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Christmas Shopping

I have kind of a big family, so I have to start Christmas shopping in like, March. Today I got Computer Engineer Barbie for my niece. (No, that totally wasn’t a spoiler because, while precocious, she can’t read yet.) Computer Engineer Barbie isn’t perfect, but she’s definitely a step in the right direction as a toy for kids that breaks down gender stereotypes:

I loved playing with Barbies, but I usually chucked out the clothes they came with — goodbye, slutty miniskirts and oh-so-boring dresses — and would make them capes and superhero costumes out of masking tape, duct tape, scraps of fabric, construction paper, glitter glue and whatever else I could find lying around. Sometimes Barbie went to the beauty salon and came back looking like Joan Jett. Sometimes, when I was very lucky, I could get my hands on a Sharpie and then Barbie would go to the tattoo parlor. Sometimes Barbies got to trade heads. One year for my birthday I got a red Barbie Corvette. That was the year Barbie kicked Ken to the curb and cruised around the house fighting crime with She-Ra. (By the way, that Corvette was awesome at knocking over Cobra Commander and Skeletor. Barbie and She-Ra could take the stairs like Thelma and Louise while I shouted BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL so loud the neighbors sent their congratulations that my parents had a child with such healthy lungs.)

There’s plenty of debate over whether or not Barbie is a useful toy for girls. There’s the constant gender stereotyping (pink pink PINK!) and the fact that the default Barbie is always blonde and blue eyed can be problematic for the majority of girls who don’t look that way. But I had a lot of fun with my Barbies. They were to me what I wanted them to be. I didn’t feel constrained by what came wrapped up in the plastic box. More often than not I cut up the clothes and remade them in my own image.

It’s nice to see Mattel branching out from its early days of making dolls that look like mute, passive mannequins to making doctors, dentists, Olympic athletes, and now scientists. It tells girls they can be anything they choose to be, and that’s a message I want my niece to believe in. And it sure beats the hell of out those stupid (and mercifully out-of-production) Bratz dolls.

Now that I think of it, I could have really used somebody with leet hacker skillz on my crimefighting team. It totally would have helped that time Hordak took over my parents’ house using a mind control ray to turn all the household electronics evil.

Punkin Head

In honor of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, here’s a pattern for a punkin hat.

It tastes bad and it doesn't run around so I can chase it. What purpose does it serve?
Beautiful model Loki demonstrates the punkin hat

This hat is different from most beanies; it’s not worked by winding rounds down from the crown of the head. To produce the striping pattern the rows go vertically, and after the tube is closed the greenery is added to close the top. This is a moderately difficult hat to make. Stitches include single crochet, half double crochet, and double crochet.

Measurements

X: How big around your noggin is. If you like your hat snug, make it an inch smaller so the yarn stretches tightly. I like my hats looser, so I crochet to the exact size.
Y: Measurement directly upwards from the bottom of your earlobe, over the crown of your head, and down to the bottom of your other earlobe.

Materials

Prolly a G or H hook, depending on your gauge
Any nice soft 4-ply acrylic yarn. Vanna’s Choice in Terra Cotta and Kelly Green make great colors for this. One ball of each will be plenty. In fact, you’ll have tons of the green left over so if you’ve already got a bit of green lying around somewhere, don’t buy more.

Making the punkin

Time for math! Multiply Y by 2/5, or figure out what 40% of measurement Y is. This is measurement Z, or how tall the pumpkin hat will be. For most adults, about eight inches will do. Since you’re working in vertical strips, this is the target length of your rows.

Row 1: With the orange yarn, chain a length until it is Z in length. Note your gauge. Chain two more and turn. dc in the fourth chain from the hook. dc in each ch to the end. ch 1 and turn.

Row 2: 1 sc in the second st. 1 sc in the next st. 1 hdc in the next st. dc in each remaining st. ch 2 and turn.

Row 3: 1 dc in the second st. dc in each st until you get to the last 3 st. 1 hdc in the next st. 1 sc in each of the two remaining st. ch 1 and turn.

Row 4: 1 sc in the second st. 1 sc in the next st. 1 hdc in the next st. dc in each remaining st. ch 2 and turn.

Here’s the tricky part

Okay, it’s not that tricky. You’ve just completed the first “stripe” of the pumpkin. We could keep going like this all the way around like this, but it wouldn’t have the distinctive striping. (In fact, the whole reason I figured out this pattern in the first place is because previous attempts were easily mistaken for an orange.) What we’re going to do is reach beneath the loops you normally push the hook through to create a more visible line in the pattern.

Row 5: Turn the work ninety degrees toward you. Wind the yarn around your hook as for a normal double crochet. Instead of pushing the hook under the two loops of the previous row, go farther down and pull up a loop around the entire stitch itself. When you finish the double crochet, you should be able to see the top of the previous row raised up a bit. Finish out the row with dc until you get to the last 3 st. 1 hdc in the next st. 2 sc in the last two st. ch 1 and turn.

Row 6: 1 sc in the second st. 1 sc in the next st. 1 hdc in the next st. dc in each remaining st. ch 2 and turn.

Row 7: dc in the second st. dc in each st until you get to the last 3 st. 1 hdc in the next st. 1 sc in each of the two remaining st. ch 1 and turn.

Row 8: 1 sc in the second st. 1 sc in the next st. 1 hdc in the next st. dc in each remaining st. ch 2 and turn.

Check out your work. You should now have two “stripes” with 4 rows each. Take a quick measurement and figure out how many stripes you will need to make it to measurement X. If it won’t work out exactly, then you’ll need to do some stripes with maybe only 3 or 5 rows in a stripe to get to the right size. This can work anyway as pumpkins tend to be naturally irregular. Just be sure you space any irregularly sized stripes out evenly so the hat doesn’t look funny. The important part is that one end should always finish out with double crochets, and the other end should finish with the smaller single crochets and half double crochets so that it curves toward the crown of your head.

Repeat rows 5-8 to finish out stripes as needed until it’s X in length. Close the tube by slip stitching the ends together, looping around sts to create a raised ridge as for other stripes. Put one row of sc around the bottom edge of the hat to finish it off.

Congratulations! You’re done with orange. Now for the horrible SUPER FUN part.

Making the green topper

Take the green yarn. Ch 4 and close the round.

Round 1: 1 sc in each st. 4 st in rnd.

Round 2: 1 sc in next 2 st. 2 sc in next st. Repeat. 6 st in rnd.

Round 3: 1 sc in each st. 6 st in rnd.

Round 4: 1 sc in each st. 6 st in rnd.

Round 5: 2 sc in each st. 12 st in rnd.

Here’s where the windy vine goes. Ch for 4-6 inches. Turn. 2 sc in each st until you get back to the round. If you like a more pronounced windy vine, put in dc.

Round 6: 1 sc in next st. 2 sc in next st. Repeat five more times. 18 st in round.

Round 7: 1 sc in next st. 2 sc in next st. 1 sc in next st. Repeat five more times. 24 st in round. Close round. Ch 2.

Round 8: dc in next 2 st. 2 dc in next st. *dc in next 3 st. 2 dc in next st. Repeat from * four more times. 30 st in round. Close round.

The diameter of the green topper should be more or less 1/5 (20%) of measurement Y. Take the orange part of the hat and flip it inside out. Turn the green part of the hat upside down and fit it in place. Do one row of sc, connecting the green and orange parts together. Join the orange part as evenly as possible. Now’s a good time to try the hat on for size, as it’s easy to undo the last row and add or subtract to the green part as needed.

If all is well, flip the hat right side out and right side up. Take the hook out from the last loop. Reach down from the top side of the hat and pull the loop up through the work so it’s on the right side once again.

Good news. This is the last row. The work is a bit squishy, but you can figure it out. 1 sc in next st. 1 dc in next 3 st. 1 sc in next st. Repeat five more times and finish off.

Hooray! You are now the height of fall fashion. For an extra halloweeny look, you could add a Jack O’ Lantern, although I’ve left mine plain so it works all the way through Thanksgiving.

This is a tricky pattern. If any of it isn’t clear I’d love to hear from you. If anybody makes one, please do send me links and I’ll post them here.

A pumpkin crochet hat of moderate difficulty for all ages. No distinguishing fashion connoisseur should be without it this fall.

Tweets for the Week

It’s hard to be me

I have the two most awesome pairs of boots in the entire ‘verse. The problem I keep running into is that I can’t wear them both at the same time.

Shopping List

I need to round up all of the following within a week:

  • Silicon elf ears
  • Several decks of Magic: The Gathering cards
  • About a hundred twelve-sided dice
  • A silver cape
  • A cricket bat
  • A chainsaw

I’m pretty sure I already have everything else I need. No, I won’t say what all of this is for. But it’s IMPORTANT. If you are interested in showing up at my apartment early next Saturday morning with any of this stuff while dressed like a zombie, let me know.

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