The Round Hen pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop and on Ravelry. The pattern will also appear in the ebook “Around the Barnyard” along with a pattern for baby chicks. The ebook is due to be published in November 2011.
Here are some hints and tips to help you get the best from your pattern.
A Note on Gauge
When I knit toys I always use needles that are one or two sizes smaller than recommended for the yarn. You don’t have to get the gauge exactly right, but you can check it by holding your garter stitch fabric up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.
I’m still using Berrocco Vintage for all my Worsted weight needs, because it’s so soft and so washable. I also like Cascade 220 for a more naturally woolly feel.
More About Short Row Shaping
The Hen pattern uses a technique called short row shaping. A short row is made when you turn your knitting before the end of a row. This means that some sections of your work will have more rows than others. The sections with more rows will arch, creating a three-dimensional shape. Each time you turn your knitting before the end of a row you create a loop of yarn under a stitch and a small hole in the fabric. So, when you knit back over a stitch that has a loop under it, you must knit into the loop at the same time as the stitch above it to close the hole. There’s a special blog post on how to close the holes and get a smoother finish just here.
Pick Up Stitches Along the Edge of Garter Stitch Fabric
Just as with any stitch pick up, the needle is poked through one of the holes in the knitting, then the yarn is looped around the needle and pulled back through the hole. I always pick up stitches through the second hole from the edge, as seen in the photo below.
Order of Construction
I’ve found that the trick to getting a well finished Hen is to sew the wings on first. Position a wing with the bind off edge horizontal against the Hen’s body and the tip of the wing pointing toward the back seam. You may find that it helps to pin the wings in place so that they’re symmetrical Sew the beak on next, the beak is positioned low on the head, with the bottom edge almost touching the Hen’s body. Finally add the comb, sew the comb from front to back, otherwise your Hen’s comb may come too far forward.
To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the Hen’s body, use the weaving stitch. Lay one piece of garter stitch fabric above another. Notice that each row has linked upper and lower loops. Sew through the upper loops on the bottom piece and the lower loops on the top piece, as shown below. You are creating sewn stitches over existing loops.
The tension of your sewing needs to be just right, neither too tight nor too loose. As you practice this stitch it becomes easier to judge the tension and make an invisible seam.
Use a running stitch to sew the comb, beak and wings to the Hen. For the beak, make each sewn stitch the same length as the width of a knitted stitch. 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 Hen is being knitted for a child.
French Knots for Eyes
The Hen’s eyes are made using embroidered French knots, purlbee has a great tutorial about how to make French knots.