A Note on Gauge
When knitting toys I always use needles that are a mm size smaller than 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’ve knitted this duck in a number of yarn combinations now. My favourite is Cascade 220 which I used for the Fully Woolly duck pictured below.
Of course if you’re knitting for a baby or younger child you should probably use a washable yarn, the yellow duck above was knitted with Knit Picks Swish DK.
But perhaps the most satisfying duck is one which uses up scraps of old yarn, like this mismatched mallard, made with Twilleys freedom wool (body), an unknown wool for the gray/white band, Lion Brand Wool-ease for the head and Classic Elite Renaissance for the beak. That’s quite a patchwork!
More About Closing the Holes
The Round Duck 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.
Why Sections and No Row Count?
The pattern for the Round Duck’s body is split into sections to make the pattern easier to follow and to give the knitter a good insight into the symmetrical construction. Each section is knitted one after the other without binding off.
I didn’t put a row count in the pattern because some knitters find that confusing. If you prefer a row count you could always print the pattern out and write the row numbers in.
Left Leaning Decrease
In the Round Duck 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. where I came to the conclusion that every knitter is different. 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.
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, in this pattern it’s that bulk which defines the end of the duck’s beak.
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 knittinghelp.com, scroll down to the bottom for the video of the 3 needle bind off.
Placing the Stitch Markers
As I say in the pattern, please use scraps of yarn as stitch markers for the Round Duck pattern. The markers are mostly marking where stitches will be picked up later in the construction, it’s best to try and avoid stretching this hole in the knitting.
It is quite unusual to mark your knitting between stitches, so here’s how you do it. Lay the scrap of yarn gently between the needles and knit the next stitch, being careful to hold back the ends of the scrap yarn so that it doesn’t get tangled up in making the stitch. when you’ve knitted to the end of the row, loosely tie the two ends of the scrap yarn together so that the marker doesn’t fall out.
Sewing the Back Seam
The seam between the back of the duck’s neck and the tip of its tail is sewn together using the garter stitch version of a mattress stitch. There is a very clear tutorial for how to do this on the Trampled by Geese blog, just here there’s also an excellent description in the Stitch n Bitch books by Debbie Stoller.
Sewing the Tail Seam
The seam between the tip of the tail and the bottom of the duck is sewn together with a weaving stitch, the photo appears in the pattern, but it can be a tricky method. Remember not to pull too tightly on the stitches and don’t worry if it doesn’t match up properly the first time, some of the stitches at the end of the row are often squashed together which makes it difficult to see where the needle goes next. I’ve written a blog post all about this weaving stitch and you can read that here.
Sewing the Beak On
The beak is sewn onto the Duck’s head using a simple running stitch. Make each stitch the same length as the width of a stitch on the beak. As shown below.
I often sew round the beak and then come back again so that there’s a line of stitching all the way around the beak. It also makes a more secure join, essential if your duck is being knitted for a child.
French Knots for Eyes
Those beady duck eyes are made using embroidered French Knots, this is a great tutorial for how to do these from purlbee.
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.