On a long (but duronto!) rail journey across the country, watching the sashaying bogies from the window as the train went along a curve, it was most appropriate that I was knitting a cotton train of sorts myself:
This is Nilu the Caterpillar. Adapted from Kimberly Chapman’s amazing set of free toy patterns. He is many shades of blue, hence, obviously, the name.
Pattern: Caterpillar by Kimberly Chapman
Gauge: 5 spi / 6spi for the navy
Needle: size 4 US (3.5 mm) dpns for the blue and purple balls, and 1 US (2.25 mm) dpns for the navy ball, and the applied I-cord edging
Yarn: Leftover little balls of cotton yarn, I’m not really sure what brands they were.
This is the simplest, quickest toy to make – cast on, join in the round, increase a few times, knit straight for a few rows, decrease equal number of times, stuff, repeat, and decrease all the way down in the last one. You can adapt it to any gauge, and also stuff as you go to see how large you want it. You can add or subtract the number of balls. You can even change the needles to keep to a similar size if you use different-weight yarns, as I did. I also ditched the legs and just made two I-cord antennae and sewed on eyes. Thank you, Kimberly Chapman, for a great free pattern, and lots of inspiration!
Nilu and M are already best friends. He is just learning to turn on to his side and fall on his tummy, and wraps himself around the toy, koala-bear style, as he does it. Generally, he seems to like long, tubular toys, so my mind is abuzz with pattern ideas for similar shapes. In the meantime, I hope Nilu is durable and patient, because it looks like he is going to get some rough treatment in the coming weeks.
There’s an Amigurumi knitalong/crochetalong going on over at the South Asian Crafters group on Ravelry, with folks making lots and lots of really neat little toys. Most of them so far are crocheted, but I decided to make a knitted toy I have wanted to make for a long time: Ruth Homrighaus’s brilliant Sheldon the Turtle.
I don’t know how it happened, since I used thinner yarn and tinier needles than the pattern called for, but my turtle, somehow, has a much bigger head and stumpier legs compared to its body and shell, and looks rather like a wannabe tyrannosaurus:
This is my first knitted toy, hopefully the first of many. This particular one had a lot of small parts, lots of different techniques and a LOT of finishing, some of which I botched and had to redo several times, but it’s a very detailed and carefully drafted pattern (not surprising since Ruth is an editor!) so it was not difficult to figure out. A second Sheldon will be a lot easier. The applied I-cord edging was easy once I actually tried it out, but getting it to look neat and elegant will take more than the two tries I gave it.
Pattern: Sheldon the Turtle
Gauge: I didn’t measure
Needle: size 1 US, 2.25 mm dpns, and size 4 dpns for the applied I-cord edging
Yarn: Elann Esprit, approx half a skein each in brown and off-white.
1. A cotton/elastic yarn is probably not the best yarn for a stuffed toy because no matter how tight the gauge, the stuffing does have a tendency to show through the stretchy fabric.
2. Finishing is not my forte. I don’t mind a round of crochet and weaving in of ends, even picking up stitches for a neckline, or buttonband. Zippers are probably the outer limit of my adventurousness with such things. Crochet, a lot of sewing, applied-Icord, stuffing, and weaving in of ends was, therefore, quite the uphill trek. Totally worth the view at the end, as it were, but still.
3. In these small, somewhat complicated techniques, it’s best to follow the instructions closely. Like starting to stuff the body when it says you should, rather than waiting till the end when the opening is too small.
4. I need to figure out a way to make the neck stuffing firmer. No matter what I did, or how many times I restuffed it, Sheldon’s neck is like a stereotypically shy bride’s, a bit downcast.
5. I dispensed with the plastic eyes, and embroidered them on with the off-white CC instead. Just in case M takes to the toy, and wants to chew on it sometime.
He is still rather suspicious of Sheldon, but who knows? They might be friends in the future.