Archives for category: toys

Pattern: Horned Owl, by Hansi Singh (rav link to project)

Yarn used: Wool Candy Fondant Merino DK in Truffle and Robin’s Egg, left over from another project; scraps of white yarn for embroidering the eyes

Needles used: US size 3/3.25 mm

Date started: November 14, 2010

Date completed: November 18, 2010

This little owl made his first appearance melting a Dalek’s heart:

I made this owl as a gift for my cousin’s new baby–it will be a few years yet before he’s properly appreciated, but I think he’s completely adorable. Hansigurumi patterns tend to be very fiddly, with lots of grafting, but this one wasn’t bad; mostly worked in the round, mostly pretty straightforward.

  • The pattern is pretty skimpy on instructions for the embellishments. I ended up cutting a piece of CC yarn, folding it in half, threading the doubled end through a yarn needle, sewing a stitch and tying a square knot, doing this across several stitches and going back and tying knots in the strands between groups, then trimming everything and running a yarn needle through the yarn ends to fluff it up and separate the plies.
  • After the backwards legs on my Jackalope, I didn’t trust the “pick up stitches for left wing and work same as the right wing” instruction, so I worked the second wing separately, held it up to the owl to determine proper orientation, and sewed it on, to avoid the heartbreak of finding out one wing was backwards after knitting the whole thing.
  • I love the garter stitch texture on the wings, and the wee owly claws!
  • The pattern doesn’t give you required yardage! It doesn’t use much yarn, but beware if your yarn yardage is limited.
  • The picked up sts under the beak came out super loose and I had to duplicate stitch over them to tighten them up a bit.
  • I used small needles, and the owl came out pretty small. 6 inches high, maybe?

He is personalized with embroidery in the wingpit:

Yesterday was a very exciting day, craftually speaking. I’m in Boston for the month, so I had to figure out ways to keep myself out and about and amused… started the day by attending a local Stitch ‘n’ Bitch brunch in Brighton, where I met a bunch of great people and had a fantastic time. I made good progress on some of my Christmas knitting, too, and one of my fellow knitters was so taken with my Latitude and Longitude cowl that she immediately whipped out her iPad and bought one right then and there, then went to a yarn shop afterwards to buy some Silk Garden. I was immensely flattered. Also, I really want an iPad so I can make impulsive purchases too.

I wandered downtown for the rest of the day, had some xiao long bao soup dumplings in Chinatown and bought some fabric thinking that even without my sewing machine, I might be able to manage a dress for the company Christmas party–since it’s jersey and lace, if I choose the right pattern, I can get away with very little sewing since those fabrics won’t need to be hemmed. I’m kind of obsessed with this circle dress tutorial –it’s interesting, the center of the circle is not placed at the waist like most circle skirt dresses, but at the high bust!–but I could probably switch it to an infinity dress if it’s not working out. Making my own holiday dress may be one of my worst ideas ever, but I did bring two backup LBDs in case the dress goes horribly wrong. (The fabrics I chose are a shiny and somewhat heavy burgundy lycra knit and to temper the leotard-ness of it, a black lace overlay.)

Anyway, after wandering the boutiques of the Back Bay and experiencing Boston’s many fine modes of public transportation, I wasn’t back at the hotel again for ages. When I finally made it back around 10 PM and logged into my email, I was shocked to find a number of emails telling me that WIL WHEATON had tweeted my knitted Dalek! I normally get a small number of visitors, in the hundreds per day range, but yesterday I got more than 14,000 (I guess that’s pretty poor percentage-wise looking at his total number of Twitter followers, but whatever, I was thrilled anyway! If you’re a new reader who found me from that link, welcome, and I hope you stick around!) I made it to the WordPress Blog of the Day list of top posts, the Tardis newsroom roundup, and the Craftzine blog, and I got a comment from Emma Bull–I totally loved Finder and the Liavek stories in high school so this was totally thrilling too. Ah, 15 minutes of fame, you taste so sweet 🙂

I’ve gotten some comments asking if the Dalek is for sale. That particular one has been given as a gift; I am willing to make more to order provided you are willing to pay $500 apiece 🙂 If that sounds good, hurray, leave me a comment and I’ll get in touch with you! If, as is more likely, that’s not in your budget, you might consider taking up knitting, asking a friend or relative, or putting in an Alchemy request on Etsy. (Why so much? Hand knitting is skilled labor and takes a huge amount of time. What you see in most storebought knitwear, like $5 scarves at Walmart, is machine knitting. Before you complain about someone giving you a handmade sweater for Christmas, consider that many dozens of hours of labor went into that present and, depending on the yarn used, maybe $100+ in materials costs.)

Anyway, it’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for the Knitcircus giveaway drawing. Thank you for commenting about my Bel Canto cowl. I’ve done the random number drawing and the lucky winner is Ms. Selkie! Congrats, Andrea, I’ve emailed you. Also, I have not forgotten about the little owl who made friends with the Dalek. More details about him in due course…

A brief aside: If you’re not a fan of Dr. Who, this project may be a little baffling to you unless you take a few minutes to read this and this. Primary reference: the Dalek episode, this scene.

Pattern: EXTERMIKNIT! (rav link to project) partially using the New Paradigm Dalek mods
Yarn used: Various washable scraps left over from making other toys: the pink and white yarns are Caron Simply Soft in Soft Pink 9719 and Natural 0002, the pale blue is Cascade Sierra in some light blue color, and the brown is Vanna’s Choice in 126 Chocolate

Needles used: Forgot to write this down! Probably something like a size 5, to get a tight fabric.

Date started: August 24, 2010

Date completed: September 22, 2010

Here is my Dalek at rest. I knit most of this according to pattern, and used the New Paradigm mods for the top half, mostly, to account for having more brown yarn than blue. I switched to white yarn in the least visible areas (inside pocket, bottom of Dalek) because I was running low on both brown and blue. It’s stuffed with scraps of fabric, which gives it a good heft and density compared to polyfil.

The keen-eyed among you will notice the zipper around its front panel–a detail not present in the original pattern.

What could be inside?

Do I see… tentacles?


A Kaled mutant, nude!

Here’s the empty chamber:

Knitters, there’s more.

The Dalek compartment was not knit in, but created via a couple of afterthought steeks!

These were my first steeks, believe it or not. I think it went well.

Here’s what I did:
After completing the top of the Dalek as specified, I created an opening in the front by steeking carefully along the vertical line between the knit “instrument panel” and the purled rest of the midsection–just used some sewing shears and cut straight through the middle of the rightmost line of knit stitches, along the entire height of the midsection. I then carefully unraveled the stitches from right to left on the rows above and below the desired door area, to the left end of the “instrument panel”, and placed these two horizontal pairs of exposed stitches on DPNs.

This creates a kind of door flap, hinged vertically along the left-hand side. I sewed down the outer edge of the door with one yarn tail, and used a sewn bindoff and the other two yarn tails to fasten the top and bottom of the door flap. The door flap was now bound off and would not unravel.

I picked up stitches on the other side of the steek (the stitches along the body, the rightmost edge of the “door frame”), knit along the held stitches exposed by the unraveled yarn below the door (held on DPN), picked up stitches along the “hinge” of the door, and knit across the remaining exposed stitches on the other DPN above the door.

From there, I knit in the round until I ran out of brown yarn, maybe 1/2 inch or so, then switched to white to knit the back of the panel, decreasing at the four corners by working k1, k2tog at the beginning of each needle and ssk at the end, and throwing in a plain round every now and then, until I was down to about 6 sts. I pulled the yarn tail through these last few sts to close it up. This created the inside compartment and also took care of the exposed stitches around the door frame so they would not unravel.

The Kaled mutant inside was knit as follows:
CO 3 sts in pink yarn, knit 2 inches of i-cord, cut yarn leaving a tail, slip live stitches off DPN onto waste yarn and set aside. Repeat till you have 6 tentacles, then put the live stitches all back on DPNs (2 tentacles per DPN, 3 DPNs + 1 working needle) and knit in the round for another 2 inches or so. K2tog around, knit another couple of rounds, k2tog around, cut yarn and draw through. Pull all the yarn ends but one to the inside of the Dalek’s body as stuffing. Use the last yarn end to sew up the base of the Dalek, and weave in the end.
For the eye, work back and forth:
1) CO 1 st in white
2) K1fb
3) K1, M1 (lifted), K1
4) Purl
5) K1, M1, K1, M1, K1
6) Purl
7) K5
8) Purl
9) K2tog, K1, K2tog
10) Purl
11) K2tog, K1
12) P2tog
Cut yarn, leaving a tail, and draw through the last st.
Embroider a pupil with a scrap of dark yarn.
Applique the eye to the body, hiding the pupil yarn tails behind the eyeball.

I had originally intended to close the instrument panel with just a button, snap, or hook and eye, but I found that the door lost all shape so I had to put in a zipper–probably a 6” or 8”, normal, non-separating zipper would be good; I shortened an existing longer one I had on hand. I used a normal sewing needle and matching thread to sew the zipper to the Dalek casing with a running stitch, first the outer edge of the closed zipper around the outside edges of the door, then pulling and stretching the door to fit to the inner side of the zipper.

I gave this to my stepdad for his 60th birthday and it was a big hit! And my little sister drew him an awesome matching Dr. Who birthday card featuring a Dalek and Christopher Eccleston.

A couple of notes about the pattern:

  • It makes a MUCH bigger Dalek than you might expect. Very cuddly! I think it was something like a foot high. You can see it next to some chairs at the airport in the posted photos, for scale.
  • The pattern is written in sort of an odd way (it would be easier to work from a chart where you can see how the ribbing stacks up, but all the knits and purls are written out)
  • I found the tuck stitch instructions confusing; when they say “the stitch 3 rows below”, that means below the turning row, not the current row.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Dalek making a new friend. More about the friend later.


A couple of mice passed through our house over the last couple of months. The new-fangled, pleasant way, involving knitting rather than food scraps forgotten in corners.

This is actually Mouse #2–I don’t have pictures of Mouse #1, which I gave to Rahul’s little cousins over Thanksgiving, but it looks pretty much exactly the same as this one: i.e., very, very cute.

Pattern: Mousie, by Ysolda Teague, from Whimsical Little Knits

Size made: bigger than a rat, smaller than a ROUS

Yarn used: Caron Simply Soft Eco: about 0.3 skeins (74.7 yards) of Natural 0002, and about 0.1 skeins (31.5 yards) of regular Simply Soft in Soft Pink 9719. Scraps of black yarn for eyes.

Needles used: US 3 / 3.25 mm 40″ Knit Picks Options circular (magic loop). Well, given the US 3 size, these are not actually Knit Picks, but the compatible Knit Pro tips purchased off eBay.

Date started: December 12, 2009

Date completed: December 13, 2009


  • Knit the gigantic ears separately and sewed them on later, rather than picking up and knitting.
  • Embroidered a friendly smile:
  • Stuffed mouse with gingham scraps from my fabric scrap bag, and weighted the bottom with pennies (the pattern suggests beans, but I was afraid if the toy was washed and the beans got wet, they would get moldy or soft or start growing inside the toy)

This is a great little pattern for gifts, very quick and simple, but with adorable results–I knit up the mouse in about 4 hours total. With the worsted-weight yarn, it came out much bigger than I would have expected–here it is sitting on my hand for scale:

I didn’t have any suitable mouse-colored, machine-washable fingering-weight yarn, but I prefer to think the larger sized mouse is maybe less tiny and adorable, but more huggable for a small child.

I sent the mouse to my little cousin Emma, who is just about 3 years old now, for Christmas. I’m told she loved it, and named it Sally (without any prompting from Mom and Dad!)

We spent some time in Missouri with my boyfriend’s parents–just drove back up in one long go of it and here is how to benchmark that eight-hour drive:

  • 2 episodes of My Name is Earl + Shattered Glass + Shattered Glass DVD Commentary, or
  • Completion of 1 amigurumi jackalope ear, 2 amigurumi jackalope antlers, 5 1/2 amigurumi octopus tentacles, and a pair of Fleegle’s seamless take on Saartje’s baby booties (was I the only one who wound up with an extra isolated stitch resulting from the bound-off stitches in Round 25?)

While we were down there, I also finished knitting a baby vest (Lime by Jane Ellison) and the Side Slip Cloche from Boutique Knits. Both fun little knits, and if I can get my act together, I’ll actually post about them sometime soon, with pictures…

Other productive things I did this weekend include eating fried alligator and getting poison ivy, both for the first time, but not at the same time. (Verdict: tastes like chicken/feels like burning.) Ah, the delights of southern Missouri.

Kalani posted this on Facebook and it cracked me up. (And while we’re on the subject: tapestryshopp’d)

Also, since I mentioned them here recently, emailed me a coupon code to share with anyone who’s interested: blogfeather will give you $5 off a single purchase from, through May 14th, no minimum purchase required. Go forth and sew! Perhaps, staying with today’s theme, you would be interested in sewing some authentic cotehardies or houpelandes.

(Me, I think I’m going to go for this circle skirt soon… I have an embroidered linen tablecloth I got at a thrift store that will make an excellent skirt once I actually iron it.)

Here is the knitting project I’m working on right now.

A Jackalope from Amigurumi Knits! He has no face, ears, or front legs, so he kind of looks like a roasted turkey right now (big brown torso with drumstick-like hind legs sticking out), but I have faith that he will be much more stagbunny-like soon.
Here are some completed ones I found on Ravelry that I love. I hope mine turns out just as cute. I wish I could use safety eyes, but this is destined for a friend’s baby.

Flickr is misbehaving, so no vacation pictures yet. In the meantime, at least I can do a belated post about some fun Christmas knitting I did. I give you…

Name: Michael Phelps (rav project link)
Pattern: Loch Ness Monster by Hansi Singh (aka Hansigurumi)
Date started: December 15, 2008
Date finished: December 17, 2008
Yarn used: Caron Simply Soft Eco in 3 different colors: 0.5 skein 0017 Spring Moss, 0.25 skein 0002 Natural, and scraps of 0033 Charcoal
Needles used: US size 5 (3.75 mm) and US size 6 (4 mm)
Notes: I made Michael Phelps as a Christmas present for my little toddler cousin Emma. As it turns out, he didn’t wind up in her hands till this last weekend, and she was apparently a little grumpy from having just been woken up from a nap, so I don’t think she was too impressed with him at the time, but perhaps he’ll grow on her.

I included an explanation of how Michael Phelps lived a peaceful existence, training 10 hours a day in the chilly waters of Loch Ness, before he flew to California to be her friend.

Here he is with a skein of Felted Tweed for scale:

His tilty little head:

Hello! Who’s a cute little plesiosaur? You are! Yes you are!

He’s even personalized with her name:

As far as the technical aspects of this toy:

  • I apparently kind of suck at making a clean selvage, nice short rows, picking up stitches, and all the other skills required for this toy. I experimented with the selvage, but the left side selvage (RS facing) was never as nice as the right–always loose and sloppy, it seems, no matter what I did. I ended up knitting/purling the picked-up stitches through the back loop to try and close them up more, and I went back over the neck in the end with a new piece of MC yarn and a tapestry needle to try and close up gaps along the sloppy selvage.
  • I also worked one more row after picking up stitches for the opposite belly side, before grafting, to try and make the stitches more even.
  • I didn’t have any polyfill stuffing, so I stuffed him with cotton/ecospun roving and miscellaneous yarn scraps.
  • I used a US 5 needle for the belly–didn’t have my US 6 needle points handy. It probably would have been better to use US 5 needles for the whole body since the gauge was a little loose once the toy was stuffed.
  • Circular or straight needles should be used for the majority of the toy if knit as written, since most of it is knit flat; DPNs are really only good for the flippers and horns. The belly would be way too unwieldy if knit with DPNs.
  • I tied little knots for the eyes, satin stitched (?) back over them again a few times, tied again, cut the ends to about 2 inches and used a crochet hook to bury the ends inside the body of the monster.
  • Next time I would knit the tail in the round, subtracting 2 sts. I think it would be fine to knit in the round up until row 58 or so. Seaming the narrow part of the tail is really fiddly.
  • Next time I would also try using my favorite garter selvage. The stockinette biases a lot, and I think it might be due to the selvage. While it definitely gives Michael Phelps a very cute demeanor–like he’s saying “arooo?”, as someone else wrote in their notes about this pattern–it makes picking up the sts for the belly sort of difficult and looking very sloppy/holey on one side. Plus, I never really understood how to neatly pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows (i.e. every 2 chains in a chained selvage). How do you go back through twice–just through 1 leg of the stitch, every other st? (That is what I did for the fin stitches, though–used a crochet hook, picked up the sts then turned and picked them up again through just one leg of the st.)
  • The pattern doesn’t specify, but I knit the horns as i-cord instead of in the round–it’s the same thing when worked over this small number of sts, and much easier than turning the whole monster around and around.
  • Satin stitched with MC under chin because I made the white belly part go up too far relative to the horns.
  • I marked this pattern as “difficult” in my Ravelry notes because:
    • As mentioned, it’s hard to pick up the belly stitches nicely–selvages tend to gape and let polyfil ooze out
    • you have to be able to do a decent job of Kitchener stitch over LOTS of stitches
    • you have to mattress stitch a tiny piece of fabric (the tail) over lots of stitches
    • you have to have a bit of ingenuity when it comes to weaving in the ends invisibly
    • you have to be able to pick up and knit some tight and fiddly stitches for the flippers (and horns)

Overall: the toy came out very cute, I enjoyed the pattern, and I look forward to knitting more weird Hansigurumi creatures in the future, although next time I will try and figure out ahead of time if there are ways to minimize seaming and grafting.