Knitting for the future

Following the revelation that our eldest son, Damien, and his partner, Jen, are expecting a baby (around August/September), and knowing both how slow I am at knitting and the risks of a complete failure, I decided that I needed as much time as possible to make a contribution. So, well in advance of the due time, I started making a knitted Teddy Bear. Using a pattern that’s free on Ravelry, I’ve almost finished making the pieces. Making up will take a while as I don’t have any filling though.

I’ve made a few changes, to suit my own style, and found that I really needed to write out some instructions where the pattern doesn’t, mainly because the rows  involved  variables to achieve the correct shaping effects.  It would have been far too easy for me to make mistakes without having explicit instructions written down in advance.

Two very different makes…

I finished this hat a while ago, but have only just managed to get a photo of it:

Kuzco hat

It’s based on the Kuzco pattern published in Let’s Knit magazine (Issue 38, January 2011).  The tassels in the original weren’t wanted and the colours and intarsia design were altered to suit.  The intarsia designs are my own and are meant to represent leaves.

This morning, I finished a Koala baby:

Koala 1

Based on another Raynor Gellatly pattern, this cute little fellow is fun to make!  In the past, I’ve had problems sewing yarn eyes on toys but I think I may be getting there now.

A Mouse Dances!

Completed a Wee Mouse from a Raynor Gellatly pattern.  I made mine in white, with dark pink eyes and a pale pink tail.  When it was done, it was obvious that it needed a tutu!

Angelina Ballerina 1

It was a challenge as I didn’t  have a pattern for the tutu.  I had an idea of how to make one though.  At first, after casting off the tutu, it looked far too big, but I think it actually came out OK in the end.  I like the fact that it flares and has folds in it.

Fortunately, I wrote down everything I did so I can repeat it if I ever have too!  I guess that shows I must be learning something about knitting.

Of course, she’s a lookalike for Angelina Ballerina, but that really wasn’t my intention when I started working on her!  In fact, I chose to do the mouse in white in memory of two white mice I had as a child.

Angelina Ballerina 2

Perhaps in the future I’ll also make one that memorialises the two dark mice I had back then.  It could be the start of a longish range of toys, as I had many pets!

If anybody wants the tutu pattern, just contact me and I’ll send it.

Tip: Grafting

This describes anchoring a short row segment for adding other sections of knitting, for example a beard on a toy pattern.  In fact, I’ll use the beard as the example throughout!

Knit up to the row where the top of beard will be placed.  Knit up to and including the stitch immediately prior to the stitch where the beard will be placed.  Switch to the the beard colour.  Knit the number of stitches stated for the top of the beard (note: this could be either the starting row or the cast off/bind off row in the pattern you are working to).  Thread a stitch holder through these stitches (retaining the stitches on the needle!)  and hold on the right side (RS) of the fabric. When you have completed these stitches, revert to the previous colour and continue working the pattern as written.  On completing the piece, e.g. head/head & body, and prior to sewing up, follow the next instructions.

If the pattern works the beard from bottom to top, you will need to invert it!  You MUST work from top to bottom.  Insert the appropriate size needle into the stitches held on the stitch holder, or slip them from the holder to the needle.  Follow the pattern for the beard either as written or in reverse as appropriate.  You will finish up with the beard already attached, in the right position.  If it refuses to lie flat, it can be secured using the tail of yarn between the main fabric and the beard.  Finish the piece off as usual, making sure that the beard’s yarn tails are also woven in to hide them.

You may wish to improve the look in some instances, such as the beard in the example above, by having one or two more stitches of the main fabric, in the grafted piece’s colour, either side of those required to be held on the stitch holder.  This process could be used to attach pockets too, but in that case, you would knit the pocket from bottom to top and you would still need to sew the sides of the pocket onto the main fabric.  In fact, there may well be other instances where this could be applied.

A final note:  It’s much easier to follow this process once the main fabric is no longer held on a needle!

Tip: Drawstring Finishing

Many of the toys I’ve knitted involve sewing down to the cast on edge, where you are then told to pass the yarn through the cast on stitches to create a drawstring effect. I did this several times and found the results less than pleasing. Now, if the pattern includes this process, I start with a longer yarn tail when casting on. Once I have all the stitches cast on, I thread the yarn onto a darning/tapestry needle and thread it through the stitches before going on to the first row. When that part of the project is completed, I have a drawstring already in place for the cast on stitches edge! You do have to be a little bit more careful doing the first row, avoiding splitting or picking up the threaded yarn, but it works so much better.

New Page Added

I’ve added a new page to the blog! OK, at the moment, it’s limited in content but I hope that will change over time. Look for the page titled Free Patterns at the top or down the right side.  You’ll be able to download PDFs of my free patterns as they are released.

Expanding To DPNs

As a continuation of my adventure in knitting, I’ve started using double-pointed needles (DPNs) to “knit in the round” for the first time. This always terrified me – all those needles, with nothing to stop stitches falling off the ends, and still only two hands to manipulate them with! What could be more frightening? I won’t pretend that my first attempt has produced perfect results – far from it. Getting the tension right at each junction of the needles has been very difficult for me, and so the fabric has definite faults in it, but I’ll admit that perhaps it’s not as impossible as I thought it would be. I may have to do some “repairs” to close some gaps here and there in the finished project, but in general I’m happy with how things have gone. I doubt that I’ll become a DPN or “knitting in the round” addict, but I do now know that I can do it if I want to.

Birds Roosting

Two new toys I made were tiny birds.  The first was Owlie, which I made up a bit differently to the pattern, by leaving out the “ears”.  Tweet’s only variation is the colour, using cream instead of blue.  They were both knitted and mostly assembled in less than a day, but had to wait a little while until I was able to get some suitable toy-safe eyes.  There are faults in them (my own) but I’m still learning and will always be rather clumsy in making things up!





Both were from patterns by Raynor Gellatly.  They were a delight to make too Smile

Keep The Tea Warm!

Just before Christmas, my eldest son (Damien) asked me if I could knit him a tea cosy Naturally I confidently said “Yes” and worried about it later! Well, of course, I could find all sorts of patterns – in crochet. Eventually, I located one in an old pattern book: Patons Bazaar Time 172. In fact, it contains a few, but I could only envision making one of them. The Chunky Mock Cable Tea Cosy looked fairly simple, even if it did mean learning to use a cable needle. The problem I had was that I didn’t have enough yarn to make it in one colour. As a result, it’s made out of red on one side and black on the other, with a bottom border with the other colour on each side.  Jenny thinks it looks like a can-can dancer LOL!

Clhunky Mock Cable Tea Cosy
Clhunky Mock Cable Tea Cosy

I managed to finish it by Christmas Day, when I was finally able to sew it together, as Damien had the teapot it was for! He seemed happy with the result, at least

My first Toy Completed At Last!

I completed my first toy at last! I started it in November last year, but between not having the felt to finish it, and being scared to make it up, it took a ridiculous amount of time to finish it LOL!  The yellow isn’t as intense as the pic shows!


The owl came from a very old pattern booklet: Harmony Bits and Bobs 530. I’m keeping this one, as a memorial to my mother who adored owls.