Necessity is the Mother of Design

Scroll down for link to pattern pdf.

Some people speak the language of gifts with flair and elegance. I am not one of those people. (I could go into a discussion of love languages, but that’s probably a post all of its own.) While I am always delighted when I can think of exactly the right gift for someone – and find it in order to give it to them – it doesn’t often happen, and giving a ‘meh’ gift is irksome. (So is receiving it, probably, but all my friends and family have decent enough manners not to say so.)

Facepalm (4254919655)So I have been known, on more than one occasion, to fall back on the scheme of offering to knit someone something. That way they get to choose something they like – assuming it’s within my capabilities – and I get to give them something they will enjoy without having to go into the mall. Win-win.

And then a friend of mine said she’d really like a hooded scarf for her present – and helpfully sent me some pictures so I knew the kind of thing she was thinking of. I went hunting for patterns and – nothing. OK, not nothing. There were cutesy patterns with little animal ears – or paws (not all of them for kids); there were complexly cabled ones (no can do, although I’m hoping to learn this winter); there were fancy lacy ones and ones where the scarf element appeared more like chin ties. There were some in the finest of yarns (my friend wanted something warm, verging on chunky) and some which used so much yarn it would wipe out my entire craft budget for the year.

Ramona and my small stash of yarn :) (81/365)I did find one pattern, however, which looked like what my friend wanted. In fact, it was one of the pictures she’d sent me. It was also, alas, a crochet pattern. And while I can, technically, crochet, the results are not the sort of thing I would inflict on a friend. Certainly not a friend I wanted to keep.

So I decided to branch out, to stretch myself, and to do something I’d never done before. I designed a pattern for a hooded scarf: simple enough for my skills, thick enough to be warm, using little enough wool not to bankrupt me, and creating the look my friend was looking for. With pockets, because there are not enough pockets in this world. Plus it gives you somewhere to keep your hands warm.

And it really is a simple pattern: all you need to know how to do is knit, purl, cast on and cast off. Plus very basic sewing skills (attach A to B, using needle and yarn) and, yes, it helps if you can count. (Embarrassing personal side note: I once applied for a job where the few requirements included being able to read and count. I didn’t get it. I didn’t even get an interview. I’d like to say this was when I was a child, but I was 24 and had a brand-new Master’s degree at the time.) You don’t even need to worry about gauge for this pattern, which means there’s no need to swatch.

19 Jan
In the spirit of sharing which makes this world what it is, I am making the pattern freely available here on the blog (assuming I can figure out the technicalities) and also on Ravelry and OpenRavel. As with everything else on the blog, it’s under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. This means that you are free to copy the pattern, reuse it, adapt it, sell what you knit from it – anything you like, really, as long as you credit me as the designer and share your derivative works just as freely.

So here it is: the Simple Hooded Scarf with Pockets! (click on underlined text for pattern file). Not the catchiest name, I know, but at least you know what you’re getting. Truth in advertising, et cetera.

If you use this pattern, I’d love to see what you do with it! Feel free to leave a link in the comments, and if you’re on Ravelry or a similar craft site, link your project to the pattern for others to see. Have fun!

left

Note: the pattern calls for 12-ply yarn, but the yarn I used – while saying 12-ply on the label – knits up more like a 10-ply. For the level of drape shown, go for something around 8wpi; or go thicker for a chunkier scarf.

Hast Thou Slain The Jabberwock? Adventures in Fantastical Taxidermy

Or: How To Make a Jabberwock Trophy Head.

Jabberwocky

The seed of the idea was planted in my head by this post and its comments. Several weeks and sleepless hours later, the thought takes form – and photographs (click to enlarge).

But do I need a stuffed Jabberwocky head in my life? I hear you ask. A beheaded (or rather dis-embodied) Jabberwocky is a symbol of triumph over oppression, whether in your past or your future. You should have one by you at all times.
Furthermore, when completed, this piece of ‘wocksidermy has stress-relieving properties. Read on for details…

Don’t worry if your sewing skills are not of the finest – that is no impediment to successful Jabberwock creation. They are known to be ugly beasts, and having your head chopped off does nothing for the looks.

materials

The Materials

  • a sock (as ugly as possible)
  • fabric (I used wine-red and olive)
  • ribbons (I used white, green & grey and grey-green bias binding)
  • a tennis ball (optional, but much more satisfying)
  • stuffing (I used old quilt batting)
  • thread (I used brown, green and orange)
  • scissors
  • needle & pins

The Body

First, cut the heel out of your sock, and put it aside. Your sock should now be tubish, but with a slit in it.

deheel

Cut a piece of fabric (I used red) big enough to fill in the slit and apply it to the wrong side of the sock. A bit fiddly, but best done when the sock is right-side out, in my opinion.

This forms the first hack neck-wound; have it as wide or as narrow as you like. Use blanket-stitch to attach the raw edges of the sock to the under-fabric. Ragged and messy is perfectly acceptable. A vorpal blade is not a delicate weapon.

Then insert the tennis ball into the toe of the sock. This will be the head.

completebody

The Eyes

Cut two circles of fabric (I used olive green) each about 5cm (2in) across. Do a quick running stitch round each, about 5mm (1/4in) from the edge. Cut a piece of white fabric or ribbon (about 4cm or 1 1/2 in long) and place this in the centre of the wrong side of each circle, before pulling on the thread to gather the circle into a puff. These are the eyes.

eyes

The Mouth

Lips: cut the heel piece in half lengthwise, then fold each half lengthwise (right side out) and whip-stitch the raw edges together, folding in the scraggy ends.

Teeth: cut two lengths of white fabric or ribbon (beware, ribbon frays), each twice the length you want the teeth. I made the upper teeth longer than the lower. Fold each piece in half – raw ends together – and sew down the sides. Stuff gently, then quilt a groove down the middle of each to create two teeth (this is where I used the orange thread).

If you want it to look extra tidy, you could sew wrong sides together and turn before stuffing – I didn’t, and it isn’t too obvious. (I think.) Also sew along the bottom of the teeth so the stuffing doesn’t come out.

The Face

Cut a piece of fabric (again, I used red) the shape and size you want the mouth. If you aren’t sure, consider the size of the lips. Pin this fabric to the head (refer to pic for placement) and sew down the edges – doesn’t have to be tidy as the lips will cover it.

Sew the teeth on, lining their raw edge up with the edge of the mouth piece. Again, doesn’t have to be perfect – Jabberwockies are not noted for their good teeth. (It’s “the jaws that bite” not “the jaws with the perfect bite”.)

Then sew on the lips by their whipped edges. These should cover the edges of the mouth fabric and teeth.

Sew the eyes on smooth side out (refer to the pic for placement) using tiny whip stitches around the edge of each eye.

Your Jabberwocky should now look something like this.
Your Jabberwocky should look something like this.

Now the fiddly bit: using a small pair of sharp scissors, cut a slit in each eye about 2/3 of the way down, being careful not to cut right to the edge, or through the white underneath. Neaten the raw edges with whip-stitch or blanket-stitch (eyelashes!).

eyelashes

The Bits

Use any combination you like of the ribbons, bias binding etc to create chin spikes, horns, fleshy mustachy bits, or any other facial excrescences that take your fancy. (I used bias binding with cord inside it for the ‘horns’.)
Follow Tenniel’s depiction or your own fancy, whichever you prefer.

excrescences

The Coup de Grâce (Finishing Off)

Trimming: If there are any unwanted bits at the top of your sock – decorative bands, tight ribs etc – now is the time to whack them off. Use a vorpal blade, or failing that, scissors.

Stuffing: Your Jabberwocky can be stuffed as loosely or as tightly as you like. Too much stuffing, and the head will be smaller than the neck; too little, and it will be a sock with a tennis ball in it.

Where the Vorpal Blade went Snicker-Snack: Figure out how wide a circle will be needed to fill the hole at the top of the sock. If uncertain (as I was) try the lids of jars etc until you find one that fits comfortably without stretching the sock. Draw around this on your fabric (I used the red), cut out, and attach with blanket-stitch. Again, this is a gaping wound, so don’t feel your stitches need to be even and regular.

O Frabjous Day! Your Jabberwocky is complete.

complete

And now for the stress-relieving part. When your work is not going well – be it writing, rewriting, or anything else – simply pick the beastie up by the neck and bounce its ugly head on the desk, walls, floor or any other firm surface within reach. (Now you know why tennis ball.)

Possible variations include shank buttons covered in fabric for eyes; a loop for hanging the Jabberwocky up; or if you’re feeling very adventurous (and have a long sock), a Jabberwock-Ouroboros or even a Merlion.

As with everything I put on this blog, these instructions and photos are licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 New Zealand licence.
Which means that you are welcome to make any use of it that you please, including your own derivative works (even commercial if you like) as long as you a) say where you got it from, and b) share the same way.

Please leave a comment if you make something based on this – I’d love to see what you do with it!

Enjoy! Rawwwrr!

farewell

October: A Sense of Self-Protection

I do not have a problem with alcohol.

"To our beloved King !!"

This became something of a problem itself when I did the Deadlies exercise in the Artist’s Way.  The idea is that you write the following on 7 slips of paper which you then draw from, at random, 7 times: alcohol, drugs, sex, work, money, food, family/friends.

You then list 5 ways in which the drawn word has had a negative effect on your life.  Each time the slip goes back, so it’s even chances for next time.  I drew money/money/alcohol/food/alcohol/food/alcohol.  Apparently if it seems inapplicable, that’s resistance. Right.

I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, particularly with food and alcohol.  The negative effects of food on my life have largely been limited to stomach upsets (I still can’t bear the smell of mango) and the annoyingly large amount of time it takes to ensure meals are regularly prepared and eaten.

rotten mango

Alcohol was even worse.  I might have a glass of wine on occasion – particularly special occasions – but that’s about it.  Fifteen ways alcohol has had a negative effect on my life?  You must be dreaming.  Still, at least I didn’t draw ‘drugs’.  Confessing to a youthful tea addiction wouldn’t take me very far.

What have I learned from this exercise?  Well, besides proving that meaning is not always to be found in randomness, I decided overall that I spend too much time daydreaming and worrying (for what is worry but a dark daydream?) and not enough just enjoying the life I have.

A large part of this chapter of the Artist’s Way looked at workaholism, which is another problem I am happy not to have.  Or do I?  While I certainly don’t have any problem shaking the dust of the DDJ off my feet at 5pm on the dot, I do tend to fill my life with a lot of other doing.

Oh the shame...

Housework, handwork – doesn’t really matter what as long as I can feel guilty for not doing it, or at least for not doing all of it.
I’d secretly like to be a workaholic, it turns out, but I can’t bring myself to actually do all that work.

Nonetheless, I have resolved to be a bit more focussed in what I choose to do in my non-work time.  As with my writing projects, I won’t start any more until I’ve finished at least some of those I have underway, and I’ll try to work steadily on one instead of floating from UFO to UFO.  And I won’t feel guilty for not being able to do everything, which should make what I am doing more enjoyable.

The problem is that I tend to be a bit ambitious in what I can achieve, so my projects often take a long time, even once you take the distraction and procrastination into account.  But not always!  Having decided a couple of weeks ago to make myself a more permanent eye-swathe, I got straight down to the job with a fat quarter (in black and gold) and my sewing machine (also in black and gold).

Singer sewing machine

I used it last Monday (the swathe, not the machine) and achieved about 2,400 words (estimating 200 words on each of 12 pages and not wishing to count them all by hand).  More to come tomorrow, when trouble catches up with our heroine, an unexpected enchantment intervenes, and she uses up her last lifeline.

It’s a public holiday here in New Zealand tomorrow: Labour Day.  Which I shall celebrate by labouring at my chosen profession, instead of the one that feeds me.  It always struck me as strange that we celebrated Labour Day by not labouring.  Very illogical.  As usual, I’ll let you know how I go.

In other news, Tim Makarios of Ideophilus is seeking pledges to fund a Creative Commons audiobook of G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.  Details here, including where you can find a sample of his reading voice – very easy on the ear!  Stop by if you’re a fan of G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis (who recommended the book) or Creative Commons works generally.

Until next week, dear readers!
Sinistra Inksteyne hand250