The Horizon Zero Dawn Blanket: Nora Protector

The HZD Blanket


Apparently, when you remove naps and National Geographic from the equation, I get these squares done much faster. I’m trying to get at least one done a day during the week, and then as many as I can produce on the weekends. I’m in a much better spot because besides WandaVision, Peter and I are barely watching television. It’s all video games, baybee, and while I stitched up a bunch of granny squares Peter played Shadow of the Tomb Raider and is still playing 2018’s Spider-Man. One thing both games have in common: I am disappointed in the selection of outfits. Spider-Man is a little better, especially since we unlocked the Night Monkey suit, but there was, like, one outfit for Lara that I liked and the rest all looked like Girl Scout projects and I know that’s kind of the point but I also don’t care. He’s also playing Fallout 4, which has piles of great outfits, but Peter plays this weird way where he dresses his characters for the stats and not the aesthetic, so our Lone Survivor is still in her Vault-Tec blues.

Before we move on to the square, let’s take a look at some

Notable Nora

Rost

Rost, like Aloy, is an outcast, and pretty much the only parental figure she’s ever known. It’s clear that he loves her, but as previously mentioned he’s also heavily subscribed to all these Nora rules about being outcast to the point where I’m honestly shocked that he talks to her. I guess sometimes religious dogma only carries you so far. Early on, Aloy has a chance to rejoin the Nora, something they both want, but while Aloy pretty much only wants to it shove it in the faces of everyone in the tribe who ignored her for twenty-ish years, Rost wants it so she can have a decent life and honestly, how dare he.

Sona

Sona is the Nora’s war chief, and despite also being a pretty heavy believer in Nora rules and taboos, by the time she meets Aloy she fully does not care that she was an outcast. Sona only wants to protect her people, and it turns out outcasting a baby isn’t helpful in that regard. Level-headed, intelligent, and willing to take advice from others, Sona would definitely be running the Nora if that didn’t include a whole lot of ‘not killing enemies’ and keep her from her favorite thing: killing enemies.

Varl

Varl is a Nora Brave, and Sona’s son. He’s also our introduction to a continuing theme of Horizon Zero Dawn: everyone is thirsty for Aloy. Everyone? Everyone. Okay, fine, not everyone. But a lot of them. In fact, by the time we meet Varl, Aloy has already been aggressively hit on by someone else (we’ll get to him later) and she’s only been a part of society for roughly an hour at that point.

As an aside, I’m going to be commenting a lot on the NPC’s that hit on Aloy because it really does happen a lot. But one of the things I super appreciate about this game is there is no forced romance. Folks hit on Aloy. Aloy either takes it in stride or flirts back. But that’s as far as anything goes. Her story is too urgent and pressing to shove a first-love story into it, and it makes all the flirting a thousand times funnier.

Anyway, it’s never going to work between Varl and Aloy. Varl is too committed to the Nora tribe and Aloy is too committed to riding out of the Sacred Lands forever, sunglasses on and middle fingers up.

The Outfit

The Nora Protector is my second least favorite outfit, after the Nora Survivor. I didn’t even plan it this way! Happy coincidence. If you’re the type of player who likes to arm themselves with nothing more than a big stick and an insane grin before tossing yourself directly into the middle of the fight, this is the outfit for you, as it is heavy on the melee damage protection.

I don’t like to play like that. I like to sneak around in the hidey-grass and shoot from there. If I get noticed, I run away. I’m not good at brawling, I am worse at dodging, and I don’t have a whole lot of patience. This is a large part of why the next outfit I’ll work on, the Nora Silent Hunter, is my favorite. This is also a large part of why I have no interest in any of the Soulsborne games and played Jedi: Fallen Order on easy. Oh, hey, quick PSA:

It’s okay to play games on easy mode, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a dick you can ignore.

So, I didn’t wear this one much, which is potentially how I initially fucked up the color scheme on the square at first.

The Square

I initially thought this outfit would be an Almond base, with some Forest Heather and Gull. It, uh…it didn’t look right.

I’ve mentioned I’m not very good at any of this before, right?

I took another look at the outfit, and realized my primary mistake was the Almond. The outfit, overall, is much darker than I had initially thought. The machine plates give it pops of white, but underneath that it’s mostly the dark brown and dark green, with only hints of the light brown and a little blue. So, I rearrange and tried again:

I liked this a lot more. That’s the Merlot Heather, Forest Heather, and Gull. I did get a little bit of the Almond in, and I ended up putting in a couple stripes of blue, because the Nora really do like using blue in their outfits.

As I said last time, I had to fix the square because of course I did. I didn’t even make a square based on the literal instructions this time, because I didn’t want to waste the yarn (and then ended up with a bad square anyway because of my own mistakes, oh, universe, you scamp). Once again, though, it was going to be too wide and not quite tall enough. I am already better at fixing the shape, anyway, so thanks Big Book of Granny Squares! You’re not just a book, you’re a learning experience!

What I like about these two squares is that you get the kind of woven rug and homey look I wanted without difficult stitches. These squares aren’t hard to learn, but the way different stitches are mixed together make them look intricate. The spike stitches in the Nora Survivor square are probably the most ‘exotic’ stitch. The rest of the squares are made of strategic combinations of single, double, half double, and triple stitches.

And then there’s this piece:

Usually when I do a color change I square knot the colors together, tuck them along the fresh edge of the square, and crochet the next few stitches over them. The stitches are thick enough that these tucked edges stay hidden, but for this row of Almond I was alternating double stitches and skips, and the edges were very visible. I tried to darn them into previous rows, but that meant trying to hide the bright Almond and Gull colors inside the dark Forest Heather and Solstice Heather and it just stood out too much. If anyone knows any good ideas besides just cutting them off after the knot let me know. I’m going to try to hide them when I start putting all the squares together, which hopefully works. I hate knotting and then just cutting off the ends, the knots never seem to hold.

So, that’s the Nora Protector square! Let me know what you think, or if you actually know how to crochet and have suggestions for going forward. Next up, I’ll be working on one of my favorite outfits, the Nora Silent Hunter.


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