My first pattern is now for sale on Etsy here:
I’m very excited about it. It’s a pretty easy knit, but I want to help other knitters to make good spiders so I’m publishing some hints and tips here which I hope will make it even easier.
How to Close the Holes
The Spiders are made using a technique called Short Row Shaping. This involves turning the knitting around before you’ve knitted to the end of the row, so making the knitted fabric 3 dimensional. However, when you turn the knitting, you leave a small hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish on your fabric just here
If you don’t use big wool and small needles your spider will look sad and floppy and his legs won’t look so robust either. When knitting toys I always use needles that are a mm size smaller than that recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right but at least knit up some garter stitch using smaller than usual needles, until you get a fabric that you can only see pinpricks of light through.
All knitted fabric has a “right” side and a “wrong” side, even garter stitch, which looks pretty much the same on both sides. When you start the first row of your knitting the right side of the work is facing you. Take a note of where your cast on tail is (it will be on the right if you use “double cast on” or the left if you use “single cast” on or “cable cast on”). That cast on tail will then tell you which is the right side of the spider body. Obviously the right side should go on the outside.
When sewing through the side loops to close the top and bottom of the spider body, go round twice, it will help you to pull the hole closed.
When sewing up the back seam of the spider, there is no set way to knit the top and bottom of garter stitch fabric, at least not one I can find. So here’s what I use. The basic method involves weaving the yarn in and out so that it goes directly over the existing stitches in the knitting. Here’s a diagram:
The important thing to remember when using this method is not to pull the yarn tight as this will just make a nasty mess. It’s a delicately balanced operation, but simple with practice.
M1 is a method of increasing which doesn’t show any sign of the increase on the right side of the fabric. It’s important to use this increase (even though you need to do a TBL) so that your spider’s feet come out smoothly.
Firstly here’s what the experts say about the M1:
http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/increases This excellent video resource shows how to do the M1 increase, they call it M1L or Make 1 Left.
http://wikiknitting.com/wiki/Make_One has useful step by step photos
Here’s my description of how to make a M1 increase.
When you gently pull apart two needles with knitted fabric between them, there is what looks like a ladder rung between the two stitches. Take the point of the left needle and put it under this rung from front to back. Then knit into the back of this stitch, slip the right needle under the left needle and up through the back loop, then bring the yarn from the back, between the needles and knit the stitch.
Don’t panic if you find this difficult to do. The TBL or Through the Back Loop is supposed to be the hardest stitch to do. So once you’ve learned to do it you can feel pretty good about yourself.
How to decide where to put the spider legs
The most successful method I’ve found yet has been marking where the legs should go with loops of a contrasting color yarn. Here’s a photo of it.
I chose to make the eyes from felt to avoid complications with using metal or plastic fixtures which need to be tested and proven child safe under the CPSIA legislation. However, you could use anything. Embroidery, safety eyes or buttons would all make excellent eyes. In order to get the round shapes I cut from the felt I make a template by drawing around buttons of the correct size and then cutting out the felt according to the template.
If you have any other questions or comments, please send me a message here or through etsy and I will answer your knitting questions as best I can. Good luck!