One of the fun things about knitting for a 3-year-old is that the munchkin has definite ideas about what he would like me to make for him. Only a year ago I decided that I wanted to knit a simple teddy bear for him when he was having trouble sleeping. Now he peers into my knitting bag and says things like: “Would you make me a mommy elephant with a purple hat?”
To be clear: I had never knitted an elephant before. Much less a hat. But with a bit of searching I found an adorable elephant pattern on Ravelry that had lots of positive reviews and, most importantly, was knit flat. (I’m still learning how to knit in the round.)
Pattern found, I got to work.
It took me a little more than a month to finish the elephant, not because the pattern was difficult (it wasn’t) but because I kept on starting the pieces over. I wanted to make the elephant slightly bigger than the pattern specified so that I could also make a smaller “baby” elephant at some point in the future. That meant finding the right yarn weight and needle size.
First I went with worsted weight yarn on size 8 needles, and that was a mistake. When the head was finished you could easily see the stuffing through the stitches. So then I switched to a super soft, grey Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn. Using US size 5 needles that ended up being the perfect combination.
The best part about making this elephant was seeing how happy it made the munchkin. He would come over and examine my work saying, “Are you working on my elephant mommy? I’m sooooo excited!” Sometimes he would even jump up and clap his hands while giving me a big smile. I tell ya, what we mamas won’t do for a reaction like that from our little ones.
Once all the pieces were knitted and stuffed assembly was pretty easy. Well, except that I accidentally cut the yarn too close during my first attempt at assembling the head. The whole thing unraveled and I had to knit it again! :)
For the eyes I used some leftover yarn from the scarf I made for my dad. And for the hat I used some super bulky purple yarn that was sitting in my stash. I wish I could point you to a pattern for the hat but I pretty much made it up as I went. I cast on 40 stitches (long enough for the hat to wrap around the elephant’s head), then I knit the first four rows. After that I followed a st st (knit/purl) pattern, decreasing 2 stitches on every row until I had only 8 stitches left. Then I just rolled the thing into a cone shape and sewed it together. It wasn’t pretty (there is some extra yardage stuffed inside this hat) but I figured it did the trick. I knew I was going to sew the hat to the elephant’s head so it didn’t really matter if the inside was all funky!
For the top of the hat I threaded several small pieces of yarn through the top and tied them each in a knot, leaving some yarn hanging off. When there were several strings of yarn I pulled each piece of yarn apart (separated the different plys of yarn), teased them a bit to make them fluffy, then trimmed the fluff.
In the end, I think the hat didn’t come out half bad. And I actually learned something from making it: kids really don’t care about perfection. It’s not about making the perfect toy with hidden seams and a “professional” look. It’s the fact that you made something with your own two hands just for them.
Looking at the elephant through my grown-up eyes I see the seams on the elephant’s underside and know the hat isn’t just so. But the munchkin doesn’t think about those things. He loves his mama elephant. She’s slept with him every night since I finished her.
If you want to try your hand at making this elephant I highly recommend it! The pattern can be found on Ravelry and is easy enough for a relatively new knitter like myself to make. The only skills you need are knit, purl, make one and bind off. Oh and sewing too. :)