The Sims 4 seems to be pivoting toward content that is, firstly, tailored specifically to my interests, and, secondly, designed to allow the creation of strange and reclusive weirdos. Whilst EA’s attempt at a new reality show about playing The Sims rumbles on in the background, and after the Eco Lifestyle expansion pushed me towards creating a stinky, trash-gobbling Oscar the Grouch, here comes new Stuff Pack Nifty Knitting.
Stuff Packs are sort of mini-expansions, and Nifty Knitting is all about, well, knitting. Somehow – whether by bugs that are not yet smoothed out, or by design – the Nifty Knitting Stuff Pack has perfectly recreated the slide from “oh, knitting is kind of cool”, into the creation of wool mailbox covers and jumpers that have scarves built in. I played for a few hours, and in that space of time my Sim evolved naturally into a hunched yarn hermit, rocking incessantly on her new chair and eschewing everything in favour of more knitting. Including food, sleep and conversation. It is the closest The Sims has yet come to allowing me to create myself. And it is too real.
I started crocheting last Christmas, because the only thing in the room I stayed in at my mum’s house apart from a bed, and a book about Victorian torture, was a kit to make some Star Wars amigurumi (little stuffed crocheted or knitted figurines). Cut to: me untangling a four-strand cotton thread while watching the Sopranos, because I have to finish this shawl before I can finish the project that is going to be a project basket to put my unfinished projects in. There are, right now, three large sacks of yarn behind my sofa. Eventually it gets to the point that making something called a Fandango Bobble Cape seems like a rational thing to do.
So it goes, it seems, in The Sims. Like all Stuff Packs, this one adds a clutch of new things for Create A Sim (mostly hideous knitwear, obviously), as well as some cute new build items for Sims to use as a signal that they are well into crafts. It’s mostly pastel shades of shelving with lots of clutter slots, but I love the clutter bits themselves – project bags and half-finished knits and so on. There are also four different rocking chairs, the better for sittin’ and knittin’ in.
I randomised a Sim with some of the new CAS items, built them a home with the new pre-designed granny cave living room, put all the Nifty Knitting furniture in, and set them a-knitting. So far, so good, so “oh yeah, I got it from a market stall, it’s a plant pot made of wool”.
The craft-obsessional issues arise with the new Aspirations, life goals you can build into your Sim when you create them. With Nifty Knitting, you can give your Sim the Aspiration of Lord/Lady of the Knits, which basically translates to “I want to knit a load of shit all day, every day, forever.”
Like with any other skill in The Sims, your Sim gets better at it the more they do it. They start off being able to make socks and animal beanie hats (although anyone will tell you that turning an ankle can be quite hard) and progress to jumpers, baby onesies and the aforementioned knitted mailbox covers, which are suitably awful. You can sell the fruits of your own personal loom on an online store called Plopsy, without having to ever leave the house. Pretty soon, my Sim was hawking rugs for nearly §200 a throw.
Also, many of the things you can make are actually lovely, particularly the little toys. Here is an extremely cute little tortoise that has a strawberry shell. I love it.
That is, however, the only thing in her life my Sim does at all. Nifty Knitting turned her into a weird knitting obsessive who sleeps at odd hours, gets up fretfully in the night and takes naps at 6am, discards meals in the middle of eating them even if she is at the point of starvation, abruptly hangs up phone calls, and eschews getting dressed even in the middle of winter. She just returns, like a moth drawn to a terrible flame, to her rocking chair, cold, hungry, bereft of social contact. And she knits.
And, dear god, the unfinished projects. If you have Nifty Knitting, anywhere your Sim can sits, they can knits, and I think a bug is causing my Sim to somehow start new projects by ordering the yarn whenever she takes a piss or has a bath (which in fairness is pretty accurate to real life as well). It is stressful for me just observing the list! I cannot imagine what it’s like to be her, constantly dithering between finishing one of four pairs of socks or making progress on a plant pot holder.
And it’s not even my fault! I’m not making her do this! All my time goes into making her attend to her basic needs beyond knitting! I cannot begin to make you understand how hard it is to make this woman eat an entire sandwich. She will walk away from it four or five times and have to have her faced pushed into it, like how you teach a puppy to wee on newspaper, before she will finish it.
It’s basically an extremely specific horror story. You have wandered the wrong way in a quiet neighbourhood, possibly after leaving a party, and find yourself trekking through a field that… wait, it’s not a field, it’s an untended garden, and there’s a house with a light on. But it’s 4am! Who would still be awake now? And as you approach, the snow muffling everything, you hear just one sound. An unceasing creak… creak…. creak. Dare you peep through the window to see?
Like, yes, she can make herself a jumper of Excellent quality. But at what cost? AT WHAT COST?