I participate in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long, hosted on Ravelry every year. I’m a participating designer, but I really enjoy taking the 5-6 weeks beginning in mid to late December. I actually bought the pattern for Ella Austin’s Fancy Hen a couple of years ago, but finally made it this year.
It’s such a lovely quick little knit, with super easy to memorize colourwork. This would actually make a great little pattern for somebody wanting to dip their toe into multi-strand knitting, but doesn’t want to worry too much about steeking or really complex colourwork.
I went with a slightly lighter weight yarn than called for in the pattern – I have a stash of Knit Picks Palette which is perfect for something like this (the pattern calls for DK weight). My hen still came out a good size, about 9″ across, which I consider perfectly cromulent, especially since it’s intended for a baby that will get to play with it a bit, but will mostly sit around until she’s old enough to sleep/play.
You start at the bottom, working your way up, doing the colourwork, then holding the back stitches while you complete the neck/head. You then go back, add the tail, then do kitchener stitch to seam up the back. You then knit the cockscombs and the beak and sew those on separately (they are small and fiddly, but worth it).
I used wool for the stuffing. Being a spinner I have lots of that sitting around, often odds and ends I keep separate that I use specifically for stuffing. For projects that require larger amounts of stuffing, I like to get futon roving from Custom Woolen Mills, which is outside of Carstairs, about 2 hours south of me. It’s basically wool they can’t use for their rovings, yarn, or batting that is required to be cleaner. So you get something that may have bits and bobs of different colours, or lots more vegetable matter than can be used. It’s essentially a waste product they sell for cheap and is perfect for stuff like this, and I usually have some on hand.
The pattern calls for button eyes, which are extraordinarily cute, but since this is for a baby I opted for felt eyes instead, which I just whip stitched on with some cotton thread.
Upon showing this to my mom, she requested one as well, so I’ll be making another one in the new year using some different colours (yellow again in Knit Picks Palette, and likely a rusty orange I have in some of the Cheviot I had spun up locally and naturally dyed). I’ll show that one off in a month or two.