Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Felted Gecko

This was a project that, for someone who has no time to knit, went very, very quickly. I would suggest that unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool dpn user you should ignore the part of the pattern instructions that suggest using dpns for this project. Use whatever method for knitting in the round that suits you best. I usually knit with 2 circs but didn't have a second circ on hand in the right size and whipped out my trusty dpns. For the body it wasn't much trouble but when you get to the legs it can get pretty fiddly. Just an FYI on that.

However, it was an easy pattern to knit. Later this week I hope to show you one of my tweaks, which is my favorite way to work short rows. There are a lot of them in this pattern in order to make the lizard body seem to be moving, and so knowing my easy, invisible short row method makes those far easier to do.

After he was knitted I put him into a zippered pillowcase and threw him into the washer to felt. When he was finished felting I blocked him by stuffing the body and head with two plastic grocery bags until he was dry.

The next day it was time to put in his eyes. This toy isn't going to a child, so I felt comfortable using attachable eyes on him. In fact, the eyes attach very firmly and would be almost impossible to pull out but I leave that choice to your discretion--you can always needle-felt or embroider eyes on instead.

First, get an idea of where you want the eyes to go by placing them in the head.

Move them around until you feel like the placement is going to work for you. Because Noro Kureyon doesn't felt 'hard' for me like all other yarns do I was able to follow a column of sts on either side to place them equally, although it doesn't look like they are equal in this photo.

Once you have the eye in place turn the fabric inside out and push the plastic ring firmly down over the shank of the eye stem. The eye stem has ridges on it that ensure that the ring cannot be pulled off of the shank--so once it's there, it stays. Be sure you have the eyes where you want them before you do this as there is no going back. The ring has a greater diameter than the eye does, this is why I feel it would be near to impossible to pull out afterward.

Now it's time to stuff him! I have made many stuffed animals over the years and for the first half of my stuffed animal career I was never happy with the results of stuffing - the toys were always lumpy. Then I met Elizabeth Wells through our Old Pueblo Knitting Guild. Elizabeth is the expert of knitted and stuffed toys, trust me. She makes wonderful knitted dolls and stuffed animals. So I grilled her!

Elizabeth advises that you buy the most expensive toy stuffing that you can. Toy stuffing is not very expensive anyway and it comes in bags that may look smallish but hold enough for many, many toys and will last you for years. So it is worth doing it right the first time. Get the good stuff, there is a difference.

Next, Elizabeth told me, shred the stuffing before you use it. Pull it all apart rather than stuffing it in in great wads.

Here I stuffed the tail, legs and head before stuffing the body. Pack it in well, slightly over-stuffing. As you sew the seam shut you may find that you need to add more stuffing to the toy.

Here he is with his seam sewn shut. Because his stitches are still visible I was able to mattress stitch him together.

And here he is finished...

But wait! Is he really finished? I don't think so!

Next time - decorating the felted gecko...

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