Yarn Animals Part II: Variations

Variation 1: Yarn

TL;DR: you can use any yarn for this project, but babies like soft things.

As I mentioned last week, I started knitting yarn balls to use up my stash and to find a use for the knotted messes Zee makes when she plays with my yarn. I generally have acrylic worsted weight yarn in my stash, but recently I’ve been using chenille yarn to knit baby ponchos.

The first chenille yarn ball

Like many babies, children, and adults, Zee loves burying her face in something soft. She face plants into her stuffed animals and the cat who tolerates her. Last week she was trying to do “noses” (rub noses) with the cat. Specifically, the cat’s backside. Mr. Lazy Knitter is allergic to cats, but still enjoys a good cat face plant, so I assume it’s genetic.

The second chenille yarn ball

Accordingly, using chenille yarn scraps to knit balls was the logical next variation once I’d finished the initial ball.

Zee loves the chenille knit balls because of the texture, but they are more delicate than the worsted yarn balls. Loose chenille yarn and finished chenille tend to become threadbare when exposed to friction. Chenille also tends to be brittle. So much so that I often just break the yarn with my hands instead of cutting it. I initially left the tail loose for the yarn balls, but I had to go back and knit I-cords for them because they had worn down to the base thread.

Other than the tail issue, the chenille balls seem to be holding up well.

Variation 2: Size

Variations in size were not intentional. They are due to:

  1. Stuffing a ball more or less densely than others.
  2. Getting distracted or knitting the ball in two or more sitting and therefore losing count of where I am. This results in either more or fewer increase and decrease rows.

Variation 3: Accessories

  1. Safety eyes and noses: I bought a set containing 300 pieces of safety eyes, noses, and washers from Amazon. I can’t recommend the specific item because almost all of the larger colored eyes were damaged. On the plus side, Zee has not yet managed to damage the ones I attached, but we are watching them carefully since she likes to try to rip them off with her teeth.
  2. Ears: Each of the balls took on a different personality as I was decorating them. Three of the four demanded ears. I picked up between 8 and 14 stitches above each eye and reduced at various intervals depending on my mood. It’s worthwhile to experiment with various ratios for reducing stitches on the ears because I actually don’t remember what I did other than fudge it as I went.

3. Googly eyes: Since I’d already finished three chenille balls by the time I ordered eyes and noses, I ordered googly eyes with shanks that I could sew on.

This was actually Mr. Lazy Knitter’s initial suggestion. I do agree they look darling and hilarious. However, Zee immediately started trying to bite the eyes off and ended up crushing the plastic eye domes*.

I can’t recommend this particular item either because I’m not sure if the damage was due to Zee’s impressive levels of persistence or poor construction quality. Either way, googly eyes probably work best for older/less mouthy children.

*If there’s a technical term for that part of the googly eye apparatus, please let me know.

In the future, I may try embroidering eyes and noses once Zee fully destroys the plastic decorations. However, I hate threading needles, so they are more likely to become slightly horrifying anthropomorphic yarn balls as Zee chews on them.

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