Knit The Garden

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When In Doubt, Knit A Carrot

Over the past few months, I’ve spent as much time knitting vegetables as tending them. Thanks to the birth of my grandson Oliver, my needles have produced carrots, peas in pods, and French Peter Rabbit radishes as well as happy apples and pears. At 11 weeks, he isn’t really ready to play with them, but I figure by the time he is, I’ll have a garden of produce for him to teeth on.

My knitted edibles are felted so that they can be washed easily when they get dirty or drool-covered. I just toss them in the laundry with various batches of clothing, then stick them in the dryer, pulling them out every 15 minutes or so to tweak and adjust until they look right. The result is surprisingly charming, so I’ve gotten hooked on making far more than one child could ever need.

Or A Bird’s Nest

If you like knitting for a worthy cause, try bird nests. They are quickly made, and the birds don’t care if you drop a stitch or forget to decrease on schedule. Our local wild animal shelter recently published a pattern for knitted bird’s nests which they use to keep baby birds safe when they fall from nests. It’s super easy to make and wildlife shelters can always use them, since they also work for bigger birds healing from pet damage or illness.

The size of the nest is determined by your needle and yarn size, and all sizes are useful. I use natural, undyed wool for softness and to be sure that vulnerable birds aren’t exposed to possibly harmful chemical dyes. Here’s the basic pattern:

Your Basic Bird’s Nest

I use sock needles that come in sets of 5, so I can knit over 4 needles with one over as a working needle.

Using double or thick wool, cast on 54 stitches, divide between 4 needles and join. Knit as many rounds as you need to reach until about 3 inches (or 4 inches for larger nests), then purl a row to make a crisp turn. To decrease, work as follows:

Round 1: *K7, K2tog*
Round 2: *K6, K2tog*
Round 3: *K5, K2tog*
Round 4: *K4, K2tog*
Round 5: *K3, K2tog*
Round 6: *K2, K2tog*
Round 7-8 and/or 9: *K1, K2tog*

Cut wool with long tail, thread through last stitches and pull gently together. Weave in ends and trim.

Outdoor Knitting

This summer, an intrepid bunch of knitters and fiber artists decided to cover Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Bridge. In an event called a yarn bombing, they carried in enormous panels and banners and fastened woven and knitted wrappings over posts and beams. The result is hilarious, showy, and engaging. (See the website below for inspiring pictures.)

Back in my college days, I was knitting creations that foreshadowed today’s fiber arts fun. For a senior project, I knit coverings for several small trees, adding knitted leaves for winter color. Knitted containers held glass bottles that sparkled in the thin winter sun. Nobody had a clue what I was doing and even my fairly avant guard art teacher was mildly baffled if vaguely supportive.

Knitting A Winter Garden

However, this bridge project inspired me to think about knitting a winter garden for my deck. When my last tomatoes are harvested, I’ll replace them with strings of LED lights and knitted plants. Maybe I’ll add knitted birds and butterflies as well. I love the idea of a winter garden that brings a burst of beauty into the quiet grey landscape! I’m using big needles and colored twine and thin strips of rip-stop nylon that should stand up to wind and weather…..

Start With Carrots

I usually just noodle around with wool and needles, making up patterns as I go. Be free to play, since felting hides a lot of funkiness. If you want to give it a try, here’s my now-standard carrot pattern:

Choose short double pointed (sock) needles in a size to suit your yarn, which can be any kind of wool EXCEPT superwash, which won’t felt. Again, I use sock needles that come in sets of 5, so I can knit over 4 needles with one over as a working needle.

For M1, pull a firm backwards loop of yarn over the right (working) needle and knit into it in the following row.

Cast on 4 stitches, join and knit 1 round
Round 2: *K 1, M1* (8 sts, 2 on each of 4 needles)
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: *K 1, M1, K1* (12 sts)
Round 5: Knit
Round 6: *K 1, M1, K1, M1* (16 sts)
Round 7: Knit
Round 8: *K 1, M1, K1, M1, K1* (20 sts)
Round 9: Knit
Round 10: *K 1, M1, K1, M1, K1, M1* (24 sts)

Knit over 24 sts for 2 inches or so, then slowly taper, decreasing every few inches. I like to decrease somewhat randomly to give the carrot character, perhaps like this: needle 1; K2, K2tog, K2, then needle 2: K1, K2tog, K3, etc. My carrots are about a foot long before felting, and about 10 inches long after felting. When the carrot narrows to 12 sts, stuff with toy stuffing or raw wool, using a pencil to poke the stuffing in as evenly as you can. When you get down to 4 sts, K2 tog once or twice to get 2 or 3 sts, then work I-cord for an inch or two: put final sts on a double pointed needle and knit, then slide the completed sts back instead of turning the work and continue knitting into the “front” side to make a hollow cord. End by breaking of yarn with a fairly long tail (4-6 inches) and thread it through the I-cord sts to bind off. Felt the carrot, tail and all (it makes a convincing looking root), adjusting the shape by pulling or prodding or pushing until you are happy with it.

Here’s the link to the Andy Warhol Bridge website:

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