2021: The Year I Crochet a Horizon Zero Dawn Themed Granny Square Afghan (Even Though I Don’t Really Know What I’m Doing)

The HZD Blanket

Crochet: Knitting’s Less Stabby Cousin

I taught myself how to crochet a few years ago because I wanted to make something with my hands. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and it’s certainly an act of creation, but you can’t put a novel on a baby’s head. I guess you can. The reaction is going to be less ‘That’s adorable!’ and more ‘What is the matter with you?’ and ‘You’re ruining Christmas again,’ but you can still do it.

I was also trying to wean myself off my phone while watching my then-boyfriend-now-husband Peter playing video games. There’s a lot of video games out there I don’t want to play myself but like watching. But even the ones with the best plots still have a lot of fights, or running around picking up every single mushroom or whatever, or just running around and talking to all the NPCs and then talking to them again because they might have something new to say this time around. Stuff I don’t need to be giving all my attention to, basically. So I’d just be browsing my phone mindlessly and even when you’re addicted to it’s still kind of boring and I just didn’t want to anymore. So I bought a book and some hooks and yarn.

“Why not knitting?” you ask. Crochet seemed easier. Is it? I have no idea! I’ve still never knit. To be honest, over the years, I’ve barely crocheted. I’ll have these spans of weeks where I’m really buckling down and working on the same blanket I always work on, but then my basket of yarn will just sit all lonely-like for months. But the quarantine made us all find hobbies, so back in April I picked up my hook and yarn again, and this time it seems to be sticking. I now know a bunch of things I should have known years ago. Working in rounds. Increasing. Color changing. How to read a fucking pattern, that’s a big one. For years I could only watch YouTube tutorials, the ones with the nicely manicured nails and soft music and they’re all by women named Deborah for some reason. Maybe it’s the same Deborah, I don’t know.

Obviously, now that after three years I’ve gotten the basics under my belt, it’s time to dive right into a massive project filled with techniques I’ll have to learn on the fly.

I Have Literally Poured More Hours into Horizon Zero Dawn Than Was Needed for My Nursing License

I had spent a year and a half watching Peter play video games with no real interest in trying any when something finally came along that made me sit up and pay attention. Something that made me want to try my hand at not only the first game in a decade, but the first game that wasn’t on a Nintendo console. I grew up with Nintendo, and they go out of their way to make sure their games and consoles are for everyone, so I’d always been comfortable there. But this was a PlayStation. In my mind, one of the big boys. To be honest, I’d been scared of the learning curve. But finally a game had piqued my interest enough to overcome that fear. And that game…

Was Final Fantasy XV. Four anime boys driving around the world in their sweet convertible, killing monsters and running chocobo errands for people in need, all while learning the real magic crystal was the friends they made along the way? Sign me the fuck up.

Three months later, in February of 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn was released and I’ve been playing it on and off ever since. For anyone who’s reading for the crochet aspects of this and not the gaming, Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game where you play as Aloy, a woman living in a far-future post-apocalyptic world overrun with robotic versions of animals that you have to hunt primarily using a bow and arrow. It’s fantastic.

I’m not going to get into all the reasons why I love this game so much, mostly because I hope these details come out as I write up the work on the blanket but also because this will just turn into a 3,000 word rant that would quickly devolve into just phrases with exclamation points like ‘Bryce Canyon!’ and ‘robot bison cute and deadly!’ But to break it down:

Design: Gorgeous, detailed, 10/10

World Building: Intricate, fascinating 10/10

Game Play: Easy to pick up, hard enough to stay interesting: 10/10

Main Character, Aloy: Powerful, adorable, 11/10

Aloy’s Outfits: Varied, attractive, 15/10

Photo Mode: Outstanding, best pictures ever, 21/10

I love this game. I have the art book. I got the FunkoPops after I stopped collecting them just for the hell of it. I have a video game Tumblr where I put up a bunch of my best in-game pictures. I have not platinumed the game because I suck at timed-quests and the Hunters’ Trials were making me grind my teeth, but I don’t care. I’ve replayed the main story at least three times, but sometimes I just go in to wander around and take pictures. And there’s a motherfucking sequel on the way hell fucking yes.

Do Kids Today Even Know the ‘Two Great Tastes’ Commercial? That Was Before my Time.

As mentioned above, Aloy has a lot of outfits to choose from on her adventures. While in real life I’m wearing t-shirts and jeans (or, since quarantine, t-shirts and sweatpants) near constantly, when it comes to my video game characters they have to be dressed appropriately. In Final Fantasy XV I used to change all the characters into their warm weather clothes every time it started raining, even though in the game it fully does not matter. When I first thought about making a blanket for this game, I thought I would make a different blanket for every outfit. This was back when I was barely crocheting anyway, so that was always a bit pie-in-the-sky, but recently I discovered a much better approach: a granny square afghan where each square can represent a different outfit in the game.

As I mentioned above, I’ve never made a granny square afghan. I’ve never made a granny square. There is going to be a steep learning curve, especially in the beginning. But if I could overcome that learning curve to play video games, who says I can’t do it to make a blanket?

And I’m Making You All Hear About it Because…

Honestly, I think this is going to be a fun journey. I want to keep this updated with stats, such as time and money spent, and also just share what it’s like to learn how to crochet granny squares with exactly zero prior experience. I’ll also go into details about why I love this game so much, and once we have an actual release date for the sequel I guess I can incorporate a countdown, although it will be a soft one because games get pushed back all the time.

So, if you like video games and crocheting, or one or the other, or just want to watch me make a fool out of myself in real time, stick around for updates!


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