I have been knitting my friend Monsieur Reynard. I love my samples the yarn is thick and soft. I am not quite happy with the face though. I think it is very cute but I think I can improve it. I love the scarf but might add an after thought thumb to the pocket. I mostly just wanted a pocket that a child could shove an already gloved hand in for an extra layer of warmth but I also know how children are losing their mittens or rushing out the door to catch the bus and forgetting them.
I also would like to economize this pattern. No I am not talking about cost or amount of yarn. I am talking about the stitches themself and the number of pieces. Knitting just for myself I find that I will play with my yarn and twist my fabric this way and that to pick up stitches just to avoid that dreaded sewing of a seam. But I think knitting toys last summer has freed me from that notion of sewing equates bad. I started out doing anything to avoid sewing-picking up sts so I wouldn’t have to sew on a leg later. Then I was knitting an owl for the 2nd time I was twisting the toy this way and that while knitting the wing and doing short rows to shape it. Then afterwards realized I was still taking the tail of the yarn for the wing and sewing duplicate sts along the body of the owl where I picked up the sts to tidy it. So what the heck was I saving. I was really just complicating a knit that was supposed to be relaxing and easy. So while I will pick up sts for a leg
I will knit a wing or a nose separate. Besides sewing on noses and eyes gives me time to contemplate the animal as it takes shape. I move pieces around and see how the placement adds a quirkyness and the personality of a stuffed toy starts to emerge.
I have found that sometimes while knitting out of books and magazines that a pattern will be so twisted or clever that it becomes to hard to read. And if I really want the object pictured in the magazine then I resort to studying the picture and schematics to figure out a way that I can make it happen. It is quite possible that it is not the fault of the pattern and might just be me not being skilled enough to tackle harder patterns or read the directions. I don’t want to see dumbing down of patterns for knitters like me who aren’t up to it but there is a place for simplicity.
The fox like my other toys is simple. The shape is long and skinny and afterwards sewn up into a pillow shape with a pocket in front. Unlike the cat or the monkey the ears are shaped with short rows. I love short rows for shaping the short row shapes my little monkey’s face so nicely and the same short row can shape the toe of a sock or the shoulder of a cardigan.
I learned to knit over 40 years ago but while working out the details of the monkey pattern(coming soon I promise) I learned a new trick. And my daughter taught me this trick. She was looking up short rows while test knitting and found this Short Rows: Shadow Wraps . I have read socktopus before and love her yarn and she has the same first name as my daughter, Alice. You must read her tutorials for short rows. I knitted the shadow wraps and love them. I think they look better than the way I was doing short rows before and it is easier and more elegant than wrap and turn. It is an economical stitch like I was trying to say before. Knitting a Mama or daughter stitch and then knitting the twins together is easier than wrapping and then having to pick up the stitch and wrap to knit together.All those short rows of Mama and daughter stitches turn the straight rows into this. Looks kind of a mess until you sort it out and lay the seams together.
Then the shape of the ears become apparent and like the fox in the stories I feel clever. You can play with short rows all you want and make little swatches of them and instead of unraveling them when you are done maybe turn them into an animal or a stuffed alien. Its fun to practice short rows in something small like an animal and helps to build confidence to give it a try in a sweater.