The Horizon Zero Dawn Blanket: Nora Survivor

The HZD Blanket

On the one hand this took longer than I thought it would. On the other hand I knew this would happen. We took two weeks off for Christmas and New Years, which I had hoped would translate into doing one to two squares a day, but when it turned into totally ignoring the yarn while I fell asleep on the couch watching National Geographic documentaries on Disney+ I wasn’t, you know, surprised or anything. And then the first two weeks of January were a bit of a slowdown, too, as I don’t know if you’ve heard but white supremacist yahoos attempted an insurrection and tried to install minority rule and it’s still an ongoing shit show so really I’m amazed I’m getting anything done besides doomscrolling on Twitter with one hand and shoving Amy’s frozen burritos in my mouth with the other.

Let’s Look at Something Happier – the Post-Apocalypse

Spoiler Warning – As I have in the past couple articles, I will be getting into the people and setting of Horizon Zero Dawn. I will not be discussing the main plot or going into any real details of the mysteries the player is supposed to uncover. Honestly, though, if you still want to play without spoilers what’s stopping you at this point? The game is four years old and the new one is coming out this year. Stop replaying that one game you keep wishing was better because it’s never going to be and try something new. Or don’t. I’m not your supervisor, I’m barely keeping it together myself.

The Nora are the first people you’re introduced to in the game by virtue of Aloy sort-of being one (we’ll get to that). They’re a matriarchal society run by three High Matriarchs. ‘Isn’t that a lot of matriarchs for one sentence? Shouldn’t you edit that or something?’ No, because this is the Nora we’re talking about, so if anything there weren’t enough instances of the word ‘matriarch.’ Everything is mothers with the Nora. They live in Mother’s Embrace. Their settlements are called Mother’s Heart, Mother’s Watch, Mother’s Rise, Mother’s Crown, Mother’s Squeeze Box, Mother’s Fashionable Pearls, etc. Their goddess is All-Mother, their temple is All-Mother Mountain. You get the picture. Who runs the world?


They live off the land and there’s a lot of white people with dreads and they generally keep to themselves. You sort of get a Portland-style hippy feel from them, so you’d think they’d be chill.

They are very much Not Chill.

Why? Because the national sport of the Nora is outcasting people.

Here’s a list of reasons Nora have been outcast from their tribe:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Self-defense
  • Petty theft
  • Going into the ruins of the Metal World
  • Just being generally weird
  • Leaving the Sacred Land (according to the Nora you can’t come back)
  • Gum chewing
  • Music too loud
  • Being born under mysterious circumstances and no one know where you came from and you might be from the devil so, like, fuck it, I guess, toss the baby into the woods

Okay, that last one is pretty specific to Aloy, but it still fucking stands. Basically any crime and they’ll toss you out on your ass. No one in the tribe is allowed to talk to you. Strictly speaking, outcasts aren’t even allowed to talk to each other. They can stay in the Sacred Lands while everyone still part of the tribe sticks their fingers in their ears. And if they leave, to try to find sanity in another tribe? They can never come back. And the Nora who aren’t outcast treat the outcasts like utter dogshit.

None of this is healthy.

There are signs that a bunch of the outcasts have a very healthy ‘fuck this shit’ mentality and band together on the outskirts of Nora lands, but other outcasts – such as Rost, the only parental figure Aloy has ever known – are too busy butt-chugging the Flavor-Aid to wonder if maybe these laws are a just a little bit…much. When they’re not being unjustifiably dickish to Aloy, most of the Nora are just kind of sad and boring and the cool ones with personality die really fast, so the Nora are my least favorite tribe.

Luckily, they’re also Aloy’s least favorite, too!

But What About Their Fashion Sense?

Good for hunting, bad for stunting (I’m sorry).

As I said, the Nora are primarily granola-crunching Earth-mother types, so their clothes are very sensible. Mostly they’re made out of animal hides, and they’re meant to afford some camouflage in the forest, so there are a lot of browns and greens. The white flat parts are pieces of machine, because while the Nora consider the ruins taboo they will fuck up a Grazer’s day if given half the chance. The big chunky jewelry…no idea. Pinecones?



The Survivor outfit is your cover-the-bases protection outfit, offering guards against fire, freeze, shock, and corruption. It’s also one of my two least-favorite outfits based on appearances. In the beginning of the game it’s a solid outfit for the protection it affords, but you’ll soon get better modifications, and eventually the ability to swap those mods out, so you can protect yourself while wearing whatever you want.

A note on all the outfits: There’s three to four versions of each outfit, from a cheap version with only a few protections to one with the best protections that either costs a lot or can only be unlocked by completely certain missions. These squares are all based on the best version found in the game.

The Squares

The patterns I picked for the Nora are all horizontal squares done from top to bottom. I wanted patterns that were a little complex and had a woven look, to mimic their outfits and the kind of homespun vibe you’re supposed to get from these emotionally-suppressed weirdos and jerks. Obviously I kept with the mostly green and brown motif, with pops of other color depending on the outfit. The Survivor outfit is evenly split between a dark brown, a light brown, and the Nora blue. I’m using Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, and I went with Merlot Heather, Almond, and Solstice. I’m not usually a fan of browns but I love this Merlot heather because it has strands of green in it, and the Solstice has strands of bright blue that make it shimmer a little in the light. The Almond is fine. It’s necessary, but it’s not a star.

For the Nora Survivor, I picked this pattern:

These patterns all come from the Big Book of Granny Squares. Okay, quick aside about this book:

I Do Not Recommend This Book

I don’t know what the hell happened here. No, wait, I do: Nobody proofread this fucking thing, or even tried to make the squares based off the directions written. Nearly every square I’ve tried has some glaring mistake. And thank God they’re glaring because, as previously mentioned, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just have enough reading comprehension to look at the instructions, and look at the picture, and think, “That’s not gonna make the picture.” There are so, so many mistakes in the directions! From little things, like telling you to repeat the wrong line and just generally lacking clarity, to bigger things, like the shape of this fucking square.

Excuse me, ‘square.’

See, when I started making this blanket, I actually started making Banuk squares because I was just going down my list in alphabetical order. Then I decided to write about it and thought I should follow the order you meet the different tribes in, so I began work on this square. I also plan on filling in the blank spaces of the map with a simple granny square in black and have made a few of those. So, I already had two squares that came out to roughly the same size and shape.

And then I made this fucking thing.

Yeah. Not square. (Looking at the two pictures I can see where I did make a mistake – the brown rows between the almonds should be bigger. But I don’t see how I could have made it big enough to make a square, and then even if I did the square would still be too wide.)

I’m sticking with this book because I’ve already picked all my patterns and I’ve already paid for it (thankfully just the e-book version), but there’s now an additional layer to my project of fixing the damn patterns. For this one, I ended up shortening the width of the square by three stitches and adding in another row of almonds and another row of the Merlot Heather on either end, and got something much better:

So, after all this, I finally have eighteen of these squares. Each square took me about two hours, and I went through about eight and a half skeins of yarn. Next up, I will be doing the Nora Protector, my other least-favorite outfit. Join me in about a month (fingers fucking crossed) to see how that square comes out (spoiler alert: I had to fix it).

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