Create Your Own Lovecraft Horror: Knitting the Great Race of Yith

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I have terrible luck with SFnal toys. It’s not just the usual issue with the female action figures being impossible to find, though I’m as grumpy as anyone about the difficulty of tracking down an Aeowyn or Rey. But whether it’s a hallucigenia or an Andorian with antennae that don’t look like bike horns, I inevitably fix my passion on whatever aspect of a franchise (or paleontological find) is least appealing to manufacturers.

If you’re fond of Lovecraftian critters, you can easily obtain a plush Nyarlathotep, shoggoth, or Hound of Tindalos. You can get Cthulhu Itself in whatever color, size, and outfit floats your boat. Even the elder things occasionally rear their five-lobed bodies. But the Great Race of Yith—my very favorite body-snatching librarians—are impossible to find.

This didn’t stop me from including one in Winter Tide. Lovecraft’s own post-body-snatch narrator is too mired in existential angst to share details of his fascinating conversations in the Archives. He mentions briefly the Cimmerians and Venusians who were among his fellow captive minds, and the Jurassic airship tours provided by their captors—but we never get to sit down with a Great One for a nice cup of tea and Ask Me Anything. I wanted to fix that. So when Aphra Marsh goes to Miskatonic University to resolve her political and familial dilemmas, she ends up in the spare room of the school’s only female professor. You have to be pretty damn good at what you do to break the glass ceiling in the 1940s Ivy League. And Yith like exchanging minds with geniuses who don’t have a lot of close friends…

Once I’d written Professor Trumbull, I realized that she made an excellent excuse to fill the gaping hole in my collection of eldritch toys. All I needed was an artistic friend who would appreciate the challenge. Samantha Lynn, Long Hidden contributor and infamous knitter of Daleks, was an obvious choice…

–Ruthanna


 

You want me to knit what?

A yith, R says. For a promotion. There must be a pattern online somewhere

I’m not even entirely certain what a yith is. (Conical, R says.) Squamous and rugose aren’t generally my wheelhouse, except what anybody in this field would have picked up from cultural osmosis, but somebody must have written up a pattern for this, surely?

There are no patterns for yith on Ravelry, and you would think. Perhaps Bob was worried about that SAN roll liability.

Well, okay, then, I’ve knit enough odd things in my day to have become That Knitter in my circle of acquaintances (the cat-toy-sized facehugger being a personal favorite); I can roll up my mental sleeves and break down the question into shapes that I do know how to make. According to Wikipedia,

“In the bodies that the Great Race of Yith inhabited on the Earth, they were tall and cone-shaped, rising to a point with four strange appendages, all of which can extend and recede at will to any distance up to about ten feet. Two terminate in claws… a third in four red “trumpets,” and the fourth, a yellowish globe featuring three eyes around the central circumference, flower-like ears on top and tentacles on the underside… Movement is achieved via expansion and contraction of a grey, rubbery layer at the base of the conical body.”

It’s going to have to be whatever colors of yarn I’ve got handy, but tentacles are easy enough, and a cone is basically a hat gone a bit wrong, then you seal up the bottom with something like the undercarriage from all those damn daleks…

And pipecleaners. Because pipecleaners.

The rest of the tale is known to you from these fragments of image and text and wool, tortured shapes rising from the depths to sing paeans of ancient warning…

Samantha


 

Guide for Knitting Your Own Race of Yith

Pattern by Samantha Lynn

MATERIALS

  • Yarn: about 60-80 yds, I used miscellaneous leftovers in compatible weights
  • Needles: 1 set of 5 double-pointed needles in size to obtain firmish fabric in your chosen yarn
  • Notions:
    • 24 to 40 seed-beads and 4 flower-shaped beads or findings for hearing-organs, plus needle and thread that will fit through beads
    • 3 large matching beads or buttons for eyes
    • marbles or florist’s pebbles to weight base
    • 4 pipecleaners, or craft wire if working with finer yarns
    • small crochet hook
    • toy-stuffing such as fiberfill
    • small stitch holder such as a safety-pin or locking stitch marker
    • yarn needle of a size to sew in ends of your chosen yarn with

GAUGE

  • Not entirely relevant; simply be sure to knit firmly enough that the stuffing won’t seep out
  • To make i-cord, cast specified number of sts onto one dpn; instead of turning work, slide sts back to beginning of this needle and use a second dpn to knit all sts. Continue to slide-and-knit, pulling gently on CO tail every few rows to firm up the resulting tube, until i-cord reaches desired length.
  • If using more than one color of yarn, always hold all tails to the outside of the piece when switching yarns; this will make your life much easier when it comes to sewing in the ends later!

PATTERN

Central tentacle and body:

Working with two dpns, CO 4 sts and work i-cord for about 3″-4″. Begin increasing for body: at beginning of next round, knit into the front and back of each st (kfb) using a new dpn for each kfb, until you have a total of 8 sts with 2 st on each needle.

Change color for body here, if desired.

K i rnd. Kfb in all sts around — 16 sts (4 on each needle).

K 1 rnd.

(Kfb, k1) around — 24 sts (6 per needle).

K 2 rnds.

(Kfb, k2) around — 32 sts (8 per needle).

K 2 rnds.

(Kfb, k3) around — 40 sts (10 per needle).

K 2 rnds.

(Kfb, k4) around — 48 sts (12 per needle).

K 2 rnds.

(Kfb, k5) around — 56 sts (14 per needle).

K 2 rnds.

(Kfb, k6) around — 64 sts (16 per needle).

K 2 rnds.

(Kfb, k7) around — 72 sts (18 per needle).

K 1 rnd.

P 1 round.

Change color for base here, if desired.

K 1 rnd.

(K2tog, k4) around — 60 sts (15 per needle)

K 1 rnd.

(K2tog, k3) around — 48 sts (12 per needle)

K 1 rnd.

(K2tog, k2) around — 36 sts (9 per needle)

K 1 rnd.

(K2tog, k1) around — 24 sts (6 per needle)

K 1 rnd.

K2tog around — 12 sts (3 per needle)

Break yarn, leaving long tail (about 4″-5″, IE long enough to pull the hole open as wide as it will go without the end of the tail coming out of the stitches), but do not pull the opening closed yet — you will be working inside the body cavity through this hole later.

trumpet-shaped appendages (make 4, or use beads):

Working flat on 2 dpns, and leaving 3″ tail, CO 15 sts.

WS rows: p across.

RS rows: ssk, k across, end k2tog.

When you have 3 sts left, work a slip-k2tog-psso double decrease, then break yarn, leaving 3″ tail, and pull through remaining st. Holding this tail to the right side of piece, fold work in half, RS together, so that the ends of the CO edge touch; using CO tail, sew from CO edge to end to form a small cone. Tug gently on ending tail to turn cone right-side out. Use ending tails to sew cones onto CO end of central tentacle.

Set body aside.

Claws (make 2):

Leaving about 4″ tail for sewing-on later, CO 4 sts and work i-cord to about the same length as central tentacle. Adding additional dpns as above, kfb into each st — 8 sts. K 1 round. Kfb around –16 sts.

Change to contrasting color for claw tips, if desired.

K 1 round. Place the last 8 sts just worked onto a holder or pin, and redistribute remaining 8 sts onto 3 dpns as 3st-2st-3st. Working in the round, shape claw-tip as follows:

K 3 rounds.

SSK, k4, k2tog — 6 sts

Work following round onto a single dpn to work as i-cord from here.

SSK, k2, k2tog — 4 sts

SSK, k2tog — 2 sts

K2tog — 1 st. Break yarn and pull through remaining st.

Place the 8 sts from holder back onto dpns, rejoin yarn leaving 3″-4″ tail, and work second half of claw-tip as for the first. With yarn needle, weave both ending-tails into claw-tips, and close any gap at base of claw-tips with tail from rejoining yarn.

Set both claws aside and go to head.

Head:

Leaving about 4″ tail for sewing-on later, CO 4 sts and work i-cord to about same length as previous pieces.

Change to contrasting color for face, if desired.

KFB around onto 4 needles as for previous pieces — 8 sts.

K 1 round.

(Kfb, k1) around — 24 sts.

K 3 rounds.

(K2tog, k1) around — 16 sts.

K 1 round.

K2tog around — 8 sts.

Break yarn and pull through all sts. Stuff head firmly and draw hole closed. Fasten in this end securely as desired (I usually just knot it close to the body and bury the end inside the stuffing).

Make four “flower-shaped hearing organs” (I used seed-beads and findings to shape small stalks: put beading-needle through desired number of beads for one unit, add flower-shaped bead or finding and if necessary one more seed-bead for an anchor, then pass needle back through all but the anchor bead) and attach to head. Sew three eyes onto the middle band of the head. For the fringe of small tentacles, cut a number of short lengths of yarn and attach into the sts around the ‘chin’ in the same way as if attaching fringe to a scarf: put a small crochet hook through a st, fold over the piece of yarn, draw the fold through the st, and then pull the ends of the yarn through the folded loop.

FINISHING

Fold over one end of each pipecleaner, or cut and double some lengths of plain craft wire if your i-cords are very skinny, and carefully feed one pipecleaner (or wire) into each length of i-cord, leaving a few inches exposed at the root. Pass the exposed ends of the pipecleaners from the claws and head through the fabric of the body as close to the junction of the central tentacle as possible, then use the CO tails to sew the claws and head to the body. Making sure that the pipecleaners are securely set in their appendages, twist the exposed ends together into a bundle inside the body cavity (if using bare craft wire, cover the end of the bundled wires with tape), and fold over or trim bundle to fit within body cavity if necessary. Working evenly around the wire-bundle, stuff the body cavity with craft stuffing until it reaches the desired firmness. Place weights such as marbles or flat florist-pebbles into the body between the stuffing and the fabric of the base, then pull on the tail to close the opening. Secure the end as for the top of the head. Weave in any remaining ends. Roll for Sanity and enjoy while you can!

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