Crafters! Ghouls! Two adorable books appeared in the mail recently: Chris Marks' Horrorgami: 25 Creepy Creatures, Ghastly Ghouls, and Other Fiendish Paper Projects (Running Press, 128 pp., $13) and Hannah Simpson's Knitmare on Elm Street: 20 Projects That Go Bump in the Night (Running Press, 127 pp., $17).
Horrorgami comes with a pack of papers to help you start "bending the normal folding techniques of origami to your evil will," and begins with symbols that are used throughout the directions of the various projects. (I don't recommend you skip these, no matter how awesome of a cootie-catcher maker you already are.) Each project is rated, or "rat-ed," by degrees of difficulty, from one rat ("easy") to four rats ("fiendish").
Easy projects that even an all-thumbs type (like myself) can master include the "Friendly Ghost," though the book quickly escalates in difficulty to trickier (trickier-or-treatier?) fold-ups resembling an "Evil Witch's Cat" (pretty cute, actually); the "Hooded Grim Reaper" (with scythe); a "Ghastly Ghoul;" and a "Stupefying Spider."
Some of the shapes require multiple sheets of paper, scissors, and glue sticks, so you may need to assemble additional materials beyond what's included with the book. The instructions (complete with detailed diagrams) are easy to follow, though noobs will likely need practice before ascending to four-rat status.
Knitmare's beasties are far more dynamic than Horrorgami's (no offense to origami, but yarn allows for much more expressiveness than paper), but they're also more complicated, and the book doesn't come with any materials to get you going. "This book assumes a basic level of knitting skill," warns author Simpson, who nonetheless includes a brief knitting 411 ("Basic Stitch Variations," etc.), and explains each project with careful, cleverly-illustrated (are those witch hands holding those needles?) instructions.
And for those who know their knits from their purls, the stuff you can make from Knitmare is cuuuuute. But, like, spooky-cute: "Monkey With Miniature Cymbals" sculpture; "Necronomicon iPad Cozy;" the name-changed-to-prevent-copyright-issues-but-we-know-he-lives-on-Elm-Street-and-wears-a-striped-sweater "Ferdy Hand Puppet;" the truly "Creepy Clown Cushion Cover;" the LED-deploying "Light-up Ghost;" and the "Creature from the Black Lagoon Sleep Mask" — which, not to mingle my holidays too much, but if I had any knitting skills at all, that'd be the numero uno Christmas gift I'd give to all my spooky-minded buddies this year.