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.

 

 

Now Taking Submissions for 2014 Cthulhumas Gift Guide

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Cthulhumas? Yes! Lets be honest about the holidays. Not everyone celebrates the same ones, and some people really don’t like any of the traditional ones. Cthulhu isn’t biased, though. We’re all just something to be devoured when the stars align and he rises from his prison. We can all write letters to Yogg-Santa and argue over who gets to put the Starspawn at the top of the tree.

If you make and sell work inspired by Cthulhu or other horrors that came from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft, we’d like to invite you to submit your work for our 2014 Cthulhumas Gift Guide post. We’d like to have the post out around Thanksgiving, so please have your submissions in by November 15th. There are instructions at the top of this form for sending in pictures of your work. Filling out the form will cover all the other information we need.

Merry Cthulhumas!

Did you see Craftypodes on the Urban Threads Blog?

We are huge fans of the patterns from Urban Threads and I’ve stitched several of them in the past! This was one of my favorites to do.

That particular one was bought, so I may need to make another to keep one day.

Did you see us on the Urban Threads blog recently? They featured the awesome science crest I stitched from one of their patterns (another favorite)! You can also see the buttons made by Little House of Crafting in the picture, as that was a collaboration we did. Go over and take a look!

October Totally Useless Stitch-a-Long and A New Look

The end of October is in sight! Our costume headbands are alomost finished. We’re doing a really simple version of Artemis and Luna from Sailor Moon this year. We’ve bought our pumpkin, but I don’t know how I’ll carve it yet. Better decide soon! Even the moon is ready to move on to November. “Look! New moon! Don’t you wanna get that new month started?” And the new moon means it’s time for this month’s Totally Useless Stitch-a-Long.

When it feels like progress on a project has gotten really slow, I look at the jar now. If that’s just the little snippets and waste bits, how much more thread makes it into our work? Admittedly, the jar got a little bit of a boost this month from discarding some old thread that was getting kind of fuzzy and faded. Here’s last month’s picture for comparison.

If you’re a regular visitor, you may have noticed things look a little different around here today. You’ll still find the same things in (mostly) the same places, but everything is a bit… simpler. Neater. We hope you feel comfortable. Bring your stitching and sit a while.

Sponsorship Changes in time for 2014 Holidays

Let’s start with the obligatory “I don’t even want to think about the holidays yet!” Chances are, though, you’ve already been thinking about the holidays if you run your own business. Especially if you run a handmade business.

We’ve made some changes to our sponsorship options in time for the 2014 holidays. There are no changes to what we’re looking for in a Crafty Partner, and those requirements are the same for our new option – Creative Buddies! We will give preference to handmade businesses, but what we’re really looking for are independent creators and artists who provide quality work and great customer service.

Crafty Partners get the spot immediately below our social media links over there on the sidebar. There are three spots available. Banners will be shuffled on page load, but all three display at all times. This is a 250 x 100 pixel banner, and you will get regular promotion on our Twitter feed during the month. This is a great choice if you want to get the word out about your business on Twitter but are not a regular Tweeter yourself.

Creative Buddies have a 125 x 125 pixel space below the Crafty Partners. We can accept up to six Creative Buddies at a time and your ad will be shown for 30 days, just like the Crafty Partners. Again, ads are shuffled but are displayed at all times.The price is an ad swap – you display our ad and we’ll display yours. This is a great option if you would like to get your name out there to a broader audience but have already reached the limits of your holiday advertising budget.

Take a look at our sponsorship options and information, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

New Framed Cross-Stitch Art – Witches Stitches

We’ve already released the pattern for you stitchers out there, and now you can own the completed Witches Stitches art in our shop!  This one was a lot of fun to stitch up and both of us took turns doing so.  You can still pick it up in time for Halloween and be able to show it to all of your friends who love puns as much as you do!  Or, you can keep it all to yourself.  Whatever works for you!

Tutorial : Bleach Pen Mandala Shirt

If you’ve got a little time to waste this weekend and some old shirts that you aren’t ready to throw out but really don’t like looking at, I’ve got something for you to do! We recently covered how to draw a mandala. Now we’re going to talk about how to draw one with a bleach pen.

I did this last Sunday afternoon with a ratty old shirt worn for painting and mowing the yard, a Clorox Bleach Pen, and a piece of cardboard that came from the side of a box. I’ve been told you need to soak the shirt with baking soda when rinsing it out to neutralize the bleach. I don’t know how true that is, but I went ahead and did it so you also might want to have a little baking soda on hand. Maybe two tablespoons.

The darker petals in the mandala in the photo above are just a trick of the light. You can see, though, that the shirt has a couple of small holes, some fading, paint splatters, and is just generally worn out. It was the perfect shirt to try this with… no way I could ruin the shirt if it didn’t work. I’d suggest doing the same until you get the hang of drawing with the bleach pen. Worst case, the shirt isn’t really any worse. Best case, you’ve given new life to an old rag!

I slipped a big piece of corrugated cardboard from the side of a box into the shirt so the bleach wouldn’t go through to the back.  I want to say a piece of wax paper or butcher paper would probably also work, but I don’t know for certain. If you’ve done something similar before and know it will work, or want to be brave and adventurous with this project, you can try one of those if you don’t have access to a cardboard box.

Decide where you want to start the center of your mandala.  I wanted to disguise that hole in the shirt, but didn’t want it to become a hole at the center of the mandala. I started near there. This is a great way to create some cool off-center designs, so you don’t have to start right in the middle of the shirt front. Mine is low and slightly to the right (from my point of view while wearing it.) You could make one for an expecting mother that puts the design right on her belly.

Shake your bleach pen, take the cap off, and start drawing! I had never used a bleach pen before, so I learned a few things doing this. You need to squeeze a little, but don’t squeeze too much. Just enough to make a white line is fine. I made some of my lines a little too thick and it was just a waste of bleach. It comes out as a sort of gel, so it doesn’t really spread everywhere, but you can make it stretch a lot further if you don’t use more than necessary.

I let mine sit for about 15-20 minutes when I was finished, and you can see that lines drawn earlier bleached more color out of the shirt than lines drawn toward the end. Keep this in mind when deciding what order to do your main lines and details in. You can make everything fade out from the center, or you can draw all of your main shapes and then go back and do smaller details so that the details look faded.

You might want to have a plan for what to draw. I didn’t this time, but I would if I did this on a shirt I bought for the project. Just winging it is kind of fun, but I did feel a sense of, “Need to keep drawing! Don’t let the bleach sit too long!” (But don’t make yourself rush! I think I spent around half an hour drawing mine.) If you think that might lock your brain up, sketch out your ideas on a piece of paper first.

If you’re familiar with using paint pens and such, you might have good control for getting finer lines and smaller details. If not… well, you don’t see the variance in line weight on my shirt that you saw in the mandalas I draw on paper. Just like drawing a mandala on paper, though, don’t worry too much over a mistake. Work with it. Let it be part of your unique design.

After I let the shirt sit for the bleach to take effect, I just picked the whole thing up – cardboard still inside – and carried it off to the bathtub to rinse. We have a detachable shower head, which I used for the first part of rinsing the shirt. The gel dried a little. Not to the point of being hard, but it didn’t start running down the shirt, either. After I turned the water in the shower on, I whipped the cardboard out of the shirt and quickly stuck the shirt under the water.

After rinsing, I put the shirt in the sink with water and a little baking soda to soak for about five minutes. Then I thoroughly rinsed the shirt and hung it to dry.

You could do a lot of things to a shirt with a bleach pen. Fancy name writing, a favorite quote… anything you can draw or write in just one color. The color will, of course, depend on the color of the shirt and how long you let it sit after drawing. I wouldn’t suggest using any shirt that is so light in color that a small bleach spot might go unnoticed. And make sure you get the bleach pen made for whites. This is one time you do NOT want to use color-safe bleach, so make sure you’re also wearing a shirt that it’s okay to get bleach on. I didn’t have that happen while I was doing this, but why take chances? I suggest buying a new bleach pen for this project so you’ll know it’s not too old or about to run out. It’ll say on the package if it’s only intended for white fabrics.

Now you have a wearable piece of your own artwork!

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