Introduction: 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!

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

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

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

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!

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."

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