Making Games from Scratch

And now for something completely different: making your own games! You might play my game and think: “Hmmm, this just looks like someone spent a few hours goofing around”, and you’d be right. I had quite a bit of fun playing with Scratch and making a simple, functional game. It’s a great place to start making games if you want to get your toes wet.

Click the picture to play (in a new window: WordPress doesn’t accept embeds from Scratch).

Scratch in space 1

Scratch in space 2

I don’t own Portal, Space Core, or Companion Cubes but I hope Valve doesn’t mind me using them for my homework project.

Here’s my sister’s game Zombie in Space: she drew all the sprites, even the braaaaaains! I love that we both independently decided to make space games :)

Zombie in space Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 3.17.46 PM

I’m starting to upgrade my programming skills, which haven’t developed much since I used to make my name bounce around the Commodore 64 in rainbow colours. Ah, those were the days. If you’re so inclined, try out Scratch and make a game too: it’s an intuitive interface and easy to play with, even with no prior programming experience.

Go to the Scratch home page and make a free account to get started…

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.15.57 PM

You’ll notice that instead of typing code, Scratch lets you drag and drop puzzle pieces together to make commands.  The graphical interface is intuitive and relatively easy to figure out.

Pick a background, pick a sprite, and add some commands to tell your sprite how to behave.  There are plenty of tutorials online, but you can also get pretty far just by goofing around.  “If space bar pressed, move 10 steps” means that if you press the space bar, your sprite moves 10 steps.  Nothing cryptic, and no syntax to worry about.  Best of all, it’s free and runs in your browser window!

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.33.28 PM

Happy game making :)

 

Skull Pincushion (Amigurumi Pattern)

I’ve been meaning to crochet a skull for some time, but haven’t gotten around to finessing the anatomic details of a larger version. This mini skull is a simple pattern, perfect for all your goth sewing needs. It made a perfect replacement for the boring fabric-store tomato I’ve been using as a pincushion.  See?

Skull pincushion 3

More views:skull side view Skull top view skull bottom view skull over viewMaking this little pin-head is quick and easy, and suitable for beginners. Stitches used are single crochet (sc), increase (inc), invisible decrease (invdec), finish off (FO).

You’ll need:

  • white or off-white yarn (I used Red Heart Super-Saver cheapo yarn, worsted weight)
  • size F/3.75mm crochet hook
  • stuffing
  • black embroidery thread for teeth and/or cranial sutures
  • safety eyes (or buttons, or felt…) 10mm used here
  • small piece of black felt for bottom (or just crochet the bottom closed if you’d rather)

Pattern:

  • 1) sc x 6 in magic ring (6)
  • 2) inc x 6 (12)
  • 3) (sc, inc) x 6 (18)
  • 4) (sc x 2, inc) x 6 (24)
  • 5-8) sc around x 4 rounds (24)
  • 9) (sc x 2, invdec) x 3, sc x 12 (21)… this makes the front flat and the back of the skull rounded
  • 10) (sc, invdec) x 3, sc x 12 (18)
  • 11) ch 1, turn, sc x 10 to make teeth

Now add eyes, stuff, and use embroidery thread to make teeth and/or cranial sutures, or add any details you’d like. This would look great as a sugar skull too. Cut a small piece of black felt and sew it into the opening at the bottom.

Holiday DIY – Easy Gifts to Make and Share

I love handmade gifts. Except… somehow it’s December already and I’m running out of time! If you’re thinking of going DIY this holiday season, it can be a fun and easy alternative to hitting the shopping malls.  Everything here was given or received in my family over the last few years: if we can do it, so can you :)

Crocheted gifts:

Any amigurumi can be made into a Christmas ornament by adding a Santa hat… the octopus pattern is from Adorably Kawaii and the hat is from a holiday pattern by Pepika.  This would look good on my Angry Birds Green Pig ornament too…

Christmas octopus

This little Yoda pattern from Happy Together makes an adorable gift.

Yoda

The crocheted Divine Hat and Cable Hat patterns from Rheatheylia (crocheted cables!) make gorgeous cozy toques and work up quickly.

Crochet divine and cable hats

Felt and fabric gifts:

Felt ornaments rock: let your imagination be your guide. I really love the Star Wars ornaments I made last year… pattern here.

Star Wars felt ornaments

You can make an iPhone case out of felt and decorate it however you like.

Super Mario - piranha plant iPhone case

If you have a sewing machine, try making reversible tote bags in interesting fabric (if your recipient is shy, they can put the marauding robots on the inside :)  The pattern is from Skip to My Lou.

Robot tote bag

For pregnant gals, sew knit fabric into a tube to make belly bands: pattern from DIY Maternity.

Belly bands

A pillow cover is just two squares of fabric sewn together. Sometimes with ears. Don’t forget to add a zipper if you want the cover to be removable.

My Neighbor Totoro pillow

For the girl/guy who has everything but a berth on the Normandy, customize some kitchen towels with felt accents:

N7 tea towels

Miscellaneous gifts:

Transform a hardcover book into a Grid-It for travellers. I got some flak for trying out this Design Sponge project, but in my defense I’m planning to give my Silmarillion pages a new binding.

Silmarillion Grid-It

Paint a wooden disc (available at craft and hardware stores) to make a colourful pendant, or add charms to ribbon to make bookmarks.  I love my dragon.

Wooden disc necklace

Shooooooooes! Ahem. Comic book shoes for someone very special.

X-men shoes

Cross-stitch doesn’t have to be old-fashioned. My sister made these video game coasters, and my sister-in-law framed cross-stitched kanji with beautiful paper and coins for a modern look.

Gaming coasters

Happiness cross stitch

Food gifts:

Cookies make a yummy holiday gift. For more food ideas, this delicious gift basket contained…

Christmas goodies

  • Strawberry jam (red jars): if you don’t have a favourite family recipe, this one is easy and has less sugar than many recipes
  • Spiced nuts (blue jar): this Alton Brown recipe has kick, but there are tons of tasty variations
  • Homemade vanilla extract (bottle with blue ribbon): add vanilla beans to either bourbon or vodka and wait a month for the flavours to develop… you can also throw vanilla pods into a sugar dish to make vanilla sugar!
  • Homemade limoncello (bottle with gold ribbon): soak lemon peels in vodka for 1 week, then strain and mix with simple syrup to taste… keep this one refrigerated

You can use pretty fabric to make the jars festive:

Jess jam jars

My sister also made a family cookbook: everyone contributed a few recipes. This is a wonderful keepsake and includes some of my grandma’s traditional dishes.

Family cookbookMerry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Io Saturnalia, and Happy Isaac Newton’s Birthday!

DIY Bleach Dyed Clothing

Have a great idea for a t-shirt design? Can’t find clothing for sale with the logo you want? Thanks to the wonders of laundry bleach, you can dye your clothes (or rather un-dye them) to make any design you like.  I used this tutorial from Instructables, with a few modifications for mess and accuracy’s sakes.

Here are some birds I made for my favourite bird-nerd…

Bird bleach print tshirt

… and here’s a Mass Effect hoodie she made for me!

Mass Effect paragon hoodie

The lovely model in the last pic is Headless Duct-Tape Me: instructions for how to make your own perfectly sized dress form for the cost of a few rolls of duct tape can be found here at Offbeat Bride.

If you’re considering making some bleach-dyed items of your own, I have a few humble suggestions:

  1. Try a sample first, on some inexpensive fabric. My first attempt was a caddywhompus Aperture logo t-shirt that is good enough for the gym, but not much else.
  2. Double-check your laundry bleach before using it. Eco-friendly bleach doesn’t contain chlorine and won’t work as a dye (oops).
  3. If you work in an office or otherwise have access to the tops of Xerox paper boxes, they make a perfect frame to stretch a shirt over to keep the back from getting bleached.
  4. White school glue is non-toxic and water-soluble: if your pattern is delicate you can paint your stencil with a thin coating of glue to help it adhere to your fabric. You have to be careful not to get glue on the part you want to bleach, though. Any residual sticky stuff will come out in the wash.
  5. A light spray of bleach will give you a stippled effect (like the hoodie), and a more thorough soaking will give a solid colour (like the tee).  When in doubt, go lightly and consider a second treatment.
  6. You have no control over what colour you’ll get underneath: the tee is an American Apparel shirt in navy which bleaches to purple.

Go check out the Instructables tutorial, and happy pattern-making!

Lying Cat Amigurumi Pattern (from Saga)

What’s Saga, you ask?  Stop reading my blog right this minute and go check it out at your local comic shop… if you like breathtaking art and mind-blowing stories, that is.  I was late to discover the series, but the minute I did I started work on my own Lying Cat.

Lying cat saga panelOkay, maybe it was a few minutes later.

Lying cat lyingFine, it took me a few hours, but look how she turned out!

Lying cat closeup

Lying cat front

Lying cat back

Here’s the pattern to make her: I might make the head bigger if I make another one.  Note that the mottled blue yarn and gold yarn are bulky weight and the gray yarn is worsted weight… that’s just what I happened to have in my stash, not a conspiracy to make her more difficult to make.  If this is confusing, just use worsted weight and a size F/3.75mm hook for everything and you’ll end up with a proportional but smaller Lying Cat.  As shown, she measures 15cm/6″ nose-to-rump and 25cm/10″ nose-to-tail.

Stiches used include single crochet (sc), half-double crochet (hdc), increase (inc), invisible decrease (invdec), and slip stitch (sl st).  I don’t own Saga or Lying Cat, so please feel free to use and share the pattern, but don’t sell it or the amigurumi.

What you’ll need:

  • yarn in blue, grey, and gold/yellow
  • black felt
  • needle and black thread to attach felt
  • yarn needle to sew pieces together
  • wire to make her limbs and tail posable (optional… omit this if anyone might be putting her in their mouth)

Head/body:

  • bulky mottled blue yarn, size H/5.00mm hook, work in the round, stuff as you go
  • 1) 4 sc in magic ring (4)
  • 2) sc x 4 (4)
  • 3) inc, sc x 3 (5)
  • 4) inc x 2, sc x 3 (7)
  • 5) sc x 7 (7)
  • 6) sc x 3, hdc x 4 (7)
  • 7) sl st x 3, hdc x 4 (7)
  • 8-11) sc around for 4 rounds (7)
  • 12) sc x 3, *hdc x 2 in next sc* x 2, sc x 2 (9)
  • 13) sc x 3, hdc x 4, sc x 2 (9)
  • 14-18) sc around x 5 rounds (9)
  • 19) sc, hdc x 4, sc x 4 (9)
  • 20-21) sc around x 2 rounds (9)
  • 22) *sc, invdec* x 3 (6)
  • 23) invdec x 3 (3)
  • 24…) sc around (3) until tail is long enough (I made it approximately 10cm/4″ long)… thread a wire or pipecleaner into the tail before closing it off, if you want to make it posable

Front legs (make 2):

  • bulky mottled blue yarn, size H/5.00mm hook, work in the round, don’t stuff
  • 1) 4 sc in magic ring (4)
  • 2-7) sc around x 6 rounds (4)
  • 8) *hdc x 2 in next sc* x 2, sc, FO and leave tail to sew to body

Back legs (make 2):

  • bulky mottled blue yarn, size H/5.00mm hook, work in the round, don’t stuff
  • 1) 4 sc in magic ring (4)
  • 2-5) sc around x 4 rounds (4)
  • 6-7) hdc x 2, sc x 2 for 2 rounds (4)… this makes the legs bend
  • 8) sc around (4)
  • side 1: 9) *hdc x 2 in next sc* x 2, sc x 2 (6)
  • 10) *hdc x 2 in next hdc* x 2, sl st, FO and leave tail to sew to body
  • side 2: 9) *sc x 2, *hdc x 2 in next sc* x 2 (6)
  • 10) sc x 2, *hdc x 2 in next hdc* x 2, sl st, FO and leave tail to sew to body

Ears (make 2):

  • bulky mottled blue yarn, size H/5.00mm hook, worked in rows
  • 1) ch 4
  • 2) turn, skip 1st ch, sc x 3 (3)
  • 3) turn, skip 1st sc, sc x 2 (2)
  • 4) ch 1, turn, sc x 2 (2)
  • 5) turn, skip 1st sc, sc (1), FO and leave tail to sew to head

Gray back thingy:

  • gray yarn, size F/3.75mm hook, worked in rows
  • 1) ch 7
  • 2) turn, skip 1st 2 ch, hdc x 5 (5)
  • 3) ch 2, turn, hdc x 5 in back posts only (5)
  • 4) repeat row 3 until it’s long enough to cover the back, FO and leave tail to sew to body
  • now take gold/yellow yarn, work around the border of the gray piece… alternate sl st, ch 2, sl st in 1st ch, sl st around to make the fringe

Collar and belt:

  • chain of gold/yellow yarn, leave tail to sew to body

Assembly:

  • sew limbs to body (add wires inside front and back legs if you like)
  • sew back thingy, gold collar, and gold belt to body
  • cut out triangles of black felt and sew to ears, then sew ears to head
  • cut out a small cat-nose-shaped piece of black felt and sew to head
  • use gold/yellow yarn to make eyes, then use black thread to add detail to eyes and mouth area

You’re done!  Now go wait patiently for the next issue of Saga.

Lyingcat comic 2

Right.  Impatiently, then.

World’s Tiniest Batman Costume (Crochet Baby Beanie)

Warning: dressing your baby up as Batman is ridiculously cute and may make your head explode.

In honour of my new baby nephew, I made a pattern for a Batman baby beanie.  It’s quick to crochet: I made it in a few hours while visiting in the hospital, and that’s taking into account figuring out how to crochet a Bat-symbol.  The photos aren’t great: I just held up the hat in the hospital window and took a hand-selfie (my nephew is much cuter than my hand, but I didn’t want to put his photo all over teh Interwebs.)

If you’re going for full Bat-awesomeness, make the hat with ears:
Batman baby beanie with earsOr just make the beanie and Bat-symbol for a toned-down version (just an in-progess shot… of course I made Bat-ears):

Batman baby beanie no ears

What you’ll need:

  • baby-soft yarn in black and yellow (I used Caron Simply Soft, worsted weight)
  • size G/4.25mm crochet hook
  • yarn needle
  • a baby

Step 1: Make a beanie

You can use whatever pattern you like.  Use black yarn.  I’ve written up the pattern I made, but since the lil’ guy was born early you’ll probably want to make it bigger for a full-term newborn.  Stitches used are double crochet (dc), front post double crochet (fpdc), and back post double crochet (bpdc).  If you’re not familiar with fpdc and bpdc, these stitches are a great addition to your bag of tricks and will let you make ribs, cables, and all sorts of neat effects.  Here they’re used to make a stretchy ribbed border to hold the hat on.

  1. 8 dc in magic ring (8)
  2. ch 2, then 2 dc in each dc x 8, sl st into 1st dc of row to close circle (16)
  3. ch 2, then *dc, 2dc in next dc* x 8, sl st into 1st dc of row (24)
  4. ch 2, then *dc x 2, 2dc in next dc* x 8, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  5. if you’re going to make the hat bigger, keep increasing in this row (or start with more than 8 dc in your initial magic ring), otherwise ch 2 and dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  6. ch 2, dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  7. ch 2, dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  8. ch 2, dc around, sl st into 1st dc of row (32)
  9. keep going with dc around rows if your hat isn’t long enough, otherwise ch 2, *bpdc, fpdc* x 16, sl st into 1st bpdc of row (32)
  10. ch 2, *bpdc, fpdc* x 16, sl st into 1st bpdc of row (32) (note that each bpdc should go into a bpdc, and each fpdc should go into a fpdc… this makes ribs)
  11. ch 2, *bpdc, fpdc* x 16, sl st into 1st bpdc of row (32)
  12. FO and weave in tail

Step 2: Make a Bat-symbol

Chain 30 with yellow yarn.  St st into the 1st chain to make a loop, and go around as shown in the picture.  Slip stitch into each chain around (little circles), with exceptions shown in the drawing (each group of stitches described goes into a single chain).  Leave a long tail and use it to sew the Bat-symbol onto the hat.

Bat symbol crochet

Bat-symbol

Step 3 (optional): Make Bat-ears

Use black yarn, make 2.  To quote my brother-in-law, these are more Michael Keaton than Adam West.  Feel free to adjust according to your favourite era of Bat-costume :)

  1. 3 sc in magic ring (3)
  2. sc around (3)
  3. inc, sc x 2 (4)
  4. sc around (4)
  5. inc, sc x 3 (5)
  6. sc around (5)
  7. inc, sc x 4 (6)
  8. sc around (6)
  9. *inc, sc x 2* x 2 (8)
  10. sc around (8)
  11. *inc, sc x 3* x 2 (10)
  12. sc around (10)
  13. *inc, sc x 4* x 2 (12)
  14. sc around (12)
  15. hdc, dc x 3, hdc x 3, sl st, FO and leave long tail to sew to hat (this makes one side longer so they fit on the side of the hat)

Squish the ears flat and sew to the sides of the hat.  Nana nana nana Baby Batman!!!  (Or Batgirl!!!)

QR Code Cross-Stitch: Great Idea, But Does It Work?

CD case frame 4

Cross-stitched QR codes have been popping up all over the web: I loved the idea, but was somewhat skeptical as to whether QR readers would recognize x-shaped stiches as perfect pixels and be able to read the code (especially since my stitching is a bit… heterogeneous, shall we say?)  So I did a science and tried it out.  I was inspired by a tutorial from MAKE but there are many others online: just go to a QR generating site like qrstuff and stitch away!  I recycled an old CD jewel case into a frame: tutorial at the end of the post.

I decided to stitch up one of my favourite quotes from House, to put on my desk at work:

Look Stupid House Quote 2

I’m not sure how to attribute the quote other than to the TV show: it’s not clear who did the graphic design (if you know, please tell me so I can give them credit).  After making a text-based QR code at http://www.qrstuff.com, I printed it out so I could take it with me.  I found it easier to cross-stitch if I drew a grid on top of the code:

QR code printout

So… did it work?

QR code scanned

Yay!  I reject the null hypothesis and conclude that my horrible stitching is actually clear enough to be read by a QR reader.  Go science.

For a frugal (by which I mean free) and eco-friendly way to display your cross-stitch, you can make use of one of those old CD jewel cases you have gathering dust in a closet somewhere.  I’d hung on to this one since it was my friends’ album, and since no harm is done to the CD or case in the process, I can still listen to the music, and if they ever move back to Canada I can pretend I didn’t make crafts with it ;)

Step 1:  Put bristol board or other stiff card inside the front of the case and trace around it.  Cut out the shape, place it inside the front of the case, and trim if necessary.

CD case frame 2

Step 2:  Use an x-acto knife to cut out a window large enough for your cross-stitch.  Slide it back into the case, and tape the cross-stitch cloth inside, using the album liner to sandwich it in place.

CD case frame 3Step 3: Go relax, you’re done!  This is a very short tutorial.

CD frame case 5