Elephant in the Room

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There’s something in the air at the moment. Its baby central. The past few months I have been knitting gifts ranging from tiny little newborn baby bootees to little jumpered bears. Both patterns I will reveal in time as they are very simple and fulfilling, but the last two weeks its been all about my knitted elephant.

A good friend of mine’s sister is having a baby in two very short weeks and has a jungle themed nursery as like many parents they decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise. This does pose a challenge when choosing your yarn. One of the lovely things about knitting for babies is the beautifully soft wool you can buy in pale pastel colours. Lemon, lavender, baby blue and pink and aqua, as well as white of course are all perfect for baby presents. If you do know the sex of course you can go for the traditional pink or blue, or you can use unisex bright primary colours like reds, blues, greens and bright yellow for a retro Cath Kidston inspired look.As I didn’t know the sex of this little one I went for the aqua and the lemon.

This design was a challenge it was one of the largest toys I’ve made and was made up of lots of little sections. The elephant was made up of stocking stitch which can be fiddly on finer yarn. To stocking stitch you knit one row and purl the next, moving the yarn to the front of the kneedles and back for the knitted row. I used 4.5 size needles simply because they’re a needle I have neglected to use and are of longer length to fit all the stitches on as most of the rows were in their fifties.

I did change the pattern in the end I think it is always good to put your own stamp on something. The pattern is one designed by a very talented knitter called Laura Long. She’s the writer of a number of knitting books called ‘Knitted Toy Tales’ which include wild animals as well as fairy tale characters. The elephant pattern is called ‘Eddie the Elephant’ and I found in a free booklet from a knitting magazine ‘Knit Now’. The pattern at first looked difficult but once I found my rhythm and got used to the wool was relatively simple. I really do recommend Laura Long books and patterns, I hope to make an Owl and the Pussycat one day as well as the pea green boat!

As I said I did change the pattern, the pattern in the book asks for material to be sewn in for the ears and feet but I used a lemon shimmer wool. I also used basic black shirt buttons for eyes as I need to work on my embroidery skills. Also as I am yet to conquer crochet I knitted the tail in garter stitch instead of a chain which I think worked just as well. The trickiest bit came to the stuffing. You always need twice as much stuffing as you first think so whatever you think times it by 2 or even 4. For this I used an old clean pillow and tried to make the body as round as possible. Another tricky bit was stuffing and attaching the tusks. My first tusk was too large and they had to be symmetrical. I am a perfectionist so all the legs were symmetrical also. I finished off the whole elephant with a lemon silk ribbon from John Lewis.

I really enjoyed making  the elephant for the new baby, it took around 2 weeks in all. Spending my evenings making legs was very soothing. I really try to put as much love into my gifts as I can and hope one day to see my elephant one eyed, filthy and well loved by its tiny owner. After all toys are meant to be played with and loved.

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