There’s a sort of unofficial mascot on the indigodragonfly forum called the Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom (CCMZSOD). The concept was the result of a sort of mind-meld between Maget and indigodragonfly. Apparently they were planning on naming a new colorway “Zombie Squirrel” or something similar and then Maget mentioned something about mutant zombie squirrels of doom which were not only evil, but cute and cuddly, so the colorway name ended up being “Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom” and Maget got the inaugural skein! Then she knitted some Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrels of Doom and sent them on adventures around the world. After that we all just sort of ran with it…
For the last Ravellenic Games Heather of Joey’s House drew a CCMZSOD for the indigodragonfly team to use as our Ravatars.
I used this drawing as inspiration for needle felting a CCMZSOD to give to Maget!
First I started roughing out some shapes that could be used to build the squirrel. After only an hour I had the basic outlines for the body, head, and hindquarters started.
Then I attached the hindquarters to the body, made a tail, and started to add some shape to the head. The basic head shape in the illustration is sort of triangular so I started to add some corners to the top of the head where the ears would go. After adding the corner for the first ear I stopped and thought, “What if the other ear is missing? It is a mutant zombie squirrel after all…” I decided to leave the head misshapen and see how it would play out.
My initial attempt at the tail was too small so I added a lot more bulk to it before I attached it to the body. Then I started felting brown wool on top to smooth out the shapes and lay down a nice base color to build on. As I started coloring the head I decided the missing ear could actually be turned into a more gruesome exposed brain, so I left that spot black in preparation for that. Once I had the base coloring down I started shaping the hind legs out of the dark brown wool.
I attached the legs and arms, but the squirrel still wouldn’t sit up at this point. Luckily, I learned from my experience in felting Ducky that it was way too early to worry about it. The head could drastically affect the balance, so if it was still unstable after the head was attached I could work on adding some more bulk to the base of the tail to make it sit up straight. I also learned from Ducky that for fine details like faces it is really helpful to be able to manipulate the head freely, so I should wait until I was finished with the detail work before I attached the head.
At this point I was ready to start adding detail and I made a breakthrough! I had recently visited my local yarn store Canvas Works and discovered that they had some needle felting supplies there! One of the things they had was a pack of needles that came in multiple sizes. Until I saw those I had never even considered that different sized needles might exist for needle felting, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense – use the larger needles for building larger shapes, then switch to medium-sized needles for the smaller shapes and contouring, and use the smallest needles for the fine detail work.
I put the smallest needle to the test for creating the exposed brain. First I covered the hole in a nice deep bloody red and then I mixed a bit of pink wool with some tan wool to create a brainy color. I spun the brain colored wool between my fingers to create a thin snake-like cord and started folding it back and forth across the red wool as I felted it into place with the small needle. It worked great! I was able to create some really tight curves by taking advantage of the precision of that small gauge needle!
I also started experimenting with some color blending to create a suitably mutant-zombie-esque look for the squirrel. I had a multi-colored blend of purples, blues, and reds that looked great when lightly layered on top of the dark brown base color. I also was able to create a nice rotted look by blending dark green with the dark brown. For the belly color I blended some orange wool with a lighter brown wool. Then I added a neck so I would have something to attach to the head to later.
I finished the brains and made an ear for the other side of the head. At this point I held the head on top of the neck to see how it looked and realized the tail was still too small. I tried to make the tip of the tail taller and fatter to balance out the size of the head.
Once the tail size was corrected I went back to focusing on the head. I added the eye and started working on the teeth. With the small gauge needle I was able to create some very fine black lines to draw the teeth!
Considering a large portion of the squirrel’s skull was missing, I figured the eye socket was probably unstable so the right eye would be missing. Initially I had intended to have both eyes and just have them be different sizes, but in the end logic dictated that I should stick to the illustration. I put on the nose, re-colored the tip of the tail and attached the head.
The squirrel still wouldn’t sit up so I did end up having to bulk up the base of the tail so it wouldn’t keep falling backward. I made a few final finishing touches including moving the ear (I had initially put it too far back), and smoothing out some of the joins.
I could have called it done at this point, but I had one more dreadful thought that kept nagging at me – what happened to that other eyeball? I decided the squirrel still had it with him, so I took some red embroidery thread to represent the bloody muscles and nerves and tied a length of white wool around the middle. I tied it several times, front and back, until it had formed a rough ball shape around the middle of the thread. Then I folded the thread in half, wrapped the remaining wool around the end and started felting a ball around the thread.
Once the eyeball was large enough I added a black pupil to the end. Then I loosely braided the strands of the embroidery thread together and threaded them onto a needle so I could attach them to the hand. Once it had been threaded through the top of the hand I made a knot so it couldn’t be pulled back through, then I fed the ends back through the hand so they stuck out the bottom. I cut each strand of the embroidery thread irregularly so it looked like it had been ripped from the head. With that, the Cute and Cuddly Mutant Zombie Squirrel of Doom was finished!
It’s so horrific it’s adorable!