Russell the Carrot, your new best knitted friend

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My friend and coworker Stevi had a baby last winter, and I never got a chance, what with school and all, to make her new baby boy anything fun. However, as my summer draws to its close, this problem has been officially solved.

Meet Russell the Carrot. Russell is a fantastic orange friend who will add joy to your life. Not only is he good for your eyesight, but he is extra huggable and squishable, and has a smile for every occasion. Apparently, Stevi’s son is really into hugging, and he loves anything with a smiley face, so Russell should be right up his alley.

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I had the (rare) presence of mind to write all of Russell’s creation down as I was making him, so I am presenting his pattern here for all to enjoy. When I was searching for knitted and crocheted carrot patterns originally, I was a little discouraged to see how tiny they all were, because we were looking for something big enough and durable enough for lots of play. I think that Russell will fill that void nicely in the knitting world.

For his eyes, I went ahead and tried to do something similar that I did with Mr. Sedaris’s Owl, and came up with something that’s halfway between Heidi Kenney (Are you familiar? You should be.) and the Muppets. I feel like that’s a pretty good place to be.

Here we go. Want a clean and easily printable PDF? Just click here.

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Russell the Carrot
a knitted carrot friend

Yarn:
Peaches & Cream Cotton in color 1628 – bright orange (but any worsted-weight cotton will do)
small amounts of worsted-weight green and red yarn for carrot leaves and smiley face

Supplies:
US size 5 (3.75 mm) double-pointed needles (Gauge is not the most important thing in the world here, but you want to make sure that the resulting fabric is tight enough to not allow stuffing to poke through. I got about 6 sts per inch with this particular yarn and needle combination.)
Size F/5 (3.75 mm) crochet hook
tapestry or yarn needle
polyfill stuffing
scissors
white and black felt for eyes
sewing needle
sewing thread in black and white

Abbreviations & Definitions:
m1: Pick up the bar between the st just worked and the next st, and place it on the LH needle. Knit into the back of this loop to inc 1 st.

ssk: Slip the next 2 sts as if to knit. Insert the LH back into the front of these two sts and knit them together to dec 1 st.

k2tog: Insert the RH hand needle through the front of the next 2 sts as if to knit and knit the 2 sts together to dec 1 st.

For all crochet stitches and abbreviations? The internet is a much better resource than me for this, trust me. I am not so good at explaining those. Have fun with Google.

Carrot Body:
CO 3 sts. Keep these 3 sts on one double-pointed needle, and knit in I-cord for 2 rounds, pulling the yarn across the backs of the sts to close the resulting “tube.”

Divide the 3 sts onto 3 separate needles.

Round 1: *k1, m1* 3 times (6 sts)
Rounds 2-6: knit all sts
Round 7: *k1, m1, k1* 3 times (9 sts)
Rounds 8-12: knit all sts
Round 13: *k1, m1, k2* 3 times (12 sts)
Rounds 14-18: knit all sts
Round 19: *k1, m1, k3* 3 times (15 sts)
Rounds 20-24: knit all sts

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Round 25: *k1, m1, k3, m1, k1* 3 times (21 sts)
Rounds 26-30: knit all sts
Round 31: *k1, m1, k5, m1, k1* 3 times (27 sts)
Rounds 32-36: knit all sts
Round 37: *k1, m1, k7, m1, k1* 3 times (33 sts)
Rounds 38-42: knit all sts
Round 43: *k1, m1, k9, m1, k1* 3 times (39 sts)
Rounds 44-48: knit all sts
Round 49: *k1, m1, k11, m1, k1* 3 times (45 sts)
Round 50: knit all sts
Round 51: *k1, m1, k13, m1, k1* 3 times (51 sts)
Round 52: knit all sts
Round 53: *k1, m1, k15, m1, k1* 3 times (57 sts)
Round 54: knit all sts
Round 55: *k1, m1, k17, m1, k1* 3 times (63 sts)
Round 56: knit all sts
Round 57: *k1, m1, k19, m1, k1* 3 times (69 sts)

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Rounds 58-65: knit all sts

This is a good time to start stuffing. Make sure you use something to get that stuffing all the way down into the carrot point, like a chopstick or the eraser end of a pencil, before you fill it up too much. Keep stopping to stuff the carrot intermittently as you go through the following steps to ensure a firm, but squeezable, carrot friend.

Round 66: *k1, ssk, k17, k2tog, k1* 3 times (63 sts)
Round 67: knit all sts
Round 68: *k5, k2tog* 9 times (54 sts)
Round 69: *k4, k2tog* 9 times (45 sts)
Round 70: *k3, k2tog* 9 times (36 sts)
Round 71: *k2, k2tog* 9 times (27 sts)
Round 72: *k1, k2tog* 9 times (18 sts)
Round 73: k2tog all the way around (9 sts)

Break yarn. Put in your final bits of stuffing, pushing it down as far as possible. Thread the remaining sts onto a yarn needle, and draw the yarn through the sts, pulling them tight to close the top. Fasten yarn securely with a small knot, if necessary, to keep the hole closed. Weave in ends.

Carrot Accoutrements:
Attach green yarn to top of carrot, using the top “ring” of sts that you pulled closed, with crochet hook and a slip stitch. Make a series of chain sts of about 3-4″ long (or however long you want). At the end of the chain st row, turn back by skipping the first 2 chain sts and making double crochet stitches in every following chain st. Because the crochet hook used for this is much smaller than customarily used for worsted-weight yarn, the strips of double crochet will corkscrew around themselves, resulting in fun, curly carrot leaves.

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At the end of the row, when you get back to the top of the carrot, secure the strip by slip stitching into the top “ring.” Then make another strip! I made five of these, varying the lengths slightly throughout, and that seemed to fill in the top nicely, but you can make however many you want. Just be sure to finish the last strip by slip stitching into the top of the carrot. Then break your yarn and draw it through the last loop, pulling tightly. Weave in ends.

Cut small circles of white and black felt for the carrot’s eyes, and sew them securely onto the carrot. Just pick whichever of the three sides you think is the prettiest. I sewed the black “pupils” of the eyes onto the white circles first, and then attached the entire thing afterward, just for ease of handling. Make sure you knot everything securely and pull the ends of the thread through into the stuffing so that they can’t work loose.

Embroider a big smile onto your carrot using your yarn needle and red yarn, using back-stitching to get a nice smooth curve. In order to keep the stitching from pulling out, I was sure to thread my yarn through the stuffing (with the knot on the outside of the stuffing) before beginning and finishing the stitching. Keeping the knot on the outside of the stuffing will make it much harder to pull through, but keeps the yarn hidden inside of the knitting.

Hooray! You are done! Be pleased with yourself and your new carrot friend.

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Snowflakes in July

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School starts up again soon, and I have a mixture of feelings about it. This summer has been a much-needed relief from the ridiculousness of my school plus work schedule, and I have been enjoying it immensely. However, near the end of any extended free time, we all feel that same nagging feeling that maybe you should be doing something. Something more than eating crackers and watching marathons of Criminal Minds.

I have been celebrating the end of my awesome summertime monotony by dutifully making delicious oatmeal creations every morning.

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I have been writing thank you notes and catch-up notes to fantastically patient pen pals. (Cassie, it’s in the mail!)

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I have been waiting to see the first blossoms bloom on the baby magnolia tree we planted earlier this winter.

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And I have been making super awesome Christmas stockings.

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As previously stated, one of my coworkers requested some Christmas stockings so that she and her husband could celebrate their first Christmas with their new baby girl in style.

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I may have gotten a little too excited about having something to do, and therefore made this a huge embroidery project to satisfy the weird urge in me to make simple things more difficult.  Graph paper and radially symmetrical doodling was in order.

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These stockings are a heavily modified version of the worsted weight basic Christmas stocking from Interweave Press‘s Christmas Stockings.

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You can tell it’s modified from all the giant post-its.

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Sarah, my lovely coworker, requested something simple with their names at the top and a single snowflake on the front of each stocking. Because this was not going to be a fair-isle affair due to the pattern not going all the way around the stocking, it was a good time to polish up my duplicate stitching skills.

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I mean, look at that stuff! I am so pleased with myself. And isn’t that what blogging is all about?

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Now, I can’t keep tooting my own horn and say that I was planning the whole thing from the very beginning, but I really like how the dad’s stocking’s snowflake is a little heavier and more solid, the mom’s snowflake is more delicate and airy, and the new daughter’s snowflake is somewhere in-between.

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See? I’m not just imagining that, right?

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These parcels of early holiday joy are all packed up and ready to meet their new owners soon. And now before school starts in 2 1/2 weeks, I need to make a knitted carrot with a smiley face. Because, why not?

Buried Treasure

I feel that I am a fairly crafty-type person, but there’s one lady who totally puts me to shame with her ridiculous body of work. That lady is my grandmother, Winnie.

Back in the day, she was a crocheting, quilting, pottery-glazing, porcelain-doll-collecting machine. She made quilts for every single member of her family in all stages of their lives. The ones for me featured Cheer Bear and little gingham cats cavorting in a field of flowers, lots of pink and purple.  The quilts she made for herself were a great deal more classy, flying geese and flowers, interlocking rings and nine patches. She has much better taste than my twelve-year-old self, obviously.

When Dan and I first moved in, we had to go through a bunch of boxes of my grandparents’ old things, and we found – amongst the copious amounts of Christmas decorations, model cars, and porcelain dolls – a number of treasures like photo albums, diaries, and a project journal that my grandmother started that featured photographs of every quilt she had made since the early 80s. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to find another treasure.

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I was going through closets to find Goodwill donations today, and I found a super-cute kitschy little project bag that I wanted to try to use for some knitting projects.

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There were some bedsheets or something tucked in on the top, so investigation commenced.

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Is that embroidery?

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Holy crap.

Yes, this is a giant cutwork embroidered tablecloth, in progress, with everything needed to finish it. Just sitting in my closet. For months, at the very least. Who knows when my parents picked this up and stuffed it in here, not knowing what was inside?

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Look at all that beige goodness!

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And all that incredibly complicated work that has yet to be finished.

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I wonder when she stopped working on this, if there was any particular reason. Did she put this aside a really long time ago because it wasn’t capturing her attention or because it was too much work or just not what she wanted to work on at the moment? Or was this a casualty of her quickly developing Alzheimer’s a few years ago?

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I wish I could ask her, but she doesn’t often remember who I am.

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Back to the moderately amusing observations, eh? What on Earth are “japanned” hair pins?

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I’m assuming it means that they are black lacquered. What do they have to do with embroidery?

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And what was the plan for all this crochet thread? Matching placemats and coasters?

So many questions!

Well, we have a very large dining room table that needs covering with something classy, and think this may be just the ticket. Loads of satin stitch might seem boring, but it’s much more my speed than attempting to repair the quilt that she gave me before I left for college that has slowly succumbed to age.

Now I just need some sort of long TV series to get on Netflix to accompany me through all this work. Any suggestions?