Friday, April 8, 2011

And As If That Weren't Enough...

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, if you had talked to me any time between last September and last Christmas, you probably heard about the octopi. That is, if you aren't my mom. At one point in November or December, a few of us went to lunch with a vendor for my day job, and I opened my big mouth about the gang of stunt octopi I was knitting for Christmas. The vendor jumped on it, wondering all about them, how big they are, and how much one would cost. I knew I was in trouble, but he wanted one for his girlfriend's birthday, which wasn't until the end of January, so at least I had some additional time.

This one presented an additional challenge, though... he specified not only the colors, but also that he wanted the head/mantle part to look like a yin yang.

I was somehow strangely excited to get started. The pattern calls for the head/mantle part to be knit in the round, so I looked up techniques for knitting intarsia (blocks of color) in the round. I even tried a couple of the techniques, but I couldn't get any of them to work on that small of a scale in a quick enough amount of time to satisfy my "hafta-be-perfect-the-first-time" mentality. So I ripped them all and knitted that part back and forth, adding an extra stitch on the ends to be able to seam him up. Once he was seamed, you couldn't even tell he'd been knit back and forth. (Thank you, drunken monkey, for learning how to seam for reals.)

He also wanted the bottom of the tentacles to be a mixture of colors, and my stash generously supplied some matching Cascade Quatro to fit the bill.

I had fun making a different colored octopus with a challenging design feature. The vendor wasn't nearly as excited or impressed as I'd hoped he'd be, but that's why I won't typically knit for cash. I knit for fun. I hope his girlfriend is taking good care of her octopus. He's a cutie.

I have two more octopi in progress in my projects bin. I have dreams of an entire fingering-weight-octopus army. But that's a lot of tentacles. And there are sweet babies in Washington that need some sweaters this year... :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Many Tentacles Is That?

So, did you know I knit my mom seven octopi for Christmas?

No, of course you didn't. (Well, if you talked to me any time between last summer and last Christmas, you probably did, except, for the sake of the blog, let's just assume that you didn't, okay? Great.)

Do you remember Oliver "Ollie" Octopolis? You probably do, but you might not remember that his name is Ollie, because I think he got his name after he made his appearance on my blog. Anyway, this is Ollie.

Ollie lives at my mom's house. She had seen one of his cousins at Great Yarns in Everett, WA, when we visited for Thanksgiving in 2009. So, I searched my stash (I know... were you sitting? Sorry.) and found some Cascade 220 in good complementary colors and got started. The pattern for Ollie is found in Amigurumi Knits by Hansi Singh. The pattern is not difficult, just a little tedious and a mite fiddly, but I love tedious and fiddly, so I loved the pattern. I made a couple sock-yarn-sized Octos, too, and if you clicked the link up there for the blog post about Ollie, you met Celia and Cedric the cephalopods, too.

Anywho, last summer my mom said something about how she really wanted to write a book about Ollie. (My mom writes awesome kids' books. Click the Knit Knack links on the side of my blog if you are unfamiliar with her previous inspiration.) When my mom writes books about her knitted toys, she puts them in various locations in various positions and takes various pictures of them, which she then uses to illustrate her various stories.

So when she went to write a story about Ollie, she ran into a snag. See, Ollie's tentacles have pipe cleaners in them, so you can arrange and pose and rearrange and re-pose Ollie's tentacles to your heart's content. However, Mom was (and still is) SO pleased with Ollie's current state of tentacular enlightenment, that she didn't (and still doesn't) want to arrange OR rearrange his tentacles. She proposed the idea for a STUNT octopus, a second octopus identical to Ollie, whose legs she could twist and pose to make him climb things and hold things and otherwise fill in for Ollie.

At first I thought she was crazy. ANOTHER octopus? Did she know how many tentacles those things had?

And then I kept thinking about it. And I thought about it long enough that *I* became the crazy one.

Because really... what's the fun in knitting one identical octopus, when you could knit a whole bunch of octopi that are *almost* identical? Really.

So between September and December of last year I knitted seven stunt octopi for Ollie. That way, Mom could hold auditions, or use various stunt doubles for various types of stunts, since all of them have different backgrounds, experiences, and disciplines. Would you like to meet them? Of course you would.

(On a side note, you need to know that each of the stunt octopi came with their own head shots and resumes. They all have the same objective: To become the stunt double for Ollie Octopolis in his popular children’s book series.)

Jeff “Jeff” Molluskwi
Jeff performed as a stunt double in the following movies:
- Anemone of the State (1998)
- Bridge on the River Octopus (1957)
- Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
- Tentacles of Fire (1989)

and lists the following interests and awards:
- Won “Best Work With a Submarine” at the 1998 Taurus World Stunt Awards for Anemone of the State
- Specializes in underwater fight scenes
- Enjoys gardening in his free time

Tommy Tutone
(Tommy was born from two different dye lots of the teal yarn. Half of his tentacles are slightly darker than the other half. It's not really noticeable in the pictures, but Tommy prides himself on his tonal qualities.)
Tommy has performed stunts in the following movies:
- My Fair Cephalopod (1964)
- Tentacles on the Roof (1971)
- Meet Me in my Mantle (1995)
- Eight Brides for Eight Brothers (1954)
- Octlohoma (1955)

and lists the following interests and awards:
- Won “I Didn’t Even Know They Needed Stunt Doubles in Musicals: Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 1995 Taurus World Stunt Awards
- Graduated with PhD in Musical Theatre from Shanghai Ocean University, 1954
- Taught tap dance classes with Fred Astaire

Josiah “Lenny” Reiff
Lenny has performed as a stunt double in the following movies:
- Running With Scissors (2002)
- You’re the One Eye Love (2000)
- One Fine Eye (1996)

and has made appearances in the following television programs:
- Miami Ink (2005-2008)
- 8 is Enough (1977-1981)
- Arms of Love (1992-1993)

Eileen Cephalopodopolous
Eileen is the only female stunt octopus, and has been the Bond Girl stunt double in a tentacle-ful of James Bond movies, including:
- Octopus of Solace (2008)
- The World is Not a Cephalopod (1999)
- GoldTentacle (1964)
- Doctor Octopus (1962)
- The Spy Who Inked Me (1977)
- For Your Arms Only (1981)

She also made a guest appearance in the recent television docu-drama, Octomom: Me and My 200,000 Kids.

Bruce McKraken
(The idea for Bruce's inside out legs was an inspiration from one of my very good friends at sock club - Hi Melinda! - who made her own octopus and inadvertently sewed the legs together inside out. Brilliant!)
Bruce has performed as a stunt double in the following movies:
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
- Arachnophobia (1990)
- A Mollusk Among Us (1992)
- The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)
- The Flying Octopus (2004)
- Eight Below (2006)
- Tickle Fight (2007)

and lists the following awards and achievements:
- Received “Best Underwater Pyrotechnic Stunt Award” at the World Stunt Awards, 2001
- Started the first underwater Ham Radar Station, O80CT, to guide stray submarines home

Simon Simone
Simon has performed stunts in the following movies:
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Jaws
- Ocean’s Seven
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Creature from the Blue Lagoon

and has earned his PhD in Underwater Theater.

T8tum "T8" Octum
(Tate, oh, sorry... T8 is actually the same colors as the other octopi, but he had his picture taken at a different studio and the lighting was not exactly the same. When you think of T8, imagine a strapping high school lad, his future laid out before him like the red carpet at the Oscars, and... well... T8 doesn't have a resume. He just has a mohawk and a dream.) The following is T8's submission:

Dude so like I never been in any movies but I look totally like this dude so I could totally be his stunt double. So I totally sk8board all the time cuz figure sk8ters are LAME!! And I almost gradu8ted in 2008 but I dropped out so I could go to the sk8board CHAMPIONSHIPS in fort Lauderdale and I was totally AWESOME!!! So you should totally let me be this dude’s stunt double cuz I ROCK and stuff.
Right. Well.

The octopi are getting along fabulously at my mom's house. (I really wish I'd taken video of her opening them and reading the resumes at Christmas. Each was a surprise, since I'd hidden most of them in the cupboards around her living room. Hysterical.)

Ollie is happy to have so many friends, and each stunt octopus has found his or her place in the household. The world is waiting with baited breath for Ollie (and his stunt septuples') adventures!!

ETA: Props to my good friends Randy and Kimmie Marksberry for their help and inspiration for many of the movie names and ideas listed above! Brilliant!