Saturday, 16 August 2008

Fair Isle Tiger

FrontThis is another present for a baby. I am at the age where my friends and colleagues are going into production. There are two more babies on the way already, and I don't know what I'm going to do about them.

For this baby, I thought I would do a tiger. It has to be black and yellow, but I didn't want to do anything too complex with the shape. Fair Isle patterns seemed right for a tiger's wavy, irregular camouflage stripes. I got the particular patterns used here from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Opinionated Knitter - some are her own, some traditional. I work Fair Isle in the same way she did, with one colour in each hand. I don't do it very often, so I had a false start and had to unravel; but once you get into the rhythm it's not at all difficult, and not much slower than plain knitting. It looks very impressive, though.

Pre-assemblyI made the body first. You can see the provisional cast-on in green in the pre-assembly picture on the right. Each end is closed with hexagonal decreases. When making animals, I always cast on 60 and work in the round. It gives a tube of reasonable size, and has lots of factors, which is useful for placing increases and decreases, and very handy for Fair Isle. Here, I used patterns repeating over ten, six, and two. For each leg I cast on 24 and used patterns over six and eight. For the tail, I cast on sixteen, and used the same pattern over eight. All appendages end with sock toes.

faceI did the Moomin on four needles, but nowadays I use the Magic Loop method. This doesn't work for every shape, but it's perfectly OK for anything more or less symmetrical - which animals notoriously are - and it doesn't matter what size the tube is, which is nice for all the fiddly limbs. I also find it significantly faster than working on four needles. Magic Loop naturally divides the knitting into two equal parts, and for the Frog, it was very convenient for one half to be its back and the other its belly. For the tiger, I put the end of the round, where the patterns jog, down the centre of its belly.

I made four legs and a tail seperately, stuffed and closed each individually, then sewed them on with what Debbie Stoller calls fake grafting. The last step was to embroider a face. Except that I suddenly noticed he had no ears. To make ears, I cast on 9 and decreased by two in each knit row till there was nothing left; I sewed them on with a bit of a curve to make them perk up.

This particular tiger has a long voyage to make. This week, he is to be posted to Mumbai.


Anonymous said...


Great expression on the face. Not sure if friendly or sizing up baby for dinner.

tangobaby said...

Oh my god that is cute! And how nice that you are sending tigers back to India! I love it.

You are so talented.

miss tango said...

OMG! I want one! Damn cute!