February 26, 2013

Modified Stockinette Snake

 I studied biology in college, and totally love (almost)  all things creepy crawly- snakes, frogs, and beetles being my top three.  I even spent a year of college doing research on South African Clawed frogs, and spent a lot of my free time abroad in East Africa looking up insects that I found around camp.  My mom would tell you I've been like this pretty much forever.  I remember once thinking I was ingenious in using a bubble tape gum container to hold my ants so I could bring them inside to play with them and not soon after was shocked to find it empty. Sorry mom!

Joe and I are even the proud owners of not one, but two snakes.  I have a very scared and wimpy ball python named Bruce, whose an absolutely gorgeous pastel morph for those of you who know what that means.  Joe's is a larger iridescent Imperator Boa.  If anything Joe is even more into herpetology than I am, so I am lucky to have found someone equally weird.

So now you can understand how totally thrilled I was when I found this amazing pattern for a knit snake on purl bee! (Which, as a side-note I am really hook-on right now, so there will be more modifications coming your way).

The recipe calls for making it striped with two kinds of yarn, but because I'm impatient as all get out and because I had a yarn that had some built-in stripes I modified it for just one color.  I used an old skein of Caron Simply Soft Shadows that I had around, but I'm not sure they make it anymore. As for the needles I used, they're from my grandmother's collection, and I don't have the faintest clue what size they are.  You could use DPN's instead easily.

Here's the best part of this project:  it's knitted flat!  And you don't have to do any seams or merging or stuffing or anything.  It uses the basic stockinette stitch (knit one side, purl the other) and just naturally curls into itself to make itself round!  It's amazing and SUPER easy.  If you're someone whose only ever done scarves and knitting and purling you could do this!

You'll need:

One skein of yarn
circular needles or double pointed needles
a big sewing/tapestry needle

The Pattern:

The Body:

Start by making an i-cord.  To do this you will cast on four stitches, and knit across.  Then slide them across to the other end of your needle, pull the yarn snug and knit across. And repeat!  Do this for 8 rounds.  (If you would like a better explanation with pictures, click here for a tutorial).  It should be abut an inch long.

Now you switch to stockinette stitch (i.e. knit across, turn, purl across, turn)

Knit 4, turn, purl 4.  Do this a total of 8 times.

It should look something like this:

ignore the fact that I used three stitches on my needle- you should have four!

Now it's time to start increasing!

A:  k1, m1r, knit to last stitch, m1l, knit 1
B: purl across
C: knit across

The pattern goes as follows:
A, B, (C, B x 10)

You will do this pattern 12 times total.  Each increase row should add two stitches, so you should have 28 stitches by the time you're done with this section.

an aside- how to do those weird stitches: 
m1r: make one right- pick up the bar between your last stitch and your next one on your left needle from the back, and knit it from the front

m1l: make one left- pick up the bar on your left needle from the front to the back. It should look like it has the same directionality as the other stitches on your needle. Knit into the back of the stitch.
(if that doesn't make sense, there's a photo tutorial here)

After your first round of increases it should look a little like this:

 from the back
 from the front

The Head:

At this point you should have 28 stitches on your needle.

D: k8, m1R, k1, m1R knit to last 9, m1L, k1, m1L, k to end
E:  purl across

Repeat D and E 6 more times. You should have 56 stitches.

Knit across.
Purl across.

Now you'll start to decrease the width of the head.

F: k8, ssk, k1, ssk, k1, ssk, k to last 16, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k to end.
G: purl across

Do rows F and G 5 times total. You should have 26 stitches left.

H: k8, ssk, k to last 10, k2tog, k to end. 

purl across.
repeat H.  

You should have 22 stitches left.  Cut the yarn leaving 8 inches to spare.  Thread the string through the remaining stitches on your needle, pull taut, tie off, and weave in the end.  

At this point you can sew on buttons, make eyes by embroidering with other yarn, or even add a red ribbon for a tongue. Get creative!


Super easy, right?

Some pictures of the final product:

 you can see the color variations a little better in this one

this is the underside of the head, incase you're curious. 
it's a little weird looking, but it really does keep the shape.



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