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.

David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as You'd Expect It to Be

Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

Each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature drawings of a house and a whale, respectively), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch—who is celebrating his 73rd birthday today—has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store, known as Studio: David Lynch, currently sells more than 40 T-shirts and hoodies, ranging in size from small to triple XL, with prices starting at $26. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

Studio: David Lynch Octopus T-shirt
Amazon

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.
"Lobster"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy
"Cowboy"

Buy it on Amazon

20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins

iStock/fieldwork
iStock/fieldwork

Happy Penguin Awareness Day! To celebrated, here are a few fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds.

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

A group of penguins on an iceberg.
iStock/axily

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

Three emperor penguins
iStock/Fabiano_Teixeira

3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

A gentoo penguin swimming underwater
iStock/chameleonseye

4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

Penguins swimming in the ocean
iStock/USO

5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

Emperor penguins with chicks
iStock/vladsilver

6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

Penguin swimming in the ocean
iStock/Musat

7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

Gentoo penguin chick molting
iStock/ChristianWilkinson

8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

A colony of king penguins
iStock/DurkTalsma

9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

Two chinstrap penguins
iStock/Legacy-Images

10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

Magellanic penguin nesting in the ground
iStock/JeremyRichards

11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

Penguin eggs
iStock/Buenaventuramariano

12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

A group of emperor penguins and chick
iStock/vladsilver

13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguin chick and parent on a nest
iStock/golnyk

14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

Three emperor penguin chicks
iStock/AntAntarctic

15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

Gentoo penguins
iStock/Goddard_Photography

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

A group of magellanic penguins on the seacoast
iStock/encrier

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

A cape penguin in South Africa
iStock/ziggy_mars

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

Man videotaping a penguin in Antarctica
iStock/Bkamprath

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

Penguin swimming in the ocean
iStock/Musat

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins. 

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