Introduction: Singing Crochet Chickadee

About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instruc…
In the Spring and Summer the cedars trees in my back yard are full of little Black-capped Chickadees flitting about singing their lovely song.  But during the Fall and Winter months they become scarce likely ranging farther out for food.  I miss seeing them and so does my cat who watches them from the window sill.  It inspired me to crochet my own little chickadee.  And to make it entertaining for my cat as well I incorporated some sound.  I used the circuit board from a Plant Pal moisture meter inside the chickadee and the sound is turned on when the bird sits on a metal plate.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Crocheting the chickadee
  • Yarn (weight 4) in black, grey, white, and off-white (you will also need a pot of strong coffee -see step 2 )
  • Crochet hook 2.5mm
  • Yarn needles
  • Eyes
  • Regular sewing needle and thread
  • Stuffing (I used leftover scraps of yarn)
  • Piece of wood and a drill
  • Floral stem wire
  • Brown yarn and 5.5 crochet hook
  • Sugru and small piece of metal
  • Brown paint
  • Wool roving (of pet fur) for felting berries
  • Kool-aid to dye berries
Here is the nomenclature that I used for the crochet pattern (these are US stitches see link for conversion to UK):

            Rnd         round
            ch(s)       chain stitch(s)
            sc            single crochet
            dc            double crochet
            hdc          half double crochet
            trc             triple crochet
            sl st         slip stitch
            st(s)        stitch(s)
            sc2tog    decrease by crocheting 2 stitches together

Step 2: Dying Yarn

A Black-capped Chickadee's torso is grey on the back, rusty brown on the bottom and sides lightening to white below the neck.  I wanted a gradual change in colour so that it would look more natural but I didn't want to have to change colours every couple of stitches.  To that end I dyed a portion of the off-white coloured yarn with coffee. For this to work, you would need to use wool or cotton yarn, mine was cotton and it worked fine.

First what I did was to determine how much yarn I would need to dye, to do so I crocheted part of the body and then unravelled it to measure the length, it was ~8ft or 240cm.  I followed iamkeebler's intructable on how to dye yarn with coffee.  First soaking it for a half and hour in diluted vinegar, then brewing some really strong coffee and soaking the yarn in it. I wanted to produce a colour gradient in my yarn so I pulled a bit of the yarn out of the dye every couple of hours or so (I didn't wake up in the middle of the night to do this though). On the next day I rinsed the yarn gently with soap and water and hung it up to dry. 

Step 3: Starting With the Body

The body is basically egg shape starting at the narrow end.  We will be using the dyed yarn starting at the darkest end, grey and white. The entire chickadee is crocheted with 2.5mm hook.  Change colour as indicated.

Starting with the dyed yarn,ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 4 sc in first ch.
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each sc around  (8 sc)
Rnd 3: (2 sc in next st, sc in next st) repeat around - 3 st should be grey (12 sc)
Rnd 4: (2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts) repeat around - 4 st should be grey (16 sts)
Rnd 5: (2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 3 sts) repeat around - 6 st should be grey (20 sts)
Rnd 6: (2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 4 sts) repeat around - 9 st should be grey (24 sts)
Rnds 7 -10: Sc in each sc around -12 st should be grey (24sts)
Rnd 11: Change colour from the dyed yarn to the white (Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2 sts) repeat around -9 st should be grey (18sts)
Rnd 12: (Sc2tog, sc in each of next sts) repeat around -6 st should be grey (12sts)

Tie off, leave a long tail

Step 4: The Head

With black yarn ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first ch. (or use magic cirlce)
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each st around  (12 sts).
Rnd 3: (2 sc in next st, sc in next st) repeat around (18 sts)
Rnd 4-5: Sc in each sc around  (18 sts)
Rnd 6: (Sc2tog, sc in each of next sts) repeat around (12sts)

Tie off, leave a long tail

Step 5: Wings

With grey yarn ch 2.
Rnd 1: Work 6 sc in first ch. (or use magic cirlce)
Rnd 2: Work 2 sc in each st around  (12 sts).
Rnd 3: (2 sc in next st, sc in next st) repeat around (18 sts)
Rnd 4: hdc, in next, dc in next, trc in next, trc in next, ch 1, turn.
Rnd 5: Sc in next 3 sts , ch 1, turn
Rnd 6: Sc in next sts, ch 1, turn
Rnd 7: Sc in next, tie off, leave a long tail

Make two of these!

Step 6: Tail and Sewing on the Wings

With grey yarn, start in Rnd 3 of the body on the grey yarn
Rnd 1: sc in next three, ch1, turn
Rnd 2-3: sc in next three sc, ch1, turn
Rnd 4: 2sc in next sc, sc, 2sc in next sc, ch1 turn
Rnd5-6: sc in sc, ch1, turn
tie off

Sewing the wings

With the yarn needle sew each wing onto the back of the body, check that it is centred over the grey portion of the body.  Sew the wings along the top edge of the circle part leave the ends and bottom free.

Step 7: Electronics

When you take apart your Plant Pal moisture meter you'll find a little circuit board like Image 2 above. There are two large prongs which you stick into the dirt that act as an on/off switch.  When the soil is moist the circuit is turned off and no chirping, when the soil is dry the circuit is on and it chirps.  Unfortunately mine never worked properly, no matter how much water I added to the soil it was always chirping.  I ended up taking out the battery, stuck it in drawer and forgot about it -until now. 

When I decided to use it for this project I was hoping I could use the prongs somehow as a switch to turn on and off the chirping in my chickadee, but the only way the circuit would stop chirping is if I dunked the prongs in salt water.  I really didn't want to dunk my chickadee into salt water to stop the singing so I had to explore other options.  The circuit board also has a LDR resister so that the plant moisture meter doesn't chirp at night.  This seemed like a good way to control the circuit. 

So what I did was to trim off the LDR resister and solder a wire to each side where it connects to the circuit board. Now if the two wires come together the circuit is on and there is chirping.  I would wrapped each end of the wire around a magnet and when they are connected by a piece of metal the circuit is turned on.  So when the chickadee sits on the table there is no chirping but when I move it to the perch where it sits on a small piece of metal it starts to sing.

Step 8: Incorporating the Electronics

First we need to crochet some little feet:

In black yarn ch2
Rnd1: dc, sc, dc, sc, dc all in first ch
Tie off, leave long tail.

Make two little feet.  Sew them onto the body with a yarn needle.

Take the electronic sound thing and gently stuff it into the body of the chickadee leading with the two wires.  The wires should poke out at the feet.  Wind each wire around a neodymium magnet and adjust the so they lie flat against the bottom of the feet of the chickadee.

Step 9: Finishing and Attaching the Head

Crocheting the beak:
With black yarn, start at a point near the middle of the head, chain stitch 2 stiches, slip stitch back to the head. Tie off.

Sewing the eyes:
Sew the eyes to the head, they should be located slightly above the beak, more towards the front than the sides. 

White cheeks:
I used the same white yarn as I did for part of the body and a yarn needle to embroider the white cheeks of the chickadee. If you wanted to make a different variety of chickadee the Carolina Chickadee has a wider patch of white and the Mountain Chickadee has a stripe of black running through the white.

Now you can sew the head on (make sure that the electronics are working properly before you do).

Wing details:
For a finishing touch I embroider the wings with white thread since the wings of Black-capped Chickadees are edged with white.  On Carolina Chickadees the wings are edge with a lighter grey.

Step 10: The Perch

As I mentioned in Step 7, in order to get the chickadee to sing it needs to sit on a piece of metal.   So what I did was make a little stand to look like a tree branch.  I found a flat piece of wood and drilled a hole into it.  Then I took a couple of floral stem wires and formed a branch (it is made of 4 22 gauge wires twisted around each other).  I glued the wires into the hole and then reinforced it with some Sugru.  I also used the Sugru to affix the small piece of metal to the branch.  The Sugru is white so when it had dried I painted it with brown paint to blend in with the brown yarn.

Step 11: The Perch Continued

Once the paint had dried I began crocheting around the wire with the brown yarn.  I used the larger 5.5 mm crochet hook and used a chain stitch. I alternated doing the chain in front of the wire then behind so that the yarn wraps around the wire.  I used a similar technique here which had detailed pictures.  I added a few small branches by doing 3-4 chain stitches away from wire then slip stitches back to the wire and continuing on.  Once I covered the wire with yarn I glued the ends so that it didn't slide off.


The perch looked a bit plain thought I intended this to be a branch in winter. To add a bit of colour  I made some small felt balls with my cat's fur and dyed it with red Kool-aid (for instructions on how to make and dye the felted balls you can find them here).   I then strung each felt ball berry on a bit of wire and attached it to the perch in groups of three.

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