Pony Herd

I’ve made dozens and dozens of these ponies since my son’s Waldorf pre-school teacher asked knitting parents to work some up for the school holiday fair. It wasn’t any more correct back then than it is now to share patterns or to knit from a pattern to sell goods at a school fundraiser without getting permission from the designer. But if Mrs. Behr wanted  us “yellow bird” parents to knit ponies, this lawyer mom was not going to start preaching copyright law. “Let there be ponies.” I couldn’t make it to every school day event, but I could burn the midnight oil and knit ponies galore.

Then came grade school parenthood. More pony knitting opportunities. Invites to kid birthday parties. An excuse to knit more ponies. Meet a young pair of yoga teachers with two cute daughters. Gift them a colorful basket of ponies.

I haven’t knit ponies for awhile. The opportunities for pony knitting just don’t present as often as before.

Work is intense. I find relief in a return to old familiar knitting patterns. I thought I’d knit just one. Then I knit a companion. Then I decided one pair needed another. And finally I went for a sextet. Old familiar patterns are like comfort food for knitters, says my Ravelry friend Linda.

You know these guys are a herd because their tails are identical: two strands from each ponies’ hide color. Plus they all have the same hairdos, of course. They are stuffed with unspun Perendale wool: that’s best for knitted pony innards.

This pattern is called “Acorn Hill Horse.” It is not attributed to anyone. The name “Jacqueline” is written in the top right hand corner of my copy, but I kind of figure that she’s likely just the source of the copy.  There has been an Acorn Hill Waldorf school in the Washington D.C area since the 1950’s (it’s in Maryland now) but I have no idea if they are the source of this pattern. I received my copy from my son’s teacher back in 1990. My only tweak of the pattern is to braid the manes and leave off the bridle. My version has been called Rasta Pony from time to time.

Waldorf students learn to knit and crochet from first grade on.  It builds fine motor skills, rudimentary math skills, and an appreciation for the beauty of craft. “Receive the child with reverence, educate the child with love, let the child go forth in freedom.” Rudolph Steiner (founder of Waldorf education).

The Vortex

This is the first time I’ve done modular knitting on doublepoints on quite this scale. Meet Vortex, by Lijuan Jing (and me). It’s knitted in JoJoLand Rhythm Superwash. Such a pretty little thing. And I do mean little. Quite an effort for 27 inches by 44 inches.

I’ve let it soak in Eucalan and dried it flat, as the JoJoLand Superwash Rhythm instructs, and it’s relaxed a bit since these photos were taken. The grooves are still nice and deep, but it’s just not such a concentrated weight of yarn anymore. Without this step, putting it on your lap felt a bit like when the dental hygienist lays that heavy gray x-ray apron on you. I’m adjusting to the odd size. More like a baby blanket, actually.

I don’t usually pass along a lot of knitting tips, but for anyone knitting Vortex here’s a few:

  • I needed 17 skeins, not the 16 the pattern called for.
  • Mark the first triangle so you’ll always know where “A1” is. Otherwise, you’re toast.
  • The instructions say to pick up stitches in a clockwise direction. I don’t get the “clockwise” thing, but what is meant is to pick up and knit the stitches in a backwards direction. Beats me how you do that. Instead of pick up and knit, I picked up and purled, putting the needle point in from the back side of the work while looking at the wrong side.
  • The directions for the order of the triangles are at the very end of the pattern. That’s a bit subtle and kind of easy to miss.  They are a bit idiosyncratic in that the written instructions tell you the order in which to knit the triangles, and it’s not always in numerical order.
  • But here’s the most important tip.  The  pattern (dated 11/30/2009) has errors. The instructions for the “T” isosceles triangles are wrong at rounds 4, 8, 11, 14, 18, 22, 26 and 30. Unfortunately after I tried a fix on my own (which sort of worked, but not as well as what the designer planned), I reached the designer at the email address on the pattern and received corrections. These are how the  instructions for the rounds listed above on the  four “T” triangles were supposed to read.  I was told it’s OK to tell my “friends” who may be knitting it. So, friends, this is the fix for the errors. I have to say that I haven’t tried it (because I am really sick of knitting little triangles) but it looks correct. And I clipped this stuff right out the designer’s email to be sure I wouldn’t be the one to introduce any new errors.

Rnd 4: k26, s1kp, k26, s1kp, s1kp, k46. (101 sts)

Rnd 8: p22, p2tog, p22, p2tog, p2tog, p39. (86 sts)

Rnd 11: k19, s1kp, k19, s1kp, s1kp, k34. (75 sts)

Rnd 14: p16, p2tog, p16, p2tog, p2tog, p29. (64 sts)

Rnd 18: k12, s1kp, k12, s1kp, s1kp, k22. (49 sts)

Rnd 22: p8, p2tog, p8, p2tog, p2tog, p15. (34 sts)

Rnd 26:k4, s1kp, k4, s1kp, s1kp, k8. (19 sts)

Rnd 30: p2tog, p2tog, p2tog, p1. (4 sts)

The error in the pattern is disconcerting, but the designer was very responsive to my inquiry. So that is a plus in my book.

This next photo is Vortex, edged with applied I-cord and after its Eucalan bath.  I dried it flat, but without blocking,  It relaxed some but I don’t think it was with much sacrifice to its signature deep grooves.


Knitted Alligator: 1968 to 2011

I first knit this pattern in 1968, for a yet-to-be-born baby whose son is now a Marine. I was about fourteen years old. I’ve probably knit it at least another ten times. For my son, who is twenty-five now, I turned him into a dragon. I picked up stitches along his spine and increased symmetrically until I had a nice full fin, which I tacked down at either end.  My son printed his name on the pattern, in ink, in a shaky pre-school scrawl. When I see his signature and this pattern, I smile for remembering.

This alligator has been gifted at birthdays and at holidays. He’s been auctioned off to support schools and The United Way. He’s easy. So cute. A most satisfying quick project, in three pieces, knit flat in worsted weight yarn.

I don’t know anywhere you can find the pattern except if you can get hold of a copy of McCall’s Summer Make It Ideas, Summer 1968. Check out the cover of the mag, in case you happen upon it at a garage sale. Not much else in the magazine is tempting, but this gator is a keeper.

The designer is not identified. But thanks so much, whoever you are (or were). I bet you also designed the frog in the same issue. The frog is cute too, but not in the same league as your alligator.

Back in the days of the old “Knitlist” I was determined to share this pattern with my list mates. I located whoever McCall’s successor company of the moment was and wrote to ask permission. Permission was denied. The reason given was that some day the company might want to release a book that included the pattern. Well, Publishing House, we’re still waiting for that book!