I picked out his favorite shade of electric blue, with a good saturated red for the squirrel design, since he loathes brown. (My favorite color? Fire-engine red. We tend to check in before dyeing our hair to make sure we don’t end up with the same livid red or magenta. We are not subtle people.)
I did a quick check for squirrel charts on Ravelry, but the charts were small and heavily stylized, so I’m drawing them myself. Translating small, round, spastic animals into big, chunky blocks without losing their essential squirrelness is fun. I’m primed by an extremely nerdy childhood hobby: origami. As a kid, I’d fold and fold and fold, then hold up the finished product in front of someone and demand “Can you tell what this is?” If they guessed wrong, I’d go back to folding. The best response I ever got was “OH MY GOD IT’S THAT THING FROM STAR WARS!” when I figured out how to make an X-wing.
The X-wing, if you’re wondering, is the only origami that’ll get you laid. Fold one of those out of a peeled-off beer label, and you’ve got a fast ticket into nerd-boy pants.
I don’t practice origami much anymore, but since I am a born fidgeter, I end up making most of it when I’m out at bars. The boyfriend has a small collection of tiny drunk paper animals: a few cranes, a bright pink manatee, a shark twisted out of the sticky label from a bottle of Poppy Jasper. Last Friday I went out with some officemates after work, and got to see a drunk coworker charging around the financial district, cheerfully yelling and counting off from the fortune teller he held in one outstretched hand, which I’d folded for him out of a torn-up bar menu.
The challenge of origami, or drawing charts, or caricaturing, is figuring out how to get across somethingness with the smallest amount of real estate. What says “squirrel”? That big question-mark tail; the long smooth curve of the back; eyes; a large head; those wide-mounted eyes. Squirrel!