Two-tone giraffes

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My second giraffe out of Susan B. Anderson’s Itty Bitty Toys – this time I knitted him with Spud & Chloe’s sweater yarn in colors splash (2 skeins) and lake (1 skein), on US 5 dpns. Look how much bigger he turned out, compared to when I knitted him with Cascade yarn (the yarn recommended by the pattern)! I like the two-tone look – I think I’ll do another one in pinks (Spud & Chloe’s jelly bean and watermelon). Kind of a younger-older brother motif . . .

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The giraffe has a nice heft, thanks to poly pellets in the bottom of his body and in the ends of all four legs – this time, I learned my lesson and sewed quick muslin bags, poured the pellets in there, then cinched the bags and put them in the pieces and inserted stuffing on top – now we won’t have poly pellets leaking out all over the house . . . I think I stuffed his body too full, there’s a real art to stuffing – my instinct is to stuff as tightly as possible, but that often leaves the animal looking kind of stretched and swollen. Also, I had several go-rounds on getting the head stitched on to my satisfaction – it kept wobbling, no matter how many times around I went with a whipstitch, but it helped a lot to widen my sewing circle, so I inserted the needle further up on the head, and then wider out on the body, to create a wider base – that did the trick.

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This is a pretty time-consuming project because of all the details – knitting and sewing on the spots, creating the pom-poms (which I’m never happy with, no matter how I trim them), but it’s the details that make him so cute. I like Susan B. Anderson’s approach to knitting toys – knit each piece separately, then sew them together. It’s a lot of sewing, but it makes the animal look much more life-like, with a lot more moveable parts, than if you knit it all in one piece, and this way you can position the pieces whichever way you like to get the best possible overall effect. Some of her keys to knitting good stuffed animals are:

*sew each piece/body part individually;

* use of double-pointed needles (which can be a pain, but means no seaming each piece together!)

*knit densely – that is, use a smaller needle than the yarn calls for (for instance, Spud & Chloe sweater yarn calls for a US 8 or 9, and the giraffe is knit with a US 5) – this keeps the yarn from stretching out too thin when you stuff it;

*sew each piece together as you finish it, so you don’t have a huge sewing project at the end, and so you don’t lose pieces as you go along;

*take your time adding the stuffing, sewing the pieces together, and sewing on the face – redo and experiment if necessary, as this has a major impact on the look of the finished product

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