This post has been time in the coming. Back toward the end of September I was thinking about christmas presents for my sisters (early I know but I wanted to make something so needed time). For a while I've been vaguely interested in starting to create stuffed toy animals so I decided that I'd make them each a knitted, stuffed, elephant. There is some vague sense to the oddity of me picking elephants - my Mum really liked elephants so it felt like a good choice.
(Practise) Elephant Number 1
Elysia gave me some acrylic yarn that I could use for practising and I found a pattern on ravelry. So I set about creating my first elephant.
One elephant hide later... Next, it was time to stitch it up, this is where the pattern instructions were a little less clear so there was a bit of guesswork involved.
At this point I was slightly concerned about the quite major head between-legs-ness going on but I needed to stuff it and see what it looked like.
Well, that's identifyable as an elephant! Success! Not quite success. What I omitted to photo was the underbelly of this mini beast, where the two edges are sewn together. It was an utter mess with bits of stuffing poking through and a mess of yarn where I'd had to sew holes up. The trunk also seemed to prevent the elephant from standing on its front legs properly. Never the less, it was still proof that it was doable and a decent first stab at it.
(Practise) Elephant Number 2
For the next elephant I decided to knit it on smaller needles to see how it'd come out. Unsurprisingly, it came out quite a lot smaller but also a bit neater.
I also decided to try shorten the trunk on this one a little, maybe went a taad too far with the shortening. I also ran out of the yarn that I was using and had to finish the front of its head and do the sewing in a different colour. The sewing on this one was a bit neater but the front and rear legs were still different lengths. The underbelly still left quite a lot to be desired too.
(Practise) Elephant Number 3
Third time lucky? I decided to knit this one on larger needles than the first one which actually came out pretty well. I'd learnt from the previous two that my edges needed to be neater and the stitches around where legs + trunk started/ended needed to be much tighter too.
This one came out pretty well, head still a bit droopy and trunk still enourmous but I was happy enough and confident that I'd learnt enough to start on the real deals. The underbelly looked pretty good and I even gave it ears!
The Real Deal(s)
Before beginning either of these elephants I first had to dye to the yarn that I'd bought as I bought it in a natural colour. Elysia helped to do this as I had no idea how to go about it. This basically entailed soaking the yarn and then putting it in hot water (with a bit of vinegar) before dropping acid dyes into it and then leaving to dry.
I was pleased with the colours, so got on with knitting them up. I used the same sized needles as my original practise elephant.
At this point I was happy with what I'd done. I felt that the colours looked good and thought that the stitches around the edges/legs would work well.
First elephant stitched, I knew by now not to worry too much about the head between the legs. I also finally worked out the correct way to sew the front legs, on the second elephant. I'd been sewing too far up them. I felt like the first elephant looked good enough to not resew though.
Whilst stuffing the second elephant I had a slight issue and ran out of stuffing. I sacrificed my first practise elephant and pulled out the stuffing. Slight issue, it was no longer so soft and malleable but not to fear. Elysia has carders so I carded the wool and it came out looking good and ready to stuff.
They came out slightly different sizes due to me sewing a bit looser on the second elephant, I think that sewing a bit tighter was actually better in hindsight. I gave them eyes, ears and tails (I had to learn how to plait, turns out to be not so hard). I was happy with them.
Bonus knitted cowls
During December when I was making the final two elephants I'd also been asked to knit cowls for my Grandmothers. I bought ready-dyed super chunky merino for these.
They came out super stretchy and really warm, so mission complete there.
After a December heavy on the knitting I'm not ready to knit again for a good while. I think that all of the presents were well received, my sisters certainly seemed quite surprised too.