Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Space Invaders

Hey there!

I've been teaching myself to knit for a while now. I started with a kangaroo plushie pattern borrowed from a friend, as a christmas present for Dad's aussie girlfriend. Then I invented a pattern for a pair of ravens for Dad himself, which didn't work out so well - they did look a bit like whales really. After that I made a zombie Clanger for the boyfriend, which worked out very well and combined knitting with sewing and creative felt-work. I'll post the patterns for those as soon as I can scan them in, and get pictures! But right now I'm going to tell you how to make Space Invaders.

After the success of Clanger, I started looking for geeky things to make and stumbled across someone's attempt at a knitted Space Invader plushie. Now, in all fairness, I admired them for trying but it did look a lot like a beanbag with legs. Mine turned out just like the real thing, and I had some lovely green wool left over to make them with. The best thing about this pattern is that it can be sized up or down very easily. Each 'pixel' in these patterns is five stitches wide and deep, but you could make one with three, four, six, whatever, depending on how big you want the finished Invader to be.

All you need to know to make these is how to knit, purl, cast on and cast off. If you have trouble understanding how to make the eye-holes, I can recommend this link which explained how to cast off and on in the middle of rows to me :

Good luck! pew-pew...

To make this little guy, the most iconic of the Invaders, takes a bit more patience than his friend, especially when you get to the stuffing stage.

First, cast on 5. Knit 10 rows of stocking stitch (knit one row, purl next row.) Bind off. Repeat another 3 times so that you have 4 pieces of knitting. Fold them in half lengthwise to make 5x5 'pixels' and sew up with the ends inside. These will form the Invader's 'antennae.'

Cast on 10. Knit 10 rows of stocking stitch, (or, bind off. Repeat. Fold each of these two pieces in half and sew them together to make 5x10 'mandibles.'

The main body is a bit more complicated.
  • Cast on 35. Knit 5 rows , starting with a knit row.
  • At row 6, cast on 5 at the front end of the work. Purl 10 stitches. Cast off 5 stitches in the middle of the row, remembering to purl two first, then pulling the first of those over the second one. You should still have 10 stitches on your right needle, and 30 on your left. Purl the next 15 stitches, then cast off another 5, remembering to purl the first two and bring the first over the second. You should now have 10, gap of 5, 30, gap of 5, 5.
  • At row 7, cast on 5 at the end of the work and knit 10, up to the gap. Now turn the work and work another 3 rows as though the piece was only 10 stitches wide. After these 3 rows, break the yarn leaving a long tail. Pick up the ball-end in your left hand, holding a good amount, and begin knitting again after the gap on the block of 15 stitches. Knit 4 rows, then break the yarn again, leaving a tail and pick up again with the last block of 10 stitches. Knit 4 rows on this block. You should now be ready for Row 11.
  • At row 11, you will join all the blocks together again. First, cast on 5 and then knit 15 until you run out. Now cast on another 5 from the end of the middle block, and knit these with the first block so that the gap closes up. Be careful to count here how many stitches you actually have - depending on the cast-on you use, you sometimes have to do one more stitch than you think. At the next gap, cast on another 5 and knit 15 to the end of the row. You should now have 50 stitches in total.
  • At row 12, cast on 5 at the end and purl the whole row, 55 stitches. Knit another 3 rows of
  • At row 16, you begin making the arms. Purl 5. Cast off 5 to make a gap. Purl 35. Cast off another 5. Purl 5.
  • Row 17 onwards is worked in 3 blocks again. Take the first 'arm' and knit 14 rows of on those 5 stitches. Then bind off. Pick up the ball-end and begin knitting the block of 35. Knit 4 rows of Then knit 5 stitches, cast off 25, and knit 5 again. Knit 4 rows of on each of the sets of 5, binding off to leave 2 little stumps divided by a 25-stitch gap. Now pick up the ball-end again and knit the second 'arm,' 14 rows of and bind off.
Repeat this pattern again exactly so that you have two Invader shapes with no antennae or mandibles. 'Block' the pieces; this means soaking them in warm water, then flattening them out on a surface (kitchen towel on a table works well) blotting out most of the water and leaving them to dry. This stops them curling up as stocking stitch is wont to and makes them easier to sew together.
Now you are ready to stuff your invader. This is pretty self-explanatory except that around the eyes is difficult - there will be a loop across the bottom of the gap, which you should carefully tuck in before sewing the eye-seams together. Stuff the top of the head first, before you finish going round the eyes. After stuffing completely, stitch the mandibles diagonally to the inside corners of the tabs on his bottom, and the antennae-pieces in pairs to the top seam in line with the eyes and diagonally from the outer corners of those.


The more octopoid Invader is much quicker and easier to do than his brother, and uses the same technique for the eyes, so although I made him second you might want to do him first as practice.

Cast on 5. Knit 10 rows, bind off. Repeat another 5 times, to make 6 pieces total. Fold in half to make 5x5 pixels and sew together.

Cast on 10. Knit 10 rows, bind off. Fold in half and sew together to make 5x10 joining-piece.

For the main body:

  • Cast on 10. Knit 5 rows, starting with a knit row.
  • At row 6, cast on 5 and purl the whole row. At row 7, cast on 5 and knit the whole row (20 stitches.) Knit another 3 rows
  • At row 11, cast on 5 and knit the whole row (25.) At row 12, cast on 5 and purl the whole row (30.) Knit another 3 rows
  • Row 16 adds the gaps for the eyes. Cast on 5, purl 10, cast off 5 to make a gap, purl 10, cast off 5 to make gap number 2, purl 5.
  • At row 17, cast on 5, then knit the rest of that row and the next 3 in on the set of 10. Break the yarn and resume knitting the middle block, adding another 4 rows Break the yarn and resume knitting the final block, adding 4 rows of
  • At row 21, DO NOT cast on 5. Knit 10, then cast 5 onto the middle block and join the two together by kntting the resulting 15 stitches. Cast another 5 onto the end block and knit the rest of the row. You should now have 40 stitches in total.
  • Knit the next 4 rows in
  • At row 26, cast off 10, purl 5, cast off 10, purl 5 and cast off 10 leaving two stubs. Break the yarn and pick up again on the first stub of 5, knitting another 4 rows and binding off. Do the same for the other stub.
Repeat the whole pattern again to make two pieces, and block them flat. Sew up and stuff carefully, remembering to tuck in the loops around the eyes as you hem them and stuff the head first. Now sew the joining piece between the corners of the stubs so that they are connected. Sew on the small pixel pieces carefully, following the picture.


If you have any questions about these patterns or have any problems, please leave a comment. I promise to have photographic proof of the Invaders' existence up soon! In the meantime, make your own and send me pics of yours!

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