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.
I would recommend the knit picks cotton boucle for the Sheep body and their linen/cotton mix for the legs and face. I’ve also knitted the sheep in a beige superwash yarn, this made the legs seem a little larger and the body a little rounder.
More About Closing the Holes
The Round Sheep 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. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here.
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.
Picking Up Stitches at the Edge of Garter Stitch
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.
In the Round Sheep pattern, the abbreviation SSK stands for “slip two stitches knitwise and then knit them together through the back loop”. This is a Left Leaning Decrease. Please note that *ANY* left leaning decrease will do the same job. There’s an excellent selection of them on the Knitting Help website.
I spent a long time looking for a left leaning decrease I liked, I wrote about it here. I came to the conclusion that every knitter is different, so if you read to the bottom of the post on Left Leaning Decreases, you’ll see that I can’t knit a good ssk, I use a different method. And finally if a left leaning decrease fills you with fear and frustration, just do a K2tog, anyone who isn’t a knitter probably won’t even notice.
For the Underbelly Seam and the Bottom of the legs
The following way is an excellent method for sewing the top and bottom of garter stitch knitting, it leaves a nicely hidden seam. 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.
For the Head
Use Mattress stitch to make an invisible seam. There’s a great video of how to do this on the Knitting Help website. Scroll down to Finishing and watch the video for Mattress stitch. Use the yarn end from pulling through the last stitches to sew the head together.
For the Legs
Use Fake Grafting (sometimes called Faux Kitchener) to sew together the top and bottom of stockinette stitch.
Look carefully at where the leg changes from garter to stockinette stitch, with the garter stitch section on the right all sewn together using the weaving method described above, find the first v shaped stitch at the bottom right and sew through the middle of the v from back to front. Then sew behind the corresponding v on the top right from right to left (as shown below).
Now sew back into the first bottom v from front to back. You should have created a sewn v, a fake stitch to sit between the two ends. Repeat this for each v stitch working from right to left.
How you choose to give your sheep a face is up to you, I’ve used felt or buttons before, but you could also use embroidery. You could give your sheep a mouth too if you wanted.
When I cut eyes from felt I choose a button of the right size and make a stencil by drawing around the button and cutting it out of paper, that way the eyes are usually quite even.
If you have any questions or comments which are not covered either in the pattern or here, please contact me through the NattyKnits Etsy shop and I’ll do my best to help you.