Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Owls are the new Elephants

I used to collect elephants. I had a small obsession. They paraded across the mantlepiece, congregated in crowds on my bookshelves and infested my dressing table (mainly in jewelry form). It used to be a sort of tradition that my relatives would gift me elephants from their far-flung travels. I did this too. A certain small pink cross-eyed ceramic elephant reminds me of a trip to the Barossa Valley wineries with my family and future husband the year I finished school. However, I loathe dusting (Let's be honest here - I loathe housework in general) and so the elephant collection downsized to manageable proportions. The ones that survived the cull had to have a really memorable story attached.

When I was collecting elephant in the 90's, they were everywhere. They were literally the animal du jour for crafters everywhere. Any gallery, tourist trap, kitsch souvenir shop had a handmade elephant. It wasn't at all unusual to be an elephant collector (or all that difficult either).

I've decided that owls are the new elephants. Like an elephant you don't need to be anywhere near anatomically correct to portray an owl in craft. With an elephant, its all about the ears and the trunk and the basic body shape. For an owl, it comes down to the eyes, the beak and generally birdy shaped body.

Owls are everywhere in the craft-i-verse at the moment. I've blogged about owls before (See X is for Xmas Owls or Owlishly Warm). There are owl ornaments, owl toys and garments adorned with owls. 

So when one of my work colleagues had a baby recently, I gave into the urge and made a toy owl for him. (It is actually highly appropriate, his mother's area of research is Owls).

I didn't find anything that really grabbed me when I went pattern hunting. I knew what I wanted though. Something soft and squishy, washable and chewable, not too big for a baby to hang on to and rustic looking. So I thought, what the hell! I'll design my own. I found some scrap paper and sketched an owl to size. I haven't done a lot of designing but I understand the principles of gauge vs. finished size and find it relatively easy to crunch the mathematics to match my knitting to the shape of a paper pattern.
Here's the design sketch and the start of the body in progress.
Here's the owl in progress sitting on my lap as I work on a failed set of wings.
After all he's pretty easy. Here's My Recipe for a Cute Little Owl.
  • Two basic body pieces. These are made out of a solid tweedy cotton yarn for added chew factor and durability.
  • 4 circles for eyes (The outer eyes are crocheted and the black inner circles knitted).
  • A tummy patch
  • A shaped and stuffed sort of pointed cylindrical beak
  • and two oval shaped wings.
  • Garnish with button hole stitch in contrasting colors wherever possible for added cuteness.
Yarn: All DK weight (8 ply) from the stash. All natural fibres - cotton or wool or wool blend
Needles: 4mm
I did take notes whilst I was making this and expect to write this up as a (free) pattern just as soon as this mad marking and exams month is over. That just means I'll have to make another one or two to test the pattern!

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