The Hedgehog Family pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop and on Ravelry. It will soon be part of the Knit Picks Independent Designers Program.
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 Knit Picks Swish DK in Lava Heather and White for the Hedgehogs in the photos. I think that Knit Picks Bare Swish DK would make a better natural color for the Hedgehog face and tummy, unfortunately it only comes in a huge 246 yard skein, so I can’t really make that a recommendation. I also knitted a hedgehog in Patons Wool Blend DK, because I liked the colors, although it’s less practical as a toy knitting yarn because it’s hand wash only and a bit scratchy.
Preferred Cast On Method
You can use any cast on method, but if you use a Long Tail cast on, then your cast on tail will be in the correct place to sew the underside of your Hedgehog.
Due to popular demand, there are some schematics for the Hedgehog’s body which show how to sew it together. You will find those here.
More About Short Row Shaping
The Hedgehog Family 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.
Sizes and Sections
This is the first Natty Knits pattern to have three sizes of toy in the same pattern. The large size is listed first, because I wanted the short row sections to have rows which began with numbers, not zeros. When you knit the spikes, knit all 14 rows for the large size, knit to and including row 12 for the medium size, and knit to and including row 10 for the small size. In section 5 this changes for the bind off, so keep your eyes open for that. The sections are knitted one after another, don’t bind off between sections.
Right Side of the Spikes
Technically, the right side of garter stitch fabric is the side on which you knit your first row (just like stockinette stitch). The Hedgehogs I’ve knitted have been sewn up with the wrong side of the garter stitch spikes facing outwards, because I think the increases and decreases look a little better that way. I would recommend that you look at your hedgehog spikes and decide which side you would like to be the outside.
Pick Up Stitches
The Hedgehog pattern contains a number of places where stitches are picked up through garter stitch fabric. 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. Pick up stitches through the second hole from the edge, as seen in the photo below, for a strong seam.
Please note that in the Hedgehog pattern, the number of available holes along the edge of the garter stitch does match the number of stitches to be picked up.
The Hedgehog arms are made by picking up stitches. This blog post contains full details of how to pick up stitches in the middle of a finished knitted piece. If you prefer, you could also knit the arms separately and sew them onto the body.
To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the underside of the 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.
Mattress Stitch for Sewing Together Stockinette Stitch and Garter Stitch
There is very little sewing in the Hedgehog pattern, just two short seams, however you will need to sew together the side of stockinette stitch and the top (or bottom) of garter stitch, as shown below.
Use the brown yarn to sew with, the same color as the spikes. Start at the bottom of the Hedgehog, then use the weaving stitch on the garter stitch piece and an ordinary mattress stitch on the stockinette stitch piece. There will be more “ladder” stitches on the stockinette stitch side than woven stitches on the garter stitch side, so skip a few of the stockinette stitches to get an even seam.
French Knots for Eyes
Those beady little eyes are made using embroidered French Knots, this is a great tutorial for how to do these from purlbee. Some knitters prefer to embroider the features after the toy is stuffed, because it’s easier to see where the embroidery should go. I always prefer to embroider features before the toy is sewn together, because I like to secure my sewing on the inside of the toy.