Recently in Otto Category

Pattern: Elijah, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby
Needles: US 2.5 (3 mm)

I have finished the sweetest little elephant.  And he definitely has kid appeal, because the second I finished seaming the second ear, Ms. Z wanted to make him her own. 

By now, I'm getting pretty accomplished with French knots -- and I almost feel good about how mine look.  In the past, I've considered French knots to be my embroidery nemesis.  I think I will be less concerned about them in the future. 

Elijah, like Sophie and Otto, comes from a well written pattern.  The only tricky bit,  in my opinion, is picking up the stitches for the ears since there are no easy to follow guide stitches.  My Elijah's ears are a bit off-center from each other, but I don't think the average toddler would notice, and I like to think it gives him a little extra charm.

Of the three patterns, I would rate the difficulty (from easiest to hardest) as Sophie, Elijah and Otto.  Most of the difficulty has little to do with the knitting, and all to do with proper stuffing and the embroidery.  That said, all of them are very approachable and knit up relatively quickly if you need a present for a special child in a hurry.

20091022_ElijahOtto&Sophie.jpg Here are my trio of toys enjoying a brief respite from the rain on my deck this afternoon.  Soon they will be making their journey to Madison, WI where they will be keeping company with a sweet, tiny new person.  What more could a toy ask for?

I'm pretty sure that I have enough yarn left to make at least one of these toys for Z.  I've been thinking about doing Sophie in some kind of patchwork manner (I don't have enough of one color left to make a whole toy), but have to think about how to do it so that it comes out cute and not just rag-bag looking.


Pattern: Otto, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby DK
Needles: 3mm (US 2.5)

Otto is finished -- I am now two toys down and one to go... this gift is definitely going to be late, as the baby they are destined for decided to put in an early appearance. 

After knitting the body and limbs, I went back and shortened the nose up a bit (I took out the last three straight knitting rounds and just left the decreasing rounds.  I also did shift the stuffing around to round things out a bit more.   That made a great deal of difference.  Unfortunately, I didn't get quite as much stuffing in there as I thought, and my embroidery skills are still a bit lacking, so his nose did not really the way I would like it to be.   I think I really do best when I avoid needlework on knitting projects.  Lucky for me that Elijah only has French knot eyes to worry about!

But even with his slightly less than perfect nose, I think he now looks more like a polar bear than a strange, mutant polar anteater. 

I under-stuffed him just a little bit to make him an easier grab for little hands.  Also, the legs are joined to the body differently than Sophie's were, and if I'd stuffed them a lot, sitting would have been hard for my Otto.  I think if I were to make Otto again, I might close the bottom of the toy the same way Sophie was closed and attach the legs in that manner, too, as I prefer the look of that and it would prevent Otto from having those little wrinkles around his middle.  And what self-respecting polar bear wants love handles?

As with Sophie, this pattern was very well written and easy to follow.  I do like that she took the time to link to references for things such as the cast on for the head and the French knots (which I always forget how to do), and her images make picking up stitches for the limbs a good deal easier than if she just provided text and left it up to my imagination.

I think Thursday will be casting on day for Elijah -- and I'm looking forward to it. Which surprises me a bit, since every other time I've worked on toy projects I get tired of the fiddly bits and just want them to be over. 

Otto Begins

Much is in progress now, little is finished.  Otto came with me to Marble Falls, and I had hopes of getting a little farther.  I got bogged down on the head shape.  In Ysolda's lovely picture, Otto has a fine rounded snout.  In my version, he looks a bit like one of his parents might be some kind of large, beaky bird (which is why the yarn tail is still hanging down from the side of his head instead of trimmed off... I suspect that I may take out a row or two in order to give him more security in his parentage). From what I can see in Ravelry, this is not a particularly unusual problem and a number of knitters have shortened his nose.  I didn't really knit any kind of gauge swatch for this, so some variation from the intended doesn't surprise me.

As with Sophie, the pattern for Otto is written well and has excellent illustrations of all the challenging bits.  Ysolda's patterns are definitely well worth her asking price -- she really goes the extra distance to make sure you have a high quality experience with her patterns, IMHO. 

Otto will definitely be on my "to do" list this weekend -- after all, I still have one more toy to get started!