Friday, November 23, 2012

inuk and baby seal

First I want to thank everyone who left a suggestion for the holiday pattern. They were all great ideas, and I definitely want to work on some of the others I didn't get to this year (especially the merry wombat! I tried, but it needs more work than I had time for). 

In the end, I decided on making the Eskimo, or Inuk, and a baby seal (which was suggested by Mr. Mitten when I couldn't get the merry wombat to turn out right). Below you'll find the instructions for both, with the abbreviations following, if you're unfamiliar with some of the terms. I hope to get the pattern published as a PDF as soon as Mr. Mitten has time to help.

I've tried to design these toys to be simple and fast, so you can make a set in an evening. I've designed them in worsted weight yarn because I always have lots around, but you can easily knit them in a different weight with appropriate sized needles. (Note: changing to finer yarn will make the toys appear slimmer, changing to thicker yarn will make the toys appear plumper). The pattern is advanced beginner to intermediate level, and you will need to know how to knit, purl, increase, decrease, change yarns, make bobbles, work I-cord, and sew seams. However, these all make the toys fun and interesting to knit, and small toys are a great way to learn new skills!

Inuk: 15 g of worsted weight yarn in main colour (MC), 5 g of worsted weight yarn in light brown, 5 g of worsted weight yarn in black, 5 g of fuzzy or eyelash yarn, pair of 4 mm (US size 6) knitting needles, two 4 mm double pointed needles, pair of 6 mm safety eyes, stuffing, length of ribbon or cord for hanging, tapestry needle
Baby Seal: 15 g of worsted weight yarn in cream, black yarn to embroider face, pair of 4 mm (US size 6) knitting needles, pair of 6 mm safety eyes, stuffing, length of ribbon or cord for hanging, tapestry needle

Gauge: 4.5 sts per 2.5 cm (1 inch) in stockinette

Size: 7.5 cm (3 inches)

CO 9 sts with MC.
Row 1: P 1 row.
Row 2: k2, [m1, k1] x 7. (16 sts)
Row 3: P 1 row.
Row 4: k2, [m1, k2] x 7. (23 sts)
Row 5: P 1 row.
Switch to fuzzy yarn on next row.
Row 6: k2, [m1, k3] x 7. (30 sts)
Row 7-9: K 3 rows.
Switch back to MC yarn on next row.
Row 10-11: Beginning with a k row, work 2 rows in st st.
Row 12: k3, [k2tog, k4] x 2, [k4, ssk] x 2, k3. (26 sts)
Row 13: P 1 row.
Row 14: k3, [k2tog, k3] x 2, [k3, ssk] x 2, k3. (22 sts)
Row 15: P 1 row.
Row 16: k6, mb, k8, mb, k6.
Row 17: P 1 row.
On next row, switch to light brown yarn.
Row 18: k5, k2tog, k8, ssk, k5. (20 sts)
Row 19-21: Work 3 rows in st st.
On next row, switch to black yarn.
Row 22-23: Work 2 rows in st st.
Row 24: k1, [k1, k2tog] x 6, k1. (14 sts)
Row 25: P 1 row.
Row 26: k1, [k2tog] 6 times, k1. (8 sts)
Cut yarn leaving a long end, thread end through remaining stitches and pull tight to gather.
Attach safety eyes. Sew back seam down to garter-stitch section. Stuff body. Thread yarn through cast-on stitches, gather, then sew last bit of seam. Weave in yarn ends. You may need to make a couple small stitches around bobble arms to close any holes. Embroider a face and hands. For a girl, add braids for hair. These embellishments can be as simple or as creative as you like.

Start at front. CO 16 sts with fuzzy yarn.
Row 1-3: Knit 3 rows in garter stitch.
On next row, switch to MC yarn.
Row 4-5: Beginning with a k row, work 2 rows in st st.
Row 6: k5, k2tog, k2, ssk, k5. (14 sts)
Row 7: P 1 row.
Row 8: k4, k2tog, k2, ssk, k4. (12 sts)
Row 9: P 1 row.

Row 10: k3, k2tog, k2, ssk, k3. (10 sts) Bind off, or graft back of hood together. If you bound-off, sew a vertical seam at the back of the hood. Weave in yarn ends. Sew bottom edge of hood to toy, just below the neck. If you are hanging the toy, thread the ribbon or cord through the top of the hood, and tie a knot. 

Legs (make 2)
CO 5 sts with MC yarn onto one double pointed needle. Work I-cord for 4 rounds. Bind off. Sew
the bound-off edge of legs to bottom of Inuk. Weave in all yarn ends.

Baby Seal
Start at tail. CO 6 sts with cream yarn.
Row 1: P 1 row.
Row 2: k2, [m1, k1] x 4. (10 sts)
Row 3-5: work 3 rows in st st.
Row 6: k2, [m1, k2] x 4. (14 sts)
Row 7: P 1 row.
Row 8: k2, [m1, k2] x 6. (20 sts)
Row 9-13: work 5 rows in st st.
Row 14: k9, m1, k2, m1, k9. (22 sts)
Row 15: P 1 row.
Row 16: k1, k2tog, k7, m1, k2, m1, k7, ssk, k1.
Row 17: P 1 row.
Row 18: [k1, k2tog] x 3, k4, [ssk, k1] x 3. (16 sts)
Row 19-23: work 5 rows in st st.
Row 24: k1, [k2tog] x 3, k2, [ssk] x 3, k1. (10 sts)
Row 25: P 1 row.
Cut yarn leaving a long end, thread end through remaining stitches and pull tight to gather. This is the nose end. Insert safety eyes on head. Sew up seam along underside of body, leaving an opening. Stuff and sew closed. Most of the head shaping is done with the stuffing, adding extra bits to the cheeks and nose. You can also try some soft sculpture for more definition (although baby seals are really cute cute fuzzy blobs!) If you are hanging the toy, thread the ribbon or cord through the back of the neck, and tie a knot.

Flippers (make 4)
CO 8 sts.
Row 1: k6, k2tog. (7 sts)
Row 2: K 1 row.
Row 3: k5, k2tog. (6 sts)
Row 4: K 1 row.
Row 5: k4, k2tog. (5 sts)
Bind off. Fold in half lengthwise and sew together short straight edge. 

Sew 2 flippers to tail, with decreased edges facing out, and cast-on edges facing toward the head. Sew other 2 flippers to sides of body near the head, in the same orientation as the tail. Weave in yarn ends.

[ ] x N = repeat sequence in brackets N times ("to end" means to repeat until the end of the row)
CO = cast on
K or k = knit
k2tog = decrease 1 by knitting 2 together
k3tog = knit 3 together, same technique as k2tog
kfbf = increase 2 by knitting into front, then back, then front of next stitch
m1 = increase 1 by picking up loop between stitch just worked and next stitch, and knit into the back of this loop
mb = make bobble: kfbf, turn, p3, turn, k3, turn, p3, turn, k3tog. You should start and end with 1 st.
(there are many ways to make bobbles. If you need help, search for a tutorial that makes sense to you)
P or p = purl
p2tog = decrease 1 by purling 2 stitches together
ssk = decrease 1 by slipping 2 stitches as if to purl, transfer slipped stitches back to left needle, then knit slipped sts together
st or sts = stitch or stitches
st st = stocking stitch

Thursday, November 22, 2012

holiday mice kits

With no time to spare, I've added a few Holiday Mice kits to my Etsy shop. For $10 US you get all the materials you'll need to make two 3" mice: wool yarn, stuffing, eyes, and embellishments. You'll just need the right size knitting needles and a tapestry needle. A printed copy of the pattern costs $1 extra, since I assume most people will be happy to download it and print it themselves (also saves on shipping). I hope you enjoy making or giving these little gifts!

Kit in grey and blue

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

happy holidays sale

Do you still have time to fit in one or two little holiday knitting projects? Of course you do! Or perhaps you'd like to gift a pattern to someone who likes to knit cute toys? Starting November 22 and running until November 30 (eastern time in Canada), there will be a Happy Holidays Sale in my Ravelry shop!

Use the coupon code "happyholidays" to get 20% off the following holiday patterns:
Baby Penguin
Cozy Elf Tuque
Festive Knits (ebook)
Macaroni Penguin
Polar Bear
Santa Reindeer
Surfer Koala (for my friends in the Southern hemisphere)

But even if you decide not to use the coupon, I have a new holiday pattern for you which should be ready very soon!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ideas, anyone?

In the past I've published a few free patterns for holiday decorations, mostly because they're quick, fun projects that are even better when shared. The most popular by far was the Holiday Mice pattern, and I haven't even tried to top that one since it was published. However, I'm feeling like I want to do something this year, but I'm a bit short of inspiration.

I had a quick browse through Ravelry, and goodness! If you wanted to knit a stocking or tiny pullover, you could keep your needles busy for the rest of your life and not run out of patterns. There are also a number of very cute snowmen, birds, gingerbread men, Santa/elves, trees, and acorns. So what does that leave? I have no idea, which is why I thought I might ask what you would like to knit this year.

I can't promise to design anything that is suggested, and I certainly can't promise to design all of them! (Just wanted to write that, as there's been confusion in the past) But if you have a great idea that you think I could make something out of, please leave a comment! Perhaps if we all put our heads together, I can come up with a great design for you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

dragon with a wee knight and princess

Last Spring, a friend generously gave me the brilliant idea to design a dinosaur. That idea kicked around in my head for a while, and a few months later I drew up a sketch of how I wanted it to look. In the sketch I included a variation for a dragon, and that thought was so inspiring I went out and bought yarn before the end of the week! I found the perfect yarn: brilliant colours, soft to the touch, with just a little sparkle. Within a few days I had the body all knit, and was eager to start on the rest... but then the heat of summer set in. By the end of a busy day playing with the kids, I just wasn't interested in picking up something woolly and using my brain.

We got home from visiting family at the beginning of September, and as soon as the kids were off at preschool, I started working again after a much-longer-than-expected break. I decided to go with a simple pattern to ease myself back in. The Baby Orangutan was something I'd worked on a long time ago, and just needed a few adjustments and an accessory to finish it up. While I was happy with it, I wanted more of a challenge for my next design.

I had a brilliant idea one day during a yoga class (yes, my mind was wandering, but you can't always help that)! I enlisted a friend's help with smoothing out the design and picking colours, found some yarn to knit a sample, and eagerly picked up my knitting needles... Only to fizzle out after a week, when I realized I'd messed up the first part and would have to pull it all out.

At this point I felt a little lost, so I asked my friends which idea they would choose, of the 3 I felt like working on. The vote was unanimous for the dragon. Feeling renewed inspiration for the toy, I set to work again. It came together so quickly - just a few adjustments to the legs, 3-4 versions of the head, and maybe as many for the tail... Anyway! I soon had a design I was very happy with, and then had a brilliant idea for the accessory.  A week or so of furious knitting, next to a sick little boy, and everything was done. My cousin kindly offered to test knit the pattern for me, and had it done in just a few days (she's amazing. I don't know how she got it done so quick, when she's also a graduate student!)

I took some photos, my husband worked his usual magic with the ever-temperamental publishing software, and, "Ta da!"

So, much sooner than I planned, and with a very happy heart, here are the Dragon and his wee friends. Find it on Ravelry or Craftsy. Knit some cuteness!