Crafts with Pizzazz: Moana!

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Hello from Bee!

A while ago, I posted about my love of Disney and shared with you my crocheted Mary Poppins and Bert. This week, I would like to show you some crochet from a more recent Disney movie: “Moana!”

I love “Moana.” I am a huge fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and his music for the film is absolutely incredible. That, coupled with great characters, plot, and animation, make it one of my favorite contemporary Disney movies.

To crochet Moana, I followed my basic “people pattern,” adding a couple rows of colored yarn for her wrap top. For the skirt, I used the same surface slip-stitch technique that I did for Mary Poppins; however, to make the side slit, after a few rows, I stopped going all the way around and just crocheted back and forth. I then slip-knotted beige embroidery thread over the slit and all around the hemline, giving it the grass skirt look. I also used surface slip-stitch to chain a row of colored yarn across the top of the skirt for her belt.

As for her necklace, I tied knots of white and blue embroidery thread around a piece of brown embroidery thread. I then rolled these knots in a little tacky glue to keep them in place.

Do you have a favorite Disney princess? Leave a comment below!

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Crafts with Pizzazz: Drax!

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Hello from Bee!

Well, as part of my Guardians of the Galaxy crochet, I’ve shown you Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora, so this week is all about Drax!

Drax was definitely one of the easier Guardians to make. As with Gamora, I was able to use my “people pattern,” just without adding hair or changing yarn colors for a shirt.

As for Drax’s tattoos, I ultimately used pieces of colored felt. In the movie, the tattoos are fairly elaborate; however, I decided to base my crocheted version on the simpler design on the comic/TV Drax.

And here they all are: the Guardians of the Galaxy! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Gamora!

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Hello from Bee!

Next up in my series of Guardians of the Galaxy crochet is Gamora.

Fortunately, I did not have to make up a new pattern for her as I did with her teammates, Rocket and Groot. I followed my regular “people pattern,” using the same format I did for Wonder Woman with a bit of added embroidery to create a halter-top look.

The fun part about making Gamora was figuring out her multicolored hair. In the movie, she has dark hair with magenta tips. As I didn’t have any multicolored yarn, I tried wrapping magenta embroidery thread around the ends of the black yarn I used for her hair, but it looked too bulky. I ended up taking pieces of the thread and using slip-knots to attach them underneath the black yarn, which, when brushed back, showed through just enough to give that highlighted look.

Do you have a favorite Guardian? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Reviews with Pizzazz: Transformers: the Last Knight

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Transformers the Last Knight Review, by Boss-Bot

To be fair, this movie needs to be seen multiple times.  It’s a ride the first showing, but as you see it more it improves like a fine wine.  It’s not the best Transformers movie, but it’s far from the worst.  It’s actually pretty similar to Revenge of the Fallen in plot, but done a lot better.  It’d rank behind Age of Extinction for me, right in front of the original.  At the first showing, I ranked it behind the first, but upon later viewings I really have grown to appreciate all that this fifth installment does, whether it succeeds or not.  As a fan of the series, it mostly succeeds.

The Good:

As usual, the visual effects are stunning.  To me, the best looking Transformer is actually the newest: Sqweeks.  He’s a cute competition to BB8 and the cool part is that he actually had a practical stand in on set, unlike the other larger robots.  The planet Cybertron scenes are also pretty cool, the vine structures are something we haven’t seen before.  The underwater portion was also visually good, the only other underwater scene we’ve seen being Megtron’s revival in Revenge of the Fallen.  The characters in this film are actually great, too.  The female characters, Izzy and Vivian, do a lot in the film.  Izzy is actually crucial since Sqweeks ends up saving the day.  Vivian is actually just as important as Cade, if not more crucial to the plot.  Since she is the only one who can take the staff from Quintessa, Cybertron would have destroyed the planet without her.  Cade’s character is a good jump off point from the last movie.  The Tessa phone call showed the more emotional side to his character, which isn’t fully developed.  To be fair, he’s written as more of a tough guy in this movie, so it makes sense that he hides his feelings around the newer characters.  Wahlberg’s acting is actually a step up from the last movie.  Jimmy J is actually a fun character and his comic relief tends to feel organic.  He’s not useless and is genuinely funny.  The robots’ characters and the robots’ character designs are very cool as well.  Megatron looks terrifyingly badass.  The new Decepticons are really fun and it’s a shame that they don’t have much screen time.  Hot Rod is a really fun new character.  Grimlock is comic relief, but he feels like his character.  It’s fun seeing Wheelie again. The plot is pretty interesting and while it’s complex, it feels like a lot more work is put into it than the past sequels.  They really do their best to tie everything together and for the most part it works.  Is it goofy that Harriet Tubman could have been friends with Jazz?  Sure, but remember you’re seeing a movie about alien robot that turn into cars, planes, and vending machines.  The fifth movie about alien robots that turn into cars, planes, and vending machines.  So don’t go in expecting something that will defy what the franchise has already made.  Not to mention, the use of lore is incredible.  Considering the franchise typically references characters rather than borrowing anything directly from other incarnations, this movie does defy that expectation.  We finally get Unicron in a really cool way; they follow his character from Transformers Prime.  Rather than being a planet eater, Unicron is Earth.  A cool twist a lot of critics have been claiming Bay has changed Unicron, but in reality not being aware that Unicron was Earth way before this movie.  We see a version of Primus vs. Unicron and a Quintesson.  The junkyard hideout is definitely based off of the newest show, Robots in Disguise.  Finally, the best part of the movie are two of the new characters: Sir Edmond Burton and Cogman.  Burton, played by Anthony Hopkins, is nothing short of the single best human character in the franchise.  Hopkins nails the dialogue, which can be iffy, but he pulls it off.  The humor he brings into the movie feels funny.  It’s not forced like some of the other characters make it out to be.  Hopkins has some of the best lines in the movie and you do feel bad for the guy when Megatron kills him.  Despite his quirky personality, he’s completing something that his entire life has led up to and on the submarine when he mentions his, you can tell that he is quite emotional.  His butler, Cogman, is also hysterical.  Cogman brings a lot of humor into the film as well, despite his dialogue feeling more forced at points.  But overall, when they are together they truly make the movie.  Not to mention, Stanley Tucci as Merlin is just great.

The Cons:

Get it.  Cons.  Decepticons? Anways, here’s what I would improve.  The editing is my major complaint.  A few weeks before release a rumor stating the movie was three hours and ten minutes spread around.  This generated both positive and negative reactions, but soon Bay dismissed this rumor and the movie was confirmed to be two and a half hours.  Now rumors are surfacing that the DVD release will feature an extended cut and scenes from it will be shown at HasCon.  My guess is that it could have went a few different ways.  A: The movie was planned to be three hours, but the negative feedback worried the studio so they trimmed it down to be the shortest sequel in the series.  B: They’re pulling WB and making an extended cut which could either be planned in advance to be DVD only.  This would mean higher DVD sales since it would offer exclusive content, a la Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.  This would make sense considering how it would be difficult to edit half an hour from a movie in such a short distance before its release.  C: There is no three hour ten minute cut and it’s nothing more than a rumor.  I hope we get an extended cut and it would explain the choppy editing.  It would also hopefully fix some loose ends, including how Megatron became Megatron after being Galvatron, how Bumblebee became magnetic, and other things.  The dialogue is a hit or miss and while a lot of the jokes land, some don’t.  There were complaints that the Decepticons are racist, which I don’t see at all, so not a negative for me.  The only other thing is that the film is a blur.  It moves fast, and then slow, and fast again.  Multiple showings really improve it.  If you’ve only seen it once and either didn’t like it or you’re on the fence, see it again.

Overall, Transformers the Last Knight is just a fun movie.  Go with an open mind.  I give it a solid 4/5.  Definitely see it multiple times and don’t forget to stay after the credits!!

Crafts with Pizzazz: Groot!

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Hello from Bee!

Well, I’ve posted about Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon; now, I’d like to show you Groot!

Although I’ve made several baby Groots before, as I’ve shared in my previous posts, it took a while to figure out proportions for a full-sized Groot, especially because he is considerably taller than the other Guardians. The head is relatively similar to the one I use for my baby Groot, but after I finished it, I went back and worked a few rows into the top for the square branches. I also increased around the top of the body to give Groot a more broad-shouldered look and worked in a few extra rounds for Groot’s feet, which added to his height.

For the vines, I just took some pieces of the brown yarn I was using and sewed them around Groot. I also tied on a few pieces of green yarn for leaves like I had done for Pickett.

Looking good, guys! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Rocket Raccoon!

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Hello from Bee!

I apologize for the long delay between posts, but I am excited to share some new crafts I’ve been doing!

For our “blogiversary” last summer, I posted about my crocheted Star-Lord. Now, I’d like to share the second in my Guardians of the Galaxy series: Rocket Raccoon!

Of course, I wanted to make my Guardians as close to scale as possible. As Rocket is much smaller than the others, that meant I couldn’t use my “people pattern” for him. Fortunately, I had worked out a smaller pattern for Yoda that I was able to reference. All I had to do was modify the legs to make them a little longer, shorten the ears, and add a snout and tail. I used brown and black felt to add the details to his face and clothes.

Who’s your favorite Guardian? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Pickett the Bowtruckle!

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Hello from Bee!

I apologize for the long delay since my last post back in August; what with new work schedules, I haven’t had much opportunity to update the blog. However, now that things are starting to settle down, Boss-Bot and I are hoping to get “Nerds with Pizzazz” back up and running again!

I’m going to start with something that I just made this weekend after seeing J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” I’m a big Harry Potter fan – I’ve grown up reading the books – and I must say, this latest addition to the Wizarding World is excellent! As one of my friends pointed out, it was made all the better by having Rowling herself as the screenwriter (as opposed to the studios adapting her work from books). I loved seeing the wizarding community in America, the historical setting, and of course, the adorable Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne was amazing!) and his creatures.

With regard to the fantastic beasts, I was particularly taken with Pickett, the cute little Bowtruckle Newt kept in his coat, and I wanted to figure out how to crochet him.

Having crocheted many Dancing Baby Groots at this point, I knew that in order to make Pickett stand up, I would have to use some kind of support structure. For Groot’s stem, I use a piece of stiff plastic straw; however, due to the way Pickett’s body curves, that wouldn’t work this time. I remembered I had a coil of craft wire I had previously used for Dr. Banner’s glasses, and so I decided to give that a try.

After playing around with proportions, I crocheted very thin in-the-round cylinders for his body, arms, and legs. Then, I cut pieces of the craft wire and inserted them into the body and three legs. I used the support given by the wire to bend the body into a curvy “L” shape. Having cut the wire longer for the legs, I inserted the exposed wire into the bent body for stronger support before sewing on the legs. The arms did not need wire, but for the fingers, I ended up using single rows of chain stitch that curled nicely when I wove in the yarn tails.

For the decorations, I crocheted two green leaves and sewed them very loosely onto the top. I then wrapped pieces of brown yarn around the loose base attachment to look like stems. I made the face with small pieces of felt. The little “roots” on his arms were made by tying on pieces of beige yarn and wrapping green yarn pieces around them in the same way I made the leaf stems.

I’m so excited to see more of the Wizarding World! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: The Pirate King!

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Hello from Bee!

I am a big fan of theatre – as both participant and audience member – so I was very excited last week to have the opportunity to go to the Barrington Stage Company and see a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedy operetta, “The Pirates of Penzance.”

Although I was familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan, this was my first time seeing “The Pirates of Penzance,” and I must say, it was absolutely incredible! Barrington Stage did a fantastic job with the show: the cast was so strong and engaging, the music was awesome (as was the conductor, placed strategically on stage in the midst of the actors), the set and costumes were gorgeous, and the audience interaction was so cleverly done. I know that sometimes, shows from Barrington Stage end up on Broadway; I really hope this is one of them – or at least, that they put out a cast album!

In any case, I had to crochet my favorite character from the show, the Pirate King, played so brilliantly by Will Swenson!

For this project, I had to figure out a few new techniques: most notably, the vertical stripes on the Pirate King’s pants. Due to the fact that I crochet the body and legs separately, I couldn’t use the technique I had developed previously when making Spiderman, as the stripes wouldn’t have matched up properly. Instead, I decided to crochet the legs and lower part of the body in a solid color (light blue). After attaching the legs, I then used maroon yarn and an embroidery needle to put in the stripes. It is definitely more time-consuming than the Spiderman way, but I’m very pleased with the results.

Another new crochet element for this project is the facial hair. With the exception of Tony Stark and Thor, I haven’t really done much facial hair, and while I like the way the embroidery thread turned out for the two of them, I wanted to see if I could improve on it to make the Pirate King’s more fuller-looking beard. I ended up taking a long piece of brown yarn and chaining a handful of stitches right in the middle of it. I then curled it into a U-shape and attached it to the chin area, using the tails to embroider the moustache part under his nose.

“Hurrah for the Pirate King!” 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Star-Lord!

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Hello from Bee!

Well, WordPress recently notified us that Nerds with Pizzazz has been officially up and running for a year! Boss-Bot and I would like to take a moment and thank all of you, our followers and viewers, for your generous support. We look forward to continuing to share all things geeky with you!

When we started our blog last year, I inaugurated the ‘Crafts with Pizzazz’ section with a post discussing my first crochet project: a Dancing Baby Groot that, when I posted the picture on Twitter, gained a ‘like’ from “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn himself! Since then, I have made a variety of beloved Marvel characters, and in honor of our ‘blogiversary,’ I would like to return to the theme of my very first post and present to you my crocheted “Guardians of the Galaxy” Peter Quill, (somewhat) also known as the great Star-Lord!

I’ve wanted to crochet the Guardians for a while, especially Star-Lord, but I first needed a way to revise my jacket pattern to make his awesome space-pirate coat. My first two attempts at making removable coats for Mary Poppins and Bert yielded decent results, but I wasn’t overly pleased about the garments’ bulkiness, and kept trying to figure out a way to work around it.

After figuring out vertical stripes for Spiderman, however, I realized that taking away the removable aspect was the way to go. I crocheted Star-Lord’s body in the maroon coat color, using my vertical stripe technique to add in a block of light blue for his shirt. To make it look like the shirt was underneath the jacket, I used maroon when crocheting his arms/sleeves and added rows of maroon surface slip-stitch crochet on either side of the vertical color change. I also went back in and crocheted three-quarters of the way around the bottom of the jacket in the same manner that I made Luke Skywalker’s tunic to give the coat its full-length appearance.

Star-Lord’s messenger bag is a piece of folded flat single crochet attached to some chained brown yarn. His beloved cassette player is also a flat piece of crochet with felt accents. The headphones are two in-the-round orange circles attached to the same type of black craft wire I used for Dr. Bruce Banner’s glasses, and the headphone cord is a single piece of embroidery thread.

Happy blogiversary! 🙂

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Crafts with Pizzazz: SpongeBob SquarePants!

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Hello from Bee!

Sorry for the delay in posts; Boss-Bot and I have been incredibly busy this month preparing for and attending a comic convention (you know it’s convention season when there are fabric scraps, cardboard pieces, and tons of glitter sprinkled throughout the house!).

We had a fantastic time at the convention! For the first time, we were able to attend all three days, which meant we could actually sit through some panels as well as walk around the exhibit halls. As for costumes, we complimented each other as Batman vs. Superman, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, and one day of individual costumes, where Boss-Bot went as Scream from the TV series and I went as Captain America (with a little Bucky Bear!).

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Unquestionably, the highlight of the convention was meeting signature guest Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants (of which Boss-Bot and I are HUGE fans) and so many other classic characters. He is the NICEST guy! He really spent time talking with us and quoting/singing all our favorite classic SpongeBob moments. He clearly loves what he does and was very touched by all of the fan love, including when I gave him a crocheted SpongeBob.

Making SpongeBob was a bit of a challenge because of his shape. There are several ways to create a three-dimensional square shape for amigurumi; I decided to crochet six flat yellow pieces and sew them together, stuffing the resulting shape before attaching the final piece. Afterwards, I crocheted a flat piece with white and brown yarn for his shirt and pants and sewed it over the square. I did make his arms, sleeves, legs, and shorts in-the-round, creating fingers with the same chain technique I use for bandannas. The face and other details are felt, yarn, and embroidery thread.

Have you been to any conventions? What are your highlights? Please comment below! 🙂