Thursday, February 28, 2008

Crochet Pac-Man! Cute Thing of the Week

You truly are a child of the 80’s if you can name all four of Pac-Man’s little ghost adversaries pictured here. Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Pac-Man (from left to right) first debuted in 1980 and went on to become a cultural icon, eagerly adopted by video game enthusiasts who were eager to play something that wasn’t Space Invaders or Pong. The game's success also led Pac-Man to his own animated series (1982-1984), the song Pac-Man Fever (1982) by Buckner & Garcia, and over 30 licensed spin-off games.

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, Namco employee Toru Iwatani designed the original game in just over 18 months “and was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeic phrase paku-paku taberu where paku-paku describes (the sound of) the mouth movement when widely opened and then closed in succession.”

Iwatani referred to Pac-Man’s nemesises as monsters, but throughout North America they were quickly dubbed ghosts most likely due to the way they float around the game mazes. As well, original arcade cabinet versions of the game were titled “Puck Man”, but the name was changed to Pac-Man in North American to prevent clever vandals from defacing the game by changing the letter “P” to an “F.”

If one of your greatest regrets about your childhood is that you never finished Pac-Man, don’t be too disheartened. Turns out there was a coding glitch in level 256 of the original game that caused the right side of the maze to be rendered as random text rather than graphics, making it impossible for anyone to finish.

Want the Pattern?

As of yet there’s no pattern for the Pac-Man and Blinky wallet, but a savvy crocheter could probably figure out how to make their own based on the pictures. It was created by Craftster member PROVOKATZE and you can join the discussion about it here.

Credit for the crochet Pac-Man and ghosts goes to Cerya and the pattern is available as a free download on her blog Full of Fluff.

Finally, if you’re not in the mood for crochet, how about helping the little 3/4 of a circle eat some magic pellets and 2 dimensional fruit while trying to avoid those nasty fast moving monsters. Pac-Man can be played here, and at various other places on the web. Let me know what happens when you get to the 256th level.

Everything I know about Pac-Man I learned from Wikipedia, except for how to lose all three of my lives without ever even getting out of level 1, that's just natural talent.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Crochet Along, or just browse!

Even if you’re not much of a joiner, it might be worth your time to check out the projects that have been taking shape over at Crochet Along.

First started in August 2007, the group now boasts more than 60 members who work together on a single theme; sharing patterns, tips and tricks, and just generally supporting each other’s work.

The group started with an Amigurumi-along back in August, then moved on to Christmas, and is now just about to finish off its Granny Squares theme. Before each theme begins site operators compile a list of free pattern links that are posted down the right-hand side bar of the page. How to’s, tutorials and links to other theme-related advice are also posted in the sidebar.

As members complete their projects they make blog-style posts on the site showing off pictures of their work and sharing the stories of what inspired them or struggles they had along the way.

Crochet Along also maintains a long term list of its previous Theme links giving visitors access to dozens of free patterns and crochet advice. Some of the gems I’ve found there; Fuzzy Yarn tips, making amigurumi hair, and How to join granny squares as you go.

Next up the group is embarking on Small Crochet beginning March 1. Crochet Along operator June defines this as anything that’s under 6 inches and suggests amigurumi, coffee mug or iPod cozies, baby booties, flowers and embellishments, small thread or wire items, and small wearables such as headbands or wrist warmers as just a few samples of items that would be acceptable for the theme.

Have a question about joining or just want to browse through the free patterns? Visit Crochet Along for more information.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tiny Striped Turtle - by request

A friend requested the link for this pattern and I spend so much time looking at this little guy online that I figured it was time to actually try making him.

Another step in using up some of the scraps of wool I've accumulated over the last year.

The good news, he's cute and he only took about an hour to make. The bad news, he doesn't stand up by himself. (Look carefully at the photo, the wall is holding him up.) I don't think this is a fault of the pattern. Browsing through the comments people have made about the pattern and looking at the pictures of other turtles people have made using it I have to conclude that the fault lies with me. Everyone else's turtle is standing up! So I'm not exactly sure what went wrong...I'm thinking that either his head was stuffed too much, making him top heavy, or I didn't place the front legs far enough forward to help him balance. Final theory, he's just lazy.

I'm going to try again. After all he's going to need a little female companion. Hopefully the next attempt will go better!

Want the Pattern

The Tiny Striped Turtle was designed by KristieMN and I found it on Crochetville. You can view the pattern for free, but need to register if you want to post a comment.

Good news everybody! It was a big weekend for Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins. The blog received more than 847 hits over the weekend. Just in case anyone's keeping track (besides me) that's more hits over two days than I've received since the blog was started in January.

It seems that I can attribute the majority of this traffic to getting the Futurama's Nibbler pattern listed on Crochet Pattern Central.

To all those new visitors I say welcome! I hope that you come for Nibbler, but stick around to check out some of the other cuteness. If nothing else, you can use some of these creatures when you crochet your Feast of 1,000 Beasts! Don't tell me you haven't considered it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Friend the Stitch Marker

I find it strange that crochet patterns rarely tell you what to do with stitch markers. Sure many articles that outline the supplies you’ll need to begin crocheting insist that stitch markers will be a must-have, but after that you’re pretty much left up to your own devices to figure out when and how to use them.

Flat Objects
Crocheting in rounds I get, but as soon as I have to do rows, I find I always get mixed up on where to put the first and last stitches of my rows. My practice pieces come out either getting larger or smaller with each row, even though they’re supposed to be staying the same size.

As a result, I’ve started using stitch markers to show me where to place my last stitch long before I get there. When I’m making the chain at the start of a row I pop a stitch marker in the last link of the chain so that I know this is the last place I’ll make a stitch when I come to the end of the row later.

Repetitive Patterns

I just finished making this Float Away Scarf and through it all my stitch markers were a lifesaver. The pattern has a series of stitches that you have to repeat about a dozen times across the chain. Each time I made the last stitch of of this repeated section, I put in a stitch marker. That way if I arrived at the end of the row and things were uneven, I could easily see each time I had worked the repeated section and only unravel the piece up to the portion where I’d made a mistake. Much easier than unraveling a random amount and then trying to figure out which stitch I needed to do next to continue the pattern.

Here's a photo of the scarf while it was still in progress, you can see how I've placed the markers at the end of each repeat.

When working in the round to make stuffed animals I find it’s best to have two colours of stitch markers. Use one colour to mark the beginning of each round, and use the other one to mark the stitches where you will need to increase or decrease. I tend to drop stitches and get confused when I’m working on the decreasing rounds of a pattern. I use my secondary colour of stitch markers to stake out the stitches in which a decrease will need to be done before I begin the round. As I make my way around, I slip the stitch marker back into the last stitch of the decrease. When I look back and try to count how many decreases have been done I can see where the last decrease was made. It’s a bit more time consuming than just counting in your head, but if you're someone who easily loses their place it can save you a lot of unraveling.

Unlike knitting stitch markers, crochet stitch markers are open at one end or open-able (some click shut). If you’re not quite ready to spend money on markers, some common household items you can use in the meantime include paper clips, safety pins, small pieces of wire or pipe cleaner, twist ties, and even earrings that have wire backings.

Stitch markers should go under both arms of the V that is the top of your stitch, the same place where you'd place your hook if you were about to make a new stitch.

When purchasing stitch markers be sure to get ones that are small enough for the work you're doing. If you can still see a hole where your marker was after you pull it out, then the markers you're using are too big and they're stetching the stitches out of shape.

Want the Pattern?
The Float Away Scarf is a free pattern available from Knitting Daily and you can find it here.

Behold, the Catopus! Cute Thing of the Week

Let's face it, if I could get away with it, I'd put cat ears on everything. I made this using indigo_roses pattern for Leelu the Octopus. It's the first time I've made anything with coils on it, although I've seen them on plenty of different amigurumi toys. The technique is really quite simple and fun. I switched to a hook that was one size larger when I made the chains for each coil because I found it too difficult to fit the hook through the chain the required number of times using the original size.

Want the Pattern?

Indigo_roses has posted a free copy of the pattern she used for Leelu the Octopus on Craftster.

And if you feel your octopus needs a set of cat ears too, here's what I did:

Ears (make 2)

sc 4 into a magic ring
rnd 1: one sc in each st around (4 sts)
rnd 2: two sc in each st around (8 sts)
rnd 3: *one sc in first st, 2 sc in next st* repeat around (12 sts)
work 2 more rounds of 12 sts, fasten off, pinch flat and stitch to Octopus head.

The only other change I made was that instead of making the coils separately and stitching them on, I stitched them in while I was making the body. After the decreasing row of the pattern that reduces the body to 20 stitches, I did the following:

*1 sc, sc into next stitch then make chain and coil,*repeat four times, then make 4 sc in next 4 stitches, then *1 sc, sc into next sttich then make chain and coil* repeat four times.

After that extra round, I just continued with the pattern as instructed. I don't think the change makes too much difference to the look of the Octopus. I just dislike sewing pieces together so I took this shortcut to avoid it.

Now I'm thinking of making a whole series of Octopus hybrids. Next up? Maybe a Bunnyopus!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Books To Look For

I was browsing around Amazon with a friend yesterday and came across a couple of upcoming Amigurumi books that look promising. Unfortunately I don’t know much more about these than what’s printed on the Amazon listing, but I’ll definitely be checking them out once they’re available.

The first is Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet by Ana Paula Rimoli. The book is 80 pages and is expected to be released by Martingale and Company on February 25, 2008.

Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Robots, Ninjas and More by Christen Haden is the second book. Okay Haden, you had me at zombies, but then you went on to add robots! Awesome. I’m also very excited because I know Haden’s work through her pseudonym, NeedleNoodles which she uses in the online crochet world. I haven’t bought anything there yet, but I’m a frequent browser in her Etsy shop and a big fan of her work. The book has a release date of June 14, 2008 from Quirk Books, is 96 pages and promises over 25 patterns “for zombies, ninjas, Vikings, vampires, aliens, robots, and even Death himself.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Little Love Bug

My boyfriend, who is both wise and witty, suggested that I put this little love bug up on the blog. It was a part of his Valentine's Day gift and came with a small card pinned to his front legs. As anyone who visits Crafster's crochet forum can probably guess, the bug was inspired by the Love Mites that pickled_peppers has been posting. I didn't have the pattern so mine came out a little differently, but it's the same concept. All sewed as one piece, with the legs worked in as I went. What a treat that was, since I dread trying to get limbs in the right places after I'm finished a project. It's probably hard to judge scale from the picture, but he's the smallest amigurumi I've made thus far; only about 1.5 inches tall and wide.

I'm not going to post my pattern for this, since he's a one-of-a-kind for the boyfriend. However, pickled_peppers does sell her Love Mite pattern through her Etsty shop Nuts About Crochet. Have a look, there's lots of cute stuff there!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mr. Funky's Crochet Elephant

Right now the only book in my crochet library besides The Happy Hooker is Mr. Funky’s Super Crochet Wonderful by Narumi Ogawa. That’s where this cute little elephant I've made is from.

I bought Mr. Funky's as a bit of an impulse. (Okay, well not really an impulse, I was trying to make an Amazon order that was big enough to qualify for free shipping.) I hadn’t looked through it prior to purchasing it, and aside from the three amigurumi pictured on the cover I wasn’t sure what to expect. (And why is that simple little hamster on the cover when they could have used the much cuter elephant?)

The book is a bit confusing in that it’s clearly not intended for beginners. At no point does it actually tell you how to do the stitches in the amigurumi patterns. It assumes you already know those. However, most of the creatures are so simple that anyone with amigurumi experience really doesn’t need the pattern to make these things (again, the hamster? Seriously?)

Despite the simplicity, I decided to be good and actually follow the instructions. Now keep in mind I’ve only made this elephant, so I can’t speak for the quality of the other patterns. I did notice one problem with the instructions for the elephant’s arms and legs which was that in round 2 and 4 it tells you to switch to main colour. It’s clear from the picture that his arms and legs are not striped, so this is obviously a misprint, but it leaves one confused as to which round is the right place to switch colours.

I found that while the pattern was easy to follow, it often chose a difficult way of doing things when a simpler method would suffice. For example, you cast off his head with 34 stitches and then have to sew it to a body piece that ends in 29 stitches. Why not have both pieces end in the same number so that the stitches will be lined up evenly when you’re sewing them together? Also, lets take a look at this line for decreasing:

RND 16: Sc in each of next 5 sts, dec, *sc in each of next 11 sts, dec, rep from *twice, sc in each of last 6 sts -- 48 sc total

Sure, that works, but why split things up with the 5 at the beginning and the 6 at the end? It’s still a dec. after ever 11 stitches so why not:

RND 16: *Sc in each of next 11 sts, dec* repeat around -- 48 total.

Little things like that bugged me, as they really didn’t serve any purpose except to make it harder to keep track of the round.

On the plus side, there are over thirty patterns in this book for everything from amigurumi to scarves and hats and even wire jewelry. It’s a really good selection with only a few of the patterns being duds (still looking at you Mr. Hamster!)

I think a lot of these would make great gift items, the kind of stuff you can stitch up in a couple of hours for a last minute gift. I also think there’s a lot of mixing and matching you could do with the patterns in here. For example, the little dress worn by the bunny on the cover could be modified to fit almost any of the other animals, or the elephant body could be converted into a cat using the ears and tail from the Pretty Little Kitty pattern.

Let me know what you think. If anyone else has made projects from this book or has purchased another amigurumi book that they like I’d love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MYpicot - My New Favourite

I came across a couple of weeks ago and just thought I'd share a few of the treasures I've found there. The site features a mix of for sale and free patterns in a variety of categories from multi-colour (Like the ripple sample to the left.) to quilt motifs and even 3-D objects such as flowers, butterflies, and the Christmas tree featured below.

Most of these patterns are written out as charts and use British English terminology when they do have written instructions. Personally I've never worked from just a chart before, so the first time I try one of these it's going to be a bit of a challenge.

Luckily, the site offers some assistance in its Diagrams section where you can find a chart that explains which American stitches are equivalent to the British ones. There's also a handy "How to follow a diagram" link in this section.

Another feature I really like is these samples of the quilt motifs and how they demonstrate what the overall pattern will look like once you've sewn a few pieces together.

If you have a few moments take some time to browse around MYpicot. Whether you're looking for the perfect gift idea for someone else or just a way to use up some of that leftover wool that's been building up, I'm sure you'll see something that catches your eye.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sometimes You Just Need A Little Heart

Two weeks ago I was looking for a little crochet heart pattern I could use in a Valentine's Day project I had in mind. At the time I couldn't find anything that suited me. Then on Friday I came across this little heart keychain (top left). It's perfect, but too late for me to use this year.

None the less, I thought I'd share some of the quick and easy heart designs that caught my eye during my searches. All three are available as free patterns, although you have to go through a registration process with Bernat to gain access to their stuff.

Want the Patterns?
top left:Heart shaped charm
middle left: Chain of Hearts garland
bottom left: Bernat stuffed heart

And of course if these designs don't quench your heart's desire, Crochet Pattern Central has a whole page devoted to free heart patterns with everything from granny squares to fridgies.

Have fun and Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Captain Cute The Pirate Teddy! Cute Thing of the Week

Who doesn't like pirates? I like the bear, but my mind is also turning with ideas on how I could use his cute little outfit on other amigurumi figures...Pirate Kitty? Pirate Cthulhu? The possibilities are endless.

Want the pattern?

Credit for this one goes to Gabi Neumann who has posted a pattern for him here.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Round Ripple Collection

Call it what you will, the Round Ripple afghan or the 12-Point Star afghan, this is one of my favourite blankets to make. I dread anything that requires sewing a bunch of tiny squares together, so this blanket that is worked in a round and all as one piece is a lot of fun to make. Working steadily on it, (1-2 hours a day) I can usually put one of these together in about 3-4 weeks. It's also great for beginners because the only stitches you use are the chain, double crochet and slip stitch. Nothing fancy! The purple afghan to the left here was made using about 5-6 balls of Bernat Masala in Violet Veil. (Each blanket takes about 18 - 20 oz. of wool using an I or J hook.)

My first attempt was the rainbow piece using various shades of Bernat Satin. This is the first time I've actually tried to blend colours in crochet. Sadly, it's not quite as effective as blending colours in cross stitching. I was hoping it would look something like the Peaceful Pastels afghan that Mary Maxim sells, only more vibrant. It's definately more vibrant, but doesn't have as smooth a transition from colour to colour.

Below is the camouflage afghan I made for my boyfriend, who is both wise and witty. He wanted a blanket in the house that didn't look quite as girly as the others. This one was made using a shade of Bernat Camouflage which I believe was called "Outback" though I could be wrong about that.

Want the Pattern?
A friend and I spent several hours one night exercising our Google muscles trying to find a free copy of this pattern. Mary Maxim sells it in several different kits along with the wools to make specific versions of the blanket such as the Peaceful Pastels Afghan or the Marbled Spiral Throw.

I like to use the free version of the pattern that I found called Baby's Round Ripple Afghan.

There are also several versions of the blanket available from Angel Crafts. You have to register on the site to gain access to some of the patterns, but others can be viewed without registering including this very cool Spiderman blanket.

I didn't make this Spiderman one, that's just the picture that's posted with the pattern.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cthulhu Pattern

These Cthulhus were the first thing I ever made from a pattern that I designed myself, which is why they have the honour of having the blog named after them. Truth be told I didn't so much make the pattern as made them up as I went along, but now I've got the pattern written out and ready to share. As always, contact me if you have any questions or if anything isn't clear.

Happy Crocheting!

Cthulhu Pattern

9 mm safety eyes (2)
1 skein green worsted weight wool
size F (3.75mm) crochet hook
yarn needle
fiber fill, or your preferred amigurumi stuffing

Special Stitches
Picot stitch: sc, ch 5 then double back inserting hook in middle of the top of the sc and through the middle of the legs of that sc as well, make a sl st to hold in place.

I'm using the picot stitch method that's described in The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. I understand there are other ways to make this stitch, and probably any of them would be fine for this pattern, the important part is to ch 5, and to only work in the front loop when indicated.

Head and Body

Rnd 1: 6 sc in magic ring (6sc)
Rnd 2: 2sc in each st around. (12sc)
Rnd 3: *sc, 2sc in next st* around. (18sc)
Rnd 4: *sc in next 2 sts, 2sc in 3rd* around. (24sc)
Rnd 5: *sc in next 3 sts, 2sc in 4th* around. (30sc)
Rnd 6: *sc in next 4 sts, 2sc in 5th* around. (36sc)
Rnd 7: *sc in next 5 sts, 2sc in 6th* around. (42sc)
Rnd 8: *sc in next 6 sts, 2sc in 7th* around. (48sc)
for next 5 Rnds sc in each st around. (48 sc)
Rnd 14: sc in first 18 sts, *in front loop only picot stitch, sc* repeat six times, going through both loops of the stitch again sc to end of round.
Rnd 15: sc around, stitching in back loops behind the picot section from the previous row when necessary.
Rnd 16: *sc in first 6 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (42 stitches)
Rnd 17: *sc in first 5 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (36 stitches)
fix safety eyes in position (see photos)
Rnd 18: *sc in first 4 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (30 stitches)
Rnd 19: *sc in first 3 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (24 stitches)
Rnd 20: *sc in first 2 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (18 stitches)
for next 2 Rnds sc in each st around. (18 stitches)
Repeat Rnds 4 to 8 of pattern.
stuff head firmly
For next 6 Rnds, sc in each st around (48 stitches)
Rnd 34: *sc in first 6 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (42 stitches)
Rnd 35: *sc in first 5 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (36 stitches)
Rnd 36: *sc in first 4 st, dec in next st,* repeat around (30 stitches)
Rnd 37: *in front loop only picot stitch, sc* repeat around
sl st into next st (back loop from previous round), finish off

Rnd 1: 6 sc in magic ring (6sc)
Rnd 2: 2sc in each st around. (12sc)
Rnd 3: *sc, 2sc in next st* around. (18sc)
Rnd 4: *sc in next 2 sts, 2sc in 3rd* around. (24sc)
Rnd 5: *sc in next 3 sts, 2sc in 4th* around. (30sc)
sl stitch into next st, finish off.

Arms (make 2)
Rnd 1: 6 sc in magic ring (6sc)
Rnd 2: 2sc in each st around. (12sc)
Rnd 3: *sc, 2sc in next st* around. (18sc)
For next 3 rnds, sc in each st around (18 sc)
sl st into next st, finish off.

Wings (make 2)
The wings come from this pattern for a flying pig, but I've altered them slightly to this (changes only in the last step):

Ch 4. Turn and do 1 sc in each of next 3 ch sps. Ch 1, turn. 3 sc, ch 3. turn. 3 sc on chain, 3 hdc on the three sc. Ch1, turn. 3 sc, ch 4., 3 sc in chain, 3 hdc. Ch1, turn. 4 sc, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, 3 sc in ch, 3 hdc, Ch 1, 4 sc, Ch 6, sl st in 2nd Ch from hook, sc 4, hdc 3, ch 3 *Work appox. 8 dc down the edge of wing opposite the feather ends. Sl St into first Ch, or near first Ch. Fasten off.

I got really confused by the wording "opposite the feather end" but what it means is the top of the wing. If you hold the wing so that the spikey bits face downward, then it's along the wobbly top line that you want to put that last row of dc's.

For the Boy Cthulhu I didn't do the last row of dc's so his wings are narrower, but they also keep trying to curl in on themselves. It's that last row along the top that makes everything lay flat.


Stuff body firmly, sew base piece to bottom of cthulhu, whip stitching through the back loops that have been left in the last row of the body. When you have only about one inch left to whipstitch add more stuffing if necessary. Attach arms to body. Attach wings on back.

For Girl Cthulhu, add whatever accessories you like to make her look girly. This could be a crocheted flower, a bow on her head, scarf, purse, necklace, etc. Be creative!