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  • Yarncrafting Costumes: Designing an Octopus Headpiece

    With Halloween just around the corner, I’m very excited to share the latest piece of my yarncrafting costume adventures with you -- an octopus headpiece. Costuming is a year-round experience for me, and I love that Halloween invites everyone to join the fun!

    octopus-costume

     

    For a costume party held right after my birthday, I wanted to create an intricate piece to ring in my new year in grand fashion. The theme for this party was an interesting mashup – horned creatures and “under the sea," with a steampunk flair!

    Upon taking various sea creatures with tentacles, horns, and tusks into consideration, I decided to design an octopus headpiece. The octopus arms would be fun to shape into “horns” sticking out of my head, and would create the combination of drama and whimsy that I love.

    After exploring images of octopuses (octopi?), including cartoons and stuffed toys in my search, I was most drawn to the spherical octopus shape. I knitted a sphere in the round using Vanna’s Choice® in Aqua, working with US 5 needles. A few rounds away from creating a fully closed sphere, I started increasing rapidly to create more of a flat circular shape. This would form the octopus base, where the tentacles would attach.

    octopus1-in-progress

     

    Once the body of the octopus was complete, I placed the live stitches on scrap yarn and started creating the tentacles separately. (Technically speaking, octopuses have “arms” rather than “tentacles”, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. I became very fond of calling them tentacles!)

    The construction of the tentacles prompted more debate than that of the relatively simple body. At first I wanted to knit in the round, and yet I also wanted to use multiple colors for two-tone tentacles. The prospect of fiddling with intarsia in the round didn’t seem appealing, and so I opted to knit the tentacles flat. I used the intarsia technique to incorporate both colors. Bobbles on the underside of the tentacles were perfect as suckers! (Here I was inspired by Anna Hrachovec’s Squidpocalypse pattern from Huge & Huggable Mochimochi.) Using the long tail I left while casting on, I mattress stitched each flat piece into a tube.

    Adding Lights

    To add lights to the piece, first I turned the body of the octopus inside out. I ran a string of wire LED lights along the inside of the sphere. Then I anchored the wire through a stitch every so often so that the lights would stay put. Then I turned the body right side out and stuffed it with fiberfill. To hold the stuffing in place, I knit a small circle out of the main color and seamed it to the underside of the octopus body. I left a small opening during seaming so that I would be able to access the battery pack to turn the lights on and off.

    octopus-lights

     

    For the octopus’s eyes, I chose a pair of gears to fit the party’s steampunk theme. I found two points of light that were aligned closely enough to serve as eyes, and stitched the gears in place using fine-gauge floral wire.

    Finishing Steps

    With the octopus head complete, my focus turned to attaching the tentacles. Using Kitchener stitch, I grafted the tentacles to the wide base of the octopus. Thick-gauge floral wire would give structure to each tentacle. I took a length of wire and bent the edge back on itself about half an inch. Then I wrapped the end with floral tape before inserting the wire into the tentacle (so that the wire wouldn’t poke through). I repeated the process for each tentacle.

    I wove a length of wire around the underside of the base of the octopus, forming a circle. This functioned as an anchor for the tentacles’ wires. I affixed that evenly around the wire circle.

    The final step was to attach the octopus to a headband. A rubbery lace headband worked perfectly, with holes throughout as anchor points where I could stitch the underside of the octopus.

    octopus-closeup

     

    And voila! A knitted octopus lights up the underwater world, creating costume whimsy for Halloween and all year long.

    P.S. A happy coincidence – the colors I chose for my octopus match perfectly with the free Lion Brand mermaid tail cocoon pattern! Kit available here.

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  • Make Your Best Friend a Present for National Dog Day

    Today is National Dog Day, a day to celebrate "all dogs, mixed breed and pure" as well as raise awareness about rescue and adoption, fight breed bans, and recognize all the ways dogs make our lives better. So why not pamper your pup today with one of these projects? Whether you knit or crochet, want something practical or something silly, we've got something great you can make for your best buddy.

    Don't have a pup of your own? Check out our post on charity knitting and crochet for information on making snuggles for shelter dogs near you.

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  • British Animal Shelter Will Let You Knit with Kittens

    Photo via Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Photo via Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

    Crafting around kittens (or cats of any age) can be a challenge, with the little guys playing with your yarn while you're trying to work. But they're so cute you can't stay mad, and a lot of crafters love their feline friends.

    That's what the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in the UK is banking on. They've been running a Knitting Kittens Club every month for about the past year, where they invite people to come in and knit surrounded by little kitties, according to Metro UK.

    Photo via Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Photo via Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

    The event offers knitting lessons as well as opportunities to just sit and knit while the feline residents wander around the room. The entry fee is usually £2 and goes to the shelter for the kitties' care, so it's also a good cause. Their next event is in conjunction with Not On The High Street Mission and will cost £5.50, but that's still a small price to pay for such unfettered cuteness. You've also got to buy tickets in advance for that one, which will be September 15. Attendees to any of the events have the opportunity to meet a new furry companion to adopt. It must be hard to leave these events without taking an armload of kittens home.

    We've never wished so badly that we were across the pond. Maybe some shelters stateside will get in on the action and start a similar club.

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