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Courtesy Quirk Books
Courtesy Quirk Books

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.

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George Washington’s Incredible Hair Routine

America's Founding Fathers had some truly defining locks, but we tend to think of those well-coiffed white curls—with their black ribbon hair ties and perfectly-managed frizz—as being wigs. Not so in the case of the main man himself, George Washington.

As Robert Krulwich reported at National Geographic, a 2010 biography on our first president—Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow—reveals that the man “never wore a wig.” In fact, his signature style was simply the result of an elaborately constructed coiffure that far surpasses most morning hair routines, and even some “fancy” hair routines.

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While the hair itself was all real, the color was not. Washington’s true hue was a reddish brown color, which he powdered in a fashion that’s truly delightful to imagine. George would (likely) don a powdering robe, dip a puff made of silk strips into his powder of choice (there are a few options for what he might have used), bend his head over, and shake the puff out over his scalp in a big cloud.

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"American Mall," Bloomberg
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[h/t Co.Design]

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