I am pleased to show you my first hand-knitted stuffed animals. I have been knitting hats, sweaters, dresses, booties, and blankets as welcoming gifts for babies of friends and extended family for decades. I will continue to do so, because knitting keeps my fingers and mind engaged and there are so many interesting designs to try.
This year, to increase my repertoire, I decided to try my hand at making stuffed toys. The first pattern I chose to knit is a deer, because Victoria is well known for its roaming deer and our visitors always ask about them.
In our neighbourhood, there are “regulars” and there is a place near our home where fawns are born every year. Unlike the newborn birds, these fawns are adorable and a delight to watch – literally bouncing across lawns. When they are hungry, they raise their small tails in the air and bump their snouts at their mother’s udders for a drink. It’s not a gentle bump either, and the poor moms look like they get a bruising each time, especially as their fawns grow bigger. They come through our yard, and get so close, I have heard them bleating for its mother.
But cute as they are, anyone with gardening aspirations hate them, as they have learned to eat everything – even “deer resistant” plants! As I have not inherited my mother’s green-thumb, I also use the deer as an excuse for not planting and maintaining a garden in the “City of Gardens.”
I bought the Fox in Frock pattern and got the free Deer supplement, by Julie Williams.
The patterns are very detailed – the fox pattern is 16 pages with written instructions and diagrams. All the pieces are knitted flat, as Williams admits to enjoying seaming. Me, not so much, so I made a few changes. I didn’t like the seams at the back of the legs for the first deer (which became the female – no horns), so on my next deer, I knit the legs, body and arms in the round using circular needles.I also knit the dress in the round, and made a hat, with spaces for the ears to pop through. It hides the round spot at the back of her head where there is a seam.
I can knit these small tubes that require only 10 stitches by using a version of a technique called “magic loop” with my circular needles. This technique is simply explained in the video below, by Staci Perry, a knitwear designer and teacher whose YouTube channel I sometimes consult.
Staci Perry explains “magic loop”
I was disappointed to find that in order to make the sweater with a star, as shown on the front cover of the Deer Pattern, I had to buy the other Fox pattern. However, I have knitted enough top-down sweaters to know how to make one up, and instead of a star, and as you can see on the featured photo above, I just added coloured stripes.
The shoes were completed with laces for him and button bows for her.
The photos of the covers of the patterns made me think the toys might have been as tall as 12 inches/ 30.5 cm., but they are actually only about 8 inches/ 20 cm. I knitted longer legs and arms for the boy deer – it is just under 12 inches to the top of the horns. They are a child’s handful and have enough stuffing to be cuddly.
Because of their relatively small size, this was a great way to use up some of my stash. Whose to say that stuffed animals have to be like those in nature? Future versions might turn out even more colourful than the clothes they are wearing!
When I showed my knitting group, they thought the heads looked more like mice. Perhaps, but they are still rather cute…maybe I’ll add some spots of their heads as suggested on the pattern. I enjoyed making them, and will continue to produce them; I already know who will be getting one!