Sunday, October 24, 2010

Australia Bound

Each year I try to send a couple of handmade toys to help out the Softies for Mirabel campaign in Australia. Toys donated to the cause are given out at Christmas time to children whose families have been affected by substance abuse. In the past the organizers have told me that it is often more difficult to find suitable toys for the boys.

Hopefully these Cuddly Cthulhus will appeal to a couple of the boys. After all, who doesn't like a good set of tentacles? The elephant in the middle comes from Tammie Snow's Tiny Yarn Animals. I made it a while back when I was testing out some of the patterns so I could review the book.

Click the link to learn more about the Softies for Mirabel 2010 campaign. Scroll down that page and you'll also see the mailing address where you can send your own donations if you're interested. Having donated for three years running, I'm always surprised to find it actually costs less for me to mail a package of these amigurumis to Australia than it does for me to mail the same size package to another part of Canada. So far the shipping has always cost me less than $10 Cdn., which I think is pretty reasonable.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Corrections to Cuddly Cthulhu Pattern

I wanted to let everyone know that I've corrected some problems with the head portion of the Cuddly Cthulhu pattern.

I was remaking the Cuddly Cthulhu a few days ago and realized that the head instructions were less than accurate. Some lines were missing causing the head to come out much stubbier than I had intended. Following the directions in the pattern will now result in a cthulhu head that looks much more like the one in the sample picture I've posted here.

The head directions have now been changed from Rnd 8 onwards to the end of the head.

Sorry for any inconvenience this edit causes. If you prefer the cthulhu with a stubbier head, work the head directions, omitting rounds 8,9,10,11, and 18. And as always, feel free to post a comment or send me an email if you have any question.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Family of Birds Cross Stitch Completed!

And this is why I haven't been blogging much about my own projects lately. For the past three months I've been finishing this cross stitch. It is Octavio Ocampo's Family of Birds, and as you can see from its wrinkled state, it is very recently finished. I've just started working on its companion piece, Mouth of the Flower, so I'm going to hold off on stretching and framing until I have both pieces done. Hopefully the next one will go a bit quicker. The tree in this piece took forever, and I think I'll be quite happy if I don't have to cross stitch anything brown for a very, very long time!

I saw both of Ocampo's pieces stitched up in a local cross stitch store a few years back, and every since I first saw them they've reminded me of Francine and Katchoo from Terry Moore's wonderful Strangers in Paradise series. That's the first comic book I ever got really into and started collecting, and it's still one of my favourites to sit down and reread from beginning to end. I actually thought there was an issue where Moore had drawn the women in an optical illusion way similar to Ocampo's picture, but I haven't been able to find it. I think my brain is just misremembering this line drawing of Katchoo from the I Dream of You graphic novel cover and mixing it with Ocampo's work. Nevertheless The Family of Birds looks like Francine to me and the Mouth of the Flower reminds me of Katchoo.

Aside from the lengthy time I spent on the nuances of brown in the tree trunk this was a really fun picture to stitch. There are 29 colours in this one and lots of blending. Though, interestingly no blends in the Mouth of the Flower companion piece. It's also all full cross stitches, so no messing round with 3/4 and 1/4 stitches. And there's a very minimal amount of backstitching, which always makes me happy! I stitched the piece on a 32 count cream belfast linen rather than the lavender colour recommended in the pattern because I thought it helped with the illusion of the picture either being a tree and birds or a face. Where as, with the lavender, I felt like you more dominantly saw the face.

A word of caution to anyone who does want to try this picture. Have the fabric cut about 5-6 inches wider and longer than the pattern is recommending. I followed the patterns recommendation and I just don't feel like it left me with much room around the edges for framing. I usually like to have a blank edge on all sides of about 3-4 inches, and after the piece was done I was left with edges that only had about 1.5 - 2 inches of space. Hopefully my framing store will be able to work their usual magic anyway, but I would have liked to have left them with more to work with.

Sadly my local cross stitch store went out of business last spring and took their business online. The link I've provided in the top paragraph will take you to Ocampo's cross stitch patterns in their online store. The patterns are also available from a number of other cross stitch stores in the real world and online, if you wish shop closer to your hometown.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quick Stitch Halloween Costumes with Free Patterns!

Remember those horrible plastic Halloween masks of the 80's that attached around the back of your head with an elastic band? Remember they had little holes cut out for your eyes and always looked creepy no matter how cute the character they were based on happened to be? I still have nightmares about the plastic Care Bear mask I wore one year... Thanks goodness we've moved beyond those things. Or at least have the ability to do so. Last month I suggested crocheting up a Futurama brain slug as a quick costume idea. That got me thinking about what other crochet and knitting projects you could whip up for a quick costume.

First up, you can show your love of all things Katamari while keeping your ears warm with Nikol Lohr's Katamari Prince Earmuffs. Just click the link to view the free pattern, courtesy of Shojo Beat magazine.

And of course this wouldn't be Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins without a mask of our favorite Lovecraft monster. This cthulhu mask was crocheted by flickr user djonesgirlz. No formal pattern, but djonesgirlz does give a link to the original ski mask pattern that was modified to make this awesome monstrosity and an explanation of how the tentacles were created.

Craftster user mamaedgar's son really wanted to be Yoda this Halloween so she whipped up this Yoda hat for him in just two days. I'm impressed! That's a lot of stitching in just two days. Click the link to see more photos and the free pattern that mamedgar was gracious enough to share. I really admire the detail on this one, including the bits of fluffy hair around Yoda's ears. Nevermind, Halloween, this hat would be great to wear anytime. Of course, the original pattern was designed to fit a four year old, so some alterations may be in order if you want it in an adult size.

Running short on time, or just a beginner? Here's something a little simpler that could still be part of a pretty awesome costume. Just add a sword to this traditional masquerade mask, created by Priscilla Hewitt and you could be Zorro, or deck it out with some sequins or beads for something a bit more flashy.

Sadly, these last two masks aren't available as free patterns, but I liked them so much I decided to include them anyways. I'm guessing that more experienced stitchers will be savvy enough to figure out how to make these, or at least something pretty similar. First up, start practicing that gravely Christian Bale impersonation so that you proclaim yourself Batman while wearing a crocheted cowl, like this one stitched by Etsy user nmelone13.

And last, but not least, Dr. Zoidberg courtesy of another Etsy user, blackfezstudios. I absolutely love the eyes and the colour of yarn that was chosen for this one. It makes for a very realistic Dr. Zoidberg!