Friday, July 9, 2010

Entrelac Sheep

This sheep is my second ever entrelac pattern. I saw this pattern in Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum by Sue Flanders and Janie Kosel, and immediately had a strong desire to cast-on.

Strange enough, the word that comes to mind when I look at this sheep is "authentic". Of course, it is not authentic as a representation of a sheep. (Some may claim that this looks more like a llama.) I think the "authentic" thought comes from this sheep as a craft item, artsy and folky. I'm not sure if this makes sense to anyone other than myself, but I was so happy making this sheep.

You start with a provisional cast-on because you eventually plan to pick up stitches around the entire bottom of the sheep. I used KnitPicks Wool of the Andes (that I had in my stash) in White and Onyx Heather on size 5 double pointed needles.

The base with a provisional cast-on (waste yarn in red).

I learned a lesson in the provincial cast-on previously: be careful not to twist the stitches when you knit the first round. If you twist the stitches then you cannot unravel the crochet easily. At that point you may as well just pick up stitches on the bottom of the stomach rectangle, too!

The stomach of the sheep, with all of the stitches picked up and ready to start making the first set of triangles.

I'm amazed with how quickly entrelac knitting goes. Projects become tedious when there is no real measure of progress. The pattern gave the total number of squares and triangles at the very beginning, so you knew EXACTLY how much of the project remained.

The body of the sheep is starting to take form!

When sewing squares together for rump and back, I picked up stitches and did a loose three needle bindoff. I'm not very talented (or maybe it's that I'm not patient enough) at sewing knitted pieces together in a way where you cannot see the seams.

I should also point out that it is CRITICAL to pay attention to which squares are #1 in the round, or the ones that you designate as head and rump. The pattern indicates where you need to mark your squares, but even with these markings I initially made the face opening on the side of the head.

Only squares and triangles... this takes you through the whole head and body up to the snout!

The body inside out. Using a three needle bindoff you can seam up the edges evenly, and it's hard to tell where you "seamed" versus knit.

The instructions in the book are EXCELLENT. I mentioned previously that you are told exactly which squares to mark, but the authors really make an effort to spell things out for you. I can only hope that people find the directions to my patterns as easy and pleasurable to follow.

Knitting the snout

I may have overstuffed the body a bit, but I wanted to make sure that this toy was firm. Since the MC of the sheep was white, you don't notice stuffing peaking through as much.

The stuffed body. It sort of looks like a sock with some mistakes.

I am usually amused by the parts of a pattern that annoy me. It's usually in the little finishing details. I knit up the whole body of this sheep very quickly, but it was harder to get the motivation to finish the legs. (And the legs are so cute, not just a simple tube.) Don't get me wrong, this pattern is fantastic, but the finishing of the small pieces was my least favorite part.

All of the pieces are done... now I just have to sew them together

Man was this project worth the effort. Sometimes you finish a toy and you are underwhelmed with the finished product compared to the picture in the book. This is a project where, although it may not be as perfect as the ones in the book, I feel very proud at the end.

8.5" tall (to the tip of the ears); 9" long (nose to rump); 3" wide