Knitted Turkey – Hints and Tips


This Turkey pattern is the most complex I’ve written so far and I would recommend it for Advanced Intermediate knitters. However, if you’re a brave knitter of any level, these hints and tips should help you to navigate the pattern.

A Note on Gauge

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.

How to Close the Holes

The Turkey pattern uses 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. You will need to close the holes on the Turkey Body for this pattern to work. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here. You can close the holes on the tail or not, it won’t make a big difference.

Right Side and Wrong Side

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. Obviously the right side should go on the outside. The Turkey’s body will also have an obvious top and bottom, if you look at the photo below you will see that the shaping makes indentations in the fabric, these should be underneath the finished Turkey’s body.


How to Pick Up Stitches

For the Turkey pattern you will actually be picking up stitches both along a stockinette stitch edge and along a garter stitch edge. Picking up along the stockinette stitch edge is covered in this great tutorial from

Picking up stitches along a garter stitch edge is not often done, so I’ll explain it here. Just as with any stitch pick up the needle is pushed through one of the holes in the knitting, then the yarn is looped around the needle and pulled back through the hole. The hole in the garter stitch fabric is not the first one from the edge, but the second one, as seen in the photo below.


And here’s a final clarification. In the pattern I say “pick up and knit”. This phrasing confused me enormously when I first started reading patterns. It doesn’t mean that you should knit each stitch you pick up. It’s intended to make a distinction between making new stitches on the edge of a knitted piece (what’s happening here) and picking up dropped stitches. It’s also telling you that this row of new stitches will act as a knit row, when you start the stockinette stitch in the next row, you’ll be starting with a purl row.

“The Turkey Head Looks Weird!!”

Yes, it does look very strange until you knit all the way along, picking up 5 sts from each inside edge of the extra long bits you knitted on each side. The only advice I can give here is Don’t Panic. If  your work looks like the photo below, then you’re on the right track.


Through the Back Loop

Knitting a TBL or Through the Back Loop is supposed to be one of the most difficult stitches in knitting. But like all knitting it’s not so daunting when you get the hang of it. Put the right needle into the back part of the stitch from front to back and right to left, then knit it as you normally would. Here’s a photo of what that looks like:


Of course the tension in the stitch you are trying to TBL into is what makes this a difficult procedure. This is how I do it, I line the needles up point to point and push the right needle directly under the left needle and into the very bottom of the stitch, then I twist the right needle clockwise slightly and then I’m set for knitting a TBL.

The 3 Needle Bind Off

The 3 Needle Bind Off is a great way of making a secure and neat seam, it works very well as a seaming method for the shoulders for sweaters. Although it is bulky and creates a ridge, this ridge is actually part of the design on the turkey’s tail. It’s very simple to master.

Take the two needles with stitches on them and hold them next to one another in your left hand, knit together two stitches, one from each needle and then when you have two stitches on the right hand needle cast off as you would normally by leapfrogging the first stitch over the second.

Here’s a really clear video tutorial from, scroll down to the bottom for the video of the 3 needle bind off


When sewing through the side loops to close the bottom of the Turkey body, go round twice, it will help you to pull the hole closed.

When sewing up the back seam of the Turkey, 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:

sewing together

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.

As always, if you have any questions about the pattern, please feel free to contact me through the Natty Knits etsy shop or on where my username is natty-knits


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