Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Finally done

Most of my crocheting (and now, knitting) time for the past 9 months or so has been spent working on a collection of patterns for sea creatures. It's finally done - just communicated the few last edits to these proofs to the publishing company - and the release date is evidently set for January 17, 2012. The format is 8.5" x 8.5", softcover (that actually stays open nicely) with nice glossy photos. You can preorder it on amazon, which is what finally makes it seem real to me now!
The book follows the form of other titles from St. Martin's Griffin, which I really like - there are big gorgeous full bleed "selector" spreads in the front of the book that cross reference the patterns. And, at the end, there are nice examples of how to assemble the random stuff you made into larger projects.

The wonderful editors at Quarto who put this together did a fantastic job making my scribblings presentable, and every crochet pattern has a chart. I didn't appreciate the utility of those until now, especially for patterns that double back on themselves (like this octopus).

I actually wrote close to 100 patterns for the book, but some of them were cut due to lack of popular interest (diatoms! algae etc). Since those are dearest to my own heart, I will definitely be finding a way to make them available to my fellow dorks out there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tardigrade pattern

 Tardigrades are so crispy! Nonbelievers, observe this beautiful comic by Alex Chitty.

Obviously I have been wanting to crochet these for a long time, but only recently got around to it, encouraged by a request from a great lab from my undergrad alma mater that uses them as a model organism. Here's a pattern so you can do it too.

I had a great time working on these articulated body segments, but they can definitely be optimized. I want to try inserting some rounds of thick craft foam or thin cardboard at the boundaries of each segment, and possibly tether the whole thing together internally, nose to tail, so that the segments remain compressed together. If you try it, let me know how it works!

I'm going to use abbreviations here - I always though they were weird and annoying, but I was forced to learn to use them for a project and now I am hooked on phonics. 'Sc' means to make a single crochet in the next stitch, and along those lines '2sc' means to increase. 'dec' means to make a decrease over the next two stitches using single crochet unless otherwise specified. Brackets denote parts of the pattern that will be repeated, '2x' (twice) or '3x' (three times) and so on.

You will need:
  • Worsted weight yarn (pretty sure this is Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Lemongrass)
  • Size G hook (my standard for a nice tight gauge)
  • Yarn needle
  • 2 safety eyes
  • Needle and thread to match the yarn
  • Felt for the claws
  • Stuffing or fabric scraps to use as such
You'll use the following techniques:
  • Slip ring
  • Chain
  • Single crochet
  • Increase
  • Decrease
  • Importantly, to make the tardigrade look like it has a hard cuticle, you really need to work only in the back loops and then switch to working in only the front loops to form the hard edges at the boundaries of each segment. See this sculptural crochet primer I wrote for a demonstration of this technique.
  • Note that this is worked in a spiral like amigurumi.
 Actual pattern now.

 Body (make 1)
Round # / Instructions / (stitches in that round)
  1. Make a slip ring. This forms the mouth of the tardigrade.
  2. Sc 6 in this ring (6) Remember, always work in the back loops only unless specified.
  3. [sc, 2sc] 3x (9)
  4. [2sc, sc, sc] (12)
  5. sc all (12)
  6. [2sc, sc] 6x (18)
  7. [sc, sc, 2sc] 6x (24)
  8. sc all (24)
  9. sc all (24)
  10. [dec] 12x in front loops (12) You are almost done with the first segment, so stuff it now and add the safety eyes.
  11. [sc, dec] 4x (8)
  12. 2sc all (16)
  13. 2sc all (32)
  14. sc all in front loops (32)
  15. sc all (32)
  16. sc all (32)
  17. sc all (32)
  18. sc all (32)
  19. sc all (32)
  20. dec 16x in front loops (16) Stuff this segment.
  21. dec 8x (8) Repeat rows 12-21 once more.
  22. 2sc all (16)
  23. 2sc all (32)
  24. sc all in front loops (32)
  25. [sc 6x, dec] 4x (28)
  26. [dec, sc 5x] 4x (24)
  27. [sc 4x, dec] 4x (20)
  28. [dec, sc 3x] 4x (16)
  29. [sc 2x, dec] 4x (12) Stuff this segment.
  30. dec 6x (6)
  31. make two decreases over 3 stitches each, and then finish off.
Legs (make 8) 
Round # / Instructions / (stitches in that round)
  1. Make a chain of 8 stitches (8)
  2. sc all (8)
  3. sc all (8)
  4. sc all (8)
  5. make one slip stitch and then finish off, leaving a long tail you will use to sew the leg to the body.
Making up

Cut 8 pieces of felt that end in claws, sized so that you can tuck them into the openings of the legs. Using the needle and thread, sew them in place, and then use the yarn needle to sew the legs to the body.

 THE END. Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chromosomes for Schmancy

I've been a long time (and long distance) admirer of Schmancy, a wonderful art/toy store in Seattle, and I'm delighted to be represented there now, even with this small initial offering. In keeping with the Schmancy's fantastic playful spirit I stuck some eyes on these chromosomes (which each have a unique banding pattern and a back loop for hanging). In store only!