The long and short of it – mystery solved

My first Alan Dart project

Alan Dart holds a god-like status amongst some knitters, on account of his many patterns for soft toys. In particular he designs detailed figures based on the human form. I’m not really sure that the term “soft toys” does them justice, they are more like knitted figurines that stand up by themselves and are meant to be displayed. I need to make some Christmas tree decorations so I thought I’d try repurposing one of these figurines, a classic nutcracker in soldier form.

Well, I should have known what I was letting myself in for when I saw the length of the pattern, Brave Hero, which was originally published in Simply Knitting magazine. It’s five pages long, although admittedly one of them is a photo of the finished article. For something that’s only about a foot tall, that’s a lot of instructions.

There were numerous pieces, all knitted flat. I showed the body and various boot components in my last post. On top of that I had to knit two arms, the skirt of his tunic, a hat plume, belt buckle, hair, beard, two halves of his moustache and even a nose, for goodness’ sake. Life really is too short for knitting noses, in my opinion. And if I’d been making the nutcracker to stand up as intended I’d have had to make a base and a lever for his back too, but since he’s going to be hanging on a Christmas tree facing outwards I dispensed with those.

Stuffed sheep toyAfter much laborious darning in of multi-coloured ends, mattress stitching, stuffing and sewing together, the step I always dread was reached: embroidering the features.

Anything I have to put a face onto is a disaster, you only have to look at Ewenace the sheep to see that.

But I took my time with this chap and there were lots of close-up photos in the pattern. I don’t think he’s turned out too badly, all things considered.

Nutcrack head close-upThanks to drinking straws in his legs, he will stand upright when leant against a wall. Quite how his straw-reinforced legs have become so bandy, I don’t know. I feel a bit sorry for him with his crooked legs (“Couldn’t stop a pig in a passage!”, as my mate Peter would say) and his boxer’s nose.

I have concluded that Alan Dart’s patterns are not for me, meticulously written though they are. It took an age to make this nutcracker, and I didn’t enjoy all the post-knitting work which probably took longer than the actual knitting.

Mini Father Christmas

Mini Father ChristmasAs a bit of light relief after that, I knitted an amigurumi-style Father Christmas, in the round with I-cord limbs. He is much smaller, under 2” tall, and was done in an evening. Plus (big plus) the amount of sewing up, stuffing and embroidery was minimal.

I’ll knit some more of these, they’ll make sweet little present-toppers as well as tree decorations, and I might even hang a string of them across the fireplace as Christmas bunting.


About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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