Yarn Animals Part I: The Concept

My daughter is obsessed with yarn. Probably because I’m often knitting when I’m interacting with her.

Our evenings before dinner often go like this:

4pm: Mama ends her workday and takes over from the nanny.

4:05pm: Dada emerges from his basement lair to join Zee and Mama. Yes, we both work from home.

4:05-4:45pm Mama, Dada, and Zee snuggle and play.

4:45pm: Zee loses interest in Mama and Dada. She demands to be set free and so she can roam around the living room playing with her toys.

4:45-6:00pm: Mama knits. Zee plays with her toys in 10-15 minute increments with regular breaks to examine Mama’s knitting and try to steal her yarn. When she does steal Mama’s yarn, she bites the ball like an apple, savors the individual strands like noodles, and overall just makes an unholy tangle.

Unholy mess in progress

Best case scenario, I’m knitting with soggy yarn.

That feels as gross as it sounds.

Medium case scenario, my mother-in-law spends an hour obsessively untangling my yarn during a visit.

Medium-worst case scenario, I spend hours trying to untangle yarn, then suddenly it’s 10pm and I’ve gotten nothing done. I go to bed angry.

Worst case scenario, Mr. Lazy Knitter tries to help with untangling yarn and makes it worse. We both go to bed angry.

In the interest of preserving my sanity and my marriage, I generally let Zee just have her hanks of entropy to play with. She’ll drag them around the living room, periodically chewing on them and draping them over herself like the skins of her enemies.

During the furlough, I decided I wanted to do something with these large hanks of chaos to make them more socially acceptable baby drool and cat hair magnets. I’m not sure how I got from point A to point knit-a-3D-ball, but here we are. I figured I could use scrap yarn to knit the balls and then use the tangled yarn as filling so they would be washable.

I looked around the internet to find a no-sew pattern* and I found this very simple pattern: https://knitting-crochet.wonderhowto.com/how-to/knit-ball-0134584/.

A lazy knitter avoids sewing at all costs.

Full-disclosure: I tried to knit it with the Magic Loop method at first. I’m sure it’s possible, but I half-assed it. I gave up and used size 5 double-pointed needles instead. Now that I have the hang of it, I can knit a ball in about an hour using worsted weight yarn.

My first yarn ball

I found that worsted weight yarn knits up easiest and have the best texture for adding details.

Zee was charmed by the first ball I made her. She tried to put it on her head like a hat and cackled when it fell off.

I made a few more, she played with them, chewed on them, and taunted the cats with them. The cats sometimes stole them from her and she cried.

I added I-cords to the balls to give her a better grip for taunting the cats. It was also a way to avoid threading a needle – once i got to the last six stitches of the ball, I decreased by one, transferred the stitches to one needle, and knit an I-cord, gradually reducing to 4, 5, 3, 2, and 1 stitch rows. No need to even weave in any ends.

Mr. Lazy Knitter suggested I add eyes to them. I thought this was a great idea, but I didn’t know how. Then someone at a local stitch night suggested safety eyes. I ordered 300 safety eyes and noses from Amazon by the time I got home.

I was obsessed. I knitted 4 balls the day the eyes and noses arrived.

I can’t even.

Nothing indicates that Zee likes the accessorized balls better, but I had a lot of fun making them.

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