Cthulhu LIVES (because someone put food in a pocket)

So, yeah. Cthulhu is alive and well, after being really dead for a while.

And partially it’s my fault, because I should have known better than to skin a Great Old One and turn him into yarn. Or try to do something useful with him. But, hey, you’d think a monster like that would knit up into something both waterproof and warm, right?

But I also blame my older son, Mark, who asked me (three years ago) to knit him a sweater. He was driving a long-haul truck at the time, had put on some weight from the combination of brutal job that prevented exercise and short stops that required pretty much living on fast food, and he said driving through the mountains out west, he spent a lot of time being cold.

Mark and the Cthuhlu Sweater

Mark and the Cthuhlu Sweater

I started on the sweater. The two of us had bounced ideas around about what would make a sweater that was both warm, and cool. That would fit him. That would fit his passions and his personality.

And fortunately for me, I also decided to make it a sweater that would be as close to one size fits all as possible. Which dictated the design—primarily 3×3 ribs, which offer both a lot of warmth and a lot of elasticity, the weirdness that … er … crawled out of doing a LOT of ribs, and the outcome. Which was the fact that when he finally had both the time off and a working vehicle he could use to come down and see me, it fit him.


Sweater back — everything’s okay, right?

In the interim, you see, he became a FedEx guy, started schlepping between 80 and 140 packages around every day, including ones that weighed a hundred pounds or more… and he lost a lot of weight.

All is NOT well…a tentacle escapes

The idea was to make a sweater that looked mostly normal, pretty mundane, but that would have a couple of interesting surprises for the observant.

The sweater was a trip to make.

I did not use a pattern.

A rib sprouts tentacles

A rib sprouts tentacles

Did not swatch. I knit the entire thing top-down in one piece including the button placket, but excluding the pockets, which are sewn on.

I used my own process of biometric knitting, in which you grab any needles you think will make the yarn look nice, any yarn, do ONE biometric measurement, cast on, and knit.

The tentacles got around

The tentacles got around

As I knit, I tried it on myself, and made sure that it was bigger. Having not seen my son for years, I had to guess at height, arm length, torso length, shoulder width, adjust for possible weight changes, and hope like hell I got it right, because there is no way to undo a single-piece sweater to make little adjustments.

Please note the visible, readable, care label, which describes NOT feeding the sweater.

And of course I signed my work, because I’m pretty happy with this.

Ribs. Ribs, I tell you. They are better than spandex or elastic.

I tried three different approaches to the sleeve and pocket tentacles before Necessity, Mother of Invention, suggested an invention that worked really well.

And the kid liked it, too.

Guy who just received a really weird sweater made by his mom.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.

28 comments… add one
  • Mike C Baker Oct 23, 2017 @ 12:39

    Ah, so now we know where the Mountains of Shadow stretch to, perhaps? The West has many … things to explore.

    GREAT sweater. A proper outer-wear sweater, at that, with pocketses. Now, to see if I can sweet-talk a local knitter or two into some experimentation. (I’m wondering if my friend Cathy could work a Klingon forehead “turtle” into a watchcap by similar means…

  • Kathryn Kistner Oct 20, 2017 @ 21:46

    I LOVE the tentacles!

    Not only do you THINK twisty… you KNIT twisty.


  • Joanne Roberts Oct 18, 2017 @ 19:32

    Holy wow. You are a genius. I wish I was into Cthulu and you were my mom. As is, I’d rather have some steampunk octopus thing. Apropos of nothing, find and play Unspeakable Words card game. As a cthulu fan and writer, you will love it…or go insane. One of the two. Thanks for sharing!

  • Phoenix Oct 17, 2017 @ 20:41

    Oh, wow. This is 1000% amazing. I adore ribbed anything for how well it stretches and this is exactly the kind of understated nerdy thing I love. Looks like I’m off to Google biometric knitting!

    • Holly Oct 18, 2017 @ 8:52

      Biometric knitting is, as far as I know, my own thing.

      • Phoenix Oct 20, 2017 @ 3:25

        Well, damn.

        Still, knowing the process is feasible gives me somewhere to start when it comes to researching similar things. (I love researching this kind of thing.)

  • Denise Loughlin Oct 17, 2017 @ 4:42

    What a glorious sweater – gorgeous model! Superb knitting, love the detail, the colour and how it fits – wow! Great read, better story – what fun!

  • Karen Lynn Oct 17, 2017 @ 4:10

    The sweater is amazing! Very tentacle-y. I had no idea Cthulhu was such a lovely forest green. I might vote for him in the next election.

  • Mike Oct 16, 2017 @ 19:15

    Awesome! I’d definitely wear a sweater like that! 🙂

  • dragon Oct 16, 2017 @ 16:22

    That is …. just so cool. I have to admit, I crocheted dresses for my eldest when she was small, and a cape, almost a full circle, for my grand daughter, but making it Cthulu eldritch had not occurred to me … hmm, plot bunny … with fangs and tentaclesfd … Hmmm

    • Holly Oct 18, 2017 @ 13:14

      Thoughts along those lines ran through my mind while I was knitting it. 😀

      • dragon Oct 18, 2017 @ 23:37

        Good. I’d hate to think I’m the only one …LOL

  • Reziac Oct 16, 2017 @ 13:59

    That’s a freakin’ AWESOME sweater.

    The kid’s not bad either! 😀

    • Holly Oct 17, 2017 @ 8:25

      Naw. The kid’s awesome. I have three amazing kids.

  • Stephen Bagley Oct 16, 2017 @ 9:30

    How cool!

    • Holly Oct 16, 2017 @ 9:58

      Stephen! Awesome to see you. How have you been?

      • Stephen Bagley Oct 16, 2017 @ 10:39

        Hanging in there. No excitement like what you have been enduring. (That Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times” is more of a curse that I realized.) Your account of a hurricane was chilling and gripping. Of course, in Oklahoma, we have many tornadoes, but they’re over in hours. A tornado that lasted days? I would be moving to Antarctic, which also doesn’t have mosquitoes.

        • Holly Oct 18, 2017 @ 8:48

          I have considered the Antarctic.

          • Stephen Bagley Oct 18, 2017 @ 14:35

            We could insulated domes near each other. We’d need tunnels underground to connect the domes as well as to the agriculture dome. Maybe a livestock dome, too.

            It would like Mars except with air and water. 🙂

            • Stephen Bagley Oct 18, 2017 @ 14:36

              We could have insulated domes near each other. We’d need tunnels underground to connect the domes as well as to the agriculture dome. Maybe a livestock dome, too.

              It would be like Mars except with air and water. ?

  • Francine Oct 13, 2017 @ 9:45

    Nice sweater – but your son had better watch out – he may start to eat weird things, or decide he’s the ruler of the world.

    • Holly Oct 18, 2017 @ 8:48

      He’s a pretty mellow guy. The eating weird things, though? Yeah…

  • Irina Oct 13, 2017 @ 9:43

    Good Go…Eldrich Abomination! This is gorgeous!!! 😀
    He is a lucky guy 😀

    • Holly Oct 18, 2017 @ 8:49

      The words “eldritch abomination” and “lucky guy” rarely appear so close together. 😉

  • John Cryar Oct 13, 2017 @ 9:14

    Great sweater. Lucky guy. Love the stitchwork.

    • Holly Oct 18, 2017 @ 8:50

      Thank you. Taught myself to knit when I was fifteen, and I’m pretty hardcore about it.

  • Deb Salisbury Oct 10, 2017 @ 13:52

    LOL! It’s a fantastic sweater! I love the tentacles. 😀

    • Holly Lisle Oct 11, 2017 @ 6:41

      The tentacle on the left from pocket actually has a loop in it that separates from the main fabric, so that it can grasp things. Like a pen, or a penlight, or some other small object.

      One of those weird nerd-mom touches I could not resist adding.

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