Introduction: Skeletoque, Aka the Skeleclava

Picture of Skeletoque, Aka the Skeleclava

Ok, this one takes some background explanation. My friend introduced me to the work of Sido (read the wikipedia article [ here] ). Sometime shortly after, I saw this incredibly clever beard-a-clava over at boing-boing . The two influences ran together in my head like two silver rivers of creativity rushing towards the sea of craftiness. I had to make it: The skeleclava.

In the end, i settled on a toque format for a couple of reasons, but the original name persists.

Please view the slideshow as well!

Step 1: Yes, I Know I'm a Dork. (Your Supplies)

And you can be one too! I have very little knitting experience, and I made most of this project up. I promise that if you want this badly enough, you too can make one for yourself. This was my thrid knitting project, my first being a pair of gloves and my second, knithulu .

The Knowledge You Need
You need to know how to do the following tricks to knit this (at least the way I did it)

-knit stockinette
-k1p1 rib
-duplicate stitch
-knit short rows (crocheting would be suitable too i guess, i used this for the teeth)
-improvise ( I used that one a lot)


-a tapestry or darning needle for the duplicate stitch and weaving in your ends
-I knitted this entirely on 4 aero double pointed needles. I tried moving to circular needles but I didn't have a set large enough.
-(1 100g /3.5 oz Skein) of off white (or whatever) yarn. I used Berroco's ultra alpaca in winter white. I chose the 50-50 wool alpaca blend because I heard it was warmer than wool and I had money to burn (for once. You'll want to use any worsted or double knitting weight yarn and appropriately sized (i used 4mm) needles.
-1 small amount of black scrap yarn. I used some Paton's Astra acrylic because I had it.
-I used contrasting colour yarn for stitch markers because I don't care enough to buy them.
-I use a large ziploc bag as my knitting bag. Sue me.
-Does free time count as a supply? You'll need a fair amount. This project took me a few weeks.

Step 2: Begin!

Picture of Begin!

I started with a pattern. I used Lucia's Spiral Top Hat calculator and it saved this project. According to the pattern it gave me, based on my measurements, I made a teeny tiny hat (the start of the hat, really) It was silly. I then put away the only pattern I had and decided to forge ahead alone.

I knitted for a few hours until I could put the hat on and it reached my eyes. Then I had to figure out how to make eye holes.

( to test fit, thread your needle with a couple feet of yarn. Slip your stitches purl-wise onto the yarn until the whole hat is just on a string of yarn. This is flexbile enough to let you try it on, and it's easy to get your needles back in as long as you're patient. Trying the hat on is essential)

Step 3: Eye Holes

Picture of Eye Holes

I thought and thought and thought, for days, about how I could make eyeholes as I knit. Finally I decided it just wasn't within my skill level and chose an easier alternative: knit a visor. With on big eye hole, the task was easy.

When you get to the right length and you want to begin the eye holes, mark the width across both eyes with a string of contrasting colour. Bind off that many stitches on your next row (try to count how many you're binding off).

From here it's like working one big short row. Just knit normally until you get to the end, and turn the whole piece around. Purl your way back to the start. Keep knitting and flipping until you've gone to the bottom of your eyehole. It's wherever you want it to be, really. Just make sure the hole is big enough to see out of.

When you want to build the bottom edge, just cast on as many new stitches as you bound off. Simple? Yeah, it is.

To separate this into two discrete holes, you'll need to knit a bridge from the bottom of the hole to the top. Find the middle and measure out a little to either side. Mark off the edges of your bridge, grab some needles (you can use straight needles, or just slip your hat onto some yarn and use your doulbe pointed needles. Pick up some stitches from the bottom edge and knit back and forth until your bridge is long enough to connect the two. Making it a little short will pull the eyes down menacingly.

Finally, connect the bridge to the top. Don't ask me how I did this. I kind of blacked out there for a while. Just make it up and hack it out. If mine looks ok, yours will look fantastic.

Step 4: Decreases, And, the Teeth

Picture of Decreases, And, the Teeth

This is sort of two steps, but I ran them together here because I ran them together as I did it. Decreases first.

You may have noticed in one of the last picture that the lower edge of the hat flares out. This was not my intention. I had sort of assumed that I would just knit a tube right down to the teeth and then make a neck. Well, I had about two inches too much along the circumference, because your head isn't as wide all the way down. You'd think I would have picked that up after four years of art school.

I decided to take those two inches out by ripping back a few rows and spreading the decreases out over six rows. I knitted until near the middle, then k2t0g a few times, k to end, purled back, and repeated. If I was really on the ball I would have found the centre line of the back, marked it, ssk on one side and k2t0g on the other side so the stitches lean towards each other. Nope. Found out about that in my next project.

So now the hat is form fitted to your very attractive head. Now you need to give this toque some bite and make it threatening to the old grannies who will want to swap knitting stories with you. (I wish someone would share their knitting stories with me. All I got was weird looks.)

Again, I used short rows here. Just knit a little (4 or 5 stitches) ways in, wrap and turn, and go back. Do some decreases to make your teeth as long or short or round or pointy as you like. I cast on some stitches at the start of each tooth so I could overlap them a little.

Step 5: The Bottom Treatment & Embellishments

Picture of The Bottom Treatment & Embellishments

Here is where I decided to change it from skeleclava to skeletoque. I wanted to be able to wear my scarf with this, and I couldn't figure out where on my chin i wanted to restart after a mouth opening. I liked the helmety look of it as a toque, and I decided to run with it. All I had to do then, was finish it off a little.
I knit a gap under the teeth the same way I made the eye hole gap: back and forth and just don't knit where the teeth are. After about an inch of that, I went right into the k1p1 ribbing for about two inches. I bound off in k1p1, and the main body was done.

The black nasal cavities were worked in duplicate stitch using the acrylic yarn. I'm sure I'll suffer for mixing my natural and synthetic yarns, somehow, but I haven't yet. I just guess at about where they should go, and they look pretty good.

Finally, I blocked it. The edges were curling up a little and I didn't like that one bit. I laid it down on my ironing board, laid a kerchief over top, and blew steam at it through my iron. I never actually put the iron down on the kerchief, just let the hot steam soak through. Then I removed the kerchief and pinned down the skeleclava. When I cam back 8 hours later, it was bone dry and flat as a board. Perfect.

Step 6: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

You're done! I didn't do anything else to mine except wear it out and about and get still more weird looks. Still, I'm glad that I decided to follow through on this project because I know one day, some stranger will ask me where I got that awesome hat, and I will say with pride: "I didn't get it, I made it."


CarolHardingHanselman (author)2014-11-11

You did a nice job. I find my best creations are 40 % pattern and 60% recreation and making it up as I go.

cattibalistic (author)2012-09-29

If you made it green it could be Jake's skull/hat/computer from Homestuck.

alcemy_FTW (author)cattibalistic2014-05-05

omg, yes, Make the ends in Points, add some sort of Superhero Esque eye mask to make the eyes black, i'd wear it <3

Jesse Rae Monster (author)2013-10-07

I. Want. It. Now.

starfox384 (author)2011-04-09

looks like the gray foxs hat from Elder scrolls 4 oblivion

The Cloak (author)starfox3842011-10-06

Haha, yeah I agree completely, that gives me an idea for a new project. P.s. That game is awesome.

Lady Vania (author)2011-07-23

I'm so making one of these for my boyfriend! He would absolutely die from joy xD

mslaynie (author)2011-04-15

Dude, if I wasn't married, I'd wanna date you based on this hat alone!! You may get some strange looks, but I bet you get lots of people saying it's awesome, too!!

DangerBunnie (author)2011-02-07

Way cool! This is gonna be fun to make!

masterochicken (author)2008-05-17

I want to do this but my mother says it's blasphemy.

Kaiven (author)masterochicken2008-10-28

No, it's madness!

Robotrix (author)Kaiven2008-10-28

yeah it's something else!

Abhorsen (author)Robotrix2009-01-28

Madness? THIS...IS... INSTRUCTABLES! Sorry. I just felt like saying so :D

Foaly7 (author)Abhorsen2011-01-20

Was the resemblance to "THIS.....IS......SPARTA!!" intentional?

Keira_Yagami (author)Abhorsen2009-02-23

ROFLOL that was a good one.

iSmack (author)Keira_Yagami2009-06-23

No, this is Patrick! If you watch Spongebob you've probably seen this episode xD

masterochicken (author)iSmack2009-10-28

Is this the Krusty Krab?

red-king (author)Abhorsen2009-10-12

 i was going to say that =(

Lyssa10 (author)2010-07-20

Explaining your visor made it easier for me to figure out how to make separate eye holes. After binding off the stitches for the left eye, instead of breaking the strand, I made the stitch bigger and pulled all the yarn through. With that yarn, I continued to knit the bridge for the nose and held those stitches with a stitch holder. To bind off the right eye, I used a new strand the way you introduce a new color in intarsia, and from that strand, I continued to knit the back of the hat. For every row on the back I used a row counter so I could keep it even with the bridge of the nose (as much as I'd like it to look menacing, I don't know how well I could pull it off without getting arrested in LA and being a girl). When I make everything long enough, I'm just going to pick up the bridge stitches and knit in the round again. Love the Instructable. It's insanely inspiring, and I'm awed how you did this basically freehand.

Robotrix (author)Lyssa102010-07-30

You and me both! I still sometimes wonder how I managed to make all this up. It was my magnum opus and i never knitted anything as awesome afterwards. Your solution to the eye holes sounds way better thought out than mine. Do you mind if i include your strategy in the instructable to make sure people notice the alternative method?

RavingMadStudios (author)2009-12-24

I know I'm way late commenting, but:


I'm out. Peace!

baystreetbully (author)2009-07-03

oh no what have i done i am delicious

TheFawns (author)2009-04-27

Holy $hit thats bad a$$ :O Dude im gonna totally make one of these, thanks for the wicked awesome instructable man. Keep up the good work!!

Joe_Viking (author)2009-02-28

i made something similar to this. it was supposed to look like a Spawn mask but most people take it as a luchadore sorta deal

Js2186 (author)2008-12-09

I love this idea, it has inspired me to try and learn how to knit

Robotrix (author)Js21862008-12-10

you'll have fun! Just take it slow and remember that no project is out of your reach if you are patient, persistent, and imaginative.

seeem (author)2008-11-06

Mate, it's one of the most fly things I've ever seen!!!! and it looks like a Pac Man ghost!!! And I bet it's nice and warm too! YOU ROCK \m/ \m/

rredmon (author)2008-08-22

Pretty kickass...I enjoy making craft-style things but I've never tried knitting. Great instructable.

blacknkhak (author)2008-07-21

i must say!

lenzywize (author)2008-06-04

Oh man, you Rock! Thanks for the info!

Tark (author)2008-04-11

Oh, & BTW, Nowt girly or unmanly about knitting!
Traditionally it was a male craft, performed by sailors, and fishermen.
Also, it was women's work to spin & card the yarn; but often the men who would then knit it into blankets, socks, jumpers etc...
So don't let anyone give you any stick -

And if your fingers are bored, there's loads of cool stuff you can make with knotting (or macramé).
See here for a Saxon burial helmet - amazing
some knot tying resources & nice work here:

Stay busy!

Tark (author)2008-04-11

Robotrix - Class Act! Now you know how to knit, how about crochet? It's dead easy to do, grows quicker than knitting, and is much more free-form & sculptural - Because you only work with one stitch on the hook, you don't have to work in rows ~ almost any shape is possible! & can you design patterns (or experiment) very easily Crochet would be a good medium to use to make a jaw, as it is easier to adapt the structure - you can make crochet quite rigid & self supporting by working with several thin strands of yarn & tight tension!

bezoard (author)2008-03-24

Niiiice! Thanks for the idea!

Full Frontal Graphic (author)2008-03-21

Your 3rd project? It looks awesome. I didn't GET it, I MADE it. You can't buy stuff this cool, where are you from? Mars? You did a great job, thanks for taking the time to document it too, while building it. And for not being afraid that knitting isn't manly etc... Two thumbs up!!!

RebelWithoutASauce (author)2008-03-14

I have got to say, this is probably the sweetest knitted item I have ever seen. We need more of these awesome (sort of geeky) patterns that aren't so cutesy. You sir, are a pioneer in knitting. I think I might try to do one of these, although how you did the eyes sounds a bit difficult, it did come out very well.

jessyratfink (author)2008-02-11

Great job! I especially love it with the hood up. :D

Robotrix (author)jessyratfink2008-02-12

Thanks! I usually wear it with a hood to help combat our frigid Canadian winters, and to boost my street cred. I just hope that everyone who sees me thinks i'm filming a music video or something.

Hey! Wanna borrow my scythe?

you have ... you have a scythe?

Darn tootin' I do. I even have two. An Austrian blade one that cuts grass like... well... a scythe, and an old antique one with a 3 foot long blade, that doesn't cut so sweet, but would look appropriately menacing with your toque, if one was to say, I dunno... go knocking on people's doors at about 3:17 in the morning.

How did you get a scythe? I have wanted one for years. I have one that was a gift years ago but the blade is wood and its not anywhere near as cool as a real one.

Help_Lady (author)finfan72008-02-14

I can't give a link for an Antique one, but Lee Valley Tools has an Austrian Scythe available. You can search by description for scythe or just plug in item PC509. They do ship worldwide. [Standard disclaimer: I don't work for them, I just like what they sell.]

I have the Lee Valley Austrian one. The blade is nice, but the handle is no heck. There's a fellow in New Brunswick that sells much nicer ones. Try

patmccock (author)Help_Lady2008-02-14

an easy place to find a scythe is abandoned barns there all over here in hick ass Nebraska lol

I got my antique one at an auction.

dhruvgaara (author)2008-02-17

i made one with my mum(yes i have no idea to knit)and it was cool the only thing is please shave your beard then you will look cool no offence well you rock!

twhaley (author)2008-02-17


BuckyOHare (author)2008-02-16

blah blah blah blah blah, drivel, more drivel, blah. "STOP! I said stop." Robotrix, I was surprised that you knitted this entire thing and didn't just mod a white balaclava, good effort you er, old grannie. Lower jaw would be a good addition, maybe make the nostrils into holes aswell, fixing it to a hoody (or making a hoody out of a non-hooded top) would be sweet too, just some ideas.

Robotrix (author)BuckyOHare2008-02-16

you know, several of the comments here have been on ways I could have made this from something else, and i think they're brilliant. I didn't even think of it, to be honest. Would have saved me a lot of time and money for the yarn. Making a hoodie out of a non-hooded sweater is a great idea too, actually, because with a knitted sweater you can just pick up stitches around the neck and go to it. It would be really easy, and I think I will definitely try it out in the near future. I'll make sure to post about it too : P thanks for the great comment!

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-16

This is so cool! I wish I could make one. Maybe I can get my aunt to make me one. But amazing job, great job, cool job, just plain AWESOME!
Great Instructable!
+1 rating.

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