Great Mini Animals to Knit — If You Can Unravel The Instructions

Recently I came across the adorable knit animals of Sachiyo Ishii. Some of the animals look surprisingly realistic for tiny knits. I couldn’t resist buying both Mini Knitted Woodland and Mini Knitted Safari at once. I got out my cotton yarn and 00 needles, eager to get started. It wasn’t long before I discovered that these cute patterns aren’t as simple as they seem.

hares_webhareInHand_web

I began by making the hares out of Mini Knitted Woodland. Thanks to the vague instructions (“sew the head”), the first one didn’t look right. Dissatisfied, I tried again. After three, I felt like I’d gotten the hang of the pattern and working so small, and was ready to move on. I switched to some scrap wool yarn and made a raccoon.

While my difficulties with the hare were a clue, it wasn’t until I was stuffing the raccoon that I realized the instructions in the book were lacking. My raccoon looked like a no-necked gangster, while the pictures in the book showed a well-defined break between the head and shoulders, even though the body and head are knit as one. I used sculpting stitches along the neckline to get a better shape. It worked, sort of.

raccoon

Next, I tried a squirrel and had my first complete fail. The tail is made from a tiny pompom, and since I’ve made pompoms in the past, I wasn’t too worried about the minimal directions. I followed the directions and it didn’t work. At all. So I set the squirrel parts aside for another day.

Squirrel parts.
Squirrel parts.

Discouraged by the failed squirrel, I decided to make a pompom-free tortoise. The little guy is adorable and one of the smallest things I have ever knit.

turtle_web

As Mother’s Day approached, I pulled out Mini Knitted Safari to make a VW van for my mom. I knew Mom would love a reminder of our family camping trips. The pattern in the book is a hippie camper complete with embroidered flowers, but I changed the colors and the embroidery to make it more like the one we’d owned.

Van Collage_web

Emboldened by my success, I went back to animals and made a polar bear. (Note: Apparently “safari” means “big wild animals” and is not limited to Africa.) It worked pretty well, although once again I had some trouble with the directions. The back end did not come out like the bear in the picture, and I had to do some additional stitching to make the shape more bear-like.

polarBear_web

The last project I tried was a panda bear, mainly because I had black and white yarn on hand. The body went together pretty easily but the head is just weird and I can’t tell from the instructions how to put it together. If I use the flap as a neck and sew it to the body directly, it looks all wrong. If I sew up the head so it’s completely separate, it comes out too small. As soon as I added one black eye patches, it was clear that my panda does not look like the one in the book, and I have no idea how to fix it.

The instructions were wanting...
The instructions were wanting…

Much as I love the tiny animals in these two books, I’m not sure how many more I will try to make. I’m willing to put up with failure and fudging when I’m designing something from scratch, but if I am following a pattern, I expect it to work, no major adjustments, and certainly no failures.

How about you? How hard are you willing to work to construct something when you are given poor instructions? Also, if you have any tips on how to make a tiny pompom (less than an inch across), please share them! Some of the cutest critters in the book are made with pompoms.

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

6 thoughts on “Great Mini Animals to Knit — If You Can Unravel The Instructions”

  1. I’m with you — patterns should work, especially ones that you have paid for. However, you have done a fine job with your creations. They are so cute!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad I’m not the only one who wants the pattern to work. I particularly dislike it when the result from the pattern doesn’t look like photos of the project. I did find a bunch of corrections on Ravelry, but none of them addressed my problems. 😦

      Like

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