Sewing on Stegosaurus Plates And Floppy Arms
As part of my plan to clear out all of my hibernating projects, I finally have to confront the fact that I need to sew 11 plates to the back of my Sherman the Stegosaurus. Really, that was the reason I stopped working on him... mattress stitching 11 flat pieces to a stegosaurus is not my idea of fun.
I'm one of those unusual knitters who actually enjoys the process of finishing, but for some reason trying to sew on these sorts of flat pieces-- be it a dinosaur's plate or a monkey's leg-- ties my brain into knots. Usually, I will get near the end and discover that I have too few stitches left to get back to the start of the seam, or the spacing between the limbs is off. I've tried whip stitching the edges to the body, but it looks ugly and not very secure. It just makes finishing, well, not as enjoyable.
Good news, though! I recently discovered (though I'm sure other people have figured it out before me) a technique that makes such flat, knitted pieces super easy. It can be used for more than just stegosaurus plates, too. A lot of other Danger Craft patterns feature critters with floppy limbs that are sewn on flat. I think that most stuffed toys are cuter with floppy arms and legs, so now knitted toys can be cute and simple!
The trick is actually in the cast-on. Using a standard cast-on (long-tail, for example) and joining in the round leaves two edges that will need to be sewn onto the main piece. However, using a seamless cast-on, like those used to make a toe-up sock, effectively leaves only one edge that can quickly be stitched into place.
I have found that Judy's Magic Cast-on works best, some of the other seamless cast-ons I've tried made for some loosey-goosey stitches, and it is no more difficult than a long-tail cast-on. I won't go into detail here about how to do it, but there is a wonderful tutorial on Knitty. In the photos, I'm working on the the largest plate. The pattern says to cast-on 18 stitches, so I have 9 on each needle.
Once the stitches are cast-on, the pattern can be worked just as it normally would. And once finished, I have a flat piece worked in the round with no bottom edge. See the knit stitches at the very bottom of the plate? That is where the piece will be attached; I can just zip straight across those stitches in mattress stitch and the work is done!
For this technique, I use a 1:1 stitch to row ratio; in this case, for each of the stitches on the plate, I will pick up on of the horizontal strands in between the stitches on the stegosaurus' body. Simplicity is the key here, so I don't bother with trying to get my rows and stitches perfectly matched up.
And when I'm done, I will knot off the tail end of yellow to secure it to the body and weave the end through the stuffing. One stegosaurus plate attached. Repeat 10 more times and I'll have a finished stegosaurus on my hands! But the actual sewing only took a minute, so 10 doesn't seem like such a scary number anymore!
But what if the bind-off edge is the one that will be seamed to the body? No worries! It works the same way... just graft the edges together and sew it on across the top exactly like I did above. The legs of the Louie the Lovebot I am also working on are worked from foot-up like this, so I just Kitchener the top of the leg and I'm ready to go!
Discovering this neat little trick has definitely made finishing my knitted animals much easier and more enjoyable. Try it out and see what you think... the world could always use another knitted robot or stegosaurus (or any other critter with floppy arms and legs!), and couldn't we all use another way to make things easier?