2014 Cthulhumas Gift Guide

It’s the time of year when gift guides start popping up all over the Internet. In fact, you’ll find Craftypodes listed along with other really awesome handmade and indie microbusinesses in this year’s Indie A-List Gift Guide. But you aren’t looking for something that can be found among cheerful snowmen and smiling snowflakes, are you? You came here because you’re looking for something… really strange and kind of funny, right? Yep. We’ve got you covered. Merry Cthulhumas, and bring on the tentacles!

 

If you want something that says, “I am a perfectly responsible adult who doesn’t give in to all that – Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!” then you want an embroidered Cthulhu Organic Cotton Polo from Krmbal Clothing. I like to call it the Krmbalthulhu shirt.

You know what would go really well with a nice Cthulhu shirt like that? A new Cthulhu wallet from Geeks With Scissors. Bonus – You can still carry money in the wallet on the days when you aren’t wearing the shirt!

Oh, no… wait! Did you really think a being as great as Cthulhu can be contained to the front of a wallet? No, no, no! Just look!

That’s much more terrifying. Maybe too terrifying. We need some cute Cthulhus (Cutethulhus?) to take the scary factor down a bit. Something like a little stuffed Cthulhu amigurumi from Eny Time Creations!

Just look at his little tentacles! And those blue eyes look so innocent. “I would never eat you! You’re my friend!”

And if you like to collect dolls, you’ve probably got at least one who would look really cool sitting on a shelf in this tiny Dread Cthulhu Sweater from September Embroidery. It won’t fit you or me, but it is sized for 12 inch dolls.

If you or your favorite doll collecting geek are into fandom crossovers, imagine the many ways you can dress Cthulhu up so that he fits into a favorite setting.

Doctor Whothulhu! He is neither the only well-dressed Cthulhu nor the only cute fandom creation you’ll find at Melissa’s Cute Crochet. I could spend some time looking around over there! I saw a really cute Chewbacca in there just a minute ago.

If you’re looking for something situated closer to the intersection of Practical and Tentacle, you may be interested in a beautiful hand thrown ceramic Cthulhu mug from Skeletal Dropkick. If you’re into artsy dinnerware, you should look through their work.

Speaking of artsy… we haven’t forgotten you, arts and crafts geeks! We here at Craftypodes have released our first Merry Cthulhumas cross-stitch pattern. It’s a small piece – 45 stitches wide by 71 stitches tall.

Merry Cthulhumas

As long as you’re going to be drinking from Cthulhu mugs and stitching Cthulhu art, why not hang a tiny Cthulhu on your tree? The Cthulhu ornament from Tranifer’s Wonky Critters is amazingly adorable!

Will you be teaching the little ones about Cthulhu while gathered around the tree this year? No? I don’t blame you. He might give them nightmares. Even if they’re too young for the unspeakable horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos, you aren’t too old for coloring books. Treat yourself to a Cthulhu Coloring Book with Bonus Zombies from Amy’s Not Dead Yet!

This is a really awesome list of gifts to let your geek flag fly and maybe risk Cthulhu rising from R’lyeh! What about keeping things in, though? AM and PM Goods can make a personalized Cthulhu book bag that will hold all of your maps to exotic locations while you hunt down strange artifacts. Or, you know, math books while your kid rides the bus to school. Math is really important if you’re going to hunt down doomsday cults and Deep Ones someday.

If you aren’t looking for adventure… if all you want is a quiet place to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Call of Cthulhu on your Kindle, then there’s even something in Yogg-Santa’s bag for you. geekify offers this very nice Necronomicon Kindle cover to make people think twice about asking what you’re reading. (It’s also available for iPad and other devices.)

Like what you see, but not really into Cthulhu? Every business featured here sells more than just tentacles! Make Cthulhumas special by supporting small businesses and we’ll put in a good word for you when Cthulhu comes to devour us all. Merry Cthulhumas!

 

Merry Cthulhumas Cross-Stitch Pattern

We’re so happy to announce that our first Cthulhumas cross-stitch pattern is now available! You can get it for immediate download through Craftsy. You can also find it in our regular shop, but please note you will have to wait up to 24 hours for the pattern to be emailed to you if you buy it there.

Merry Cthulhumas

It isn’t a very large piece. Just 3 1/4 inches by 5 inches when stitched on 14-count Aida cloth. It is 71 stitches tall and 45 stitches wide. The pattern includes a materials list, tips for stitching, color coded chart, and a chart with symbols.

It’s really interesting to think about the creation process when talking about Cthulhu, as the stories mention him reaching out to the minds of artists and inspiring their work. One of my least favorite questions as an artist (I know a lot of artists who agree with me on this) is, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s also a very common question. The truth is, an artist gets their ideas from the same place anyone else gets an idea. It comes from life! The world around you, your experiences, things that pop up in your entertainment, a random idea that floats through your head while washing dishes. Sometimes it comes from the books you read.

I’m backwards from a lot of other geeks when it comes to Cthulhu. Almost everyone I know who knows about Cthulhu found him through video games or the Call of Cthulhu rpg first, then found out about H.P. Lovecraft’s books. I read about Cthulhu first and was delighted to see him showing up in games later.

Sometimes people ask me if our patterns are things I “just made up” and I’m not sure how to answer them. Very few things in this world have ever been “just made up” and there wasn’t much of a market for them because the creator was usually written off as stupid, insane, or a combination of the two. Sometimes we start with one of David’s ideas, not mine. There is a lot of planning together that happens before something others would recognize as “working on a pattern” starts. I do tell people who ask that our patterns start with me doing a drawing, then I turn the drawing into a pattern, and David tests the pattern.

It’s really exciting every time we sell a pattern to know that someone is going to stitich it! We’re really hoping we’ll start seeing some photos soon of finished pieces. We would love for you to share your work with us if you use one of our patterns.

David’s Anime Picks

Kelly mentioned a while back that she was looking for some anime to watch while stitching. While our anime choices often overlap, we do have very different general style preferences. These are some of my favorites to watch while crafting.

The above is one of my favorite scenes from Dragonball Z. The kid, Gohan, was getting severely beaten and was giving up hope of winning against a fierce opponent, Cell. His father, Goku, who is dead at the time, spoke to him in his mind and helped him build up the strength to defeat Cell. The series, created by Akira Toriyama, started with a retelling of The Monkey King legend in the original Dragonball series, but morphs into a more action-oriented battle to save the world from all sorts of foes in Dragonball Z. I’m also realizing how difficult it is to summarize such an epic series…

Berserk heads in a much darker direction than Dragonball. Guts, the guy with the huge sword above, is a mercenary content only to fight whoever gets in his way. He ends up joining the Band of the Hawk to aid in a civil war ravaging the country, but ends up down a demonic path as the white-haired mercenary leader, Griffith, makes a pact for power that intends to sacrifice the lives of the entire band. This show has graphic violence, rape, and torture, and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. The manga, which I’ve also read, has an even more disturbing story and progresses further down the demonic path that Griffith leads Guts toward.

Outlaw Star is a much more light-hearted space western. If you like Firefly, you’ll probably like this one. The red-haired guy with the special gun is Gene Starwind and the leader of the crew and looking to find the “Galactic Leyline”, a place said to hold immense treasure. Along the way he recruits a boy genius, a ninja assassin, an immensely strong cat-girl, and a mysterious girl who is somehow able to power his ship with thought. It’s a really fun series with some serious notes sprinkled throughout.

And lastly I’ve got Sailor Moon. We’ve been watching the original series on Hulu lately, and Hulu also has the new Sailor Moon Crystal, which is a retelling of the story that follows the manga more closely. It also seems to be much faster paced with the story progression than the original. Sailor Moon is the original “Magical Girl” anime and follows Sailor Moon and the rest of the Sailor Guardians as they protect the world from evil and try to uncover their own past. It’s a generally fun and humorous series that goes into some definite serious moments.

Crafty Partner – David’s Favorites from Jess Hoops

Kelly’s really been enjoying the hoops that she’s bought from Jess Hoops, and I’ve been having fun using them as well. But now, I’ve actually bought my own, and I’m really glad I did! Here are some more of my favorites.

This is the one I bought for myself. I just love Shepherd Book.

The Serenity Hoop has my favorite colors – black and red.

The TARDIS hoop is great if you love blue. Blue was my favorite as a kid, but shifted since then.

And I couldn’t leave out the Star Trek hoop.

A NaNoWriMo Lesson for Creative People, Whether You Participate or Not

As of this moment my NaNoWriMo word count is 7424. We’re on Day 4. (You’re reading this on Wednesday. I wrote it on Tuesday. No, I’m not taking questions about my time machine right now.) If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo that number may sound a little small. Four days of writing and that’s all I’ve got? If you have done, are doing, or know someone who does NaNoWriMo well enough to be informed about how it all works, you know I’m actually ahead of schedule. I’m really hoping that helps later in the month when my word count slows to a crawl while we host Thanksgiving, or when I realize I really need to make the time to work more on Christmas gifts.

Why am I doing NaNoWriMo? Doesn’t everyone know yet that November is a horrible month for something like this and that no one actually goes back and edits those books to make them fit for publication?

One of those things is true, and I did say after the last time I did NaNoWriMo that I didn’t feel a need to do it again. And there’s the key! Do I feel a need to do NaNoWriMo this year? I ask myself that every October so I’ll have time to get ready if the answer is yes. It just hasn’t been yes in several years.

Four years ago, I shut my life down for November and focused on writing 50k words of fiction in one month. I put my work on hold. (Craftypodes didn’t exist yet, but I was selling my illustration art at the time.) I crammed all the Christmas gift crafting into December. I set up a blog just to keep people updated on my progress, but interacted with others very little. I didn’t participate on the NaNoWriMo forums or find any local people for write-ins. I popped into Twitter now and then just to check the #NaNoWriMo tag. Somehow, I did make a few friends even after all that effort to shut everyone out.

I almost didn’t win that year. I was using a word processing program that saved things in a different file type than I wanted, so I changed the file type when saving. I was also saving each chapter individually. This resulted in having two copies of each chapter and me getting confused when pasting things into the word counter. On the last day, I thought I had written under 40k words when I had actually written 50208. Luckily, I caught my mistake in time!

But did I want to go through all of that again in 2011? No. 2012? Nope. 2013? Nuh-uh.

2014? Yes and no. I don’t want to do what I did before. I don’t want to shut everything out, make more work for myself later, and freak out over every little thing that might stand between me and the 50k word goal.

This year, I’m reading and sometimes posting on the forums. I’m actually checking IGGPPC‘s #IggleWriMo tag more often than the #NaNoWriMo tag. (Shout-out to House Organa!) I went to a local write-in last night, and I’m going to do it again because they’re really cool people and there’s a good chance we’ll be friends after this. I’m working on Christmas gifts and still pulling my share of the Craftypodes load. Maybe I’ll hit 50k and maybe I won’t, but I’ll tell you what I will get either way.

I understand better how I feel about my creative work, as well as what my creative priorities are.

I know now that I am not willing to do the hard work of getting to 50k at any cost. Hitting it is the goal, yes, but I don’t get a big enough emotional reward from getting there to justify putting all that stress on myself. I know which things I’m willing to work on even if no one else understands or appreciates what I’m doing, and which things I really just want to be part of the community experience. No pressure… just show up and be counted.

I understand that if I’m not willing to do the hard work, it’s not actually that important to me, and so there’s no reason to carry regret over it. It is absolutely okay that I don’t have a streak of years that I’ve won!

That’s the question to ask yourself about your own creative work. Do you want this so badly that you’re going to regret not having done it, despite how hard the work is? If the answer is yes, then it doesn’t matter how scared you are, how terrible it turns out at first, or how many people don’t like it, don’t understand it, or think you’re stupid for doing it. As RuPaul says, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” If the answer is no, then let go of the “Aw, but I kinda wish I coulda…” feeling and free yourself up to pursure things that are important to you. Do something that does matter instead of chaining yourself down with what doesn’t.

When you learn to do that, you win all year long. Not just in November.

Halloween Tale – The Call of Sockthulhu

The main event for Halloween at Casa Craftypodes is the annual Mutilation of the Vegetables ritual. We’re rather pleased with how this year’s pumpkin came out. Pumpkinthulhu!

We’ve been having a lot of Cthulhu fun lately. Our last pattern for this year, to be released in November, is a Cthulhu cross-stitch pattern. We’ve gotten a lot of encouragement and support from our online community (especially our friend Tessa from Krmbal Clothing) to start doing a Cthulhumas Gift Guide for the holidays. Today, because it’s Halloween and a perfect time for monster tales, we want to share Sockthulhu with you.

It was probably about ten years ago now that I made Sockthulhu from a pair of green socks. I had never made a doll from socks before, and I think it shows. (You’ll see a picture of him further down.) I don’t remember if I wrote the parody of H.P Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu first, or if that came after the doll, but I know they were connected to each other. The story is just as long – or short, depending on you feel about short stories – as Lovecraft’s tale. My version conjures up more memories of childhood playthings, though.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

The Call of Sockthulhu

I. The Horror in Crayon

Ignorance truly is bliss. When you don’t know something, there’s a good chance you also don’t know that you don’t know it.  It just doesn’t exist for you. Once you become aware of what you don’t know, it becomes a thirst you can only quench by immersing yourself in it, and that holds the risk of drowning. Unless you’re hollow plastic. You’ll be pretty safe, in that case.

For as long as I can remember before the events of this story, I was a very happy toy in The Child’s bedroom. I was played with often, but also had plenty of time to myself for looking through books. Oh, yes… I’m a literate toy! I graduated in the top of my class at Playskool. I knew my time in The Child’s room would not last forever, though. From time to time, older toys went out and newer toys came in. The older toys were never seen again. No one really knew what became of them, but  there were theories. Some said toys that made The Child happy went to a very happy place, but toys The Child didn’t like were punished. Some said all toys went to a happy place. Some said we were melted down, or otherwise taken apart, and made into new toys. Some said there was nothing outside of The Child’s room, and toys that were taken out simply ceased to exist. The Child would carry a toy off sometimes and bring them back, but they always told the most outlandish tales about what was beyond the bedroom and were mostly ignored.

I didn’t cling to any particular belief on the subject, and saw leaving The Child’s room as the start of a great adventure. I was a little disappointed to find out the adventure started inside a black plastic bag. I was tossed in with a lot of other toys, and the bag was emptied into an open storage bin. I have no idea what might have been between the bedroom and the playroom. I only know many of the toys we’d seen leave the bedroom before were here, but the ones who could remember arriving in the playroom had no more answers than I did.

The playroom, I soon started to understand, is a place where toys go when The Child is fond enough of them to hold onto, but not so fond as to keep in the bedroom any longer. Some toys are eventually taken from the playroom, and others never stop there after leaving the bedroom. Theories about what might be beyond the playroom were the same theories I’d already been hearing for years about the situation I’d just found myself in. The playroom held an old dollhouse and furniture, shelves of old books, half-full boxes of art supplies, and a closet and chest of drawers containing old clothes. I was looking through some of the books when I came upon a loose sheet that had a strange crayon drawing on it.

The drawing was of some sort of green monster. It had a head that looked like a whole octopus, but then it had a body with arms and legs. It also appeared to have wings, but I’m not entirely sure the thing could have flown. Not without batteries. Was it a remote control monster? Had The Child drawn this? I’d never seen anything like it… not amongst the dinosaurs, nor amongst the monsters that attacked the pirate ships. The spaceman was a new enough toy that he still didn’t have any monsters to fight yet. It was impossible for me to believe a monster like this might actually exist in any toybox The Child would own.

II. The Tale of the Little People Policeman

As time passed and it started to sink in that The Child would not come rushing in each day to play with us, I started building friendships with toys I’d not had a chance to know well before. The Fisher-Price family and I started getting together for afternoon chats. One of them is a policeman, and I asked him what he knew about the crayon drawing. The tale he told me chilled me so that I had to sit closer to the red LED fireplace.

One night, while patrolling the playroom, the policeman had heard strange sounds coming from in front of the chest of drawers. He made his way past a few stacks of books, and over a couple of piles of old sweaters. As he approached, the sounds began to sound more like chanting. Hiding in the pocket of one of the sweaters, he saw an obscene ritual taking place before him.

A LEGO altar had been built, and the policeman could not identify what was on it, but it appeared to be made of yarn. The altar was encricled by rings of dancing, chanting toys. Well, what used to be toys. There were naked Barbie dolls with hair that had been cut to uneven lengths and stuck out in all directions. There were stuffed animals with bald patches, often missing an eye or nose. Some of them were missing entire arms and legs, bits of stuffing sticking out of the holes. Some toys were missing their heads, but their bodies danced anyway. A few were electronic toys with lights that blinked at the wrong times or sections of wire dangling from broken plastic casings. A platoon of plastic army men that had been partially melted, had the ends of the guns chewed, or were otherwise deformed stood guard for the rest. Over and over, again and again, the policeman heard them chant the same gibberish: “In’ay is’hay awer’dray Ate’gray Sockthulhu
aits’way eaming’dray.”

The scene was too horrible and violent for one policeman to handle. He left until the next day, and found the crayon drawing when he returned. “I stuck it on the bookshelf myself,” he told me. “I didn’t want the other toys to see it. I don’t know if
they could handle it.”

“Did you ever find out what the chanting meant?” I asked.

“I did. It seems the deformed toys can’t talk very well. Or maybe it’s some ancient language. At any rate, I made a few discreet inquiries, then managed to crack their code. It means, ‘In his drawer Great Sockthulhu waits dreaming.’ That’s all the cult ever said that night.”

I asked why he called them a cult, and he told me that was another horrible tale. It was told to him by Ragdoll, who may be the oldest of all of us. She told him there had been a time when all toys knew Sockthulhu. He had not appeared from a box or bag one day, but had been carried into the bedroom by The Child’s Mother. Sockthulhu had come from the sewing basket, which The Child’s Mother kept downstairs. Many toys who’d been carried out and come back had spoken of going downstairs, but Sockthulhu had actually been made there.

Sockthulhu was closed up in the drawer one day, but many toys believe a time will come that the drawer will open and Sockthulhu will return. The deformed toys formed a cult that not only worships Sockthulhu, but works to bring about his return. It is their belief that the rituals they perform will open the drawer one night. “They say he calls to them,” Ragdoll said. “He’s made of green socks, but has large black button eyes. They say they hear those eyes clicking against the inside of the drawer as he moves. And they say he sends them images, dreams. That’s where the crayon drawings come from. They say a toy that has felt the call of Sockthulhu cannot resist it.”

However, the policeman explained to me, one toy had managed to resist. The sock monkey had been taken in by the cult and given high status, being made of socks, but left the group. He had been unwilling to talk about his experiences, though. I thought I might have more luck than the policeman did, and said I’d try talking to him the next night.

III. The Madness From the Rug

When I found where the sock monkey had been hiding, it turned out he’d already been taken from the playroom. A kind stuffed dog had been taking care of him, and she said he’d left some sort of drawings, but she couldn’t make sense of them. Whatever they were, he hadn’t wanted her to be upset by them, so he’d drawn them all in colors that would make no sense to the color blind dog. She allowed me to take the papers, and I spent some time trying to get them in the proper order and understand their meaning. What I am recording here is the best I could get from it all.

The cult had elevated the monkey to a high position without really explaining to him what they were all about. After his first (and only) ritual, the monkey decided he just wanted to spend some time playing with LEGOS, not sacrificing anything on them. He left the group, but knew enough about Sockthulhu from that ritual that his curiosity grew every day. Eventually, he had to find out if Sockthulhu was real.

The playroom floor was wood, but a rug sat right in front of the chest of drawers. The monkey made his way to the rug, and was only a few feet from the drawer where Sockthulhu was supposed to dream, when he started getting nervous. At this point, I figured the policeman had been right about the sock monkey resisting, and he must have decided to abandon his expedition. Sadly, the next drawing told a much different story. The sock monkey had gone right up to the bottom drawer and started tugging at the handle. He’d almost decided it wasn’t going to open when he fell back and several pairs of socks landed on top of him!

The next few pictures had been scribbled over, as if the sock monkey regretted drawing them. It would appear that something did come out of the drawer. Something with green tentacles, knitted wings, and black button eyes. The last picture showed a tentacle just inches from the sock monkey’s tail. The paper was torn after that, and it’s impossible to say if there was anymore to the story. Somehow, the drawer ended up shut again, and I can only hope Sockthulhu is still in there.

A few days after my talk with the policeman, the Fisher-Price family left the playroom. I don’t know that Ragdoll was taken out, but I have noticed she isn’t sitting in her usual spot near the dollhouse. It seems those who know too much about Sockthulhu don’t last long in here. That may be for the best. How can I walk amongst the toys pretending everything is okay? How can I forget about the crayon drawings? I don’t think I’ll have to. I won’t be staying long enough for it to matter.

 

 

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