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10 Cute and Creepy Crochet Creations

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People all over the web are making amazing things with one hook and some yarn. If your idea of crochet is the afghan throw your great aunt made years ago, you are in for a treat! Amigurumi is the art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed characters of all kinds -and there is a vast array of those characters in craft forums, blogs, photo sites, and of course, Etsy. With so many online, I chose to focus on the more bizarre, offbeat, and downright creepy (but still cute) crocheted characters for this post.

1. Hannibal Kitty

Raquel Schleimer crochets and sells one-of-a-kind amigurumi monsters at monsterami. One of her masterpieces combines Hello Kitty with Hannibal Lecter, which is enough nightmare for anyone!

2. Monsters

Lucy Ravenscar makes tiny science fiction and fantasy characters, including adorable monsters. The patterns can be bought through her Etsy store. A very few of her finished creatures are for sale.

3. Black Metal

Karabouts has a nice collection of amigurumi figures that are not for sale, but Kara teaches doll-making techniques in New York City, and she and Mike are preparing to start selling patterns for their creations. The Norwegian Black Metal doll has all the necessary accessories.

4. Sid & Nancy

It takes a real artist to crochet real people so small and make them instantly recognizable. Croshame does just that with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen here in a classic pose. You'll also recognize the cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show in crocheted miniature.

5. Big Daddy

Nerdigumuri crocheted Big Daddy from the game Bioshock, among other video game characters you'll find at her website. They aren't for sale, but she shares the patterns for them so you can make your own!

6. Sandworm

DeviantART member smapte crochets science fiction characters, including Paul Atreides (Muad'Dib) with a sandworm from Dune.

7. Organs

Sarah Louise Burns is an actress, but also a craftster who crochets body parts. Shown is a set of kidneys, ureters, and bladder, but you can find brains, eyeballs, lungs, glands, and more at her Etsy shop.

8. Roadkill

Etsy seller TheDarkSideofCute uses the tagline "Things you want to make but your family would rather you didn't." That's most likely a reference to the opossum roadkill shown, the pattern for which is for sale. It looks better turned right side up.

9. Zombie

Crafters love to make amigurumi zombies, and you'll find them all over. The creepiest I've seen is this zombie that Kim made, complete with missing limbs and spilling entrails. You can make your own with her free pattern.

10. Giant Space Worm

NeedleNoodles crochets everything from food to baby bibs to the grim reaper, and wrote a book about them. Occasionally she posts a story using her crocheted characters, like Amigurumi and the Perils of Space Exploration. The awesome space worm from the story has been sold, but there are plenty of other amigurumi items in the NeedleNoodle Etsy store.

See also: 8 Examples of Witty Knitting

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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