A couple of weeks ago, my older brother Greg had a birthday. Greg lives in Japan and I miss him terribly. Whilst my younger brother Peter organised a ‘care package’ from all of us (with plenty of Barbecue Shapes), I wanted to send Greg something hand made, just from me. Well, that’s not entirely true – I wasn’t organised enough to get it ready in time for the care package, so I decided to send it separately in an envelope…
Living in Japan, Greg doesn’t have much space for stuff, and what’s more, he does well in his job, so any stuff he needs, he can buy anyway. So I figure handmade gifts are something he can’t buy for himself and it’s like sending him a hug from home. In the past, I’ve made Greg a lopsided amigurumi koala, a beanie with monkey ears (seemed like a good idea at the time…), and a tea cosy with a skull on it (the best to date). I knew Greg was partial to Starbucks coffee, so I figured I’d make him one of those sleeves you can put on your takeaway cup. So I went skipping over to Ravelry to go pattern-hunting (yes, a tough job, but someone’s got to do it). And then I found it. Becky Ferris’s NINJA TURTLE coffee sleeve! And I knew I had to make it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Greg and I would rush home after school to watch these heroes-in-a-halfshell do battle with the evil Shredder (in the halcyon days before Mum and Dad outlawed TV-on-a-school-night) whilst little Jan and Peter lobbied for Playschool (they had no chance). I would strain for glimpses of April O’Neill, the only female character in the show if you didn’t count dowdy Irma (and I never did count dowdy Irma). April didn’t have any super powers or ninja skills, but she did have a walky-talky shaped like a make-up compact so she could call the ninja turtles to come rescue her whenever she needed it. A true feminist icon. One day, one blessed day, I would be as glamourous and rock a yellow jumpsuit with as much style as April. And then the Ninja Turtles would be MY friends.
Our grandmother took Greg and me on a bus to Westfield Shoppingtown when we were small to see the first ever Ninja Turtle MOVIE. Incidentally, Mama lived at home with our Brady Bunch family when we were growing up, so I guess that makes her ‘Alice’. I remember sitting in the little food court after the film, sharing a tiddly oggie and talking nine-to-the-dozen with my otherwise taciturn older brother about live-action versus animated turtles and the limitations and benefits of each.
So while I knew what to make, and I had the green and white cotton yarn I needed, I still had to ascertain what size to make it in and what colour yarn to buy for the mask. But if I asked Greg these questions, he would work out what I was up to for sure. In the end, I sent him the following text:
“3 cryptic but important questions:
1. What size coffee do you drink at Starbucks?
2. If Jeff Daniels got into a chair-fight with Joan Cusack, who would win?
3. Who is your favourite ninja turtle?”
My hope was that Joan Cusack would throw him off the scent. He responded (unquestioning and within fifteen minutes) with the following:
“1. Double Short Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel (don’t ask…)
2. Jeff Daniels?
3. Raphael was really cool, but a bit of a dick. I’ll have to go with Michelangelo.”
So. Orange yarn. But I had no idea what size coffee cup he was talking about and so, armed with the information he had given me, I headed off to the local Gloria Jeans (I live in Melbourne. We don’t have that many Starbucks here as they’re seen as an evil threat to our café culture – but somehow GJ’s managed to sneak in unnoticed. Go figure.). I showed the girl at the counter the text message and asked what size cup would take a double short soy caramel macchiato without the caramel and if I could take an empty takeaway cup of that size to use as a model for the sleeve.
This was a trickier question than I had thought
“If it were here, it would probably be in a little cup, like an espresso, but Starbucks macchiatos are more like lattes, I think” said the nice girl at the counter to the barista, who had joined the conversation.
“Hmmm. Yes, but then it says “short”. Does that mean, like, a shot?” mused the barista.
In the end, they gave me every size cup they had and after some further investigation, I settled on a cup size and got to work (I left out the bit where I went off to buy cotton yarn and discovered it had doubled in price from the last time I bought it because it doesn’t really add interest, even though it did cause me much frustration! Seven dollars fifty for a fifty gram ball! OK, I’m over it, really I am)
Here’s how it turned out:
Hmmm. Perhaps more a demented, goggle-eyed lizard than ninja turtle, but if you turn your head and squint…
So I posted it off along with some pictures and birthday cards from the kids. And, a week later (too late for the actual birthday, alas!), Greg sent me these photos:
The pictures have taken up residence on his fridge,
And the coffee sleeve fits! Turtle power!