Thursday, 24 May 2012

Crochet baby elephant

I am 32. In general, this means my partying days are sadly pretty much all done with as I'm too poor (thanks mortgage), and nightclubs are loud noisy places (yes, 32 going on 62!). It also means that not only are lots of my friends getting married, but nowadays lots of them are starting families too.

So, inevitably I'm getting more and more invitations to baby showers. I love a nice baby shower - gossip with the girls, yummy food, and an opportunity to buy or make cute presents for mum and/or baby. And for the baby shower I went to this weekend, I really want to make use of my new crochet skills.

I don't yet have a book or any patterns (although my first book is due this week from The Book People), so I turned to the trusty internet to find the perfect pattern. I eventually chose this baby elephant pattern from the Red Heart Yarns website.

Given the trials of my rose and mouse patterns learning the correct terminology for the stitches I needed, the first thing I did was check which region it was. It was US, so I made sure that the reference sites I picked for reminding me how to do particular stitches were from the US. I had to do this a couple of times, and made a few errors along the way! Particularly with the body (see picture below), and the bonnet, which I abandoned when I realised it was so small it was for an elephant at least half his size!

Rather than buy the branded wool suggested, I went to a couple of the wool shops on Leeds Kirkgate Market, and chose a lovely grey double knit (100g), and some smaller balls (25g each) of a different brand for the bonnet and eyes. This proved to be a mistake which I will explain later.

The pattern itself was fairly simple, but required me to count the stitches a lot as they were in rounds. I taught myself an adjustable ring, which is simple to do, but fiddly to hold. I also found a video on YouTube which suggested using a contrasting scrap of wool as a marker so you don't have to count so precisely. This was a particularly good tip for crocheting in the evening in front of the TV so as long as you get the rhythm right (e.g. sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc, repeat x5 etc) you don't need to worry about the counting so much. Event better, if you do lose count you can just go back to the start of the row/round and then you can carry on. More than once I had to bin bits I'd started before I started using a marker. Never again!

The Pattern consisted of a head piece:

...body piece: (shown here on the left next to the one I did wrong! Was using slipstitches and only going through one side of each stitch (this will make sense to fellow crocheters)) 

...and four arms/legs:

Ears were added straight onto the head. So far, so simple. The stuffing of the head was added before the trunk was crocheted, as was the stuffing of each arm/leg. The body was stuffed later just before stitching the sections together.

Most of these were made just with single crochet (US). The bonnet was made in a round again, but this time with half double crochet (US). It had been a while since I had done this stitch (in the rose) so after messing up the first version I made a quick trip to the learn to crochet webpage from Lion brand again to remind me how to do it. Then I was off. I also had to add a second colour for the tie, and gaps for the ears.

When finished, it looked too small for the ele's head! Then I realised - by using different brands of wool, I had inadvertantly bought wool which was thinner than the grey, resulting in smaller stitches and guage. However, it stretched just enough to fit on his head. I added a yellow gingham ribbon for extra cuteness!

I was quite pleased overall, even though at first I was worried he wasn't as cute as the picture (possibly down to me moving away from recommended wool, guage too loose or stuffing him a teeny bit too tightly). But he went down a charm with the parents-to-be, and that's the main thing. Hopefully their "Lentil" will like him too when he or she arrives!

I REALLY enjoyed making him, and I cannot wait to stuck into my new crochet book (bought more wool in Leeds this weekend!). Watch this space...

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