Acorn Hill Ponies ( & Unicorns)

Pretty sweet, don’t you think? I’m especially proud of this knit because the pattern on Ravelry bears my name, with attribution to and permission from the original Waldorf school designer. Here’s the Rav freebie: Acorn Hill Pony. My lead version is knit in Blue Sky Fibers Extra, with a mane worked in colorful wool oddments from a Lorna Miser slipper kit.

This version is knit in purchased handspun. The gray was simply labeled Emily, which I figured was the sheep’s name. And the sweet pink/brown handspun is from Alpena Michigan’s Spruce Shadow farm.

The original Acorn Hill Pony is attributed to an unidentified knitter associated with the Acorn Hill school, a Waldorf kindergarten and nursery in Silver Spring, Maryland. In May of 2017 the school’s administrator, Janet Johnson, gave written permission for this pattern to be published to Ravelry, with my modifications and an extensive re-write of the original pattern to conform to the sensibilities of modern knitters.

In this next version the Spruce Shadow pink/brown colorway is the body. The Lorna’s Laces yarn again provides the mane and tale.

Here’s the herd. For the pink and the gray version I decided to experiment with safety eyes. That’s not “Waldorf-approved,” but they still worked out well.

At one point I had a lot of extra pink wool yarn from the Merino Sheepskin Company. Apparently my inner Barbie kicked in. Pink ponies tumbled off my needles.

Here’s a look at how this quartet took shape. As you see: easy peasy. All one piece.

The sewing-up takes very little time. I typically seam them looking at the right side, leaving a stuffing hole in the belly.

Here they are looking a little scary. I don’t usually use safety eyes mostly because that’s not a Waldorf thing.

When you look at the projects on Ravelry, you’ll see that it’s the stuffing that has tripped up a few folks. When my son was in Waldorf school I stuffed with unspun wool. That got pricey. For decades now I’ve stuffed my animals with polyfill. But–whatever stuffing you decide to use–you are going to need a lot of it. Experienced toy knitters know that. I think it trips up some of the newbies. There are quite a few Acorn ponies on Rav with front legs that don’t hold the weight of the pony’s head. Either that or some knitters planned on having a trick pony who is bowing to the audience. Bottom line. Stuff firmly. And shape the “gesture” of the horse you want before you sew up the belly.

A few Wolverines snuck in to this next herd.

These Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride ponies were donated together for a local nonprofit gift shop. Here’s a look at the herd-in-process.

This next pony’s a recent version all in Lamb’s Pride Worsted. Purple Pony has pride-of-place in my Grand Rapids knitting room. I’ve knit half-a-million of these ponies over the last 35 years or so. They are so popular that Purple Pony is the only one that hasn’t yet been gifted or donated.

By now you may be weary of ponies. I got the idea to change my pony into a unicorn because some of the Ravelry knitters had done that. Cool! (Plus my granddaughter loves unicorns.)

It has been a joy to see the creatives among us play with this pattern. Ravelry’s knitters have saddled the pony. They’ve embroidered and appliqued his hide. They’ve knit a basketful of ponies. And they’ve even knit a herd of longhorn cows!

The Acorn Hill school’s generosity is greatly appreciated. They let me rescue and reinvigorate a wonderful critter pattern. And the school was grateful in turn because they’d lost the pattern over the years. I was able to restore the original pattern to them, along with my update.

Red stuff day

This is Faye Kennington’s fun “Off With Her Head” design. She writes that “The hearts and flouncy garden trellis motif of this hat have an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to them.” Indeed they do. My Glass Head shudders to think of Iracebeth’s a/k/a the Queen of Hearts uttering her famous cruel phrase. Maybe it brings up old memories from the glass factory? Anyway, the hat does have an Alice in Wonderland look going.

And somehow this hat also conjures up a much less threatening Valentine’s Day vibe. I knit mine in Berroco Ultra Wool Worsted. The yarn is a sturdy superwool that’s skeined up in a huge variety of colorways including many solid shades.

The pattern is wonderfully clear. The fair isle chart didn’t even need magnifying to make it a comfy-on-the-eyeballs knit. It was almost completely clear of longer floats. That’s definitely a plus in fair isle work.

I followed the pattern precisely, including working the ribbing for 3.25 inches. If I knit it again I believe I’ll either shorten or lengthen the ribbing because the hat’s a tad awkward to wear. The ribbing is too short to fold over nicely. But with the ribbing unfolded the hat lengthens into more of a slouchy than I prefer. Still, an excellent pattern. And a fun knit!

The position of the hearts just before the crown decreases begin is a great look.

Next up, red socks.

These are Carol A. Anderson’s Iowa Crew/Cruise Socks. Mine are knit in a new-to-me yarn, Raggen by Viking of Norway. It’s another sturdy worsted in 70% wool 30% nylon. Steve’s pair has machine washed well–absolutely no felting.

Anderson’s been at the helm of Cottage Creations for a month of Sundays. Her booklets have been digitized and are now available on Ravelry. The pre-printed booklets are also still available through the Cottage Creations website and at many local yarn shops.

If you need a warm pair of boot socks or bed socks, this fits the bill. The pattern is written for all size feet. As with all Anderson’s patterns, she holds a knitter’s hands in a tight grip throughout the knit. The patterns are wordy and folksy. They make for a good read as well as a good knit.

Back to hats. This next one is Susan Villas Lewis’s Breck knit in sportweight Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. This my fourth Breck. You’ll find the others here and here. I haven’t yet found a color combination that doesn’t work.

The simple slip stitch work has always been very effective for me. Go for the high contrast is my only advice. My sense is that it’s the mix of stockinette and garter that makes this hat stand out from the crowd. And the knit 2, purl 1 relaxed ribbing throughout the body is a great touch too.

The crown decreases are simple. But they work. It doesn’t bother me that the ribbing first changes to 1 by 1 and then to stockinette as the crown stitches draw closer together.

Breck is a seriously excellent pattern. Give it a try, especially since DK weight seems to be squeezing the sportweight yarns off the shelf. I’m finding sportweight somewhat over-represented in the sale shelfs of my local yarn shops.

Whether it’s Valentine’s or Galentine’s or Palentine’s …or even just another Wednes Day…have a great 14th!

February critter call

This trio gave me the giggles at every step of the knitting. They are Cheezombie Garden Slugs. I splurged and knit mine in Noro Silk Garden. I love the resultant color-changing nature of their skins–or whatever is the proper name for a mollusks’ outer gelatinousness. Their donut lips and eye stalks are knit in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted. The three bodies together used less than one skein of Silk Garden.

Think of all the gardeners you know, or all the people who don’t garden for that matter, and that’s who’d likely get a kick out of these guys. Their bodies are knit all in one piece. One seam. Sew on the lips. Done. No fiddly little bits to deal with.

These slugs tend to fall on their faces and take a bit of a nap unless you weigh down their tail ends with something. I broke down and bought a small bag of polybeads to bolster this trio. The beads worked well. Except for the part where static electricity took over and stuck them in all the wrong places as I stuffed them into the tails. I was picking up beads from the floor, the table, and even my shirt for a few days.

I gifted this trio of slugs to a trio of sisters, my nieces. They were delighted. My nieces that is. Maybe the slugs were delighted too I suppose.

Next up. Another Annita Wilschut Olivier. Knit in worsted weight this is a large pup.

I’ve knit Olivier twice before, check them out here and here. He was basically a scrap yarn pup in my first knit and turned out super cute even though not all his limbs ended up precisely the same size. Knitted critters can be quite forgiving of that. So can children. The next time I knit him in super colorful Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride worsted. It’s a great look.

This time I used Jamieson’s Shetland Heather, an Aran-weight. A good friend gifted me six 50-gram balls. Olivier consumed just over 200 grams,

His color scheme worked out really well. He’s been gifted to an adult and she couldn’t be happier with him.

The goofy little tail is probably my favorite body part.

There’s finally been a few sunny days here in southwest Michigan. Thirty one days in January and the sun shone on only one of them! Sunshine makes a knitter think spring. So do Claire Garland’s Sitting Hares. I knit mine in DK Schachenmayr Merino Extra-fine 120.

Sitting Hare is an easy garter stitch knit. Just a touch of short row shaping give them a subtle hare-like gesture. A quick fun knit.

How about one more look at that slug trio?

Some knitters knit these slugs by the basketfuls. I may need to knit a great big glob of them in a bunch of sizes. Changing the weight of the yarn and the needle size would do it. Maybe I’ll even knit a few slime paths to trail behind them. Such silliness. Critters definitely bring out that goofy inner child in a knitter.