Guest Feature: Farscape Moya Starship

Amigurumi Projects, Guest Features




Today’s guest feature is a lovely free pattern for the organic starship Moya from Farscape, courtesy of Jana Whitley.

Here it is in all its glory… as you know I have a soft spot for cuddly starships.

Moya 1 Moya 2

Gorgeous! She publishes all sorts of geeky patterns on her Ravelry page: lots of delightful Disney with a splash of Marvel, Potter, LOTR… and Farscape of course. My favourite pattern (not free, but quite reasonable at $2.99) is this squee-worthy Black Mage from Final Fantasy:

Black Mage

Thanks for sharing Jana!



You Share Good – Gwenn Seemel

Magnificent Makers

Makers, crafters, and creators of weird and wonderful things… you should read You Share Good by artist Gwenn Seemel. It’s both a free culture manifesto and a work of art in and of itself: a discussion of what it means to create and share, and a showcase of the artist’s bold and distinctive paintings.

You Share Good cover

Best of all, the whole book is free to read online. Look at me sharing it. Mwahahaha.

Gwen Seemel - You Share Good 2

Her art is loud, joyful, and often irreverent. I love it. I also love her philosophy of sharing, remixing, setting your creations free and seeing them be shared and remixed in turn.

On that note the Bioware store is sold out of nugs and I’ve got the itch to make a new pattern…

Guest Feature: DIY Kamui Senketsu Shoes

Geek Fashion

I was delighted to receive a request to feature this DIY pattern from Lace and Lore for a pair of Kill La Kill inspired shoes. While wearing an actual Kamui Senketsu would be chilly (bordering on illegal depending on where you live), these Kamui Senketsu shoes are a nice way to pay homage to anime without going full cosplay. Not that there’s anything wrong with cosplay! I personally like blending little geeky touches into my everyday wardrobe without being too obvious, and these shoes would look great with jeans and a tee.

senketsu shoes


Click the photo for a link to their tutorial. You’ll need shoes, fabric paint, and crafting supplies that you probably already own if you’re reading my blog (X-acto, masking tape etc.) I’m a big fan of all-black high-top Converse, and I’m wondering whether fabric paint works on rubber too…

While you’re at it, check out Lace and Lore’s site for more fabulous geek fashion.

Making Games from Scratch

For Science!, Gamer Crafts

And now for something completely different: making your own video games! You might play my game and think: “Hmmm, this just looks like someone spent a few hours goofing around”, and you’d be right. I had quite a bit of fun playing with Scratch and making a simple, functional game. It’s a great place to start making games if you want to get your toes wet.

Click the picture to play (in a new window: WordPress doesn’t accept embeds from Scratch).

Scratch in space 1

Scratch in space 2

I don’t own Portal, Space Core, or Companion Cubes but I hope Valve doesn’t mind me using them for my homework project.

Here’s my sister’s game Zombie in Space: she drew all the sprites, even the braaaaaains! I love that we both independently decided to make space games :)

Zombie in space Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 3.17.46 PM

I’m starting to upgrade my programming skills, which haven’t developed much since I used to make my name bounce around the Commodore 64 in rainbow colours. Ah, those were the days. If you’re so inclined, try out Scratch and make a game too: it’s an intuitive interface and easy to play with, even with no prior programming experience.

Go to the Scratch home page and make a free account to get started…

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.15.57 PM

You’ll notice that instead of typing code, Scratch lets you drag and drop puzzle pieces together to make commands.  The graphical interface is intuitive and relatively easy to figure out.

Pick a background, pick a sprite, and add some commands to tell your sprite how to behave.  There are plenty of tutorials online, but you can also get pretty far just by goofing around.  “If space bar pressed, move 10 steps” means that if you press the space bar, your sprite moves 10 steps.  Nothing cryptic, and no syntax to worry about.  Best of all, it’s free and runs in your browser window!

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.33.28 PM

Happy game making :)


Skull Pincushion (Amigurumi Pattern)

Amigurumi Projects

I’ve been meaning to crochet a skull for some time, but haven’t gotten around to finessing the anatomic details of a larger version. This mini skull is a simple pattern, perfect for all your goth sewing needs. It made a perfect replacement for the boring fabric-store tomato I’ve been using as a pincushion.  See?

Skull pincushion 3

More views:skull side view Skull top view skull bottom view skull over viewMaking this little pin-head is quick and easy, and suitable for beginners. Stitches used are single crochet (sc), increase (inc), invisible decrease (invdec), finish off (FO).

You’ll need:

  • white or off-white yarn (I used Red Heart Super-Saver cheapo yarn, worsted weight)
  • size F/3.75mm crochet hook
  • stuffing
  • black embroidery thread for teeth and/or cranial sutures
  • safety eyes (or buttons, or felt…) 10mm used here
  • small piece of black felt for bottom (or just crochet the bottom closed if you’d rather)


  • 1) sc x 6 in magic ring (6)
  • 2) inc x 6 (12)
  • 3) (sc, inc) x 6 (18)
  • 4) (sc x 2, inc) x 6 (24)
  • 5-8) sc around x 4 rounds (24)
  • 9) (sc x 2, invdec) x 3, sc x 12 (21)… this makes the front flat and the back of the skull rounded
  • 10) (sc, invdec) x 3, sc x 12 (18)
  • 11) ch 1, turn, sc x 10 to make teeth

Now add eyes, stuff, and use embroidery thread to make teeth and/or cranial sutures, or add any details you’d like. This would look great as a sugar skull too. Cut a small piece of black felt and sew it into the opening at the bottom.

Holiday DIY – Easy Gifts to Make and Share

Random Musings

I love handmade gifts. Except… somehow it’s December already and I’m running out of time! If you’re thinking of going DIY this holiday season, it can be a fun and easy alternative to hitting the shopping malls.  Everything here was given or received in my family over the last few years: if we can do it, so can you :)

Crocheted gifts:

Any amigurumi can be made into a Christmas ornament by adding a Santa hat… the octopus pattern is from Adorably Kawaii and the hat is from a holiday pattern by Pepika.  This would look good on my Angry Birds Green Pig ornament too…

Christmas octopus

This little Yoda pattern from Happy Together makes an adorable gift.


The crocheted Divine Hat and Cable Hat patterns from Rheatheylia (crocheted cables!) make gorgeous cozy toques and work up quickly.

Crochet divine and cable hats

Felt and fabric gifts:

Felt ornaments rock: let your imagination be your guide. I really love the Star Wars ornaments I made last year… pattern here.

Star Wars felt ornaments

You can make an iPhone case out of felt and decorate it however you like.

Super Mario - piranha plant iPhone case

If you have a sewing machine, try making reversible tote bags in interesting fabric (if your recipient is shy, they can put the marauding robots on the inside :)  The pattern is from Skip to My Lou.

Robot tote bag

For pregnant gals, sew knit fabric into a tube to make belly bands: pattern from DIY Maternity.

Belly bands

A pillow cover is just two squares of fabric sewn together. Sometimes with ears. Don’t forget to add a zipper if you want the cover to be removable.

My Neighbor Totoro pillow

For the girl/guy who has everything but a berth on the Normandy, customize some kitchen towels with felt accents:

N7 tea towels

Miscellaneous gifts:

Transform a hardcover book into a Grid-It for travellers. I got some flak for trying out this Design Sponge project, but in my defense I’m planning to give my Silmarillion pages a new binding.

Silmarillion Grid-It

Paint a wooden disc (available at craft and hardware stores) to make a colourful pendant, or add charms to ribbon to make bookmarks.  I love my dragon.

Wooden disc necklace

Shooooooooes! Ahem. Comic book shoes for someone very special.

X-men shoes

Cross-stitch doesn’t have to be old-fashioned. My sister made these video game coasters, and my sister-in-law framed cross-stitched kanji with beautiful paper and coins for a modern look.

Gaming coasters

Happiness cross stitch

Food gifts:

Cookies make a yummy holiday gift. For more food ideas, this delicious gift basket contained…

Christmas goodies

  • Strawberry jam (red jars): if you don’t have a favourite family recipe, this one is easy and has less sugar than many recipes
  • Spiced nuts (blue jar): this Alton Brown recipe has kick, but there are tons of tasty variations
  • Homemade vanilla extract (bottle with blue ribbon): add vanilla beans to either bourbon or vodka and wait a month for the flavours to develop… you can also throw vanilla pods into a sugar dish to make vanilla sugar!
  • Homemade limoncello (bottle with gold ribbon): soak lemon peels in vodka for 1 week, then strain and mix with simple syrup to taste… keep this one refrigerated

You can use pretty fabric to make the jars festive:

Jess jam jars

My sister also made a family cookbook: everyone contributed a few recipes. This is a wonderful keepsake and includes some of my grandma’s traditional dishes.

Family cookbookMerry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Io Saturnalia, and Happy Isaac Newton’s Birthday!

World’s Tiniest Batman Costume (Crochet Baby Beanie)

Geek Fashion

Warning: dressing your baby up as Batman is ridiculously cute and may make your head explode.

In honour of my new baby nephew, I made a pattern for a Batman baby beanie.  It’s quick to crochet: I made it in a few hours while visiting in the hospital, and that’s taking into account figuring out how to crochet a Bat-symbol.  The photos aren’t great: I just held up the hat in the hospital window and took a hand-selfie (my nephew is much cuter than my hand, but I didn’t want to put his photo all over teh Interwebs.)

If you’re going for full Bat-awesomeness, make the hat with ears:
Batman baby beanie with earsOr just make the beanie and Bat-symbol for a toned-down version (just an in-progess shot… of course I made Bat-ears):

Batman baby beanie no ears

What you’ll need:

  • baby-soft yarn in black and yellow (I used Caron Simply Soft, worsted weight)
  • size G/4.25mm crochet hook
  • yarn needle
  • a baby

Step 1: Make a beanie

You can use whatever pattern you like.  Use black yarn.  I’ve written up the pattern I made, but since the lil’ guy was born early you’ll probably want to make it bigger for a full-term newborn.  Stitches used are double crochet (dc), front post double crochet (fpdc), and back post double crochet (bpdc).  If you’re not familiar with fpdc and bpdc, these stitches are a great addition to your bag of tricks and will let you make ribs, cables, and all sorts of neat effects.  Here they’re used to make a stretchy ribbed border to hold the hat on.

  1. 8 dc in magic ring (8)
  2. ch 2, then 2 dc in each dc x 8, sl st into 1st dc of row to close circle (16)
  3. ch 2, then *dc, 2dc in next dc* x 8, sl st into 1st dc of row (24)
  4. ch 2, then *dc x 2, 2dc in next dc* x 8, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  5. if you’re going to make the hat bigger, keep increasing in this row (or start with more than 8 dc in your initial magic ring), otherwise ch 2 and dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  6. ch 2, dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  7. ch 2, dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  8. ch 2, dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  9. keep going with dc around rows if your hat isn’t long enough, otherwise ch 2, *bpdc, fpdc* x 16, sl st into 1st bpdc of row (32)
  10. ch 2, *bpdc, fpdc* x 16, sl st into 1st bpdc of row (32) (note that each bpdc should go into a bpdc, and each fpdc should go into a fpdc… this makes ribs)
  11. ch 2, *bpdc, fpdc* x 16, sl st into 1st bpdc of row (32)
  12. FO and weave in tail

Step 2: Make a Bat-symbol

Chain 30 with yellow yarn.  St st into the 1st chain to make a loop, and go around as shown in the picture.  Slip stitch into each chain around (little circles), with exceptions shown in the drawing (each group of stitches described goes into a single chain).  Leave a long tail and use it to sew the Bat-symbol onto the hat.

Bat symbol crochet


Step 3 (optional): Make Bat-ears

Use black yarn, make 2.  To quote my brother-in-law, these are more Michael Keaton than Adam West.  Feel free to adjust according to your favourite era of Bat-costume :)

  1. 3 sc in magic ring (3)
  2. sc around (3)
  3. inc, sc x 2 (4)
  4. sc around (4)
  5. inc, sc x 3 (5)
  6. sc around (5)
  7. inc, sc x 4 (6)
  8. sc around (6)
  9. *inc, sc x 2* x 2 (8)
  10. sc around (8)
  11. *inc, sc x 3* x 2 (10)
  12. sc around (10)
  13. *inc, sc x 4* x 2 (12)
  14. sc around (12)
  15. hdc, dc x 3, hdc x 3, sl st, FO and leave long tail to sew to hat (this makes one side longer so they fit on the side of the hat)

Squish the ears flat and sew to the sides of the hat.  Nana nana nana Baby Batman!!!  (Or Batgirl!!!)

QR Code Cross-Stitch: Great Idea, But Does It Work?

Sewing Projects

CD case frame 4

Cross-stitched QR codes have been popping up all over the web: I loved the idea, but was somewhat skeptical as to whether QR readers would recognize x-shaped stiches as perfect pixels and be able to read the code (especially since my stitching is a bit… heterogeneous, shall we say?)  So I did a science and tried it out.  I was inspired by a tutorial from MAKE but there are many others online: just go to a QR generating site like qrstuff and stitch away!  I recycled an old CD jewel case into a frame: tutorial at the end of the post.

I decided to stitch up one of my favourite quotes from House, to put on my desk at work:

Look Stupid House Quote 2

I’m not sure how to attribute the quote other than to the TV show: it’s not clear who did the graphic design (if you know, please tell me so I can give them credit).  After making a text-based QR code at, I printed it out so I could take it with me.  I found it easier to cross-stitch if I drew a grid on top of the code:

QR code printout

So… did it work?

QR code scanned

Yay!  I reject the null hypothesis and conclude that my horrible stitching is actually clear enough to be read by a QR reader.  Go science.

For a frugal (by which I mean free) and eco-friendly way to display your cross-stitch, you can make use of one of those old CD jewel cases you have gathering dust in a closet somewhere.  I’d hung on to this one since it was my friends’ album, and since no harm is done to the CD or case in the process, I can still listen to the music, and if they ever move back to Canada I can pretend I didn’t make crafts with it ;)

Step 1:  Put bristol board or other stiff card inside the front of the case and trace around it.  Cut out the shape, place it inside the front of the case, and trim if necessary.

CD case frame 2

Step 2:  Use an x-acto knife to cut out a window large enough for your cross-stitch.  Slide it back into the case, and tape the cross-stitch cloth inside, using the album liner to sandwich it in place.

CD case frame 3Step 3: Go relax, you’re done!  This is a very short tutorial.

CD frame case 5

Large Hadron Collider Quilt

For Science!, Sewing Projects

My winter project is done!  Inspired by the textile art of Kate Findlay, and using the Compact Muon Solenoid as my muse, I’ve finally finished the Large Hadron Collider quilt.  It’s 130 cm (about 53 inches) squared.  It’s hard to tell from the photographs, but the silver fabric is sparkly and the silver thread is metallic and shiny.  Yes, I’m a magpie with opposable thumbs.

Large Hadron Collider quilt close up

Embroidered on the back is a wee Carl Sagan quote that I thought was fitting:

Large Hadron Collider quilt Carl Sagan quote

Making a quilt is simple: just create a design, pick out some nice fabrics, and voila!  Five months later, you’ve spent a heck of a lot of time making a fancy blanket.  Of course, said blanket is also a nerdy piece of art, so if making a Large Hadron Collider quilt wins in your hedonic calculus, here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Sanity check

Are you sure you want to do this?  Quilt-making, like cross stitch, requires a significant amount of time and patience.  It really did take me five months from inception to completion, although I only worked on it from time to time, and it’s only my third quilt (the Portal companion cube quilt was my second).  If you’d like to dip a toe without all the commitment of a full-size quilted blanket, try a pillow or a small wall hanging first.

Step 2: Make a design

You know the saying “measure twice, cut once?”  Do that.  No, really.  Few things are more frustrating than realizing you made a measurement mistake and having to re-do a whole lot of sewing.  I started with a few sheets of sketching newsprint and drew out exactly what I wanted the quilt to look like.  This is also a great excuse to get out your old geometry set.

LHC quilt in progress 1

LHC quilt in progress 2Now that you have your paper pattern, you can cut out the pieces, and add a seam margin (1/4″ used here) to make your final pattern.

Step 3: Pick your fabrics

I’d recommend against spending a lot on fabric if you’re new to quilting.  For the record, everything used here was $3-$5/m on sale at Fabricland.  Recycled fabric works well too.

LHC quilt in progress 3

Step 4: Try out a small piece of your pattern

If you have a repeating element, start by cutting just enough fabric to make one.  I tried out a few iterations before I found the colour combination I liked best.

LHC quilt in progress 4

Step 5: Go crazy and cut all the pieces

This can be done while doing other things, like watching reruns of Storage Wars.

LHC quilt in progress 5

Step 6: Sew everything together

Start with each section (each repeating unit), then sew the sections together.  I used patchwork and applique, machine and hand sewing.  The more you can do by machine, the less time it will take.

LHC quilt in progress 6

Step 7: Make the back

Once you have something that resembles the front of a blanket, cut a piece of same-sized fabric for the back.  Place your front and back right-sides together, and sew three of the four edges together.  Now sew most of the fourth edge together, leaving a hole at least as big as your arm.

Step 8: Add quilt batting

Cut a piece of quilt batting the same size as your quilt.  Optional: use some washable fabric glue to tack down the batting so it doesn’t migrate all over the place when you turn it inside out.

LHC quilt in progress 7

Step 9: Turn the whole thing inside out

Turn the whole thing inside out, using the hole you left in Step 7.  Even if you used fabric glue, your batting probably still bunched up and migrated all over the place.  Stick your arm in the hole and skootch the batting all the way to the edges, and smooth it down.

Step 10: Quilting time

Unless you are part of a quilting circle (in which case: cool!), I’d recommend doing all the quilting by machine to save time.  Start by pinning all the edges, making sure the quilt batting hasn’t migrated again.  Sew around the edges until you get to the hole you left.

LHC quilt in progress 8Now, close the hole by hand.  I used a running subcuticular stitch to make it invisible.  I’m sure there’s a non-medical name for this stitch that sounds less creepy, but if you google it you’ll get the idea.

LHC quilt in progress 9

Once all the edges are done, quilt the rest of the blanket until you’re happy with it.  I only quilted along the major lines (so far, anyway), but you could certainly make it more like a traditional quilt.

I should mention that metallic thread, although eye-catching and shiny, is a real nuisance to work with.  It made a nice accent but I wouldn’t use it for anything structural since it has a tendency to snap.

Science FTW… if you make one too I’d be happy to post a pic or link on the blog :D

Geek Meets Bandwagon

Amigurumi Projects, Gamer Crafts, Random Musings

Like this blog, but don’t like reading all these pesky words?  Want to see what else I’ve been up to?  I started a Tumblog, since all the cool kids were doing it.  In addition to mini versions of the posts here, I’ll be posting pics of random things I’ve made that aren’t original ideas or patterns, like this oh-so-adorable (and easy!) Bob-Omb from a free pattern by Wolfdreamer.  It was too cute not to make, and with unpopped popcorn kernels inside, it makes a handy paperweight for anyone who still uses tree-derived information storage formats.

Bob-Omb amigurumi

I’ll still be posting free patterns and original projects here, but the microblogging format is nice for quick posts.  I’m always on the lookout for blogs to follow, too… the sheer amount of creativity in the world just blows me away :)