Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Perler Bead Coaster Tutorial

I’m in the midst of making a new set of Perler Bead Coasters right now, but my progress has been stopped by the fact that we’ve run out of black Perler beads. So while I wait for my new bag of 6,000 black beads to arrive in the mail I thought I’d try to write out a tutorial for making video game based coasters.

I know I’m not the first person to come up with this idea as Etsy will attest, but I’ve seen very few websites that actually explain how you get from a picture of your favourite video game character to a finished coaster. You can certainly use the tutorial that Sprite Stitch has provided for making video game sprites into cross stitch patterns, but honestly that’s a bit more complicated than what you need to go through for Perler Bead Coasters. Perler Beads have a much smaller colour range than DMC embroidery floss does so you don’t need to worry (or have the luxury of worrying) about colour matching as much. For the coasters you should be able to use programs or applications that came with your computer and the process if fairly simple.

A quick word about Perler Beads

Perler Beads are fuseable beads that you stick on a peg board and then melt together with a household iron to make them stick together to form a picture. Once they’ve been fused together and made into a coaster it’s perfectly safe to set hot mugs of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc on them, however, I would not recommend setting hot casserole dishes from the oven or pans that have been on a hot stove element on top of them. This would probably result in a melty pile of plastic goo. As well, when the coasters get dirty just wipe them down with a damp cloth and a bit of dishwashing soap (if necessary.)


To make a set of coasters you will need:

a household iron
sheets of cork (can usually be bought by the yard at a home supply store)
strong glue (we favour Gorilla Glue)
Perler Beads
Large Perler Bead peg boards (at least 2 maybe more)

When I first started working with Perler Beads I bought the large jar that contains 11,000 beads in a mix of colours. It’s a bit of a pain to sort through it looking for the colours you need, but otherwise this has been a great investment. There are enough of each colour in the jar to make at least two coasters with each colour. That is, two coasters that use a lot of red, two coasters that use a lot of green, etc.

After buying this giant supply I now just go online and replace individual colours as I need them. I like to buy from KoolStuff4Kids, but you can also make purchases directly from the official Perler Beads website.

The large square peg boards are 29 X 29 pegs, and they interlock with each other. If you’re picture is larger than this you can hook two (or more!) together to make your design. For me it’s been hard to find the large peg boards in stores locally, and I usuallly have to buy them online. I like to have a lot of them around so that you can set up 2-3 coasters and iron them all at once, rather than one at a time.

Finding a Suitable Picture

Do you already know who you want to make a coaster of? Has someone else already done it? If you’re making a Super Mario coaster or Pac Man someone else has already done the work for you. Check places like Etsy, Craftster, or Google Images to see if you can find a finished coaster with the character you want.. If you find one you can just copy the bead placement from their finished product. Save a picture of their finished product to your computer and look at it whenever you need to.

Want to create a coaster of a character no one else has used yet. To start with you need to find the sprite for that character or a good screencap of him. Some people have favourite sprite sites that they always turn to, but I like to just put my faith in Google. For this new set of coasters I’m making the characters come from a game called Adventure Island II and III. So I started with Google Images and searched for “Adventure Island II screencap” and when I found some pictures I liked I copied them to my hard drive. I also did the same search on regular Google and checked a few of the top websites that came up. Then I also searched for “Adventure Island sprite” and again copied results I liked onto my hard drive.

Always search using keywords like “sprite” and “screencap” and do a Google web search and a Google Images search. You will often get different results. Add the name of the game the characters come from to this search using “” around the title if it’s more than one word. As well, try searching by the name of the character you’re looking for and adding the workd “sprite” or “screencap”

If you get stuck and can’t find what you’re looking for it might be a good idea to hit Wikipedia and refresh your memory about the game you’re looking for. When I was trying to find the pictures for these coasters I couldn’t find any pictures of the green triceratops from the game. I had only been searching for Adventure Island II stuff, and it turned out that the green triceratops was only a character in Adventure Island III. Knowing this earlier would have saved me a lot of time!

Telling a Good Picture from a Bad

If you’re lucky enough to get sprites of your characters these almost always translate perfectly into a Perler Bead pattern. If you only have screencaps, it can be a bit more problematic.

Open one of the pictures you’ve saved to your hard drive in any program that will allow you to view it and zoom in on it. Now Zoom in a lot, until you can see the pixels.

See the difference here? You want to use pictures that look like the Blue Dino when they’re enlarged.

Pattern Making Options

So, now you’ve got pictures of the characters you want to use. Zoom in on them until you can see the pixels at a level you’re comfortable with. It may be even bigger than what I’ve done here. When you start placing Perler Beads on your peg board each bead will represent one pixel. You can count how many pixels your character is in height and width to determine how many peg boards you will need.

There are lots of options for how you can use your pictures as your pattern. If you’re comfortable making your coasters in front of the computer than you can just open your character picture and zoom in on it until it’s the right size every time you want to place pegs on the board.

Alternatively use your computer’s screen capturing tool to take a picture of the character while it’s enlarged. Then you can just open this enlarged copy when you want to work on your coaster, or make a print out of it if you want to work on it away from the computer. Don’t have a colour printer, or don’t want to waste ink? Take a piece of graph paper and fill in squares to represent where all the black beads will go. This way you’ll just have to refer to the picture on screen when it comes time to fill in the coloured areas.

Bead Placement

Not much to say here. If your design is small enough try to start it about two or three rows away from the edges of the peg board, (which I failed to do for this one). You’ll find this makes it a little more sturdy while you’re ironing it.


Follow the instructions that come with the Perler Beads. My boyfriend does the ironing part usually and his advice is melt the first side you iron really good to hold the beads in place and then melt the second side to a lesser degree so the beads still hold their shape. The really melted side will be covered up with cork when you’re making coasters so no one will see it. Also if you’re making a character with a lot of pointy edges like this red dino, while doing the first side, pick the iron up and set it down on the piece (for a couple of seconds) a few times, especially near the edges.

Iron a side once, let the piece cool a bit, peel back the ironing paper carefully to inspect your work. If some parts don’t seem to be fused together yet, cover the piece with ironing paper again and apply more heat where needed.

If you’re using more than one peg board then the board might try to bend a bit along the join line while you’re ironing. Be aware of this and carefully check this area to make sure the beads there are fusing together.

After you’re done ironing your character may not lay perfectly flat. If he’s curving a bit, don’t worry, adding the cork will probably fix this problem.

This photo shows the first side we ironed. Compare it with the photo at the top of the finished product. You can see the difference between the really melty side that holds the piece together, and the less melty good side in which the beads maintain more of their original shape.

Adding Cork Backings

Cut the cork so it is about 1/2 a Perler bead smaller than the character on all sides. Apply a thin layer of glue to one side of the cork board and stick it to the side of your Perler bead character that is the most melty. Place a stack of books or other heavy, flat objects on the coaster and allow it to dry for 12-24 hours. The pressure will help the coaster to stay flat.


If anyone has any questions or useful tips they’d like to share, please leave a comment.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Goodbye Yellow Brick Blankie!

I made this baby blanket a few months ago using the free Double Diamond Crochet Baby Blanket pattern courtesy of Bernat.com and it finally went to its new home this Sunday, given to some friends who just had their secnod child. A few minor changes from what the pattern suggested. I used Bernet Baby Coordinates in Lovely Lilac, Soft Mauve, and Lemon Custard. When I was making it I wasn't sure exactly who the recipient was going to be or what the gender of the baby would be so I wanted to get away from the traditonal "pink for girls" and "blue for boys" idea of the pattern. Besides I don't really care for that tradition much anyway and prefer to give bright soft blankets that are multi-colored and not gender oriented.

As to the pattern, it's easy to stitch if you don't mind sewing a bunch of separate motifs together and doesn't take too long to work up. I can't remember exactly how long I spent on this, but it was something like two or three weeks. I should note the pattern seems to be really overestimating the amount of wool you'll need. I made the whole thing with only one skein of each colour and still had a lot of left over wool. Which means an additional present for the new baby boy, this elephant. I've shown him before on the blog, when I reviewed Narumi Ogawa's Mr. Funky: Super Cute Crochet so you may recognize him.

And just in case you're wondering, I don't recommend trying to make amigurumi with Baby Coordinates, it's just not the right wool for such tiny stitches. It snags and is very frustrating to work with for amigurumi, but much more likeable when used with a larger hook for an afghan.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Attention Joss Whedon!

A couple weeks ago while being interviewed on the Wired blog Joss Whedon had the following exchange:

Wired.com: To what do you attribute the far-flung coverage and buzz about Dr. Horrible, considering there's been little to no press for the series?

Whedon: Fact is, there's been some buzz, but it hasn't reached the places it would normally. Where's our write-up in Crocheting Monthly? (I did a very sexy shoot for that one.)

Joss was joking and meant his comments in good fun. As a result Crochet Me has been inspired to unite crafty Whedon fans to show Joss just how much love he has in the crochet world and in the craftyverse in general. They're also hoping to snag an interview with the man himself so he can see how devoted and fun (and not scary!) we crocheters can be. You can read their detailed plan here and also learn what you can do to help. Among their suggstions: blog about the situation to help spread the word (done!), tell people you know who know people who know Joss, (working on it!) and show off your own crochet and other crafty projects that have been inspired by Joss's work (done!)

Currently I don't have to much Whedon related crafting to show off. I knitted a Jayne hat once, but I don't have any pictures of it. Pictured here is my Browncoat Snowman that was one of my first amigurumi projects. The idea was that he'd be something geeky I could put out at Christmas with all the more traditional holiday decorations, but truth be told, he's so cute he actually sits out all year round. Way back when I posted him on Craftster some people were actually a bit confused. Was there an episode of Firefly that they had missed in which the crew builds a snowman? Sadly, no. There's no secret missing episode that only I have access too. A girl can dream...

Anyways, I love the work of Joss Whedon and I think this a great little project that Crochet Me has going on. Joss may have made the comment jokingly, but I think he actually does get a lot of publicity (and admiration) from crocheters. I'm certainly not above using this blog to promote Joss's favourite charity or his latest amazingly, brilliant creation, Dr.Horrible. Seriously, this thing is great, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out. It's well worth the couple of dollars you'll have to spend on iTunes, I promise.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wannabee Bears: Butterflies! Cute Thing of the Week!

I made this cross stitch a few years back and it's actually framed and hung just a few feet away from my computer, yet I've never taken a picture of it until today. Click on the image to see it larger and in more detail. This comes from the book called Wannabee Bears: Butterflies by Dale Burdett. It's part of a whole series in which bears dress up as insects such as lady bugs and bees. Some of the phrases in the book are a little cheesy, but I really like the detail and vibrant colours that went into the wings in the butterfly book. There's also a great selection of buttefly bear designs here so that you can make a variety of gift items ranging in size from bookmarks and coasters to decorative pillows. I saw a couple of the other books in the series when I was at Michael's the other day and it reminded of my butterflies, hence this week's Cute Thing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Geek Central Station Interview!

Anyone who is a regular reader here knows that I'm a big fan of the adorable amigurumi dudes that Geek Central Station keeps turning out. For those that are interested and haven't heard about it on her own blog, there's a wonderful interview with Sammi, of GCS, available on Etsy right now. In it Sammi talks about quitting her day job to take on crafting full time. There are some great pics of her workspace and the people behind Geek Central Station, as well as some savy advice for anyone else who is thinking of embarking on this path. The article, Quit Your Day Job: GeekCentralStation, is part of an ongoing series Etsy does featuring store owners who have given up the traditional 9-5 job and turned to full time crafting.

Even though it's not something I plan to do anytime in the near future, I still found the article a good read and I'm sure some of you will too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More Christmas In July!

I'm still thinking ahead and planning/making gifts for the coming Christmas. Today I thought I'd show another gift from Christmas past as well as one I may consider in the future.

Above is something I made myself. This Snowflake Afghan is a free pattern courtesy of Crochet Pattern Central that I came across and crocheted for my boyfriend's mom last winter. Pictures do not do this one justice, it is absolutely beautiful in real life and I highly recommend it if there's someone in your family you think it would appeal to. You have to crochet each hexagon motif separately and then sew them all together which can be a bit time consuming, but it's well worth it in the end.

I made this one using Bernat Satin in Admiral and Snow. I also reduced the pattern from 59 hexagons to 46. I think if I'd made it with as many as the pattern suggested it would have been big enough to cover a queen size bed and I was aiming for more of a lapghan size blanket.

Next up in my Christmas craft recommendations are these crochet trimmed tree ornaments made from old Christmas cards. These popped up on Craftster a few days ago and were created by panda who was good enough to include a tutorial demonstrating how she'd made them. Not only do they look beautiful, I think this is a great way to preserve cards that may have sentimental value or that you find are just too pretty to throw away. I haven't had a chance to try these yet. They look pretty simple though so I may have to pull out my stash of saved cards some night and give this a try.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tropical Monkeys! Cute Thing of the Week!

I really like monkeys, heck I even like the way the word monkey sounds when you say it, so I couldn't resist these wonderful Tropical monkeys that Puchitomato made, even though they are several years old now. Such vibrant colours! They have a great summer feel to them.

So far puchitomato doesn't have an Etsy shop and hasn't printed any of her patterns anywhere, but her creations are still wonderful to look at. Check out the link above for more monkeys, or go to her Livejournal to see some of her other amigurumi and crafts. Be warned though, you may overdose on cuteness!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Vegetable is Safe...from Bunnicula!

He isn’t actually Bunnicula (who happens to be a black and white rabbit), but he is a vampire bunny, so those vegetables better be careful. Anyone else remember the Bunnicula books by James Howe? I used to love them when I was a kid. I picked up a couple at the library the other day and was pleased to discover they are quite clever and well written. Often when I try to reread a book from my childhood the writing falls flat, but not in this case. So if you need some light, goofy summer reading, or you have children between the ages of 8-12, I highly recommend the Bunnicula books.

Anyways, I seem to be going through a scary bunny phase right now. I just rewatched Donnie Darko last week and saw a very cool zombie bunny created by Craftster DeadGirl and those two things got me thinking about creating a vampire bunny.

This little guy was made using the basic head and body shape from Christen Haden’s Creep Cute Crochet. Since, that’s copyrighted I’m not going to post the instructions, but I will share what I did for the ears and cape. You can either use the head and body from the book or develop your own head and body shapes.

Consider these general instructions for crochet bunny ears and a cape. You can easily adjust their size by changing the number of chains in your base chain or working for more rows/rounds than I’ve suggested.

Bunny Ears

ch= chain
hdc = half double crochet
dc = doube crochet

using size E (3.5mm) hook

ch 10, hdc in third chain from hook. Hdc one in each chain space up to last ch space. 3 hdc in last chain space. Now crochet on the bottom side of the chain, putting one hdc in the base of each chain space, and two hdc in the last ch space. Sl st into first stitch and fasten off.


Using size F (3.75mm) hook

ch 18, dc in fourth chain from hook, then dc in each chain space across. Turn.
Row 1: ch 3, and in back loop only 2 dc in first stitch, one dc in each st to last st, 2 dc in last st. Turn.
Row 2: (crocheting normally again through both loops) ch 3, 2 dc in first st, dc in each st across to last st. 2 dc in last st. Turn.
Repeat Row 2 until cape reaches desired length, then fasten off.

This is the Zombie Bunny that was created by Craftster user DeadGirl.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wind Chime Scarf

I don't wear scarves myself and I don't have too many friends or loved ones who wear them that I can gift them away to either, but I'm still in awe of this creation. This was crocheted by Craftster user RubyTuesday and as someone suggested on the forum over there, it's not just a scarf, it's art. What a beautiful and unusual design.

Want the Pattern?

I'm so pleased I was actually able to track this one down. It comes from the book Vogue Knitting on the Go: Crocheted Scarves by Trisha Malcolm. Curious what else is in the book? I know I always like to browse through pattern books before I buy them, which can make online shoppping pretty frustrating. Thankfully in this case flickr user ladyloop has uploaded pictures of all the scarves in the book, so you can see what you're getting before you buy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Mario Cross Stitch

How is everyone doing? Are you enjoying these occassional segues into the world of cross stitch? We'll be getting back to crochet tomorrow, but I just can't pass up a Super Mario related project. This piece was stitched by Craftster user RachelKristen as a gift for a friend and I think it's adorable. It's nice and simple and has an optimistic message without coming off corny. Definately something I'd be willing to hang up in my living room. You can view her original post and pass along your compliments here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Harry Potter! Cute Thing of the Week

Summer always makes me think of Harry Potter (the books, not the movies). By the time I got turned on to the Harry Potter craze the first four books had already come out and I remember I spent several weeks of that summer tearing through them. Then realizing that like everyone else I had a long painful wait until the next summer when the fifth book would be released. A few days ago I was wandering through a bookstore and I actually had the thought, I wonder when the new Harry Potter book is being released?. Darn J.K. Rowling, she's created a Pavlovian response in me so that when the hot days of summer kick in my brain wants to make its annual trip to Hogwarts.

Last year when the final book was being released my friends and I made a big event out of it. We went and saw an evening show of Order of the Pheonix and then had only an hour to kill before we could line up at the local bookstore to get our copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Holllows when it was released at the stroke of midnight. It was the first time we'd actually gone to one of the midgnight release parties and it was a lot of fun. In the end the line up proved too long and we were impatient. We snuck out and bought the book at the Zellers department store across that street that had quietly opened for the release and had drawn a much smaller, but equally eager crowd.

Turning back to crochet, there's plenty of Harry Potter related crochet and knitting out there and I've seen lots of dolls and amigurumi of the characters. (Some of them are kinda scary looking!) I reallly like this Harry though, he's cute and looks like he'd be fun to make.

Want the Pattern?

This 12-inch Harry Potter doll was created by Janie and it's a free pattern available here.

And in case you're wondering, my favorite Harry Potter book has always been The Prisoner of Azkaban, with The Half-Blood Prince running a close second.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Merry, Moe and Flurry Cross Stitch

Lately when I have some free time for crafty stuff I've been getting a head start on Christmas presents for the coming winter. It's been fun, but the downside is I can't show off what I've been making on the blog because many of the friends and family who will be receiving the homemade items are regular readers of Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins. I'd hate to ruin the surprise for them.

So instead, I thought I'd show off an item from Christmas past today. This is Merry, Moe and Flurry designed by Pam Kellogg, a cross stitch pattern that incorporates both beads and blending filaments. Back when I got this pattern it was available as a free pamphlet and the ad for it appeared in a variety of cross stitch magazines. Just cut out the ad and send in a SASE and Kreinik sent you the pamphlet. A great deal.

Now the pattern is only available directly from Kreinik (click the link given above) and is sold for $17.49 along with the six 11-meter spools of braid filament that you need for the pattern. You still have to buy the fabric, embroidery floss and beads separately, but I'd say this is still a pretty good deal. Blending filament is often quite expensive in local craft stores, and at least in my area, it's often hard to find places that carry all the colours you need.

I can't remember how many of these I made. I think it was somewhere between six and nine and I still had plenty of braid left on the spools afterward to make more. These little guys look absolutely beautiful in person (click the photo for a larger view) and they're quick to stitch up. Plus, they're versatile. You can make them into tree ornaments like I have, bookmarks, coasters, or even stitch all three of them in a row horizontally or vertically and frame them as a Christmas wall hanging. If you've never worked with blending filaments or beads before I highly recommend this pattern as a starting point. The snowflakes are small and will give you a good chance to practice these new techniques without taking up too much money or time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dr. Zoidberg I presume.

Original credit for this idea goes to Craftster user ThatNanda. It's an adaptation of the cthulhu pattern from Christen Haden's Creepy Cute Crochet which turns the cthulhu into a tiny Dr. Zoidberg, (of Futurama fame.) I made this one as part of the boyfriend's birthday gift. It's simple, mostly just colour changes from the original pattern and I extended the tentacles an extra row to make them longer. The blue V-space under his chin is a triangle of felt that I glued on and I made a long white chain and tacked in place (with the trusty glue gun!) to make it look like the edge of his lab coat. I also worked a white chain all the way around his waist to make the colour change between his pants and shirt look a little cleaner.

The lighting is a little dark in this picture, but I thought I'd throw it in as a size reference. Let's just pretend there's a lost episode of Futurama where all the major characters get shrunk down and become Nibbler's playthings. In my head I'm already making plans for a tiny Bender to sit on Nibbler's other knee.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A New Cousin - Bedtime Cthulhu!

A new cousin in the Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins family. This Bedtime Cthulhu was made by Craftster member Alecto using my Tiny Cthulhu pattern. This is Alecto's first amigurumi, which she made for her boyfriend. Very cute. I like his little nightcap and the fact that he has his own little stuffed animal. You can view more pictures of him and send your compliments to Alecto in this Craftster post.

I love seeing pictures of the things people make with my patterns. If anyone wants to share, post a comment on the appropriate pattern with a link to pictures of your creation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Boyfriend!

Today is my boyfriend's 30th birthday and as I'm always telling my readers he is both wise and witty. Aside from that he is my biggest supporter, my best friend, and the person that makes me smile every day. He is also an avid reader of my blog even though he doesn't crochet. So in honour of his special day, he is my target audience for this blog entry. I've rounded up a few crafty things I think he'll like, and hopefully the rest of you will find them entertaining too.

Up first is this Crochet Dinosaur Skull that was created by knittingkneedles and available for brief time in his Etsy shop. As explained on Make:, "This piece was made using 100 percent acrylic yarn, but was also covered with some acrylic paint and plaster to give a bone-like texture. The skull was then sprayed with some matte medium to ensure that the plaster would not crumble too much."

Next, an only slightly more cuddly dinosaur. This Archaeopteryx was created by flickr user 203gow.

A second piece by 203gow, a Carnivorous Plant.

Zombies are always great and I really like how surprised this Zombigurumi looks. Like he still can't quite believe he got bit. Created by Joined at the Stitch.

And finally, from the WTF category, this Dog in a Robot Costume made by Neta Amir. Neta used pieces of an old computer and buttons to put together this cyber pup.

From robot dogs to one of our favourite robots. One of my original plans was to crochet the boyfriend a small Tom Servo as a birthday present. Unfortunately, I could not find the clear plastic ball I needed for the gumball head so that plan is on hold until Michael's gets more of them in stock. Until then you can check out the awesome Tom Servo (and Gypsy!) that mst3kguy has made and his detailed description of the building process. It's not crochet, but it's a pretty awesome craft.

*Virtual birthday cupcakes courtesy of Bitter Sweet's free Bake Me a Cake pattern.