Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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Make It! Challenge #8: Zombies in Love

Zombies in Love from Squirrel Picnic

My husband, Shelby, is the best. Since the start of Squirrel Picnic, he’s had to put up with crochet squirrels coming on vacation with us, weekends sacrificed to endless crochet craziness, and a living room that is almost always covered in yarn. He’s also been my best adviser, weighing in on everything from yarn color to construction. He has a very good mechanical mind. For these and so many other reasons, I am very pleased to be able to dedicate Make It! Challenge #8 to him — it’s well deserved and long overdue. And, yes, he advised me on everything for this project, even coming with me to the yarn shop to pick out zombie colors.

As you could probably already guess, for this challenge Shelby asked me to make him a zombie version of myself (a zombie self-portrait if you will). I set my heart on a few details from the start: an exposed brain with a flap of scalp, an eye that could pop out of the socket, and an arm that’s been cut off at the elbow. Of those three details, the eyes were the hardest, and I’m still not thrilled with how bug-eyed my zombie looks. So when I decided to make a zombie version of my husband to accompany the zombie version of me, I chose to simplify the construction of some of the details. Before I knew it, I had two very different patterns. The bodies and appendages are basically the same, but details like the eyes, brain opening, hair, and limbs are more complicated on the girl zombie. Have fun picking and choosing which details you like between the girl and boy zombies to make your zombie uniquely your own.

As a final note, I should mention that this pattern doesn’t include how to make clothing for your zombie. However, at the end of each pattern, I’ve listed links to the free sewing patterns I used to make my zombies’ clothes. Most 16” to 18” doll clothes patterns will fit your zombie, but do a fitting with the pattern before you start. There are a lot of free American Girl Doll clothes patterns online, and from what I could tell, most of them will fit your zombie with minimal tweaking.

As I type this, our zombies look very cute sitting on the couch together and holding hands. I’d love to see pictures of your zombies too! Send them to squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com or share them on Facebook.

Zombies in Love Crochet Patterns Continue reading


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Batman Returns: Crochet Mask Pattern Updated

I’m so very pleased to present a new and improved crochet Batman mask pattern, Batman maskjust in time for Halloween! The original pattern was published as Make It! Challenge #4 last March when Justin O’Neill dared me to crochet a Batman mask for him. Since then, hundreds of pretty cool people have viewed that post and several dozen very patient crocheters have made their own. Many were even gracious enough to give me some feedback. I have to admit, not all of it was good and not everyone was thrilled with the pattern. When I revisited it again a few weeks ago, I also was not thrilled. Why on earth did I do that? I found myself asking over and over again. I quickly decided that this pattern needed an overhaul and set out to make a Batman mask of my own this time, revamping the pattern as I went. Some things I changed completely, but some elements stayed the same.

What is different about the new pattern:

  • Beginning construction. The hat portion of the mask is now a basic beanie pattern.
  • Place markers. The second half of the pattern, which creates the area below the eyebrows, has been revised so that instructions for the eyehole and nosepiece area are given between place markers, making it easier to keep track of the stitch count.
  • Stitch counts. I’ve added stitch counts at the end of each round and for the eyehole and nosepiece area where needed.
  • Photos. Updated photos of the beginning of the eyehole and nosepiece area should make this part of the pattern clearer.

What is unchanged about the new pattern:

  • Yarn. No one seems to have had success substituting yarn for the bamboo-silk blend I used. Acrylic and wool do not have enough stretch. My best advice is to use the same yarn that I used or a brand that has a similar ratio of bamboo viscose and silk. Sorry about this, but I think that this yarn is what makes this mask unique. It is designed to be form-fitting and I have not yet found another yarn that achieves this. (If you have success with another type of yarn in this pattern, please let me know and I’ll update this information!)
  • Size. This pattern is for an adult with a hat size of 7 ¼.

This may be the first year in a long time that I have a costume figured out for myself well before Halloween. But the holiday is fast approaching, so I wanted to give you the opportunity to make a Batman mask with my revised pattern too. I’ll leave the original pattern up just below it in case you still need it. Please feel free to contact me here or at squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com if you have any questions.

Happy crocheting!


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Make It! Challenge #7: Rainbow Donkey

Bill Brown’s comic The Evil Squirrel’s Nest, which he publishes on his blog Rainbow Donkey / Unicorn Crochet Pattern by Squirrel Picnicweekly on Thursdays, features a ragtag group of squirrels, skunks, cats, and various other wild animals who are always getting into something interesting. The main characters – Hooly, Odyssey, Hottie, Mini, and Clem – were all inspired by people Bill knows in real life. But of all the characters, the one most loved by fans is Rainbow Donkey, who is also the subject of this Make It! Challenge.

The story of how this “donkicorn” came to be is just as interesting as the character himself. Bill says:

Rainbow Donkey’s embarrassing debut appearance

Rainbow Donkey’s debut appearance

“The very first drawing of the ‘unicorn’ that would become Rainbow Donkey was a small avatar for my message board…. It was one of my first attempts to draw any member of the equine family, and to say it looked like complete crap is an understatement. Even my online friends, who were very encouraging of me for what at the time was some really bad art I was drawing, couldn’t help but point out how ridiculously awful the unicorn looked — with most of the replies being that it looked like a cow. In fact, Rainbow Cow was the first nickname being bandied about for it, but being as taken in by the real life Hooly as I was at the time, when she began calling it Rainbow Donkey, the name stuck… as did the character.”

I accepted Bill’s challenge both because I ES and SP Rainbow Donkeysadmire his work and just really like him as a person and because, much like Bill had never drawn a horse before Rainbow Donkey, I had never crocheted a horse/donkey/unicorn before. It turned out though that crocheting a donkicorn wasn’t the most difficult part. The toughest thing about this challenge was trying to capture that rough but loveable charisma that has made his donkicorn character so popular among fans. It might have something to do with his illustration style.

Bill does most of his sketching by hand, then uses MS Paint (I’m so impressed by anyone who has the patience to draw a comic in Paint!) and Photoshop to bring the images to digital life.

Click here to see how he draws his comics.

Click here to see how he creates his single-frame images in Paint too!

This process creates scenes that are bright and lively and, he admits, a little rough around the edges. I think that’s what makes them so endearing, and it was my biggest hope that I would be able to capture that quirky beauty in my crocheted version of Rainbow Donkey. I hope that you, too, can see the charm in his stubby feet, giant ears, and crooked smile. Because like Bill says, it’s our flaws that make us loveable.

Click here to read more of my interview with Bill.

And as always here’s my free pattern to make your very own…

Rainbow Donkey Continue reading


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Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #69 — 8/22/13

Only eight days until the next Make It! Challenge is revealed. My friend over at the Evil Squirrel’s Nest challenged me to crochet Rainbow Donkey from his online comic. The latest episode even features a letter from MEAP — in which he surreptitiously divulges my secret plans!

Evil Squirrel's Nest

comic82213

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Make It! Challenge #6: Jack Russell Clutch

Jack Russell Clutch For Make It! Challenge #6, Ranee Galambos challenged me to make a purse inspired by her favorite pet, a Jack Russell terrier named Nina.

“I loved her energy, devotion, intelligence and her company. She was the most amazing dog I ever owned and always made me laugh at her craziness,” Ranee said.

It was my pleasure to design this clutch inspired by such a wonderful furry friend.

I was excited to start this project because I knew it would be a great opportunity to try my hand at felting. I did some research and asked tons of questions, and now I’m ready to tell you all about this very fun and interesting technique that will make your clutch soft and cuddly as well as beautiful.

First, I stopped by my local yarn shop to hear what the experts had to say. When I went straight to the bright white wool, they stopped me and graciously advised that you shouldn’t use bleached white wool for felting because the bleaching process has damaged the fibers. Also superwash or washable wool will not felt. The higher the wool content, the better felted the final piece will be.

More helpful advice came from Kiki and Steven of Luscious Gracious. I recommend checking out their “Murphy’s Laws of Felting,” which provides pretty much everything you need to know. Most importantly, I learned that in felting, a knitted piece will shrink more in height than it does in width. With this in mind, I made a swatch first and recorded the size before and after washing it three times in a top-loading washing machine set to “Whites.” Would you believe that my swatch shrank 20% horizontally and 45% vertically? It made me really glad that I had taken the time to do this test! Designing the pattern 20% wider and 45% taller was a little tricky and the dog that I knit does look a little wonky, but thankfully the dog I pulled out of the final wash had shrunk to the exact size I had anticipated.

Therefore, the best advice I have for you is to make a swatch and wash it in the same manner that you will use to wash the clutch. Record the setting you use and the number of washes it takes to get the level of felting you desire. Then use that information to guide you at the felting stage, because even if you use the same yarn I have used, you’ll most certainly have a better washing machine than the ancient one I used in the basement of our apartment. Most likely yours will take less than three washes!

Jack Russell Clutch Continue reading


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Make It! Challenge #5: Crochet Bowser Sweater for a Turtle

Bowser Sweater for a TurtleFor Make It! Challenge #5, Lisa Egolf challenged me to crochet a sweater for her tortoise, Myrtle, so that he would be easy to spot when she lets him loose to play in the courtyard of the school where she teaches science. “I think bright yet manly colors would be best,” she said, because after all this Myrtle is male (don’t judge). So I set out to design the most masculine turtle sweater I could.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of a beefy, manly turtle, my first thought is of Bowser. If you’re familiar with the Super Mario Bros. video game franchise, you undoubtedly remember Bowser as the game’s super villain. The object of the ’80s Nintendo game is to get the main character Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom, survive Bowser′s attacks, and save Princess Toadstool. Running into Bowser, with his spiny shell, pug nose, and domineering height, is enough to make little Mario shiver.

Myrtle definitely looks like he could do some damage in his Bowser sweater. Go on, Myrtle! Go get your princess and take back your Mushroom Kingdom.

Click here to download a pdf of the pattern.