How to Crochet a Miniature Captain Ahab From Moby Dick

Courtesy Quirk Books
Courtesy Quirk Books

Cindy Wang, a crochet wiz who runs a blog called The Geeky Hooker, is an expert in amigurumi, the Japanese art of crocheting miniature, stuffed characters. She creates patterns for crocheted versions of everything from familiar superheroes and television characters to the cats of Neko Atsume.

Her new book, Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books, is a how-to guide for crafty book nerds. It features instructions on how to make 22 crocheted characters from 16 classic works of literature, including Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Animal Farm.

Get a sneak preview of the book by testing your crochet skills on Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. You’ll need some basic materials and a working knowledge of crochet stitches—this pattern uses single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc), chain (ch), decrease (dec), and slip stitches (sl st), with the number of total stitches for each line indicated in {curly brackets}.

For instructions on how to make more characters, Literary Yarns is $11 on Amazon. If you're a beginner and want to get started following crochet patterns for the first time, Wang recommends the tutorials on PlanetJune.

CAPTAIN AHAB

Materials:

  • Tapestry needle
  • Fiberfill

For Ahab:

  • Size E crochet hook
  • Worsted weight yarn in silver gray, cream, black, brown, and light blue
  • 6-mm black plastic safety eyes
  • Creamy embroidery floss and embroidery needle
  • Disposable chopstick
  • Knife or heavy-duty scissors
  • optional
  • Straight pins
  • 4 ½ “ X 2 ” piece of black felt
  • Black thread and sewing needle

Notes: Work in continuous rounds unless otherwise specified.

HEAD

Round 1: Starting with silver-gray yarn, sc 5 in magic ring. {5}
Round 2: [Sc 2 in one stitch] 5 times. {10}
Round 3: [Sc 2 in one stitch] 10 times. {20}
Round 4: [Sc 3, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {25}
Round 5: [Sc 4, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {30}
Round 6: [Sc 9, sc 2 in next stitch] 3 times, changing to cream yarn in the last stitch. {33}
Rounds 7–9: Sc 14, changing to silver-gray yarn, sc 19, changing to cream yarn. {14 cream + 19 silver-gray = 33}
Round 10: Sc 9, dec 1, sc 3, changing to silver-gray yarn. Sc 6, dec 1, sc 9, dec 1, changing to cream yarn. {13 cream + 17 silver-gray = 30}
Round 11: [Sc 4, dec 1] twice, sc 1, changing to silver-gray yarn. Sc 3, dec 1, [sc 4, dec 1] twice, changing to cream yarn in the last stitch. {11 cream + 14 silver-gray = 25}
Round 12: [Sc 3, dec 1] twice, sc 1, changing to silver-gray yarn. Sc 2, dec 1, [sc 3, dec 1] twice, changing to cream yarn in the last stitch. {9 cream + 11 silver-gray = 20}
Round 13: [Sc 2, dec 1] twice, sc 1, changing to silver-gray yarn. Sc 1, dec 1, [sc 2, dec 1] twice. {7 cream + 8 silver-gray = 15}

Fasten off and tuck in the end. Attach eyes between rows 8 and 9 (two rows below the hairline), approximately 6 stitches apart.

Using overlapping straight stitches of silver-gray yarn and a tapestry needle, sew on two angry eyebrows. The man’s got a lifelong grudge; he’s going to be perpetually mad! Using cream embroidery floss, sew a scar onto his face.

BEARD AND SIDEBURNS

Captain Ahab’s beard and sideburns will be made in one continuous piece.

Using silver-gray yarn, ch 21, then crochet the following:

Row 1: Starting in the 2nd ch from the hook, sc 6, dc 8, sc 6. {20} Fasten off and leave a tail for sewing.

To sew the beard and sideburns onto Ahab’s face, line up the foundation chain of the piece with the sides of his face and the second-to-last row of the head. Sew only along the foundation chain side to attach the beard, and sew down both the foundation chain side and the crocheted side to attach the sideburns. Stuff head firmly with fiberfill.

HAT

Round 1: With black yarn, sc 5 in magic ring. {5}
Round 2: [Sc 2 in one stitch] 5 times. {10}
Round 3: [Sc 1, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {15}
Round 4: [Sc 2, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {20}
Round 5: [Sc 3, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {25}
Round 6: [Sc 4, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {30}
Round 7: [Sc 5, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {35}
Round 8: [Sc 6, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {40}
Round 9: Sc 40. {40}
Round 10: [Sc 6, dec 1] 5 times. {35}
Round 11: In front loops only: Sc 2, dc 10, sc 2, sl st and fasten off.

If you want to sew his hat to his head, leave a tail and sew in place.

Otherwise, cut the yarn and weave in the end.

BODY

Note: Captain Ahab’s peg leg is held in place only by tension. If you wish to make an Ahab that can be handled and played with, instead of solely for display, crochet a Basic Body as on page 11, changing from brown to light blue at the end of round 8.

Work from bottom up.

Round 1: Starting with brown yarn, sc 5 in magic ring. {5}
Round 2: [Sc 2 in one stitch] 5 times. {10}
Round 3: [Sc 1, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {15}
Round 4: [Sc 2, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {20}
Round 5: [Sc 3, sc 2 in next stitch] 5 times. {25}
Round 6: In back loops only, sc 25, changing to light-blue yarn. {25}
Rounds 7–9: Sc 25. {25}
Round 10: [Sc 3, dec 1] 5 times. {20}
Round 11: [Sc 2, dec 1] 5 times. {15}

Fasten off, leaving a tail for sewing.

LEG

Round 1: Starting with black yarn, sc in magic ring. {6}
Round 2: [Sc 2 in one stitch] 6 times. {12}
Round 3: In back loops only, sc 12, changing to brown yarn in the last stitch. {12}
Round 4: Sc 12. {12}

Fasten off, leaving a tail for sewing. Sew the leg onto one half of the bottom of the body. When you have sewn halfway around the leg, fill it with either fiberfill or poly pellets, and then complete sewing.

PEG LEG

Using a knife or scissors, carefully cut an approximately 1 1/2 -inch piece from the tip of the chopstick. Insert the piece into the bottom of the body from the inside out, positioning it opposite his leg.

Stuff the body firmly with fiberfill, or fill with poly pellets first and then top off with fiberfill. Stuff carefully around the chopstick. Using a whipstitch, sew the head onto the body, being mindful of the placement of the legs.

TRENCH COAT

On the long edge of the felt, fold down 1/2 inch to form a collar for the coat. Wrap collar around Ahab’s neck, pin the coat in place with straight pins, and sew the fold to his neck with a sewing needle and black thread.

Excerpted from Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books by Cindy Wang. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.

15 Forgotten Summertime Activities We Need To Bring Back

iStock/wundervisuals
iStock/wundervisuals

Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy the sunshine. It’s also the perfect time to take a break from technology. Ditch your TV, shut down social media, and go outside. To do what, you might ask? Here are 15 summer activities from yesteryear that we should totally revive in popular culture.

1. Skipping rocks

Here’s a recipe for a classic summer: put down the video game, go outside, and throw rocks at water. Once you’ve mastered the flick of the wrist required to get the right amount of spin on your stone, it’s hard to stop counting how many skips you get on each throw.

2. Playing loggits

This game played in Tudor England was sort of like a cheap version of horseshoes. Players stuck a stick in the ground and took turns throwing other sticks at it. Whoever got their stick closest to the target won the game. Consider this activity more proof that all you need to have fun is some yard debris and a sunny day. 

3. Rolling a hoop

Two young girls rolling hoops in a London park in the 1930s
Fox Photos/Getty Images

You’ve probably seen this one in old-timey paintings, but chances are you’ve never rolled a hoop. The activity, also known as trundling a hoop, requires nothing more than a wooden hoop and a small wooden rod like a dowel. For centuries, kids amused themselves by running along and tapping the hoop with the rod to keep it rolling on a straight course. Easy to learn but tough to master, this one kept generations of kids out of mischief. 

4. Having an outdoor dance

“Schottische” is a traditional folk dance, much like a slower polka. It has long been a popular dance at Swedish midsummer festivals, which celebrate the season’s warmth and long daylight hours.

5. Growing giant vegetables

Giant pumpkins in a field in China
China Photos/Getty Images

Giant crop competitions appear in several state fairs. The tradition is particularly notable in Alaska, where longer sunlight hours during the summer make growing enormous produce easier. One Alaskan has grown seven world-record-sized vegetables, including a 76-pound cabbage! Most people no longer grow their own food, but taking pride in creating something uniquely huge is a vital American tradition.

6. Using bathing machines

Before string bikinis were considered appropriate beach attire, Victorian ladies frolicked in the surf within the confines of a bathing machine. These private carts gave women a sheltered space to change their clothes right on the water. Sure, most women are no longer afraid of being seen in a bathing suit, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your own private hut in the surf?

7. Heading to the summer farm

In agrarian Scandinavia, farmers traditionally lived on one farm during the winter and on another in the summer. When the weather warmed, farmers would take their livestock up into the mountains to feed in the meadows while they made repairs and grew hay on their home farm. Milkmaids would stay in the mountains for the summer months with the goats, sheep, and cows, milking them to make butter and cheese. A scenic rural getaway surrounded by dairy products? Yes, please. 

8. Sculpting things out of butter

Carving sculptures out of chilled butter is an American art that dates back to the 1870s, when a woman from Arkansas sculpted the main character of a 19th century Danish play in bas relief using brooms and sticks for Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The activity later became a staple of state fairs, and while it still goes on today, the practice could really use a revival in general culture. The best art is edible.

9. Playing a sidewalk game

Young girls play hopscotch on a sidewalk in the 1970s
Ian Tyas/Getty Images

In early 20th century New York City, kids played a popular street game called Skully. They would draw a large square on the asphalt or cement with several numbered boxes drawn inside the board, then flick bottle caps onto those targets in numerical order.

10. Having a garden party

Victorian England was known for its garden parties, when fancy socialites would gather on carefully manicured lawns to enjoy the nice weather. Guests enjoyed lawn tennis, live music, dancing, and races. While country estates are harder to come by these days, a little backyard lawn tennis followed by tea sandwiches is the perfect way to spend a summer’s day.

11. Taking a road trip

As America’s interstate highway system connected more places and more people bought cars, road trips became a popular vacation after World War II. However, higher gas prices and fewer vacation days eventually made the quintessential family getaway a little less popular. The freedom of the open road may be back within reach—at least for this summer.

12. Legally opening up a fire hydrant

Red fire hydrant gushing water
iStock/tfoxfoto

Flooding the street completely on a hot summer day is a no-no, but city slickers trapped in the heat can still create an urban oasis on a hot day. New York City, for one, offers fitted caps that funnel a gentle spray of water out of an opened hydrant—legally. Your block could be home to the tiniest of water parks.

13. Celebrating the summer solstice

Since ancient times, people have celebrated the longest day of the year with dancing, food, bonfires, and more. Try celebrating it the way they do in Sweden: Traditionally, Scandinavians clean out their houses and decorate them with flowers before the holiday.

14. Tuning into the radio

Vintage radio sitting on a mid-century dresser
iStock/Spiderstock

An integral part of the warm weather season is the so-called “song of summer,” that one tune that seemingly plays in the background wherever you go. Online radio isn’t the only way to find your summer jam. Listening to a favorite rock DJ is no longer how most people get their music, but there’s a bonus that comes with hauling out your old portable radio: You can take it to the beach.

15. Spreading a hoax about a sea monster

During the summer of 1937, newspapers in Nantucket began publishing accounts of a mysterious sea serpent that had come ashore, based on photographs of giant footprints on the beach. As it turned out, the New England seaside’s huge monster was an inflatable balloon, staged by a local puppeteer to draw attention to his shop.

Hotels.com Wants to Pay You $10,000 to Test Out Some of America’s Fanciest Hotel Pools

iStock/FTiare
iStock/FTiare

Getting paid to hang out by the pool all summer may sound like a job that's too good to be true. But popular hotel booking site Hotels.com is looking to hire one lucky "Poolhop" to do just that—and pay them $10,000 for their efforts.

According to the official job application, "The Poolhop’s responsibilities are simple; travel to some of the most incredible hotel pools across the country, sip on fruity drinks, snap some photos, sport a hotel robe, and report back to reward-loving Hotels.com fans."

Along with the $10,000 stipend, the Poolhop's perks will include paid airfare and accommodations at six hotels across the country, one year of Hotels.com Gold Rewards member status, and “eternal bragging rights.” The only serious requirements are that applicants be at least 21 years of age and a U.S. resident. They must also, of course, know how to swim.

Thrillist reports that the chosen hotels aren’t your average accommodations, either. The Poolhop will get to dive into luxury at Hawaii's Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Mondrian Los Angeles, the SLS Las Vegas, Colorado's Garden of the Gods Club and Resort, The William Vale Hotel in New York City, and Miami Beach's National Hotel.

“No one wants to be sitting at a desk all summer,” Katie Junod, general manager of the Hotels.com brand in North America, said. "There are so many incredible hotel pools to explore across the country, and we want to give travelers a first-hand look at the crème de la crème. And who better to live the hotel life than our very own Hotels.com Poolhop?”

The trip will take place during two weeks in August. All applications must be filled out and submitted by Tuesday, June 25th. And don't forget your sunscreen!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER