Writer and avid knitter Selma Moss-Ward joins us for a series of blog posts about becoming a first-time grandmother and knitting toys. Click here to read her previous blog posts.
I enjoy knitting toys more than most other projects I undertake, because they’re easy and fun to make. There aren’t concerns with gauge or fit, as with a garment, and if a toy doesn’t turn out looking exactly like the photo on the instructions, it seems individualized and special, rather than flawed.
This is to say I loved making the “Cuddly Caterpillar” from Lion Brand’s vast pattern database. It’s great for any beginner just starting out or an experienced knitter like myself.
“Vanna’s Choice,” the specified yarn, knits into a smooth, slightly glossy fabric, and, being washable and firm, withstands the rigors of playtime. It’s also non-allergenic and moth-proof . As with the other Lion Brand toys I’ve blogged about—William the Hedgehog and Leo the Lion—there’s plenty of yarn left over for another caterpillar…or two!
|Here’s the very first section of Caterpillar’s body, with fiberfill stuffing.|
And here I’ve stuffed two sections and placed a blue marker to show the beginning of stitches on the first needle. Marking stitches is a great way to guarantee all increases and decreases will be properly aligned.
When you change colors in this pattern, twisting the old and new yarns together inside the caterpillar will reduce the size of the gap that forms at the join. Don’t worry about this gap because it will be sutured in the end. If you leave tails of about six inches every time you change color, you’ll have enough yarn available at the joins to do the finishing quickly and invisibly. The gaps, before being closed, also provide a way to add stuffing if you find that the caterpillar is too thin.
The blunt end of a chopstick is an effective tool for moving stuffing around inside the toy, so that it doesn’t look lumpy or disproportional.
It took me about three evenings of “Downton Abbey” to complete the charming critter. His eyes are crocheted separately, then sewn on. If you prefer, you could embroider the eyes onto the head. When knitting toys for small children, it’s important that any decorations or appendages be anchored as securely as possible.
I actually used the last section as the caterpillar’s head, rather than the first as specified. I liked the way the final decreases formed seams at the closure of the toy, which made good guidelines for centering the eyes and antennae.
Cuddly Caterpillar will soon be going to Los Angeles, to live with my grandson Max. He seems the perfect toy for a child of Max’s age—under a year—although an older child might find him quite appealing for imaginative play. In the meantime, he’s quite good at making friends already!
|Here’s Cuddly Caterpillar befriending Rufus in the garden.|