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March 22, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXIV: Rosy the Elefante

Date Begun: 12/27/2008
Date Completed: 12/30/2008
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Grey Heather and Autumn Red
Needles: US6 DPN (metal)
Source: Elefante by Susan B. Anderson
The Story:
This was a new experience for me. I've never made a knitted toy before. But when I saw the pattern in my random wanderings through the InterWebs, I immediately fell in love. As I was looking at the hundreds of other Elefantes, though, I realized that I liked the one made by the pattern originator better than any of the ones made by anyone else. This led me to think that maybe I should try to exaggerate the things I loved about the original and eliminate the things I didn't. So, I made several modifications to the pattern.

Like a lot of other people, I wasn't too sure about putting poly-pellets in a child's toy, so I made up little muslin bags to hold the pellets within the toy. That seemed to help, but made the whole thing look a little "over-stuffed". I decided it didn't really matter because the recipient wouldn't know the difference and it made my Elefante look more "cartoony".

I looked at some of the other examples floating around out there and decided I would prefer to make the trunk/head transition a bit more hard (less sloping), so I basically used the instructions from the body on the head (post-trunk). I like the way it came out. That was one of the things I H-A-T-E-D about most of the others I'd seen - that the trunk looked like a direct extension of the head, rather than mimicking the relationship between the body and feet. (I know it sounds pretentious. But that's how I felt about it.)

At the time I was making this, I had not yet learned ANYTHING about crochet. I could manage a single-crochet edge on something simple, but that was it (not to give the impression that I'm all little-miss-crochet now, but I can at least stumble through a granny square with minimal cursing). So the ears presented something of a quandary. I tried first to use quesselchen's elephant ear/batwing pattern, but when I finished the first one, I hated it - not due to any problem with her pattern, I just don't think my yarn behaved the same way hers did. So I ripped it out. And wrote my own. They're floppy and big use some short-row shaping to make them have some "body". I think they're great - not as small as what the original pattern called for, but also not too big.

So here's the pattern for the ears I made (in case anyone's interested).

Rosy's ears:

Right

  1. CO10
  2. Kfb twice, K6, Kfb twice
  3. P all stitches
  4. Kfb twice, K10, Kfb twice
  5. P all stitches
  6. Begin short rows to shape inner curve (note that I did not use wrapped stitches in these rows):
  7. K15, turn work
  8. P12, turn work
  9. K10, turn work
  10. P8, turn work
  11. K6, turn work
  12. P4, turn work
  13. K to end of row
  14. P all stitches End short rows, continue as normal
  15. K all stitches
  16. P all stitches
  17. K all stitches
  18. P all stitches
  19. Kfb twice, K16
  20. P all stitches
  21. Kfb twice, K18
  22. P all stitches
  23. K18, k2tog twice
  24. P all stitches
  25. K16, k2tog twice
  26. P all stitches
  27. K all stitches
  28. BO 6 stitches, P12
  29. K all stitches
  30. BO 6, P6
  31. K all stitches
  32. BO6 and cut yarn

Left

Left is exactly the same until row 18, when you mirror the whole thing:
  1. K16, Kfb twice
  2. P all stitches
  3. K18, Kfb twice
  4. P all stitches
  5. K2tog twice, K18
  6. P all stitches
  7. K2tog twice, K16
  8. P all stitches
  9. K all stitches
  10. P all stitches
  11. BO 6 stitches, K12
  12. P all stitches
  13. BO 6, K6
  14. BO6 and cut yarn
I then did a single crochet all the way around the edge in red to give them a bit more stability and sewed them to the sides of the head with a bit of a curve to make them move in interesting ways.

March 15, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXIII: Baby Surprise Jacket #1

Date Begun: 12/24/2008
Date Completed: 12/27/2008
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby in White
Needles: US7 DPN (metal)
Source: Baby Surprise Jacket from The Knitting Workshop
The Story:
As I mentioned in a previous entry, there are patterns in the knitting world that are famous for a variety of reasons. And just like any other hobby, there are legends of knitting whose work is revered and who are credited (rightly or wrongly) with establishing the hobby in its modern form. In knitting, one of those people is Elizabeth Zimmermann, and her work is famous. Really. Not every knitter gets a page on Wikipedia, I can assure you of that.

"EZ" has one pattern that is arguably her most famous and is something that virtually every knitter bumps into at some point in her (or his) knitting career. That pattern is the "Garter Stitch Surprise Baby Jacket". Why "surprise" you ask? Well, it's actually pretty easy to tell why. The first three pictures on the right are what the jacket looks like immediately after it's bound off and pulled from the needles. More specifically, the second and third are what happens when it's just dropped on the table. Looks like a jacket, right? Ha!

But magically, by just folding in a couple places, you get that first image - taken before I actually sewed any seams - where the only sewing required is along the top edges of the arms. That's it! Really! And as most knitters will swear, the finishing at the end of the knitting (sewing everything in place and tacking all the ends down) is the worst part. So any pattern with that little sewing for something so cute and complicated-looking is immediately destined to become an immediate smash-hit.

So why did I knit this particular little marvel of knitterly engineering? Well, there's something of a baby boom going on in my world these days (Not me! just everyone I know!) and this jacket is the first of many I'll be completing over the next few months. This one was knit for a coworker whose wife just delivered twin girls last week. I just hope this jacket (and its sister) are put to good use.

I threw in a picture of the two jackets all packaged up and tagged with my personal logo (yes, I am that vain... er... proud of my work) as I presented them to the expectant father, who assured me his wife loved them. I'll be posting a separate entry for the second jacket, and alllllll the others that I'm seeing in my future. My hope was to make one for each of the babies due to all my friends, but fate conspired against me and the number of babies far outstripped my limited free time. So I've scaled back the number and (sadly) had to pick some people to receive non-handmade gifts, but I still plan to make at least 5 more of these before the dust settles.

All hail Elizabeth Zimmermann!!
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