Now here's something I'm proud of. This is the present I knitted for my friend Kaisu's new baby. She has more than enough clothes and blankets - it's impossible to stop people giving you things when you're pregnant - so it seemed to me that a companion would be much better. The proper time to give it to the baby is when it and the baby are more or less the same size. And the proper kind for a Finnish baby was obviously a Moomin.
As far as I know, the Moomin publishing company (whoever they are) haven't got a knitting pattern for a Moomin and I probably wouldn't have wanted to follow it even if they had. But it is well-known what they look like, and once you know how to increase, decrease, do short rows, and graft, you can knit any shape you like. I don't suppose the publisher will mind that I've made just one Moomin but I think it would be rude to publish full instructions. They do sell Moomins made out of fur fabric, but I don't really like them. they don't seem alive. And the whole point was to knit something.
It was made on 4.5mm needles with Cygnet Superwash double knitting wool. The general algorithm was like this:
- I started at the top of the head by casting on a circle of stitches on four needles. But provisionally, using a crochet chain.
- I increased symmetrically at each side for a while until I was where the hinge of the jaw should be.
- I divided the stitches, two thirds for the body and one third for the face, and knitted the face first. I put the body stitches on a holder. Using a provisional cast on, I cast on enough stitches to go across under the chin, and knitted a tube without increasing to where the chin should start to curve; then I did two sets of short rows on the underside, separated by a couple of centimetres, like two darts that go right across the bottom half of the jaw, to make the fat chin. Then I decreased as though I was making the toe of a sock, grafted the end of the nose together, and fastened off.
- Now I went back to the stitches on the holder and picked them up, and the under-the-chin stitches, to make a second tube. I knitted the body, increasing symmetrically at two points on either side of the belly for about the first third. Then I knitted the second third straight, and for the last third decreased symmetrically at six points until I ran out of stitches, and fastened off. Like making a hat.
- I stuffed it quite firmly from the top (remember the top of the head is still an open circle), pulled out the crochet chain and grafted the top of the head together.
- Next I knitted the arms and legs seperately, stuffed them, and sewed them on using their long ends and taking the opportunity to reinforce the sides of the head, where the stitches are under a bit of strain. The arms are just tubes with sock toes. The legs have little heels as well, but not proper sock heels, just a few short rows to make the feet curl around. I placed them so that the Moomin could sit down comfortably with its little feet just sticking out.
- The tail is a long I-cord with some tassells knotted into the end (very carefully - I don't want the baby to pull them out and choke on them). I sewed it on invisibly using fake grafting.
- Now I knitted two little triangles and sewed them on to the top of the head for ears, using fake grafting again so that they seem to grow out of the head. The purl side is at the front. The seam for each is slightly crescent-shaped, with the hollow side at the front, so that the ears sit up nicely.
- I embroidered the washing instructions under the tail in black. I just took them off the ball band - machine wash at 40C. The stuffing is washable too.
- Last of all, I embroidered the eyes. This has to be last because it makes it live. Then I put him in a box and posted him home.