I have had my first commission. Remember when I made the elephant? the person I made it for requested a matching giraffe. I didn’t even know you could knit a giraffe, I’d completely forgotten what a giraffe even looked like, but I like a challenge and I didn’t have to look very far. The pattern for the elephant was designed by Laura Long, so I had an inkling she would have designed a giraffe pattern too. So I googled ‘knitted giraffe’ and lo and behold there he was, Gerry the giraffe from ‘Knitted Toy Travels: Knitting Projects from across the Globe’ by Laura Long.
Now before I go onto the pattern and the make, I do have to take a moment to say that the book is absolutely lovely. It has little rhymes which go with each picture and a map showing you where each animal is from, which is useful for me as my weakest point is geography. I am aware I’m a little gushy here so I’ll move on but I really do recommend the book.
The pattern was a little bit of a challenge, now first of all I do think I have the used the wrong wool, it isn’t made with a double knit. (I have only just discovered that ‘DK’ in patterns means a type of wool, Double Knit which is good for toys because it is very strong). I used a lemon that I bought a lot of last year and never used which was labelled as ‘Toy Wool’ so could be a kind of DK wool, and and a gingery orange wool from John Lewis which is quite a sturdy harder wool than the lemon. What it meant was that there was some pulling on the spots and he is a very floppy giraffe, he can’t stand at all like the one in the book, but he sits very well as you can see. The part that challenged me was picking up the stitches, once you’ve made the head you then pick up the stitches across the middle of the head. I was very nervous doing this so I watched a video on youtube on how to pick up stitches. You literally slide your needles under the loops and gather them on your needle so it looks like they have been cast on. This is the only simple way I can describe it to you and understand it myself. But because of my nervousness I picked up the stitches further back than originally designed, so he has a big head. But he is cute with his big awkward head.
This is the body as a basic, and yes it looks like a dinosaur. The best bit for me though was the spots. I decided a couple of weeks ago to try ‘Intarsia’ in making a knitted picture, which was supposed to look like an embroidered sampler, where you follow a chart and mix the colours as you go. The picture was ok and interesting in the end, (it hasn’t made it on here!) and I taught myself how to follow a chart diagram and how to swap the colours of wool. The giraffe has a chart using two yarns you swap the different colours for a certain number of stitches each time and it makes the rather attractive spotted effect which was lovely to do and made a great pattern, like an actual giraffe skin.
I am always surprised when the patterns I start actually end up looking like the thing they were supposed to. It seems like a fluke to me. You also had to pick up stitches to make the flat back and the sides of the body which you can see here is a little messy on the seam, but the next one will get better and it adds character I always think.
Here you can see the four stripy sausage legs, which I stuffed really full to make the little fat legs. I came into difficulties trying to attach the little fat legs securely to its body. So on some of the tops of the legs you can see the pulling, but it worked in the end just to go over the stitches a few times. You then make the ‘accessories’ like the tail which is a tube stuffed and a tassle on the end, and the ears and horns. The hair was fun. I cut a long strip of cardboard and wrapped the wool round a little bit like how you make a pom-pom which I really enjoy making. You cut the ends to make the shaggy effect and stitch almost a seam down the side to the body. I mixed the two colurs together which made a nice effect.
Below are two of Laura Long’s designs, both are going to live happily ever after in the jungle themed nursey they were made for. I do think there will come a time where I will start making more ‘grown up’ and serious projects. but why do that when you can knit a giraffe? or a reindeer? or a hippopotamus? or a meer cat? or even a dinosaur??