The Tiny Santa and Christmas Fairy pattern is finally finished and is available in the Natty Knits Etsy shop, on Ravelry and as part of the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program. Instructions for both Santa and the Fairy are included in the same pattern. These little figures are only 3″ tall and intended to be used as tree decorations, although you could easily make them without the loops and use them as stocking stuffers.
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 knitting a garter stitch swatch and holding it up to the light. If the gauge is tight enough you should only see pinpricks of light through your knitting.
An acrylic baby dk works very well for this pattern. I suggest either Berrocco Comfort Baby or Sirdar Snuggly because they come in lots of great colors. Try to avoid using a wool yarn, it will lack stitch definition and make it harder to knit. I have knitted a fairy in a nylon fingering weight yarn with 2.5mm needles, it worked well, although it was very fiddly. I have also knitted both Santa and the Fairy in Knit Picks Shine Sport, a lovely cotton blend yarn with a delicate sheen. The photo below shows the fairy knitted in Vanna Glamour fingering weight yarn on the left and Knit Picks Shine Sport on the right.
More About Short Row Shaping
This 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 repeats in the To Knit Body section are repeats of the first set of instructions, but with added stitch markers. Repeat 1, will actually be the second time you knit rows 1-6.
Pick Up Stitches
The Santa and Fairy pattern contains a lot of instructions to pick up stitches. As with any stitch pick up, the needle is pushed from front to back through one of the holes in the knitting, then the yarn is looped around the needle and pulled back through the hole. If you’ve never picked up stitches through the center of fabric before, take a look at this tutorial.
How to PM Between Stitches
In this pattern, markers are placed to show where to pick up stitches for the arms and legs. The markers go between stitches and they stay static in the knitting. When you place a marker it looks like this:
I always prefer to use a scrap of yarn as a marker because it won’t pull the knitting out of shape and it’s easy to remove. You can find more information about static stitch markers here.
Three Needle Join
I love an interesting new technique and I love to put these in my patterns. The three needle join is a great idea and it saves on sewing. Here’s a full tutorial for the three needle join.
There is only one seam in this pattern, however it is a tricky seam. The seam begins with the weaving stitch for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of garter stitch. Then it switches to fake grafting for sewing together the cast on and bind off edges of stockinette stitch. Here’s how to use both techniques:
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.
To seam the cast on and bind off edges of the back of the body, use fake grafting. Lay one stockinette stitch piece above the other. Notice how each stitch forms a V shape. You make the seam by sewing Vs between the top and bottom pieces.
Sew from back to front through the middle of a V in the bottom piece. Then sew behind both arms of the corresponding V in the top piece and then from front to back into the original V.
Pull the yarn gently until your two stitches form a sewn V that matches the size of the knitted Vs.
There is very little space to be creative with facial features. I’ve found that the best way to make the features is to keep it simple and use half a knitted stitch width for each sewn stitch (as shown below). Some knitters prefer to sew on features before they close the top of the head, although I prefer to close the head first, so I can make sure everything is symmetrical.
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.