Our guest today is Cthulhu Chick (Her real name is ‘Ruth’ and she’s a librarian-in-training, but we like to call her by her awesome nickname), maker of crocheted Cthulhus.
IFP: Hi Cthulhu Chick! Welcome to Innsmouth. Can you introduce yourself to the readers, using words found in Lovecraft’s fiction?
CC: I’m in Innsmouth? Oh, dear. Sadly, most of his adjectives aren’t very nice. I’m an antiquarian who crochets eldritch beings, who come from a place beyond human comprehension. While great Cthulhu slumbers in his daemonic, cyclopian city, I strive to keep madness alive in his cultists.
IFP: How did you start creating crochet Cthulhus?
CC: I started reading Lovecraft in the summer of 2009. I’d been on a Neil Gaiman kick and realized I needed to read some Lovecraft to appreciate a number of his short stories. Fortunately, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast (hppodcraft.com) got going right around then, too, and I think that helped bring me deeper into the world.
In the early Fall (2009), I started lusting after the plush Cthulhus online. But I can’t touch plush or anything velvety. It triggers the “fingernails on a chalkboard” reflex in my brain. Just writing this made me have to rub my hands against each other to assure them there’s nothing velvet in their future. Raises my hackles, leads to jumping about & shuddering & generally unfun things. So, I started looking around for patterns, to sew or crochet my own. I found a pattern and went from there.
IFP: How many have you made so far? How far have they traveled? How evil are they?
CC: More than 200 but probably less than 300. Actually, given my eye-purchases, quite possibly 300. From January – May, I had about 100 orders, plenty with multiple Cthulhus in them. When I get my database running, I’ll be able to get that number more easily, though it won’t include the couple of dozen I’ve made for friends, friends’ babies, etc. I love creating new variations or mixing them with other sci-fi things. I made a sombrero-wearing pirate Cthulhu as a commission…probably my oddest cross.
I’d say the farthest around the globe they’ve gone is Australia. Several also went to New Zealand, all over Europe…and I just shipped to Italy for the first time last month. I gave one in November of 2009 to Amanda Palmer at one of her shows, for her to share with Neil Gaiman as a thank you for his stories & for introducing me to Lovecraft (It had a striped sweater in honour of The Dresden Dolls, her old band).
They took a picture for me, which was cool. This Spring, a friend of Paul Levitz’s (former president of DC comics) asked me to make a DC-themed one for him. I ended up doing a Superman colour-scheme. No cape. I heard he liked it.
Evil? I don’t know what you’re….okay, they might possibly be a global network ready to rise on my command. Or they might just eat the souls of troublesome coworkers. But people can be assured that they only devour souls at their new owner’s command. I can’t vouch for what will happen when the stars align.
IFP: How long does it take you to make these little crocheted friends and how do you manage to produce so many of them? Or are you being held prisoner in a crocheting factory?
CC: The average “Tiny” Cthulhu takes a little over 2 hours. I’ve used my commuting time, my lunch break, my evenings….so, yes, I’m holding myself prisoner in my own crocheting factory. Actually, I over-crocheted on Memorial Day weekend (4 days off, including 4 hours riding in the car!) making Pikathulhus and had to cut back on it. It makes me sad, but my wrists were really hurting and I didn’t want to give it up entirely. Bought some ergonomic hooks, wearing braces, pacing myself, scheduling them farther apart, and hoping to be
entirely better soon. When it doesn’t hurt, I find the whole process therapeutic. It’s been a hard year and a half for me and doing something with my hands has often been helpful.
IFP: How did you discover Lovecraft?
CC: I’d heard about him before, but Neil Gaiman’s short stories are what made me read him.
What’s your favourite Lovecraft story?
CC: It changes so often; how can I choose?! “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” is consistently up there, though. And I love the imagery of “The Rats in the Walls”, despite the unfortunately-named cat.
IFP: You spent a lot of time creating a free e-book with all of Lovecraft’s stories, only to have it pirated on Amazon. Not to rehash the whole painful tale, but the spec-fic community seems to have really rallied around you. How did you feel about the pirated book and then the response from other Lovecraft fans?
CC: When I saw it and saw its sales rank, I felt physically sick. I didn’t say anything to my husband for an hour because I couldn’t even figure out how to articulate what happened. I think it especially bothered me that it was successful and 5-star rated (though I was a tiny bit proud of that) because I knew the person had succeeded. I’d have been less upset if I’d caught it sooner or if it wasn’t doing well. I’d still have gotten it taken down.
In contrast to that, the dozens of messages of support that have poured in on Twitter, Facebook and by e-mail, all the people who’ve expressed their appreciation for the e-book, and then the hundreds of people who up-voted the nearly-50 negative reviews on Amazon – all of that made me feel loved and supported. I’ve seen the Internet come together to stand up for other people before, and it was overwhelmingly positive to be on the receiving end. I cried at points and danced with joy at others. A few people tried to convince me that I should be on board with the pirate and flattered my work was so good…but I didn’t bother engaging them and some other people responded for me. I appreciated that.
It makes me very glad to have the friends I do. And it makes me feel like I’ve contributed something to the world. The e-book has has about a thousand more downloads, bringing it to just over 39,000 (6/21/2011). I’m proud of my work and hope I’ve introduced at least some of those people people to weird fiction and cosmic horror.
IFP: What scares you?
CC: Zombies. I can’t watch anything with zombies in it, not even Shaun of the Dead. I’ve always had a fascination with and a fear of them. After my mom gave me The Talk, when I was 8, she asked if I had any questions. My only question was “How do zombies get made?” I think that threw her, but she told me about Haitian zombie folklore. She was a walking Wikipedia. If Lovecraft did more zombies, I’d have been screwed. “Herbert West – Reanimator” freaks me out.
IFP: What Mythos stories, not written by Lovecraft, would you recommend?
CC: Hmm. I’m pretty picky about such things, I don’t even like all of Gaiman’s Mythos stories. I do recommend his “Old Shoggoth’s Peculiar”. I really enjoyed the Fall of Cthulhu series by Boom Studios. I’m working on Historical Lovecraft, but haven’t yet finished the first story (*hangs head in shame* George R.R. Martin & Frank Herbert & Jim Butcher jumped me and made me read their stuff).
IFP: If you could be a Lovecraftian creature or character, who would you be and why?
CC: I’d like to be the heroic librarian in “The Dunwich Horror”. I’m a library student and I think his job sounded cool…plus, he defeated the Big Bad (or, as the podcast was calling him, “Orville”). I’d rather like to work with Miskatonic’s *cough* Brown’s Lovecraft archives.
IFP: What would you like to say to the readers in parting?
CC: Read some Lovecraft and then go look at Hubble pictures. The size of our universe will blow your mind. Who knows what’s out there? It’s probably not Cthulhu, but damn.
You can find Cthulhu Chick on Twitter as @cthulhuchick and for general Cthulhu/craftyness + notices about sales and new items, check out her Facebook page http://facebook.com/cthulhuchick.