May 19, 2006

Help, please!

Sorry for the absence — blame my persistent laziness.

I have been knitting, though — all baby things, all the time. But you’re going to have to take my word for it for now, because I have more pressing things to discuss. (Still baby-knitting, actually, but just one part of it.) Specifically, this:


(Also here with mood lighting, and front view here)

This is, or should be, Nellie the Sheep, from Debbie Bliss’s Baby Style. It’s a cute idea, and should be cute toy (and don’t think I’m not grateful for the pattern book! I am! Very!) but in my opinion the pattern, to be blunt, is dreadful. I consider myself not uneducated in the world of knitting, and reading patterns, but I have found myself at a loss continually throughout this process. I have reknit sections of the oddly shaped fabric pieces multiple times, some of them after I started joining the parts together, as I finally figured out how they were supposed to form a sheep-like shape. Now, I will admit that I am topographically challenged — I’m not at all good at seeing how a random 2-dimensional shape will become a 3-dimensional object — but the problems were with the instructions, which were often confusing, but at no point gave any information that would allow me to check if I was doing it right. There are, indeed, no schematics at all (for this or any other pattern in the book) and the sum total of the illustrations for the project are these:



Helpful, eh?

However, to cut a long(er) rant short, I have persevered, and I think I’ve basically got what I should have up to this point. (And yes, I know the seams aren’t great, and it’s possible the feet are on backward (since there are no instructions beyond “Sew in feet”, and the seam I put at the back of the feet was referred to as the “back seam”, but now that they’re on they look wrong to me) but I’m willing to live with these issues). Unfortunately, the head/face has me completely baffled. This is the piece of fabric that is supposed to be the head (ignore the washed out colour (it’s black) and concentrate on the shape):


When folded roughly in half, I can sort of see how it’s sheep-head-like:


But I can’t in any way see how it should be sewn together to produce the head, especially the nose, which seems to me destined to be square and very un-sheepy. Nor am I even clear on which end attaches to the neck. These are the instructions for sewing together and attaching the head:

“Join back head seam. Stuff body. Join underchin seam of head from marker to cast-off edge, then with seam at centre, join cast-off edge. Stuff head. Sew head in place, stuffing as necessary.”

My questions are: what’s the ‘back’ head seam? Where’s the ‘underchin seam’? What does the next bit mean? What’s the ‘place’ that the head should be sewn in? Do all of these seams even refer to the piece marked “Head” in the pattern, or do some of them refer to the body, which also has a part labelled “Back Head” and some markers?

As you can tell, I’m deeply confused. If anyone has made Nellie, or can understand my ramblings and bad photography well enough to tell me what to do, I’d be immensely grateful for any advice. Otherwise, I guess I’ll just try every possible topographical manipulation, until something resembles a sheep…

Or I’ll just tell the baby it’s an extinct and/or mythical beast with no head. What do babies know, anyway?!

Posted by Aven at May 19, 2006 06:32 PM

Yikes, ok that is scary….I have stared at that for a long time and I have got nothing

Posted by: Dani at May 19, 2006 08:41 PM

Hmmm… I don’t have the book nor have I knit Nellie the sheep or any sheep for that matter, however based on the top view from the knitting book I believe the sheep’s neck is pointing down rather than up, see how the back & head are level. You will need to un-do your sewing on the neck/head. Take of some of the stuffing in the neck/head. Sew up the area you had as the head opening as that is the top of the head, the face opening should face the front (of the neck looking part), the black face bit is not sewn together with it’s self rather it is placed on the neck/head opening like a mask and stitched around stuffing as you go to create the face/ muzzle. The back head seam & underchin seam refer to the seams on the body, meaning center the black face bit to these seams. As you said, what babies know anyway, just say it is an exotic breed not normally seen in Canada or call it a llama they are funny looking. Not that your sheep is funny looking … just um…you know unique.

Posted by: Paula at May 20, 2006 01:48 AM

i knit a pig that had a similar structure a while ago, I think Paula has it right. In teh book photos you can see a seam along the back of the sheep, which i assume is the “back head seam”, then I assume there’s a seam underneath too….being teh “underchin seam”. Then you should have an opening left, which is where you would put the face.
Good luck!

Posted by: Dianna at May 21, 2006 06:52 PM

That sounds about right to me too, but I’m equally horrible at visualizing. The head doesn’t look like it should be folded at all, but, as Paula stated, sewn on like a mask.

I hate it when the directions are ambiguous at best. I’m almost done sewing a blouse but for the life of me, can’t figure out how I’m supposed to attach the cuff.

If you watch Stargate SG1, you can tell the baby that the sheep is Aphophis ascended. (and if you don’t, that makes absolutely no sense whatsover, so ignore it).

Posted by: Carrie K at May 23, 2006 04:25 PM

My daughter has the EXACT SAME SHEEP. Imagine my shock when I saw your pictures of the item in progress! (Which is weird, since my MIL bought it somewhere for her. For the sake of Debbie Bliss’ copyright rights, I certainly hope it was purchased at some kind of charity sale.) Anyway, my point is…I would be more than happy to take lots of pictures of DD’s sheep for you at whatever angles you deem helpful. Just say the word.

Posted by: Kathleen at May 24, 2006 05:27 PM

Have put your lovely little blue sweater and booties up as my desktop picture. Perhaps the sheep will replace it when rescued from it’s current faceless state….

Posted by: Mom at May 24, 2006 10:12 PM

aack! me writing it’s. slap slap!

Posted by: Mom at May 24, 2006 10:13 PM