How to Knit a Bunny

It has been awhile since Wyatt has participated in the craft exchange with Benjamin.

On his last turn, in February, Benjamin sent Wyatt the most incredible felted owl in a nest. And then, for Wyatt's birthday, he sent Wyatt a teddy bear scarf he had knitted, and he also sent him a copy of Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson.

Since about April, Wyatt has been focused on learning to knit. For anyone who has ever tried to learn to knit, you know how slow and frustrating it can be. Even with the rhyme ("In through the front door, running 'round the back, peeping through the window, and off jumps Jack!"), stuff happens that you truly hate. Stitches get too tight, your head starts to hurt, stitches drop, you find that you have wrapped yarn in weird ways that make no sense, and sometimes, you want to scream, "STUPID JACK!!" and then hurl the whole mess across the room.

But, eventually, it gets easier. Soon, you can do two rows without stopping, and some days you can do four. And eventually, after a couple of months, you find that you are so close to having a square, you just keep knitting until your eyes cross and you're there! It's a square! Then you can wander around the house with your knitted square for a bit, hugging it, pulling it by its yarn tail and pretending it's a pet, all the while celebrating that it's a square, free and safely cast-off from the needles.

But then? It's time to make it into a bunny. (I learned how to make a bunny from the parent craft circle.) Here's how we did it.

You'll need: Bunny-colored yarn, white yarn, knitting needles, a blunt tapestry needle, stuffing fluff, a smallish bunny-butt-sized flat stone, and if you want a face, buttons and some pink yarn for a nose.

Knit a Square:

Take your bunny-colored yarn and appropriately sized needles for that yarn to get a nice cushy square. Wyatt has been using some pretty fluffy, low-twist yarn and size 10 needles. Cast on 20 stitches. Knit row after row, maintaining your stitch count of 20, until you have a square. You can check for square-ness by folding a lower corner up to the needle. When you see one triangle with no left-over rectangle, you'll know you have a square. (Or you can use a ruler and measure until the sides are even.) Cast off your square and dance around!

Make the Bunny's Head and Ears:

Take some masking tape and make a triangle like this. Thread a tapestry needle with a length of yarn about 8 inches longer than the perimeter of the triangle. If you can, choose a yarn that constrasts a little bit with the bunny yarn you've used so that you can see your stitches. Using a running stitch (over-under-over-under with your needle), and starting at the left corner, leave a 3- to 4-inch tail and stitch along the outer edge of masking tape from the left corner up to the top, and down the other side of the triangle. Tear off the two pieces of tape where you have just stitched, then stitch across the hypotenuse on the inside of the remaining piece of masking tape.

When your last stitch meets your first stitch, you're done with the triangle. Take hold of both ends of the yarn and gently pull the yarn so that you cinch the triangle together. Work the stitches and fabric gently because you don't want to break the yarn!

The head will appear at the center of the triangle, and the ears will take shape from there. It's so fun when the head appears! Before you cinch it super tight, stuff it with fluff so it's sort of firm. Then take the remaining yarn and stitch the stuffing hole closed.

Make the Bunny's Body:

Using an overhand (or whip stitch), close the bunny's spine. Stuff the bunny's body with fluff so it's sort of firm. Drop in the flat, bunny-butt-sized stone. Using a running stitch, go around the edge of the hole, leaving a tail of yarn at the beginning. Cinch the hole closed, pulling gently. Tie it and stitch the hole shut.

Make the Bunny's Tail:

Make a pompom. I hate making pompoms so much. There are a ton of online tutorials for how to make pompoms. Have a look around and see which one you like. (We go with the two cardboard donuts technique. ) Maybe you'll love making pompoms. Let me know if you do, because I am in favor of anyone but me making them. Trim the pompom to the size you like and then stitch the pompom to where the tail should be.


Weave in any loose ends and trim them. If you want, stitch on buttons for eyes and a little triangle for the nose.

Take some pictures of your bunny before you send it to your friend. Finally, cast on a new square to start a bunny for yourself.

Halloween Countdown

Look what I found in the garden!

Last year for Halloween, Wyatt was an elephant. This year, he wanted to be a panda. I offered to knit him a panda hat and sew him a panda costume. He vehemently objected. "NO MOM. I want you to knit one JUST LIKE last year, only black and white, and we can paint rainbow buttons." Little known fact: Pandas are creatures of habit.

There was no way I was knitting another Union Suit, especially considering the first one still fits. Also, one of my rationalizations for knitting an entire Halloween costume is that I get to learn something new, so repeating a pattern wouldn't work. It took me several weeks, but I finally convinced Wyatt that the way to go this year was a pair of Hammer-style knitted play pants and a cardigan with a simple, panda-esque yoke. I sold him on the practicality of having a two-piece garment when he needed to go to the bathroom, promised he could paint buttons for the panda hat, and told him I'd put as many buttons as I could on the cardigan. It was May when we reached an agreement, in case you're curious about the timeline on a project like this. Then it was time to shop for yarn.

In addition learning something new, this knitting exercise requires my using sustainably and ethically made materials. While the yarns suggested for both of the patterns sounded lovely, I opted to use Quince & Co. yarns. Quince uses 100% American wool, and the wool is processed, spun, and dyed responsibly in the United States. I also used the leftover cotton fabric and thread from last year, and got buttons, once again, from Honey Be Good.

Substituting yarns in a pattern can be tricky, and the sweater and play pants patterns were no exception. I opted for Lark, which is a worsted weight yarn, even though both patterns were written for lighter weight yarns. I did a lot of swatching, modifying, measuring, and cursing as I went along. In the end, I made it all work.

I started with the hat (in Puffin), went on to the play pants (they photograph terribly, so there's no image of them alone), and then I did the cardigan. Why this order? As I told Marc, if were hit by a bus before finishing the cardigan, he could go get a 3/4-length sleeve black and white baseball shirt, and Halloween would be just fine. The big thing I learned from this costume is how to steek a cardigan. After getting past the terror, there's something truly empowering about slicing up the middle a sweater you just finished knitting, especially when it works as beautifully as it did here.

Last, Wyatt and I built a belly for the panda. We sewed three sides of a belly-sized rectangle of pink cotton interlock fabric to an old t-shirt of Wyatt's, stuffed it medium-full with stuffing I had stashed in a closet, and then we sewed the fourth side. Instant panda! Ha.

The one thing we forgot to do was grow bamboo. Does "fast growing" mean we can have stalks in a week? We'll see.