Introduction: "Mabel" a Knitted Soft Bunny for Little Hands (or Big Hands)
I have been wanting to make a stuffed doll or toy for ages and ages. So, I finally got everything together and here is Mabel. Mabel is actually my Grandmother's name. She was a neat lady and I miss her. It seemed a very appropriate name for this bunny since my grandmothers (both of them) had a hand in teaching me to knit and crochet.
This project is more of an intermediate level. A beginner could definitely tackle it and that is why I linked videos and pages for explanations of stitches that I thought needed more help. But the pattern is actually very straight forward and she went together quite easily. I was especially pleased with the little face. She is so sweet!
I am not putting how long it took me to make her not because the time was really long, but because I don't actually know. Also, knitting and crocheting are skills that are different for everyone. I crochet super fast and my knitting is getting faster. As usual, I measured, knitted, ripped, tweaked and knitted again as I went. All I can say is that this isn't a lengthy all winter project. She was a quick and fun project. I think that I took more time choosing color combinations than actually knitting or crocheting at times.
Mabel has given me confidence to move onto dolls for my girls and do other things. I hope you love this pattern as much as I do. It was fun!
Step 1: Cast of Characters...
I had fun creating Mabel, this little snuggle bunny. She is stuffed with just the right amount of fiber fill-not enough to be stiff but enough to squish. My kids loved to carry her around. I had to make up a strict "Do Not get her dirty!" rule before I finished her clothing and took pictures for the instructable. Back to what you will need:
- I knit big so I used double pointed needles sizes 2 and 3 (2 sets of 4 needles each).
- Crochet hook of whatever size you prefer, I used a size E and G. Go with how big you want the booties, flowers and little shirt.
- Tape measure and row counter
- Crochet stitch markers. You can use knitting stitch markers, I prefer crochet markers because they are detachable rather than immovable only during knitting.
- YARN-you can choose whatever type you like, meaning acrylic, wool or cotton. I chose "I Love this Cotton!". This yarn comes in skeins of 180 yards, medium weight of 4 and very pretty colors. I chose the following: Dove (main body), Pewter (ears), Cotton Candy (shirt and trim of booties), Pink (tights of legs), Amethyst (skirt). Cotton yarn feels nice, is soft for little hands (and big hands) and generally doesn't pill. This brand also wears very well and if you do need to wash it, it launders well. I had more than enough yarn for this project (possibly to make her a friend).
- Buttons or embroidery floss for the face/eyes/whiskers
- Last but not least, a tapestry needle to put it all together and weave in ends.
Now, a note about how I knitted Little Mabel. I used Double Pointed Needles (DPN) because I knit most things in the round. I do this because I find knitting in the round to be easier and because (I will be honest here) I am a lazy knitter. Knitting flat and seaming later doesn't appeal to me. Putting in the extra steps of blocking (I do block my knitting, though) and seaming is extra work and time spent plus it always looks bulky to me. If this is new to you, I have included a wonderful video that shows how to join stitches that have been cast onto DPNs. Knitting in the round is quite easy and I can avoid purling unless I want to, which is another bonus. For casting on, I cast on using the long-tail cast on stitch so I have a more stable beginning AND I cast on and knit the first row at the same time (lazy knitter, remember?) Oh, beware with knitting in the round and DO NOT accidentally knit the tail yarn instead of the working yarn. You will have to rip it out and start again. Plus, you will cry-trust me. I did just that while making Mabel. I think it was the ears?
Another note about Mabel is gauge. Most knitted or crocheted projects have some gauge or suggestion about gauge. I don't. My only guideline is that if you knit big, use a smaller DPN. If you knit small, you can use a larger DPN. The only thing that will change is how large Mabel turns out to be when she is done. My Mabel measures 13" from top of her head to the bottom of her feet. I used the larger needles for the body and the smaller needles for the clothing so the clothing would fit a bit snugger. However, realize that larger knitting needles will create larger stitches and you will be able to see the stuffing when you are finished. So there, you have been warned. So, chose your cast of characters and go to work!
Step 2: Start From the Legs Up-at Least I Did. Remember to Make 2!
- Grab the Pink or whatever color is going to be the legs and one DPN and cast on 24 stitches and join in a round.
- K1 stitch and increase one stitch ( by yarning over or knit 1 make 1-your choice) for next 22 stitches. I have done both and I like K1M1 the best. Less holes later on from yarning over.
- knit 16 more rows
Begin to shape the foot as follows: (this is the fun part!)
- K9 stitches then K2 stitches together 14 times in a row, then K9
- K1 row
- K9 stitches then K2 stitches together 7 times in a row, then K9
- K38 rows or how ever long you want her legs to be.
To finish the top and make a sort of hip joint:
- K4 stitches then K2 stitches together 3 times, K5 stitches, K2 together 3 times, K4 stitches.
- Cast off loosely.
- I gathered slightly to fit the legs more snugly onto the body and to give a better look to the legs. I used the length of the yarn after I finished casting off. Leave a tail.
- Lastly-seam up the bottom of the foot as in the last two pictures. Use whatever stitch you prefer. I did small whip stitches that are flat.
Step 3: Mabel Gets Her Body...from the Neck Down
Using the size 3 DPNs, take the Dove cotton yarn and
- cast on 15 stitches. Once again, divide between 3 needles of 5 stitches per needle and join in a round.
- Knit 1 round. If you are new to knitting in the round, it's a little small knitting this way but stick with it. So much easier than purling!
- Next round-K1 stitch (K1 stitch then M1 stitch) all the way around to increase the number of stitches in the round to 29.
- Knit 1 round.
- Knit 2 stitches then M1 stitch 7 times, K1 then Knit 2 stitches and Make 1 stitch 7 times-43 stitches.
- Now we start to add length to her neck and body-I knitted about 10 rounds. The more rounds you knit here, the longer her upper torso will be. Design her yourself. This is approximately the third picture from the left.
- We add to her girth: K7, increase 1 stitch 4 times, K1. Increase 1, K7 stitches 3 times-50 stitches. Note: Having the knit and increase stitches in the opposite direction has the girth lean in on itself in a sphere. Better for her belly. ;-)
- Add more length to her torso by knitting more rows. I knitted 5 rows.
- Make Mabel's belly nice and round by K23, (increasing 1, K1) 3 times, then increasing 1, K23- 54 stitches. Note:If you want her to have a fatter belly just increase a few more stitches and increase the girth rounds by a few more lengths. I stopped here. I liked her belly just the way it was.
- Knit 9 more rows
- K21 stitches, SSK (Slip, slip knit for left slant decrease) K1, SSK, K1, K2 stitches together(k2tog), K1, k2tog, K21 stitches
- Knit 6 more rows to go down her torso to decrease.
- K19, SSK, K1, SSK, K1, K2tog, K1, K2tog, K19. If you had increased her belly more than I had, decrease in the same manner just make the beginning and ending stitches symmetrical. These are the 2nd and 3rd photos from the left.
- Knit 5 rows in a round. Now we are getting to the end of her body. Get ready to finish the decrease.
- Knit 1 and Knit 2 together all around to cut the number of stitches in half. You should have about 23-25 stitches left.
- Knit 1 more round.
- Cast off and leave a long tail. Leave the opening unsewn to aid in stuffing in just a little while. Shown in the last photo on the right
Step 4: Let's Knit the Head-
Continuing on with Dove:
- Cast on and join in a round 11 stitches-this is the back of the head.
- knit 1 more in a round
- K1 stitch then increase 1 stitch, K1 all around to double the amount of stitches.
- K1 1 round
- K1 stitch then increase 1 stitch, K1 all around again to double stitches again.
- knit 5 rows
- K1, increase 1 stitch K3 stitches all around the last stitch then increase 1 and K1.
- K21 rounds to make the head.
- with this round begin decrease and form the face.
- K1, K2tog all around to the end of round.
- Knit 10 rounds
- K1, K2tog all around to end to decrease stitches in half again.
- Knit 1 row.
- Do not cast off, thread the end of the yarn through a tapestry needle and carefully take the needles out. Thread the needle through the open stitches and pull tight to gather to form the nose. This makes a cute face. Refer to the last photo.
- The cast on opening is still open for stuffing. This will be gathered and closed later. The closure is virtually unnoticeable.
Step 5: To Arms! This Is Why I Don't Like to Seam....so Tiny
I chose to keep her body (except for her ears) Dove: NOTE--you need to make 2 of these!
- Cast on 9 stitches and distribute on the 3 needles and join in round. This is the shoulder joint.
- Knit 1 round.
- K1, increase 1, Knit 1 all around to double the number of stitches
- Knit 1 row
- K5, increase 1, K2, 2 times, increase 1, K1, increase 1, (K2, increase 1) 2 times, K5 --this is the full girth of her arms.
- Knit 38-40 rows. Again you knit according to how long you want her arms to be. I knitted her arms 40 rows before I decreased.
- K1, K2tog all around to end.
- Just in the nose of the head, cut the yarn and thread through the stitches and pull to gather tight. That is the photo second from the right. In the end they look like little tubes. The best photo I have is the one on the right.
Step 6: Can't Forget Her Bunny Ears. So Cute!
Finally a color change. I went to Pewter for these:
- These two ears are the only items that I knitted flat (gasp!). I had to knit and purl--back and forth. What a change from going in the round. But they turned out super cute. Here we go.
- Cast on 24 stitches. 1st photo on the left.
- Keep knitting for 42 rows. End on a purl row so the decrease begins on a knit row.
- SSK, then knit to last two stitches and K2tog.
- Purl all rows in between decrease rows.
- For following knit rows: SSK, then knit to last two stitches then K2tog.
- Decrease until 4 stitches remain. You will have very nice slanted ear. Middle photo.
- I thought that the plain ear was VERY boring. And drab. I dislike drab. So I crocheted a picot stitch around the ear beginning at the flat cast on end. I did not chain a foundation around the ear because I didn't want to add bulk on the ear. I just did the picot with the knit stitches as the foundation stitches. Picot: connect the yarn, *sc (single crochet), chain 2, sl st in same stitch. Skip a stitch ,sc in next stitch* repeat around to end and end in the last stitch with a sc.
- Block the ear lightly with a steam iron. I turned the ear over so I wouldn't crush the picot.
- To attach the ear, I folded the ear in half and stitched with the long tail from the cast on. 2nd photo from right. The photo on the right is of the ears attached to the head. I positioned them 1 1/4" apart on the middle of the head and to show off the center of the ear, I sewed them on with the ear folded back open. Mainly I did this because I like the knitted side rather than the purled side.
Step 7: A Whole New Cast of Characters. Let's Meet Them.
Well maybe not a whole new cast. Just 2 new characters, Fiberfill and a pencil with an eraser. It's important that the pencil have an eraser. The pencil doesn't have to be sharp. You won't write with it, you will need it to grip the stuffing and poke it into Mabel's body parts. Sound like fun? It is.
- I started with her arms because they were the smallest and I wanted them out of the way first. Top row, 4th photo from the left. Just hold it and start stuffing in the fiberfill with the pencil. Fill her as firm or as loose as you want. It's up to you. I sewed the arms shut at the top when I finished.
- The I moved to her little head. This one you have to stuff a little firmer. Work the filling in by her nose in small amounts and when the head is full, squeeze the nose portion to make it stand out more. When you are done with the head, gather the back by threading the cast on thread through the cast on stitches and pull tight. The opening will close tight.
- As previously mentioned, this is when I attached the ears.
- Now, I made her face. The ears helped to center her eyes and nose. I put her eyes where the nose decreased from the head. I used buttons. I liked the look. You can use yarn or floss to make french knots. I chose pink buttons that didn't match for a more patchwork look. I sewed them on with cream embroidery floss together through the face so the face would have a more realistic look. 5th photo from right.
- With brown floss, I did a little nose and mouth by stitching a Y shape and straight line on the front of the nose. 2nd and 3rd photos from right. This was rather easy and didn't take long. I added whiskers as an afterthought. After more thought, I grabbed the brown floss again and gave her eyelashes. She is a girl after all.
- I stuffed the body pretty firmly as she would be sitting. Then I stitched the neck closed rather than gather it. This makes it easier to attach the head. Sew the bottom the same way as the legs need to sewed on the bottom.
- Stuff the legs with the pencil. The eraser will help to get the feet stuffed firmly. The feet turned out to be bigger than I thought they would be. When the legs were stuffed, I sewed the legs up and gathered up the tops and attached them to the body. Bottom row, 3rd and 4th photo from right.
- Attaching the arms to the body was the most fun. I took 2 white buttons and squeezed the body with the arms on either side. Then I sewed the arms through the buttons. This made a movable arm joint PLUS it gave her a more vintage feel and look. Bottom row, 2 photo from the right. Her arms move together or separately.
- Last photo on the bottom right. She is put together and ready for clothing!
Step 8: Mabel's A-line Skirt in Amethyst
Mabel is a girly little bunny that likes to wear skirts and flowery things. I knitted her a little skirt.
- With Amethyst, cast on 76 stitches and distribute between the 3 needles just like before. Join in the round.
- Knit 14 rounds
- Place a marker at the 38th stitch.
- Begin decrease by SSK, knit to marker and K2tog, knit to end.
- Repeat this for 6 more rows. This creates a steep slant for the A-line skirt.
- Knit 19 more rounds.
- Decrease row- Knit 1 stitch then K2tog. This makes a little waist band that hugs her belly.
- Purl one row-purely decoration. Trust me. I avoid purling but it looks nice.
- Knit 4 more rows in the round and cast off LOOSELY. It has to be loosely or you will have trouble getting the skirt over her big feet and belly.
- Now, because the skirt was just knitted at the bottom, it curled up and again was rather drab. I crocheted a simple scallop on the bottom. Her skirt is small so the scallop has to be small. Chain a foundation around the bottom of the skirt in multiple of 3. Then ch 3 and sk 2 ch and sc in next ch *sc, ch 3, sk 2 ch, sc in next ch* repeat from * around. the scallop is shown in right photo.
Step 9: Adding to the Ensemble Is a Crocheted Top With Short, Cap Sleeves.
I decided to crochet the top because of texture. Knitting is really nice and uniform, but let's face it-knitting has 2 stitches: Knit and Purl. That is it. Whereas crochet has a whole slew of stitches and combinations to make beautiful patterns. Plus, I can crochet super, super fast. That is a plus. Mabel is a smallish bunny and I needed a smallish stitch pattern for her top. I played around with several and settled on a "Petite Shell" pattern. I used the Cotton Candy yarn and was pleased at the Hydrangea colors that came out in the pattern. There is a vertical stripe instead of the horizontal stripe that knitting would have created. It is as follows:
- Chain an even number of stitches-I measured Mabel and went with 36 and the E hook. NOTE: if you "hook" big or small change hook size accordingly.
- Making sure that the chain does not twist, join with a slip stitch. This is important or when you get to the end, it won't work and you will have to start over and you may cry. I have-done both that is.
- The foundation row you will only crochet once. Chain 4 and in 4th ch from the sl st (beg st. ) make a small shell as follows (1 sc, ch 2, 1 sc) *skip next ch (1 sc, ch 2, 1 sc) in next ch, rep from * all the way around the last 2 ch and skip 1 ch and in the last ch, 1 hdc (how to make a Half Double Crochet or hdc)
- Crochet the following row for 3 inches. I actually kept measuring on Mabel make sure it would fit from her waist to her armpit (do stuffed bunnies have armpits? That opens up a whole other conversation!). Anyway, for her it was 3 inches. Here we go: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc), *(1sc, 2 ch, 1 sc) in next ch 2 space from foundation row, rep from * across to end. in last stitch 1 hdc in top of turning chain.
- Once you get to the 3 inches. I centered for the bodice. I then slip stitched over about (I say about because this was my stitching and yours may be different) 2 inches. I then repeated the petite shell --
- (1sc, 2 ch, 1 sc) 7 times to make the front bodice on the 1st three rows. Then I had to decrease it for the neckline by slipstitching over one shell on either side and it was 5 shells for 1 row and then 3 shell for the top neckline. Crocheting doesn't need casting off, you just cut the yarn and tie it and weave in the end. this shell also has a pretty finish to the top.
- Back bodice was a repeat of the front bodice. Just turn it over. It was even easier the second time around.
- The sleeves are simply more petite shells. I did chain an even amount of stitches all around the armhole and then picked up stitches going outward. If you look in the photo on the right, you can see that the sleeve pattern goes in the direction of her arms. I did 5 rows and didn't decrease at all. I simply went all the way around the arm without worrying about the girth. The armhole worked out. If you think it will be too big, take a stitch and make it smaller before you chain around it.
- Once again, I jazzed up the bottom with a chain 3 loop. I started at one side and *ch3, sl st in next stitch, skip 2 st, rep from * all the way around.
Step 10: Booties to Finish Things Off!
Mabel kind of has big feet so I took a generic baby bootie an tweaked it to fit her. I used the Stonewash yarn and size E and G hooks. The larger one for the sole and the smaller one to tighten up the shoe part. The booties weren't hard, I just had to keep measuring as I went. Play around with yours according to how the bunny feet turn out. Mine were about 3 1/2 inches long.
- For the sole, with size G hook, chain 10 Rnd 1- Ch 10, 2 hdc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next 6 sts, 6 hdc in next st. NOTE: Now you will be working on the opposite side of foundation chain. 1 hdc in next 6 sts. 2 hdc in last st. Do not sl st in 1st hdc of this rnd. Rnd 2- Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous rnd. 2 hdc in next 2 sts. 1 hdc in next 7 sts. 2 dc in next 6 sts. 1 hdc in next 7 sts. 2 hdc in next 2 sts. Do not sl st in 1st hdc of this rnd.Rnd 3- Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous rnd. 1 hdc in next 2 sts. 2 hdc in next 3 sts. 1 hdc in next 4 sts. 1 dc in next 3 sts. *2 dc in next st. 1 dc in next st. Repeat from the * 6 times. 1 dc in next 3 sts. 1 hdc in next 4 sts. 2 hdc in next 2 sts. 1 hdc and 1 sc in next st. Sl st in 1st st of this rnd. Keep the yarn going as you will be using the same color for the shoe:
- Rnd 1- Ch1, 1 sc in the same st, but only through the back loop. (Note: Continue crocheting the sts in this rnd, only in the back loop.This makes is look like there is a sole to the shoe) 1 sc all around the sole to the end. Do not sl st in 1st sc of this rnd.
- Rnd 2 – 3- Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous rnd. 1 sc in every st all around. Do not sl st in 1st sc of this rnd.
- Rnd 4- Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous rnd. 1 sc in next 12 sts. *1 sc2tog. 1 sc in next st. Repeat from the * 7 times (place a crochet marker to help with the count). 1 sc in next 11 sts. Do not sl st in 1st sc of this rnd.
- Rnd 5- Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous rnd. 1 sc in 1st st, 1 sc2tog. 1 sc in next 11 sts. *1 sc2tog. 1 sc in next st. Repeat from the * 5 times (place marker again to help with count). 1 sc in next 10 sts. 1 sc2tog. 1 sc in next st. Do not sl st in 1st sc of this rnd.
- Rnd 6- Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous
rnd. 1 sc in next 10 sts. 2 hdc2tog, 2 dc2tog, 2 hdc2tog. 1 sc in next 9 sts. Do not sl st in 1st sc of this rnd.
Rnd 7- I added a trim. I changed to Cotton Candy for variety. You don't have to. Start crocheting in 1st st from the previous rnd. 1 sc in each st all around to end. Sl st in 1st st of this rnd. Fasten off, and weave in loose ends.
FLOWERS The flowers are an extra that dress up the shoes and her top. Made out of Amethyst yarn.
5 petal flower took me about 3 minutes to do. Here's what you do: Ch 5 and join in a ring, then 10 sc in ring (2 sc in each ch). Next *ch 2 and in next ch do 4 treble crochet (How to make a Treble Crochet stitch-tr) then ch 2, sl st in next st, and repeat from*. when you get to the end, you should have 5 little petals that are full and beautiful. Finish off and attach to the shoe. I actually sewed the petals onto the shoe with the yarn ends so they wouldn't flop around. I am OCD that way.
4 petal flower on her shirt is made in much the same way except with double crochet (dc) instead of tr. Ch 4 and join in ring, 2 sc in each ch. Next, *ch 1 and in next ch dc 3 times then ch 1 and sl st in next st, and repeat from *. I had a cute little flower just the right size for her shirt. Again I sewed down the petals.
NOTE: If children aren't going to be playing with this, you could sew more buttons on this by putting buttons on the flowers or on the skirt. I thought about it, but decided not to go there. The button on her eyes and shoulder joints are sewed with embroidery floss and very firmly. They are not going anywhere and my bunny isn't being played with by small children. My kids are older.