I know it’s not technically the right time of the year for skulls and morbidity but indulge me. Surely it’s not as bad as the endless hearts, cynical corporate cash-ins and worship at the altar of materialism. As Romeo and Juliet teaches us, love and death often go together.
That’s enough from me. Partly my annoyance comes from being born on V-day, which means all the shops are so full of schmaltz that you can scarcely find a birthday card among all the heart-brandishing bears. You could make one of these skull brooches for the love-bashing skeptic in your life.
- A small piece of shrink plastic. I used translucent but white or black would also work.
- A scrap of sandpaper. I use 400 grit wet and dry to prepare my plastic
- A selection of pens and pencils. I used ordinary coloured pencils, and silver and gold marker.
- Sharp scissors
- Strong glue
- Findings. I used a brooch back.
- Diamantes or rhinestones (optional). I bought a little pack of these from Amazon ages ago and they’re handy for all sorts of crafts. They’re intended for nail art.
- Acrylic sealer and/or clear nail polish. I bought some Plasti-kote matte acrylic spray. I’m not in love with it but I don’t know if any other brand would be better.
Draw a skull template
I used online reference images. Feel free to cheat and borrow mine if you like.
I did mine carefully and cut out the outline, folding in half to ensure it was symmetrical. It’s 9x6cm.
Sketch out your design
If you want to hang your skull, eg as a necklace or earrings, leave space to make a hole with a hole-punch.
Transfer design onto plastic
The advantage of using translucent shrink plastic is that you can simply trace straight over the design. I stuck the plastic to the sketch using masking tape.
I used black coloured pencil for all the outlines. Be careful to blow away dust from the pencils frequently to avoid smudges. Remember that colours will become much more saturated when you cook the plastic.
Cut out carefully and bake according to instructions
My few experiments with shrink plastic thus far have gone well and baked nicely. So I was horrified this time to open the oven and find the plastic totally curled in on itself. Fortunately I didn’t panic. I remembered reading that the plastic is malleable when hot so I gave it a few 15 second bursts in the oven, straightening it out in between and it worked!
Remove from oven and put a smooth book on top to help it stay flat
That’s a lot of shrinkage!
Carefully glue on additional embellishments
I used the dampened end of a match to pick up my rhinestones, and a pin to position small dots of glue.
Spray with several thin layers of sealer
I also used clear nail varnish on top for a shiny finish and to help prevent the rhinestones from falling off.
You could use nail polish instead of sealer if you don’t have it but MAKE SURE you test using it over any pens you put on your skull. The polish can cause some inks to spread.
Add your findings
Glue on a brooch back, or pop jump rings though any holes you punched and you’re ready to celebrate dia de los muertos, or indeed any dia, in sweet skully style.
For me, the real star of The Artist (apart from Uggie the dog) was the beautiful cloche sported by the leading lady. It was so elegant and seemed to encourage her to hold her head at a very flattering angle. I dreamed of owning such a hat but couldn’t find a good pattern for a knitted cloche and forgot the idea. Until, that is, I saw this post on Ravelry. Here’s my version.
The brim can be flipped up and worn in lots of different ways. I may stitch it down, though, as I like having it asymmetric around my face. This is a nice way to use up a ball of chunky yarn.
I must say that this hat isn’t quite the dream I’d had in mind. I got the ball of black chunky yarn for free and this seemed like a good use for it, but I think the hat would be a little classier if knit in finer yarn. I also would have preferred the moss stitch band to be broader but I didn’t have anymore chunky yarn. I think I’ll have a go at re-knitting it in a different colour once I find some yarn I really love. However, uncia didn’t leave clear instructions for how she completed her hat so I’m proud that I managed to re-create something that at least resembles what I imagined.
If you want to have a go at your own cloche, this is what I did.
Knit your basic beanie. I based my pattern on this one. Since I didn’t want to do the button band bit, I CO 69 (hee hee) sts in the round and knit until my contrast yarn ran out, switched to the main colour and knit until the hat measured around 5in. I evenly decreased 5 sts (k2tog) in line with where my next decreases would be (i.e. k8 k2tog), knit one row plain and then decreased according to the pattern.
This is what the sparkly crown looks like.
I then picked up 71 stitches (don’t know why I got two extra, but never mind) and began knitting down in moss stitch.
Next, I increased (kfb) every 10 stitches, so I had 7 evenly spaced increases. I knit 1 row in pattern, then added a M1 or M1-p between any stitched put out of pattern by the increases. I ended up increasing 11 stitches over these three rows. I wanted my brim longer so knit a couple more rows in pattern, then did another round of kfb increases, this time every 8 stitches. I ended up with 95 total, knit 1 row in pattern and bound off.
I know these notes aren’t very clear, but they may help someone!
I’m ready for my cloche-up, Mr DeMille.
I fell in love with this cowl when I first saw it a few months ago, and it is made with my favourite yarn, Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour, so it seemed like fate. This was a bit of an arduous knit, it just seemed to take forever even though it’s done on fairly large needles. Hence it taking about six months from casting on, with a several big breaks. The pattern is available to buy here.
Check out this seam.
What’s that? You can’t see it? Maybe that’s because I grafted it in pattern, baby! It took about three hours (because I made a mistake and undoing Kitchener stitch is a bitch) but I think it was worth it because the seam is, for all intents and purposes invisible.
Side note: Why is it called Kitchener stitch? I like to imagine Lord Kitchener sitting in a war room saying, “Knit purl, purl knit” while his admirals look on, baffled.
Anyway, grafting in pattern was a first for me, aided by this very useful post on the process. It also required a provisional cast on, another new technique.
I can’t remember which method I used now, but I would have Googled it.
Blue Ivy is still coming along. This week I finished the first sleeve- which I did knit full length- and cast on the second last night. Schoodic, my base cardi, is constructed in an interesting way I’ve not come across before so joining it all together will be interesting.
Card shops have a lot to answer for. Just the other day, I popped into one as I wanted to send a message to a friend who had lost two important members of her household. But could I find a ‘sorry your fish died’ card? Not for love or money. Well, money. The woman behind the counter got very sniffy when I asked about the store’s policy regarding trading against sexual favours and I was asked to leave.
Anyway, I decided to make my own. What’s quite cool here is that you can see that the design evolved quite a bit from my initial sketch to the end product.
I started out with the idea of making a jokey card with very simple fish silhouettes. But after I researched the fish (a fan-tailed and a bubble-eyed goldfish) on the internet, I realised that I could recreate them pretty accurately without it being ridiculously complicated.
Cutting out the text was definitely the hardest bit. I’m hoping I’m going to get better at using a craft knife soon! Because I sketched the design on scrap card, I was able to cut out templates for the fish, which I flipped over and traced onto my coloured paper.
I then had the shape the right way around on the paper with no pencil marks.
I wanted Wingus and Dingus to stand out, so I used some adhesive squares on their backs.
The observant among you will notice that one of those plants is, in fact, a pineapple as a subtle nod to Spongebob. I am all about understated allegory in my art.
As a final finishing touch, I added some rhinestones because SPARKLES. I used clear nail varnish to stick them down as that was the least messy thing I could think of.
Another hard bit was making their haloes. I used quite thick card because I wanted them to stand out, but cutting out the centres was a bitch.
Every time I knit a jumper, I swear that I will never knit another. Here is the outcome of such a resolution, made after finishing a top-down cabled and fitted jumper.
Classy mirror selfie for you there.
If you’re not already familiar with it, Rowan Kidsilk Haze is possibly the most wonderful yarn ever created. Kidsilk Haze Glamour kicks it up a notch by adding sequins. In my opinion, there are few things on this planet that aren’t improved by the addition of sparkles. I’m just planning my next project using this glorious yarn and looking forward to getting my needles into it.
This is a Kim Hargreaves pattern from Vintage Knits. I dispensed with the i-cord tie at the neck as I thought it was a little frumpy.
Here are a few pics from various stages.
Just a few rows in. I knitted my jumper on birch needles, which I also can’t recommend highly enough.
The back finished, i.e. about a quarter of the way through.
Sewing up! Always nerve-wracking.
My baby with all her ends sewn in. Ready for one of the most satisfying stages…
blocking. I followed the instructions pretty closely on this one, apart from varying the width of the stripes and adding in the sparkles. It came up rather short, which is unusual for me. Blocking made a big difference, and I will re-block when the jumper needs washing, to stretch it further.
Overall, I’d recommend this pattern. It’s simple enough to knit in front of the telly and was relatively quick given how fine the yarn is.