Tuesday, February 14

Crocheting a Minecraft Creeper

Courtesy of Minecraft Wiki
I started crocheting a Minecraft Creeper near the end of Dec 2011. I got in over my head.
Creepier Side of the Creeper, no?

How could I resist Toytester Bob's vision? We both want to see crochet capture its pixelated look. 

This certainly complicates the crocheting: the color changes are frequent and random.

I pretty much only got the face done by Christmas. It was so slow-going back then that...I...lost heart. It's my first challenging crochet intarsia project. A project like this takes a unique kind of planning, as I'm finding out.

A little over a month has gone by and I've figured out how to go about it. I've crunched the numbers (of pixels, colors, yards per gram of yarn, etc). I'm re-inspired! Most importantly I can now track how far along I am (37%)--I thought it was barely 10%. No wonder I lost heart! 

Kitting it up
Another reason I initially lost heart is that I thought I couldn't make it portableToday I'm "kitting up" the Creeper body parts. This makes it even more fun. They're grab-and-go little kits because I've learned that to have a fair chance of finishing this project, it must be portable. This means NOT lugging around 6 messy skeins of yarn, for example.
Ready to wind into butterfly bobbins

A plus is that the crochet stitches only have to look nice on one side. For a stuffed 3D figure--it will stand 8 inches tall--it needn't be reversible. I also won't be weaving in any yarn ends. If it were to become a Minecraft Creeper afghan instead (imagine!!), I think I'd still go about crocheting it the same way and put a soft fabric backing on it as for a quilt.

Another plus is that as crocheting amigurumi goes, this one is elementary geometry: just stack some 3D squares and rectangles. This means: zero shaping (increasing or decreasing stitches); I can crochet it in several flat pieces; all seams are straightforward; it's easy to calculate yarn amounts needed for each color.

When I first started this project I planned to blog my progress, for my own records and for others who wish to crochet a pixel-like Creeper. This means I have earlier blog posts in my head. To move forward from here instead, I'll just list the steps taken so far.

Initial attempt to make it quick & easy: variegated
camo yarn and diagonal box stitch (shown is
linked stitch version--to close gaps between the
stitches.) Toytester Bob reminded me that
a true Creeper has no shades of brown.
1. I picked the crochet stitch (single crochet in rows), yarn type (worsted weight), and construction (flat in rows then seamed; stuffed with foam blocks). I'd hoped I could just do the diagonal box stitch with variegated yarn! If so, I could have finished it in a few days. It didn't create the digitized look we wanted, though. Also, the taller double crochet stitches had gaps between the stitches, which let the stuffing show through. 

Courtesy of PlanetMinecraft.com
2. Once I accepted the jacquard-tapestry-intarsia-crochet challenge, I limited the number of colors to five, plus black. (For the record, a true Creeper appears to have more than 3 shades of green and 2 shades of grey). I used a mix of ToytesterBob-approved colors from my stash + whatever I could find in the three stores nearest me. I found the best color choice at the time with Vanna's Choice afghan yarn.

The 8 toes of the 4 feet
3. After crocheting the face I then crocheted all of the "toes" of the feet blocks. This was so that I could eliminate the skein of black yarn. The project page I created in Ravelry covers the first stage. 

4. Decide on bobbins or stranding. Yes I know: Step 4?? But until this stage, I wasn't sure if I should pick one technique: crochet over the other colors, or strand across the back, or use small cut lengths (bobbins). A mix of all three is working out the best in terms of uniformly snug stitches, clean color changes (I'm still learning though!), and ease of working

5. Mapped out on the graph for each of 7 different types of pieces when bobbins are best vs. stranding, block by block! 

6. Measured best cut lengths of yarn for one block of color, a group of two, and so on. This was so that I could create bobbins for my portable kits.

7. Counted totals of blocks of each color to see if I would need more than one skein of each. I'll need another skein of the light green and the medium green.