The Big Crow pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop and on Ravelry.
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 used Bernat Satin for the Crow in the photos. It’s a 100% acrylic yarn with a slight shine to it. Cascade Pima Tencel (or many other cotton mix yarns) would give a similar dark shiny black look.
More About Short Row Shaping
The Big Crow 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.
The underside of the Crow is made by sewing through gathered end loops. If you are a tight knitter or you are using a thicker yarn, you may find it easier to pick up alternate loops. When you pull to gather, the loops you didn’t pick up will not be visible.
To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the Big Crow’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 beak and wings to the Crow. 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 Big Crow is being knitted for a child.
I used quarter inch black beads for the eyes, you could also use safety eyes. However, if your Big Crow is for a small child it’s best to avoid using anything that might be a choking hazard. You can cut small black felt circles and sew them to the crow, then embroider white flashes in them.
A Sort of Parrot
I was interested to see how this toy looks in other colors. So I tried to knit a parrot. I attempted to get the same coloring as a scarlet and gold Macaw, but I think the results are a little strange. The beak is exactly the same pattern as the Crow, just flattened out before it was sewn on. If you make any experimental parrots and have more success than I did, please come over to the Natty Knits Facebook Page and tell us about it.