December 8, 2016

Fat Cat Bauble - Free Pattern

Wow, so it's been nearly a year. Whoops.

I haven't updated because I've been doing a lot of learning this year. I've been exploring stitches and techniques, working on new patterns, getting them on Ravelry, and also learning how to process fiber and spin yarn. 

I've also learned that I am a crappy blogger as I find that I just like making things or writing, not making things and then writing about them, which is pretty essential to blogging. I also write full-time, for work, in the same place I live. When my day ends, I like to get as far away from my desk as possible. So there ya go. Sorry it's been quiet. 

I'll try to do a general update on the stuff I've been learning before the end of the year, but if not, who cares? 2016 is dumb. It is the year I married Puffits and it's been a good bird-feeder year--lots of new visitors--but otherwise, fuck 2016. Good riddance. Let it be gone with no new blog updates if that's how it goes, except for this free ornament pattern. Please enjoy this Fat Cat Bauble.

 It's less inspired by traditional Christmas baubles than it is by a design on one of my favorite mugs. 

To make one, you’ll first need a plastic bauble form. Glass could work but you’ll need to apply some pressure towards the end, so that could be risky. Foam could work as well or just stuffing the bauble with polyfill, but you’ll likely need to create additional decreases at the end if it doesn’t have the metal spring cap.

Choose the bauble size first since the circumference is a pretty important measurement. If the knit is too small, you’ll never get it around the bauble and be able to close it up. If it’s too large, your cat will look a little saggy--not that there's anything wrong with saggy cats. 

This pattern will work on an 8-inch (20.32 cm) circumference or a 10-inch (25.4 cm) circumference plastic bauble but it could be adjusted.  

If you already have a knit bauble pattern that works for you, feel free to skip over mine. I understand there are lots of them out there. The cat's features are added after the bauble portion is complete, so you can incorporate them onto an alternative pattern.

For an 8-inch bauble, use U.S. size 3 (3.25mm) DPNs and a sock or fingering weight yarn.  Gauge: 11 sts for 11 row = 1 inch (2.54cm)

For a 10-inch bauble, use U.S. size 5 (3.75mm) DPNs and a DK or worsted/medium weight yarn. Gauge: 8 sts for 8 rows = 1 inch (2.54cm)

About 30-40 yards should be ample for this project. If you’re not stuffing the bauable, you’ll only need a small amount of polyfill, but you can easily use yarn scraps to fill the head, paws, and tail.

You can complete this pattern with just four DPNs, but it’s much easier with five. Distributing the stitches evenly across four DPNs once you reach Rnd. 5 makes it much easier to keep track of the repeats, but it can be done on three. You'll also need a needle for assembly, embroidery floss or contrasting yarn for the nose, safety eyes--or felt, buttons, beads, etc. as eye alternatives.

Here are the techniques and abbreviations

Knit Straight
Cast On

Knit (K)

Purl (P)

Knit Front and Back (Kfb)

Knit Two Together (K2tog)
Slip-Slip-Knit (ssk)

Bind Off
Round (Rnd)

Total stitches are indicated within ( ) after increase and decrease rounds. Stitches to be repeated are indicated within [ ].

So here we go, starting with the bauble, working from the bottom up:

Cast on 6 sts and knit in the round:
  • Rnd 1: K all sts.
  • Rnd 2: [Kfb] 6 times (12 sts)
  • Rnd 3: [Kfb] 12 times (24 sts)
  • Rnd 4: K all sts
  • Rnd 5: [Kfb, K4, Kfb] 4 times (32 sts)
  • Rnd 6: K all sts
  • Rnd 7: [Kfb, K6, Kfb] 4 times (40 sts)
  • Rnd 8: K all sts
  • Rnd 9: [K3, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K3] 4 times (48 sts)
  • Rnd 10: K all sts
  • Rnd 11: [Kfb, K10, Kfb] 4 times (56 sts)
  • Rnd 12: K all sts
  • Rnd 13: [K4, Kfb, K4, Kfb K4] 4 times (64 sts)
  • Rnd 14: K all sts
  • Rnd 15: [Kfb, K14, Kfb] 4 times (72 sts)
  • Rnds 16 - 20: K all sts
  • Rnd 21: [K5, ssk, K4, K2tog, K5] 4 times (64 sts)
  • Rnd 22: K all sts
  • Rnd 23: [ssk, K12, K2tog] 4 times (56)
  • Rnd 24: K all sts
  • Rnd 25: [K4, ssk, K2, K2tog, K4] 4 times (48 sts)
  • Rnd 26: K all sts.
  • Rnd 27: [ssk, K8, K2tog] 4 times (40 sts)

Slip the knit over the bauble. Stretch your work upwards as you work the next rounds. If you’re going to stuff your bauble instead, do so now.    
  • Rnd 28: [K2tog] 20 times (20 sts)
  • Rnd 29: [K2tog] 10 times (10 sts)

Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail, and draw through the remaining stitches.  Draw up tightly so the knit fits snugly around the bauble’s opening. If the bauble does not have a spring cap, close it up with an additional decrease row before drawing through.    

The Head
It’s worked in the round, starting from the nose. 

Cast on 4 sts.
  • Rnd 1: [Kfb] 4 times (8 sts)
  • Rnd 2: K3, [Kfb] twice, K3 (10 sts)
  • Rnd 3: K3, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K3 (12 sts)
  • Rnd 4: K4, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K4 (14 sts)
  • Rnd 5: K4, Kfb, K4, Kfb, K4 (16 sts)
  • Rnd 6: K5, Kfb, K4, Kfb, K5 (18 sts)
  • Rnd 7: K5, Kfb, K6, Kfb, K5 (20 sts)
  • Rnd 8: K7, Kfb, K4, Kfb, K7 (22 sts)
  • Rnd 9: K6, [Kfb, K1] 5 times, K6 (27 sts)
  • Rnds 10-11: K all sts

Bind off, leaving a long tail to later help in attaching the head to the bauble.

We need two. They are knit straight.

Cast on 10 sts.  Leave a long tail for assembly and seaming. 
  • Row 1: P all sts.
  • Row 2: K3, [K2tog] twice, K3 (8 sts)
  • Row 3: P2tog, P4, P2tog (6 sts)
  • Row 4: K2, K2tog, K2 (5 sts)

Bind off. Fold in half and seam down the side so you have a thick, pointed ear.

We need four. They are knit in the round.  

Cast on 12 sts. Leave a long tail for assembly.
  • Rnds 1 – 4: K all sts.
  • Rnd 5: [K1, K2tog] 4 times (8 sts)
  • Rnd 6: [K2tog] 4 times (4 sts)

Draw through. Weave in end.

The Tail
Finally. It’s also knit in the round, worked from the base to the tip.

Cast on 12 sts. Leave a long tail for assembly.
  • Rnds 1-15: K all sts.
  • Rnd 16:  [K1, K2tog] 4 times (8 sts)
  • Rnds 17-18: K all sts.
  • Rnd 19: [K2tog] 4 times (4 sts)

Draw through. Leave a long tail to be used as part of the assembly process.

To assemble:

Start by adding the cat’s eyes. Once you’ve got your eyes positioned and fixed as desired, sew the base of the cat’s ears so they sit on top of the cat’s head. I find lining them up with the eyes usually looks spot-on.

Embroider a nose. If you want your cat to have whiskers, stiff nylon beading thread works well and looks nice on a lit tree, but it’s a pain to attach in an exact place and tends do what it wants.  When I add whiskers, I do so by making a latch hook knot and trimming to the desired length. Lightly fill the front of the head with polyfill or yarn scraps. 

Attach the bind-off end to a desired place on the bauble. Slip your needle between the knit and the surface of the bauble to attach.  Pin in place if you need some help keeping things stable.

Then, attach the legs.

Finally, get that tail on there. Centered between the two hind legs is a good place, about equal height of the cat’s head. Again, it never hurts to pin everything first to try different placements.  Use the bind-off yarn to curve and sew the cat’s tail into the body so its fixed in place. This step is optional, but I think it creates a more balanced, rounded look.   

And there ya go, the perfect d├ęcor or gift for a lover of rotund cats. Leave it up all year!  

If your bauble has a spring cap and a wide-enough opening, you can pop in one of these little LED craft thingies for balloons and such to make it look like your cat ate a string of lights or got into some radioactive cat food. Oh no! That’s a bad kitty! But you sure look festive!