Starting new projects

I had to take a break from socks. Don’t get me wrong – I love adore knitting socks, but I’ve knit three pairs already in 2006 (well, 2 pairs, plus the single Meg Swansen sock = 2.5 pairs), and two more are currently on the needles.

Starting a new project is always very dangerous for me, especially if I feel I need to start something on the spur of the moment. You see, unlike many knitters, I typically do not keep a list of works in mind, and do not buy yarn corresponding to them in advance. Why? Because invariably what I pick to be the next must knit project today isn’t the favorite any more two weeks from now. What can I say? – I’m fickle. So, when the urge hits or when the moment is right to start something new, I like to give myself some time to think about the next project carefully. Usually doesn’t take long, and because I have other works in progress, I typically don’t sit idle as the new yarn is ordered and delivered.

What happens when I’m truly in a rush, and when I don’t have any works in progress to keep me occupied as the new project is formulated? “Brilliant” ideas like Azalea, also known as, what the hell was I thinking?!? By the way, I know some of you doubted my ability to say goodbye to that project. Well, say goodbye I did when I sold all the remaining yarn to another knitter – that’s as final as it gets ;).

As I contemplated taking a break from all these socks two days ago, I knew I didn’t have the time or mental energy to research and choose something substantial, like a sweater or a lace project.

Enter Mr. Stegs:

I’m Mr. Stegs, and I will eat all your Cheerios! Rrarrrr!

Perfect little distraction from socks, chosen on the spur of the moment without much thought, but I’m confident there will be no disaster with Mister Stegosaurus ;). I’m knitting him for a co-worker, for reasons that are much too scientifically involved to go into here.

Last night I picked up a skein of Tahki Cotton Classic from Woolcott* to knit him, and finished all the pieces while chatting with friends on the phone (good thing these friends are knitters, because they tolerated the occasional, “What the hell did I do here?” and “What does yfwd mean?”).

Here they are, drying on a beach towel in front of my window (yeah, I blocked them. Do you have a problem with that?). Only seaming and stuffing remains.

My friends, we need to talk about something. Why is it that knitted toys are so darn cute, but have so many pieces and ends to be woven in? You may finish the knitting in a few hours, but then end up spending the remainder of your lifetime putting the darned thing together. And I feel that this is the case for pretty much all knitted toys, no matter how cleverly and carefully constructed! Hopefully seaming Mr. Stegs will involve only time, and no cursing ;).

Last thought – I’m not sure how I feel about Mr. Stegs having a smile. Just doesn’t feel quite right (the recipient is a feisty 20-something). Rrarrr!

*Woolcott, by the way, has a new manager, and the changes were evident. For example, there were needles! In all different sizes! And there wasn’t yarn and unpacked boxes all over the floor! And things appeared to be tidy and organized! Sean, the new manager, seems to be doing a great job so far, and I’m just psyched to have a yarn shop in my backyard once again.


56 thoughts on “Starting new projects

  1. Sarah

    That’s officially the first knit dinosaur I’ve ever seen. Probably not a project I’d go for (the proportion of seaming to knitting is way too high for me), but definitely cute! And I vote for big, gnashing teeth rather than a smile.

  2. Carrie

    He is way cute. I have promptly added him to my list of Things To Knit For My Baby Son.

    Oh, and I had to tell you – I invoked your name at Knitpicks the other day. I figured out the email address of the VP of Marketing for Knit Picks and begged her to make a sock yarn following your specifications (and mine, which are the same). I then pointed her to your site, specifically mentioning that you are the designer of the famed Jaywalker socks. (Oooh, knitting name-dropping.) Anyway, she said she’d do some investigation, so keep your fingers crossed!

  3. Kris

    I saw these too and have been thinking they would be cute for my son, but was going to try them using the same pattern but doing it on larger needles (possibly double stranded) and felting it because there is no way a knitted toy will stand up to the abuse that my 3 year old will dish out.

  4. Tania

    I have become hooked on making bunnies myself, and am delighted that the one I’m making has only on large piece that you sorta tuck and sew, rather than having many with lots of seaming. Just have to add ears, and that’s not bad. But that stego is just darling!

  5. Megan

    Mr. Stegs is just too cute!

    I’m glad to hear that Woolcotts is under new management. That woman always rubbed me the wrong way so I’d avoid the shop altogether when I visited Cambridge. Now hopefully it will be a more welcoming place to shop.

  6. Ariel

    I was wondering what happened to Woolcott, after going in on Tuesday before knitting group. It was so neat and organized, and there were needles.

  7. sheree

    I made Mr. Stegs and Bronty for my 3 yr old and he loves them. And yes, you’re right: it takes longer to seam them than knit them. Especially Mr. Stegs because of the spine thing!

  8. maryse

    i don’t think mr. stego should have big gnashing teeth. stegosauruses (stegosaurii?) were herbivores and they had very little teeth. (the things i remember from my childhood)

    i love knitting and crocheting toys.

  9. The Feminist Mafia

    Thanks for the reminder of this pattern! I saved it months ago, and now my nearly 3 year old Little Man is talking about dinosaurs constantly. It’s perfect timing. Hooray.

  10. pixie

    sounds like you need to write an easy pattern, muhaha!

    Have you seen the book “World f knitted toys” or something like that, SUCH CUTE toys in it!

  11. anne

    Wow, I might have to give Woolcott another look. I gave them about three shots when I first moved to the area and I was consistently frustrated by the poor (and slow) customer service, the messy, disorganized shop and the claustrophobia of the clutter. But they did have good prices, so I’ll have to give them another go!

  12. Jessie

    I’ve made two adorable toys which don’t have a gazillion piece to sew together:

    1) Kate Gilbert’s Bunny

    2) Blue Sky Alpaca’s Baby Bobbie Bear

    They’re both a little more fiddly than socks or a simple sweater, but they are one piece construction!

    have fun with Bronty!

  13. Steph

    Very cute!

    I used to think toys were such a nice quick knit, but after making Knitty’s Bubby, well, that was it.

  14. Tope

    Hi Grumperina, I’m the one who recognized you (and acted like an ass) in Woolcott last night. I agree with you about the changes at Woolcott – I really like the new manager! Btw, I’m not a Woolcott employee, just a regular.

  15. Sarah

    I found this same dino site just yesterday. I am thinking a psychedelic triceratops in a varegated yarn will be just perfect.

  16. CatBookMom

    If you’d like a great toy with very few ends to weave in, you might check out Blue Sky Alpaca’s Bobbi Bear and the newer Baby Bobbi Bear. I made a reduced-size version of the original pattern (which was nearly 24in tall), using Jiffy yarn rather than the bulky BSA yarn the pattern called for. Hey, a $70 bear?? Not for me! I reduced simply by using a smaller needle with the smaller-gauge yarn, and pretty much worked the pattern as written otherwise; the smaller stitches at the same stitch count worked out just fine. The pattern has you picking up stitches here and there, and there were nearly no extra ends to weave in. I think mine was 10in or so as finished. I have a picture if you’d like to see it. It was rather fun to make, and I was a bit sorry to send it on to the child for whom I made it.

  17. Kat

    I’m with Beth S., “Woolcott got better?” I still won’t go there. I’d rather patronize the shops where I’ve never gotten attitude or lousy service. We’re lucky here in the metro-Boston area that we have so many choices for an LYS.

  18. omly

    when did the management change?

    Also did you hear about Yarnharlot adding a date to visit Porter Sqaure Bookstore on April 20th (4:30-6:30)? I got an email from Mind’s Eye Yarns about it, but haven’t seen official mention yet.

  19. Jackie

    That’s good news about Woolcott – I haven’t been in there since my first yarn purchase… I didn’t know anything about knitting, but I was really put off by the disorganization and crowded boxes stuffed everywhere.

    Maybe worth a visit again?

  20. Scout

    Oh I love him! My kids would totally love some knitted toys but they scare me. I need to get over it huh? I mean, I have a trillion patterns at my fingertips at the shop. *sigh*

  21. hellahelen

    Nice dino! Oh, and Emm, what a cute little one-seam bear! I’m visiting piles of friends with piles of small kids soon, and I was scouting around for quick, cute knitted toy patterns. Yours fits the bill.



  22. Andrea

    I think the same, I have all the knitted pieces for a bunny. It was going to be for my daugther’s bithday january 29, 2005… Yes! last year. I prefer to knit a whole new sweater than all that sewing and weave the ends. I see in the comments other options, I have to take a look.

  23. Katherine

    I think Mr. Stegs should have a mouth like this


    (only no spaces, of course)

    Or will that make him look sad?

  24. Jennifer

    I like Mr. Stegs very much! I think you should make a Mrs. Stegs too so he isn’t lonely.

    Good to know that Woolcott is better. I heard rumors was a bit of a shakeup there.

  25. Mary

    I loathe knitting toys – it’s not the knitting I hate, but the sewing up just seems disproportionate to the amount of fabric you’ve produced. That said, Mr Steg is sure to look great when he’s done.

  26. Johanna

    The finishing time on those dinos is amazingly fast. Some other knit toys are ridiculous on the finishing, but Jen did a great job with these… and yes, I do think it’s funny that you blocked the pieces!

  27. Jen the Knittingspaz

    Oh if only I were as fickle as you… then I wouldn’t have the out of control yarn stash that I have.

    When did Woolcott’s get a new manager? I went once 2 years ago and then just recently a few weeks ago. I don’t remember much from my first trip, but the most recent trip I still felt a bit claustrophobic in there. Must be the basement digs.

  28. marie in florida

    all those bits that have to be seemed are why i haven’t done the penguin off Knitty or the hippo in the first knitters magazine i bought a number of years ago. it’s so bad that i still have an origami bear half finished from six weeks ago, it’s only one more seem….geeze.

  29. marie in florida

    ps, yeah, you should take a stab at knitting a toy design for us. something that would build on itself, you know , pick up stitches instead of having seams ???

  30. TracyKM

    How’s the skirt sewing project going 😉

    I have knit a dinosaur. A huge sort of triceratop/stegasaurus from an Easy Knitting magazine. In red acrylic with Koigu for spots. But you don’t need to weave in ALL the ends. Some can be used for seaming, and the others, just use your darning needle and jab them into the stuffing. No one sees the inside, LOL!

    Also check out Jean Greenhowe pattern books if you want to go knitted toy crazy. She’s got a toy for any ocassion (including cavemen for the dinosaurs)!

  31. Fern

    I made Mr. Stegs for a 28yo guy as a Christmas present this year, with the smiling face complete. He requested another one with an ‘intoxicated’ face!

  32. Laura Neal

    He is going to be cute but, I think you need to do some felt teeth on him. You know cute little jags that you can sew on. That would make him really cute, you can also modify his mouth to be open. It takes some sewing and tucking and cursing but, it can be done. I knitted a duck for Maribeth and it turned out so well, she still packs him around to this day. He is her special duck. His duck mouth took me three tries, cursing and swearing to never do something like that again. Good luck on Mr. Stegs.


  33. ra

    I’m sorry I can’t help myself, I have to say it.

    If there weren’t so many ends to sew in they wouldn’t be “darned” things would they?

    I’ll get my coat…………

  34. Maritza

    How cute!

    By the way, did Woolcott finally do something about their lighting? That’s one of my pet peeves about the place, besides the fact that it’s always so disorganized. Glad to hear they’re finally tidying it up.

  35. Jenn

    I’m just getting ready to knit the whole dino set for my son as soon as I pick up some cotton yarn. I may actually have some milling about but have to check.

    Let me know how all that seaming goes!

  36. Sarah

    I just started a Mr Stegs today. He’ll be raspberry colored, which is slightly less than masculine. I’m thinking this might be a Miss Stegs.

  37. beth

    So many knitted toy patterns are done in flat pieces on two needles. It’s insane! Jess Hutch’s patterns (I’ve made her bunny and her Kate) are better, since the round parts are all done in the round. She still has you sew on the appendages, but they’re not so much work. I often prefer to pick up stitches on the body and work downward.

    If you’d like a no-sew stuffed animal, I made a sea anemone (see my blog link) that has no seams at all (but a bit of fringe for tentacles). My nautiloid could also be adapted to be seamless in the same way: instead of making the two pieces separately, start the second piece by picking up the stitches from the first piece.

    I made the cow from Debbie Bliss’s Toy Knits. The pieces were huge and took forever, and what I ended up with was a sewing project, not a knitting project! It came out really well though. I have to admit that flat pieces suited it really well. The same is NOT true of many other designs, such as the wombat from World of Knitted Toys. If you make that, just do it on dpn’s. It really wants to be seamless.

    Still, I love stuffed toys. There’s so much more variety in a zoo of stuffed animals than in a closet full of sweaters.

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