Sunday, 15 September 2013

Elephant No. 13: Small Knitted Elephant

I came across the cute little elephant below when looking for things to put on one of my Pinterest boards. I thought the use of i-cord (the tubular bits) was very clever, and decided I'd try to make something similar for today's elephant. To buy an adorable A Girl Named Leney original, visit her Etsy shop here.

Brilliant little elephant by Leney Breeden.

I decided to make a green elephant today. I already had this fingering-weight yarn (about what you'd use to make lightweight wool socks or mittens).

With 2.5 mm needles, I began by making five little bits of i-cord for the feet, arms and trunk. There are a number of online tutorials on how to make i-cord, like this one. I don't knit like anyone I know, so me showing you how I knit would only be monumentally confusing.

I was going to write out my pattern, but it's not my design, so it felt wrong—and mine isn't as cute, anyway. I'm also terrible at writing out instructions for things like this, because I change my mind as I work. "Dog's breakfast" is a kind way of describing my working process.

Next, I knit up the body and head as one piece, and stuffed it lightly. I finished up the knitting by making up a couple of ears, then assembled everything to make sure the sizes were right.

I sewed the whole thing together. Definitely not as cute as Leney's original, but still pleasing to me.

I thought it could use a bit of colour, so I knitted up a four-inch (10-cm) scarf with garter stitch, using some hand-dyed handspun yarn I'd been given.

To finish the little guy, I added large seed beads for the eyes. I tried button eyes, but I didn't have any white buttons small enough, and didn't feel like going out to buy any. I also knotted a piece of yarn through the back for a tail. I think I'd braid it or something next time.

Looks a little bit like a Martian elephant, but I still like it. There's no way I'll remember exactly how I made the body and ears, so I may never make another one, but this single i-cord elephant makes me happy enough on its own.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Perched high up on one of the roofs at Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, is possibly the world's only elephant gargoyle. It's not a particularly scary-looking gargoyle, despite the fact that it appears to have claws.

Gargoyles are normally used to direct rainwater away from the sides of a building, either sticking out at an almost perpendicular angle, or draining water through a spout of some sort. This elephant fits neither criterion, as far as I can tell—although you'd think a trunk would have made an ideal spout.

I couldn't find any information at all on the origins of this particular gargoyle. Since elephants were not widely known in medieval Europe, this figure is likely a more recent addition, perhaps symbolizing anthropomorphized human characteristics such as strength, wisdom and power. Or perhaps it was placed there simply because someone liked elephants.

Elephant gargoyle on roof at Notre Dame Cathedral,
Paris, France, 2005
Photo: Lois Kosch

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

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