Olivier

Only a little bit ago I was, well, little bits. Now I am Olivier as designed by Annita Wilschutt. She-who-will-not-be-named says I used to be Dream in Color Calm, Dream in Color Classy, Kelbourne Germantown, Classic Elite Tapestry, Classic Elite Legend, The Fibre Company Cumbria, Swans Island Nature Colors Worsted, and a few other amnesiac balls of something-or-other. Pre-Olivier, I was a bunch of leftover balls of yarn.

Being a bunch of leftovers taking up space in a too-full closet is not a happy situation in this house. She’s listened to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up audiobook. She’s even watched Kondo’s Netflix series. The leftover balls watched with interest while she folded her underwear in odd little packets and put them in new little fake bamboo plastic baskets. They muttered to themselves while she undid all those potato-sized balls of her store-bought socks. She tried to fold her T-Shirts into neat packages to stand them on their end. But her T-Shirts wouldn’t cooperate. That gave all the balls a good belly laugh. They stopped laughing after she listened to Margareta Magnusson read her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death-Cleaning. When she started culling knitting books from her shelf, the balls knew this was getting serious.

Oh, here’s the back of me. Everyone comments that they like my tail.

You can see that the oddballs’ fears were unfounded. She didn’t dump them in the wastebasket. She didn’t bundle them into a fresh ziplock bag and donate them. She didn’t even ask her knit buddies if somebody wanted some leftover balls. Instead, she spread out a 2-gallon size zip-lock bag of worsted leftovers and started sorting through them.

The balls found themselves rearranged because, at first, she was looking for the tons of Classic Elite Tapestry she must have thought she had. There were 3-4 balls left, but not near enough. What the balls understood, from her mutterings, was that she was trying to find all the same yarn so I wouldn’t turn out kind of lopsided. Something about trying to keep to the same gauge, I think. She settled for finding the same yarn for most of the paired body parts.

In the end, she seemed to settle on working out colors that she thought would look right together. I told her I was proud of her because it worked out well. She can use some encouraging because she feels that her color sense isn’t always on-target. One of my legs is a little fatter than the other. But that’s true of her legs too.

This is my ballerina pose.

Here’s me trying to look up at her pleadingly. I probably knew then what always comes next when she writes these stories.

Every piece of me is knitted onto another piece of me. She didn’t have to sew me together. She just left a hole on the seam of my butt and stuffed me through that. It is a painful to remember this phase of me.

It, well, it sort of makes a body think. What was. What will be. What is.

I’ve been sleeping in Isaac’s bed lately. This is-part? It’s the best!

A Bunny Named Quwi

Once upon a time, three balls of Adrialfil Knitcol, a DK weight yarn, were sitting in a yarn shop. They were in a bin, on a wall of bins, surrounded by their brother Knitcols. They were a diverse bunch of what their maker calls “user friendly jacquard.” There were rainbow balls, pastel balls, autumnal shaded balls. All sorts of balls that, once knit, would clearly be seriously wonderful.

To get to their bin, a visitor first enters at the bakery door. You read right. The bakery door. There are many many non-yarn distractions to be resisted. Breads. Doughnuts. Ice Cream. Cookies. Not just any old cookies either. Coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate. Ginger cookies with raspberry filling. Dare I repeat? Ginger cookies with raspberry filling. Sigh.

After the bakery, comes the little restaurant. It will feed you great soup. Excellent sandwiches. Good coffee. They won’t even mind if you sit down and just eat a ginger cookie with raspberry filling. Or two.

Go to the end of the restaurant counter. One step up. Jog to the right. And the Dutch Oven Bakery turns into the Dutch Oven Yarn Shop. For more than 40 years this unlikely combo has worked well.

Oh. Here’s a sample of those Knitcols I was writing about before I got distracted with thoughts of ginger cookies with raspberry filling.

These three balls traveled home with me. There’s even a little raspberry color in the balls.

The balls probably pined for their brothers. Maybe they pined more for the wonderful non-sheepy smells that wafted into the yarn shop from the bakery and restaurant. Maybe they missed hearing June say “hello, can I help you?” Instead of a nice airy bin, they were confined in a moth-attack-proof blue plastic-covered bin. Instead of other friendly Knitcols, they rubbed elbows with other DK weight yarns, including a few snooty ones like Brooklyn Tweed Arbor and HiKoo Sueno. Especially the Arbor groused about having to share space with the ready-to-use Knitcol balls. I told the Arbor to pipe down and reminded them that I bought them from the sale basket and I’d paid full price for Knitcol. The Arbor and Sueno created enough of a racket that I knitted most of them into hats and doll clothes. I told the Knitcols they must be patient and I’d get to them when a project worthy of their specialness presented.

And then came Annita Wilschutt’s Bunny Named Quwi. The lead photo on this post shows off his cute face, long ears, belly button, and how well Knitcol works in this pattern.

Quwi is about 20 inches from head to toe.

I just let the yarn do the work.

Here’s Quwi from the back, showing off his butt and bunny tail.

Here’s Quwi flopped over, resting, hiding under his ears. As with all bunnies, Quwi believes that if he can’t see you that means you can’t see him.

Here’s Quwi, knitted but unstuffed.

Quwi begged me not to post the photo of him skinned with no insides. I told him to buck up because you might like to see how he was constructed and how there was no sewing at all. Each piece of Quwi is knitted on as you work, from head to toe.

Quwi, apparently in a pensive mood.

Maybe I should have been more sensitive to Quwi’s feelings about that last photo. It’s been quite a journey from those balls in a bin to what he is today.

Every little bit counts

My 2019 resolution was to try hard to knit all usable quantities of a colorway before I proceed to a new yarn for a new project. Kind of “finish your peas before you eat dessert” thing. Well, except that Schoppel-Woole Zauberball and Cascade Yarns Superwash Sport are hardly the peas of the yarn world. Apologies, to you pea lovers, but peas taste terrible and I bet somewhere deep down you know that too.

So, first I used a smidge of the Daffodil colorway to knit my Annita Wilschut Vera bear a rain hat.

Perfect. That was in the summer of 2014.

My Daffodil languished. Next, in the fall of 2018 I knit Wolkig in my black/gray/white Zauberball.

I broke into the  Daffodil for the cuffs of my adult moc-o-socs.

Such a great pattern by Rebekah Berkompas.

Then, with most of the leftover Zauberball and a dainty amount of the Cascade 220 sport Daffodil, I knit Justyna Losorska’s freebie beanie, Fasolka. I followed her instructions exactly, except that I went my own way on the color combination.

I see this sportweight hat as a great success. It even has an excellent crown, with no hint of the dreaded pointy beanie syndrome.

The Zauberball colorway worked out so excellently, I will be indulgent and give you another view.

What next to knit. I’d been eager to give Cecelia Compochiaro’s “sequence” knitting a try. My first attempt was her Swirl Hat, using her spiral sequence method.

If case you haven’t heard about or tried sequence knitting yet, let me intrigue you. All the patterning on this hat repeats the same 10-stitch sequence. Yep, the diagonal slices, separated by a few rows of stockinette, are several rounds of the same sequence worked over and over again, ignoring the end-of-round marker. The shift in the direction of the slice happens magically (or so it seems to me) by a minor adjustment to the number of stitches in the round that happens in the stockinette section.

There was even enough Zauberball left for a right-sized pompom.

My Cascade 220 superwash sport hadn’t run out yet, so I couldn’t quit on it. This next hat is Susan Villas Lewis’s Vitruvian Man.

The Vitruvian Man, at least the one who isn’t a hat, is DaVinci’s drawing of a man stretched out in a circle, with his arms stuffed into the top of a square and his legs stuffed in the bottom of a circle. You know, this guy:

It’s a fun motif to knit. The entire hat is very cleverly designed.

Check out the great crown.

I have a big gumball sized ball of Zauberball left. And what’s left of my Cascade 220 sport isn’t quite a golf-ball sized ball. Every useful bit is used up.

Jutta

Meet Jutta. She’s another amazing knitted creation by Dutch toy-designer Annita Wilschut.

Jutta’s skin is knit in a discontinued Cascade Yarn Aran-weight: Longwood. I searched for a good long while for just the right shade of pinky beige skin that I had in mind. A friend of mine spotted one lone ball of Longwood “Dew” hiding out in a sale bin. Perfect!

Jutta’s overalls are knit in “medium weight” Socks That Rock, a Blue Moon Fiber Arts, special colorway:”Doodle Doodle Honey Cocka Valkyrie Fledge.” I know, you’re thinking I made that up. I didn’t. But it is great yarn despite its name. I am very proud of myself for deciding to use it–especially the contrasting colorway that gave Jutta’s hair such a distinctive look. Medium weight is basically a DK.

Here’s Jutta from behind.

The I-cord hair is fiddly to knit, for sure. But Wilschut’s very detailed and clear pattern teaches a way to knit multiple I-cords at the same time. I won’t spill the beans. But it’s very ingenious. After a bit I was knitting eight strands at a time.

Speaking of Jutta’s behind.

You can see that the detail is quite extraordinary. Butt, hands, elbows, knees, heels. Even a belly button.

Look close–the belly button is subtle, and knitted in, not sewn on top.

One distinctive feature of Wilschut’s designs is that there are no parts to sew together. They are knit in the round. Off the needles. Stuff. No hours and hours of sewing, as with so many toy patterns. The only sewing you’ll need is to attach ears to some of the critters and to sew up the stuffing seams.

Here’s a few photos of Jutta unstuffed.

The pattern even provides detailed eye and mouth placement. That is extremely helpful to the sewing and embroidery impaired among us. I’ve not used safety eyes before, but I decided to give that a try with Jutta. I am quite satisfied.

Here’s Jutta’s skin from the back view.

Even the placement of the I-cord hair is controlled by the designer. You knit what’s basically Jutta’s scalp in the hair color. And you place an I-cord strand on each garter stitch bump. So clever!

I’ve made Joris the dragon, Jacobus the boy monkey, Saar the girl monkey, Vera the bear, and Karel the bunny. And some of these stuffed buddies I’ve knit more than once. With each new knit I’m impressed all over again with this designer. If you decide to try one of her patterns, you’ll not be disappointed. And I’m pretty sure that my soon-to-be-two year old granddaughter won’t be disappointed with Jutta.

Cam’s Jacobus

jacobus_guitar

Yep, another Jacobus. This time it’s for a young neighbor of mine who tells me monkeys are just about his favorite animal. You’ve met my Jacobi before, actually Jacobus and his buddy Saar. They are the best knitted monkeys out there, and I’ve knit some cute ones before this. Jacobus is the creation of Annita Wilschut, the very talented Dutch designer who specializes in stuffies, like Vera the bear, Karel the bunny, and Joris the…the…dragon (I think).

Jacobus is knit all in one piece. No seaming. None. For those of you who are used to knitting Alan Dart or Debbie Bliss toy patterns (which are also cute as bugs’ ears), you are used to ending your knitting and bracing for a sewing session that takes just as long as the knitting. Not with a Wilschut pattern. Off the needles. Stuff the creature. Finished. OK, Jacobus’s overalls need just a bit of seaming–but it’s easy peasy.

cam_jacobus

cam_jacobus_back

Jacobus is sitting next to me begging me not to put him on the internet without his overalls. But I do want you to see him in his skin, so here goes.

Jacobus_2balls

jacobus_side

By the way, Jacobus is knit in Ella Rae Cozy Soft, a DK 75% acrylic, 25% wool mix. I’m afraid I have nothing good to say about working with this yarn. The colors are quite nice. That’s the best I can say.