminated the eye and chin straps from my cowl pattern and simply crocheted the piece that covers the head. I also crocheted two thin in-the-round cylinders and sewed them on for antennae.

Welcome to the team, Scott! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Spiderman!

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Hello from Bee!

Speaking of Bumblebee and bugs in general, I’d like to switch gears this week from DC back to Marvel and show you the latest addition to my team of Avengers: the wall-crawling, web-slinging, amazing Spiderman!

Spiderman is unquestionably one of Boss-Bot and my favorite superheroes, and I’ve wanted to crochet him for a while. His costume, however, did present a bit of a challenge in the form of vertical stripes. When crocheting in-the-round, there are “jogs” that occur between rounds, mostly visible where there are color changes. This makes it difficult to create smooth horizontal stripes, as well as vertical stripes that don’t end up shifting over a few stitches each round.

There are many different ways to work with these jogs; I’ve seen blog posts and YouTube videos demonstrating techniques involving slip stiches and BLO (back loop only) crocheting at color changes to make them smoother. However, these techniques were geared specifically towards horizontal stripes, so when it came time to crochet Spiderman’s arms, I had to figure out my own.

When I tried to create vertical stripes before, I noticed that the color shift occurred in steps, moving over a stitch each round. I decided to try compensating for this shift by changing colors one stitch earlier each successive round; this way, I ended up with a smooth vertical stripe and only two thin, running stitch-looking lines of blue and red in the red and blue color blocks, respectively – but those are easily fixable by weaving the proper-colored yarn tail over them a couple of times.

Aside from the vertical stripes, I worked out a pattern for a separate red chest piece that I sewed over the body for a more three-dimensional appearance. The eyes were made out of felt and outlined in black fabric paint; the latter of which I also used for the Spiderman logo.

Looking good, Spidey! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Bucky Barnes!

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Hello from Bee!

First of all, Boss-Bot and I would like to wish those celebrating a very Happy (Early) Thanksgiving! Please enjoy the festivities, family and friends, and of course, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! (I personally love the Broadway songs and the Peanuts balloons – what about you?) 🙂

Before the celebrations, I did want to put up my weekly post – especially because Hawkeye and the crochet Avengers were so popular last Thursday. While I did complete all of the main Avengers from the movie series – Captain America, Iron Man, Dr. Banner, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye – there are, of course, plenty of other Avenger teammates and Marvel characters to add to my collection. Considering that the next Marvel movie is Captain America 3, I thought that it would be fun to start with Steve Rogers’s best friend, Bucky Barnes!

When considering how best to crochet Bucky, I glanced at pictures of Sebastian Stan from both movies and decided to combine the looks – “First Avenger” personality and costume; “Winter Soldier” hair and metal hand – so that I could make a happy, contemporary Bucky for my crocheted Steve.

Making Bucky was fairly easy with my “people pattern.” I switched colors at the bottom for his boots, as well as for his left hand. I also cut out a small piece of white felt in the shape of one of Captain America’s helmet wings and glued it onto Bucky’s sleeve like in the first film.

The only difficult part was figuring out his hair. Although I have made long hair before for Thor and Black Widow, this was the first opportunity I’ve had to play around with different styles. I really liked the idea of giving Bucky a swept-back look, so I tried making the hair like I did with Black Widow and pulling it into a man ponytail. Unfortunately, the second rows of slip-knotted yarn I used to fill in the gaps (as I had done with Black Widow’s hair to make it fuller) made the ponytail too thick and impossible to tie. After struggling with yarn placement for a while, I realized that the best way to make a ponytail is to omit the second rows altogether: filling in the gaps doesn’t matter when you make a ponytail, because when pulled back carefully, no gaps will end up showing. I pulled out two slip-knotted strands, tied the rest back, and voila!

And just look how happy the Brooklyn bros are together! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Hawkeye!

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Hello from Bee!

Thank you for being patient with us as Boss-Bot and I have been trying to navigate our busy schedules to keep posting new content on our blog here on WordPress, as well as our Twitter and Pinterest pages. We have a lot of fun and geeky ideas we’d like to share with you, and we hope that you’ll keep following us!

After I finished making Black Widow last week, I immediately started right in on her best friend and the final member of the main Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers, Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye!

It’s very easy to fall in love with Hawkeye, especially as portrayed by Jeremy Renner. Just look up his appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, in which he performs an Ed Sheeran-inspired song about his “superpowers.” As I’ve said before, I really love seeing that these actors are having just as much fun portraying their characters as we have watching them do so.

As with Black Widow, crocheting Hawkeye was fairly simple; the only special elements I had to incorporate were his archery armguards, which I made one round shorter than Thor’s wristbands. With regard to his vest, I originally wanted to crochet it with the maroon and black blocks of color, but it didn’t come out the way I had hoped. I reevaluated and decided to make the entire top in maroon and glued squares of black felt over the front and back.

And now I have the entire team! Here they are, Earth’s Mightiest (Crocheted) Avengers! 🙂

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Crafts with Pizzazz: Black Widow!

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Hello from Bee!

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past few weeks; my schedule’s been all over the place recently! That being said, I finally had some time this weekend to sit down and craft; I’m very pleased with the results, and I hope you will be, too!

Several weeks ago, I showed you my love of Marvel through a series of posts featuring my crochet Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Dr. Banner, and Thor. Of course, these four heroes are not the only members of the Avengers; as such, I wanted to add some of their other colleagues to my own homemade team of Earth’s Mightiest (Crocheted) Heroes, beginning with none other than Natasha Romanov, Black Widow!

I’m a big fan of Black Widow: she’s tough, smart, a loyal teammate, and a good friend. She unquestionably holds her own amongst the boys, especially as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson on the big screen. Just watch her in “The Avengers” and other Marvel movies: her action scenes are incredible (and her comebacks are pretty great, too)!

Crocheting Black Widow with my “people pattern” was actually fairly easy, as it did not require any special pieces or accessories apart from a simple chained belt I tied around her waist and a felt belt buckle with her signature logo glued onto it.

While not a new element by any means, the most challenging aspect of making Black Widow was definitely her hair. I had made long hair before for Thor, and it looks great on him, but for her, I wanted to try a little less volume. After sewing on the red crocheted top on her head, I identified where I wanted to place her part and began slip-knotting long strands of red yarn on either side of it until I reached the back of her head. There, I simply slip-knotted a line of yarn strands perpendicular to the part. After that, it was just a matter of filling in the gaps by adding parallel lines of yarn strands a few rows beneath each side of the part and back, as well as cutting the strands to the desired length.

And here she is, ready to save the world alongside her fellow Avengers! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Costumes: Captain America!

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Hello from Bee!

First of all: Great Scott! Happy Back to the Future Day! Today, October 21, 2015, is the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown visit the future. Let’s all celebrate by going hoverboarding! 🙂

All right, back to the posts…

Last week, I introduced the concept of semi-homemade Halloween costumes, citing my own Bumblebee convention costume as a (Optimus) Prime example. 🙂 I’d like to continue with this topic, focusing today on the “semi” part of “semi-homemade” and featuring my Captain America costume!

As I mentioned last week, when I start putting together a costume, I first go “closet-shopping” – searching through my own wardrobe for pieces that are already usable. This is a great place to start: just look at the “DisneyBound” Tumblr by the incredible Leslie Kay, who pieces together awesome Disney-inspired outfits using common articles of clothing! As for me, having done theatre for so many years, I’ve built quite a collection of costume pieces for myself, and usually end up with a decent foundation for an outfit after rummaging through everything.

After perusing my own closet, I always look through the wardrobes of my family members, as well; often, they have items that are old or unused that I can repurpose to fit the desired look. For example, my father seems to accumulate baseball caps which he never wears, and occasionally passes them along to me; I took one of these hats, carefully pulled out all of the stitching, and felted it over to make an awesome Cap cap!

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In addition to the baseball cap, I found a plethora of old, unused white t-shirts in another closet that have already come in handy for so many of my costuming projects – an entire Princess Leia outfit and a Renaissance Faire blouse, just to name a few. For my Captain America costume, I cut off the bottom of one such t-shirt and sewed it to the top half of a blue t-shirt I found on sale at a craft store. I did the same with the white t-shirt sleeves, adding them on to the blue sleeves for that signature Captain America look. The leftover white material was used to make the star. In addition, since the craft store sale was a buy-one-get-one, I had also picked up a red t-shirt, whose bottom became the stripes, and whose sleeves became a really neat pair of fingerless gloves.

Of course, if I didn’t find those t-shirts in the closet or on sale, I definitely would have paid a visit to the local secondhand clothing stores. These are excellent places to find inexpensive costume pieces – especially if you’re looking for something a little more vintage. (I actually found the rest of my Ren Faire outfit at one of these shops; whereas a good store-bought medieval costume costs anywhere from $40 upwards [accessories not included], I put my entire look together for less than $20!)

Now, with a sewing machine, all of the stitching for my Captain America costume would probably have taken a week at most. However, as I do not own one, I had to do the entire project completely by hand, which ended up taking almost a month in between work and other activities. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly pleased with the way it turned out!

Have you found costume inspirations from your closet? Did you find some cool items at a thrift shop? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!

Crafts with Pizzazz: Thor!

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Hello from Bee!

I would like to thank you all again for reading our blog – Boss-Bot and I are so glad that you are giving us the chance to share all things geeky with you! On that note, if there’s a post you really enjoy, something you might be interested in seeing on our blog, or even if you just want to say “hello,” we’d like to hear from you! A few of our viewers have already commented on our posts here in WordPress – please feel free to do so, as well! You can also send us an email (nerdswithpizzazz@gmail.com), and find us on Twitter (@NerdswPizzazz). Thanks!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been having fun with a series of posts featuring my crochet Avengers – Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Dr. Bruce Banner – and your positive responses to them tell me one thing: “This post. I like it. ANOTHER!”

ANOTHER it is! Ladies and gentlemen, physicists and interns, Asgardians of all ages, it is my great pleasure to present to you today: The Mighty Thor!

I’m actually a big Thor fan, particularly when it comes to the films. I thought that bringing Kenneth Branagh on board as the first film’s director was a great decision; he’s an excellent Shakespearean actor/director, not to mention Gilderoy Lockhart in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and, of course, Miguel in “Road to El Dorado” (a very funny animated movie which, by the way, draws on my favorite Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road” films 🙂 ). And who would have thought that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, initially lesser-knowns in the movie industry as an Australian soap opera star and a British stage- and period-piece actor, respectively, would become overnight fan favorites as Thor and Loki? It’s very clear that they have strong chemistry both on- and off-screen, which is a delight to see.

With regard to my crochet, Thor has proven to be the most involved of the four Avengers I’ve made. He actually required many of the more intricate elements I had to figure out for my previous projects, such as proportioning colors for his costume and wristbands, Arc Reactor-style discs for the metal pieces on his armor, and using embroidery thread to give him a beard. His hair took the longest to put together, as I had to fold tens of individual strands of yarn in half and slip-knot each piece into the yellow crocheted overlay. (He also ended up getting a “haircut” when I finished, so his long locks wouldn’t get in the way of wielding Mjolnir!)

Of course, I did have to figure out one new piece for Thor: his cape. Since I often find that pieces of straight single crochet curl up on themselves, I decided to make the cape using half-double crochet instead. I started at the top, increasing on the first and last stitches of each row to give the cape a triangular shape. Once I finished, I went back into the top of the cape, splitting the first row in half and doing a little single crochet to make the pieces that drape over Thor’s shoulders.

Well, he may have taken a bit longer to make, but it was definitely well worth it!

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And here they are all together: four of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Dr. Banner and the “Science Bros”!

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Hello from Bee!

First and foremost, I’m sure some of you are wondering about Boss-Bot. He’s still my awesome co-blogger; it’s just that he has a very busy schedule right now and cannot post as regularly as he’d like. As such, I’ll be doing much of the blogging for a while. Hope you enjoy!

Last week, in my crochet Iron Man post, I talked a little about my love for Robert Downey Jr. and his portrayal of Tony Stark. Of course, I extend that affection to all of the Marvel Studios superheroes – and while watching them shine in their individual movies is great, seeing them collaborate with each other in films like “The Avengers” is absolutely fantastic: not only do they work so well together, but it’s quite clear that they’re having just as much fun making these movies as their audiences have watching them. (Just look up their “Age of Ultron” interview with Jimmy Kimmel – they played the best game of “Family Feud” ever!)

Of course, in praising their work together, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what Marvel fans have dubbed the “Science Bros”: the awesome “bromance” between Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Mark Ruffalo’s Dr. Bruce Banner. As a matter of fact, those two actors have been made fully aware of the “Science Bros” fandom and seem to enjoy it immensely – some of the first pictures from the “Age of Ultron” set were actually posted by RDJ of him and Mark Ruffalo hanging out together and striking poses!

As such, after I finished crocheting Iron Man, I knew that his Science Bro had to be my next Avenger project – and while most of the “Avengers” crochet pictures online include the Hulk, I decided to make Dr. Banner.

As far as crocheting goes, Dr. Banner proved very easy to make with the “people pattern” I’ve created; the only piece I had to figure out was how many rows I needed to give him short sleeves. The tricky part came after I’d finished the actual crochet: making Dr. Banner’s glasses. I’d made one other pair of glasses before, but as they were for a larger doll, they were considerably easier to create. I ended up taking a piece of black craft wire – the kind used to make jewelry, etc. – and bending it into three-quarters of a square/rectangle for the glasses main frame. I made two smaller pieces in that fashion, as well, which would serve as the lens frames. These I bent around the main frame – an incredibly intricate task, as they tended to move around a lot – and secured them in place by putting some drops of clear craft glue on the “hinges”. Once they dried, I put them onto Dr. Banner, bending the main frame sides in a bit so they wouldn’t slip off, and voila!

And I must say, seeing my crochet Science Bros side-by-side is pretty…well…Incredible! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Iron Man!

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Hello from Bee!

Wow: thank you for all the views and ‘likes’ for last week’s post! I’m so glad you like my crochet Captain America – and because he went over so well with all of you, I’d like to follow up this week with his teammate, Mr. Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist himself, Iron Man!

There’s certainly something to be said about Marvel Studios’ casting ability. I love Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark: he’s a brilliant actor with a clear understanding of the character both on- and off-screen (just look up some of the interactions he’s had with young Iron Man fans – he’s very sweet!).

In any case, as soon as I finished crocheting Captain America, I knew Iron Man would be my next Avenger project. I also knew that I wanted to make him with his helmet off so Tony Stark’s face (and awesome facial hair!) would be visible.

Fortunately, I had already worked out my basic “people” pattern with Captain America, including the color changes I needed for the Iron Man suit. The Arc Reactor did take a couple of tries, including one out of felt that looked too two-dimensional, and several more out of yarn that didn’t have enough chained stiches in the adjustable ring to make it round enough. I ended up gluing it like I did with the Minion goggles, cutting the yarn tails very short and tucking them underneath.

Tony’s short, spiked haircut also presented a challenge at first. Steve’s hairdo was relatively easy to figure out: all I had to do was weave a long piece of yarn through the yellow crocheted top I had placed on his head in his classic side-swept style. (I find that adding such a top rather than changing colors while making the head gives the hair an extra dimension and looks better on the finished product.) For Tony, I started with a crocheted top in brown that I sewed over his head. I thought about weaving in a couple of very short pieces of yarn into the front for his spiked hair, but quickly realized that they wouldn’t stand up straight. Instead, I worked a couple rows of single crochet into the first few stitches of the brown top. The resulting piece of flat crochet stands up perfectly on its own, even curling back a bit in a way that really captures Tony’s look.

I really love the way he turned out!

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And, of course, I had to take a picture of him standing next to his fellow Avenger! 🙂