I mentioned a few times that I was working on a secret Christmas project. Now this is unusual for me, because I have basically sworn off Christmas knitting after the Great Dishcloth Debacle of 2010. I’ve had some serious self-discussions about knitworthiness, and I’ve decided that it’s largely not worth it to me.
However, I do love to knit for my husband. In fact, I like to think that a scarf I made him was a pivotal moment in our early relationship. However, he doesn’t really want me to knit him anything else to wear. He doesn’t wear hats (though I made him one anyway, and sometimes convince him to wear it when he shovels the driveway), and he has so many store-bought scarves that he’s received from others that he doesn’t need any of those. And he won’t wear any gloves or mittens I make. To top it off, I won’t even offer to make him a sweater (I won’t make myself one for fear of it not fitting the way I want – why would I put him through that?). So I was really between a rock and hard place – wanting to knit for him and having nothing practical that I could knit him.
Then I saw the Penguin Pillow. I actually saw it in the Knit Picks catalogue last year, and thought about making it, but decided against it. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. You see, the first Christmas we knew each other, he’d bought this penguin ornament. And since he didn’t have his own tree that year because he was abroad, it ended up on my tree. Add that to the fact that he genuinely likes penguins, and I decided I couldn’t resist any more. The Penguin Pillow must be made.
I decided to make it out of some sturdy, washable acrylic, since I know it will get used (and probably drooled on – we do have a baby). All of it, except the orange, is Bernat Satin. The orange is Vanna’s Choice (remember it from the Spider Yarn Wreath? The same skein of yarn did both projects!). I also purchased two small sheets of felt, a 14” pillow form, and took some stuffing my mom had in her stash and I was set.
My enthusiasm for the project quickly dissolved when I saw I had to make a very long 1×1 rib scarf. And then knit two large stockinette panels. And then seam them together. But I’d committed to the project, purchased the pattern and the supplies, and I must trudge on. The end result would be worth it.
Well, I procrastinated on this thing like you wouldn’t believe. I started in early September. I finished on December 20. It’s really not difficult; it was a mental game to get past the back and forth stockinette. I don’t mind stockinette in the round where you just knit and knit, but purling can really get a girl down. I don’t know why – it just does.
So anyway, I went about my penguin making and started to have some fun once I made it to the in the round part. Seaming was even kind of nice, as it turned out a lot neater looking than I expected.
I did make some mods:
- I thought it was peculiar the designer did not have you make use of kitchener, as it saves you binding off and then seaming. So I did kitchener the top of the penguin and the bottom of each wing.
- The specifications for the size of felt circles you need is clearly wrong. It tells you to cut out a larger size black circle than white circle (those would be some crazy eyes!). It’s also clear that even if you use the dimensions specified in the opposite color that it will still not look like the picture. I ended up cutting out paper circles with a circle cutter I have for scrapbooking and placing them on the penguin to get a feel for the correct size. Then I traced the best one onto the felt and cut it for the whites of the eyes. For the black, I pretty much freehanded a very small dot, and then cut around it a second time to get a match.
- There are no instructions at all for how to put the feet on. In fact, the pattern does not even mention attaching the feet. I ended up using some orange yarn and whipstitching them to the bottom in some kind of crazy way until they seemed like they were attached well enough.
Overall, I expected a little more out of a paid pattern. Not that I couldn’t figure out things like the eyes and attaching the feet – it’s just I thought they were strange mistakes and omissions.
Regardless, I think it turned out very well. And Mr Snips was very pleased. It was a good Christmas surprise! Isn’t he the sweetest little penguin?!