April 25, 2013

Mr Ramen

So my brother sent me a video called Ramen Party. There is an Indiegogo for using these characters to teach children about different types of food and cultures. It is pretty darn cute. After watching it and working on the Putti Cat for so long, I wanted to make something fun and less of a challenge.

Ramen Party!
Mr. Ramen is just the kind of strange and cute thing that should be made into a plushy. So I started thinking about how I would go about making one. First thing I needed would be a good yarn. I thought about using a solid yellow, however I thought he might look like a certain other yellow square character. So I found a Lily Sugar n' Cream yarn in a color called Daisy Ombre. The yellow fading to white color combo was perfect.

Next I needed to find a good stitch to use. Since he is a rectangle shape, I would not be using amigurumi for this one. I wanted something textured and that would replicate the woven up and down sort of pattern on his ramen noodle body. My first thought was a wavy crochet stitch, but that came out flat, and since the color is all the same white and yellow, it was hard to see the wavy lines.
I also tried a crunch stitch, thinking the random look might get me what I was looking for. I didn't really like that either, and it had a lot more holes than the image showed.

Looking through my mother in laws books I found what was called a Rocky Road stitch. It had the random look I wanted, but I wasn't sure it was the one. Glad I tested a swatch because it ended up being what I went with.

The Rocky Road Stitch
Chain a multiple of 4 plus 3 (for turning). I chose 24 chain, plus 3 for turning (27).
--> That legnth was about how wide I wanted the body to be. And that gave me 6 sort of wavy humps per row.

Foundation Row: 1 sc in second chain from hook, *[1 sc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next chain, skip next 2 chain, sc in next chain, repeat from * across within  last chain 1 sc.
--> This puts 2 sc on the end of every row. Be sure to chain 1 for turning.

Row 1: Chain 1 (for turning), 1 sc in first sc, *[1 sc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next sc. Skip the 2 dc and chain 2 from last row and do one sc into the sc that starts that cluster. Repeat from * across the row.
--> This was confusing to me at the beginning. I watched this video which helped. Basically your cluster is going behind or in front of the cluster hump shape of the previous row. This gives it a kind of layered point look. The wavy up and down look was perfect for me, plus the variegated yarn kind of came out random looking which was important to me, since the other stitch swatches I had made had the white of the yarn line up into rows.

To I ended up doing about 18 rows of this. To end, I just bound off at the end of the last row. I did not try to make it be a straight bottom since I liked the pointy wavy look and I thought it was more true to the character. I made two square pieces like this. Be sure to realize that there is a front and a back to this stitch, meaning it is not reversible. When working the rows I was sure to keep the points all on the same side which would be the outside of Mr. Ramen. (Kind of like if you were doing a popcorn stitch.)

Next I had to figure out how to make his body edges. Since the animation is flat, but we know what ramen looks like, I figured I wanted an inch or so thickness. For the edges then I would make one long piece that I would use to attach the front and back of the body to.

Body Sides
Chain 4 plus 1 to turn.
Rows 1-3 : 1sc in second chain from hook, 1 sc in each across, turn. (4 sc)
*Row 4: 1 sc in each of the 4 stitches in the BACK LOOPS ONLY.
Rows 5-6: 1 sc in each of the 4 stitches, chain 1 turn. *
* Repeat until you have 6 V shapes to go along the bottom. (about 36 rows)
Once you do, you can ignore the back loop only instruction for the le
--> Doing the third row of stitches in the back loops makes what would other wide a long flat rectangle into a long wavy rectangle. These back loop rows make V's that should be about the same size as the V's made from the last row of the Rocky Road body stitch. That means that sewing the bottom of the body up should be easier to do. Since the left, right and top sides of the body are straight the wavyness isn't needed. Hence why after the 36 rows or so for the bottom of the body you can stop the back loop variation, for the sides and top.
What a cutie.
Face Embellishments
Once you have the three pieces done for the body, front square, back square and long side piece, you can take the time to create. Mr. Ramens chibi features. Pick one of the squares to be front. Be sure you know the front from the back and put the features on the right side! I used 15mm black safety eyes. I folded the square to make sure they were about the same apart and at the same height. Just go with what looks right to you. Once the eyes were in place I used black yarn to embroider some simple eyebrows. The mouth goes between and below. I also took two 4 inch strands of yarn and folded them in half. These were threaded horizontally through at stitch below the top edge and pulled through a loop like a tassle to secure them. I then took the yarn that stuck out and untwisted them all and then twisted it back together as one piece. I curled it a little with my fingers to give him his little but of hair. I used a dry paintbrush and a little bit of light pink fabric paint to give him the little cheek blushes. At this point he should be smiling up at you.
Face done :)
For the noodly sort of arms he has, I used a weird idea to get those done quick. Make 2.
Since the body came out larger than I had realized it would I made these arms and legs using a kind of hybrid amigurumi. I worked in a circle, but also branched out for the arm and fingers. Use a place marker at the beginning of your rounds. To get a left and a right one, just make sure you turn them the right way when you sew them on.

Magic Circle 7 sc (one space for each finger, one for a space between thumb and fingers and one for the arm)
sc in first, chain 16, turn, sc 15 back, sl st in same first st (to make arm)
sc in next stitch, chain 3, turn, sl st in next two sts, sl st into next stitch (to make thumb)
in four remaining stitches, chain 4, turn and sl st in next 3 stitches, securing with sl st in next stitch
bind off. (to make 4 fingers)
To attach to body, I then needed to attach some more yarn to the end of the arm.
Completed hand and arm.
The legs are the same sort of noodly appendage, but much shorter. He also has white shoes. The shoes created a bit of a dilemma since I wanted to do the white and black, so these are in a more traditional amigurumi style of working in rounds.

Magic Circle 6 sc
2 sc in each, 12
2 rows of one sc in each, 12
Bind off.
Use tail from start or end to sew up 6 of the stitches to close most of the circle off at the top. Stuff with a little bit of polyfil. Then attach white to any of the 6 remaining open stitches and use those 6 as a new circle. Do 2 rows of 6 sc to get the shoe to come up to his "ankle".
Switch to black yarn, and attach.
One sc in each back loop only around. (makes the color change have a hard edge)
Do 12 more rows of black, one sc in each around.
Bind off and leave a tail for sewing to body.
Foot part on the left, Complete shoe on the right.
Now that the face is done and the arms and legs are ready to go you can put him together. I recommend using a single crochet to attache the face to the side of the body along the long edge first. Then attach the backside to the other long edge of the side piece. Be sure to stop before you come to the end so that you can stuff his body. Or use a small piece of craft foam if you really want him to stay rectangular, be sure if you do that, to add the foam once you have three sides done to make it easy on yourself. The arms and the legs should just get sewn on to the sides in their appropriate locations. Use the long tails, insert it into the body, pull it out again, thread it through the last stitch closest to the body on the appendage and tie it down. Hide the tail once it is secure inside the body.
Mr. Ramen!
Done! This little guy took me about 8 hours since I did a lot of trial an error stitch swatches. I also spent a lot of time making the face look right.

Just as an fyi: I always feel it is important to ask before you post, especially if what you are creating is inspired by something that someone else created. I did just that before this post went up and got a very positive response:
"WOW this is amazing!  For sure feel free to share it and thank you for letting us know in advance -- please please do post it on our FB page!  We are so honored that you've created a Mr. Ramen of your own :)"  - Lillian and the Ramen Party team

Personally I would have loved to have learned about the many different tasty dishes that come from other cultures. I am Italian and was raised on pasta, but I never had different kinds of noodles till I got to college! I would have loved to learn about foods like Ramen, Pho', Pad See Ew, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Bahn Mi before my 20s...