An elephant in a day?

A couple of weeks ago, I set myself a challenge. You see, I really wanted to make Ysolda Teague‘s Elijah to send up to Canuckia with The Nephew’s birthday sweater. The sweater took too long, alas, and other commitments prevailed, but that day I realized that a) the sweater wouldn’t get to the post office until the next day, and b) it was Sunday, which I have declared watch-eleventy-mysteries-and-knit-what-you-want day. (Midsomer Murders is my current series of choice, and it looks like that well may never run dry.) So, the question was, could I make an elephant in a day? I had to find out. For SCIENCE!

Step 1: A strong cup of tea. Well, actually, a pot.

This may be a two-pots-of-tea kind of job.

Step 2: Convince Chicken-Leg Al the Wonder Cat to relinquish the yarn.

My yarn. Mine.

It being Sunday, I was hardly up with the birds, and this idea didn’t occur to me until I was two cups into the day. Thus, at the civilized hour of 10:37am, my needles and I got to work. I knit like the wind. Like the wind, I say. Took a break for lunch at 1:15, and was back to work by 1:40, with a second pot of tea. Green this time; my black tea is like rocket fuel, and two pots of that would leave me a gibbering idiot. Or more of a gibbering idiot.

The head was not quite done, which sounds discouraging, but it took me about half an hour to correctly execute the cast on (an ingenious one for centre-out projects that I had not previously encountered). I figured I still had a chance. By about 2:15 I had me an elephant head, and by 5:15, the body was finished.

The tea was all gone, and I'd earned a reward. Plus, I needed something for scale.

At around 8:30, I bound off the second leg. Great day in the morning, I might actually pull this off.

An hour for dinner, then I started the arms. Halfway through the first arm, my dad called. I briefly considered answering with, “Can’t talk; making an elephant,” and hanging up, which is when I realized that I may have lost perspective on this thing. I talked to my dad, then went and had a nice, hot shower to work the kinks out. Then back to work, with only 1.5 arms and an ear to go.

Now here’s the thing: you look at those arms (see below) and think, “That’ll take no time! Look at them. They’re tiny. It’ll be a doddle.” However, each part of this elephant is worked by picking up stitches rather than making it in pieces and sewing it together, and you stuff each piece as you go. This is smart, because it means that the toy has no weak points that will give way to tiny but incredibly strong hands. The tradeoff is that with each piece, you add to the weight and awkwardness that will be hanging off your needles when you work the next piece. So those arms? Not as much of a doddle as you’d think. (I should point out that this pattern is not designed for high-speed competition knitting, and under normal knitting circumstances devoid of ridiculous self-imposed time restrictions, this awkwardness would not really be a problem.) At any rate, I bound off the second arm at 3 am.

And you thought 'e was 'armless.

Exhausted and achey, I realized that poor Mr. Olliphaunt would have to remain earless for the night. Or, as it turned out, for several nights. After about 16 hours of almost constant labour over this thing, it was a couple of days before I could pick Ollie up again. He did get finished in the end, though, and was last seen being dragged about by one of those ears, clutched in the hands of a loving toddler who would shout “OLLIPHAUNT!” at the slightest provocation.

Caution: elephant may be far less pink than he appears. Alas, I have no photo of Sir Olliphaunt, Esq. with said toddler.

Thus we learn that should the occasion arise when the swift production of a small, stuffed pachyderm is all that stands between humanity and imminent destruction, I may not be your gal, but I’ll give it a good, solid try. Also that self-imposed olympic-style knitting challenges are a bit silly.

4 Comments

  1. I applaud your dedication. And self-imposed insanity! But I bet that Mr Olliphaunt will be a perrenial favourite – and hopefully his ears won’t fall off through excessive toddler love. Very cute 🙂

  2. Alison James

    I love Mr. Oliphaunt!

  3. […] here is Chicken-leg Al the Wonder Cat. You may remember him from such posts as An Elephant in a Day, Which Inexplicably Disappeared to Some Place Called Canada, Which is Weird Bec…, Lady, it’s Raining, Would You Let Me IN Already, and A Brand New Thing for Me to Sit […]

  4. […] he should have a bunny, too. For Nephew 2’s bunny I went with Ysolda Teague’s Sophie. I’ve had good luck with Ysolda’s toy patterns: the toys are sweet, the patterns are well-written, and […]

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