My friend Gina generously shared this knitting pattern with me to pass along to you all! Read her story of Snooter-doots™ and learn how to knit (and felt) your own!
Meet Lennie & Bruce – The Boyz. They are Ambassadors from Snooterville Junction – home to Snooter-doots™, those whimsical, soft-sculptured collectible toy/dolls that are inspiring smiles and generating joy all around the world. And, I’m Mama Snooter (aka, Gina McCauley), the Artist/Creator.
We’d like to share with you some of the knitting and felting tips we use make Snooter-doots. For the first time we will offer the pattern for a Snooter-doot Carrot that you can make yourself.
A little history: rumors of their existence started circulating about 25 years ago when Mama Snooter’s young daughter shared a wondrous story she had made up about odd creatures called Snooter-doots and the world they lived in. When Mama Snooter made her now grown daughter a knit, felted, stuffed toy for her dog about 7 years ago they realized she may be on to something familiar – was it a Snooter-doot? So, she pursued the idea, starting with the friendly odd, monster-type creatures, then moving on to vegetables, bugs, birds, fish, animals, and other critters inspired by nature.
Today Snooter-doots are hand-knit-to-shape from wool and other natural fibers. We use 100% wool, or wool/alpaca/llama, yarn. We buy it new rather than using upcycled sweaters because after all that knitting we need to be assured that it will actually felt well. The knitting is a mostly a series of increases and decreases in just the knit (garter) and purl stitches, and knitting ‘in the round’ on circular and double-point needles.
Once all the knitting is done, wings and fins or greens attached, everybody takes a hot, bumpy ride in the washing machine to do the wet-felting (technically called ‘fulling’). Sometimes it takes several ‘rides’ to get the felting done just right. When it is, they all sit out to air-dry on their special drying rack in the basement.
When they are all completely dry, we stuff ‘em! We use polyester fiberfill, and pack it quite tightly so they will hold their shapes well but can still be called ‘softies’. Then, we attach their whimsical, wonky eyes – that’s what makes a Snooter-doot a Snooter-doot, you know! We does that by ‘needle-felting’ pieces of ‘pre-felt’ that are cut to shape.
There’s a wide range of shrinkage to account for when you are felting wool. We’ve got a pretty good understanding of basic proportions now, and have standardized most of our designs, so we can usually ‘guess-timate’ what it may take to produce a new critter based on an existing shape. If it’s an entirely new Snooter-doot shape, it usually takes at least three or four prototypes to get it just right.
Tips for knitting with wool for felting:
1. Use larger sized needles; size #11-13s with worsted weight yarn, and keep your tension loose. The more air space there is between the fibers, the tighter the felt becomes. We’ve also found that yarns with a looser twist, and fewer plies felt better than the tighter ones. Our favorites are Ella Rae Classic, Nature Spun by Brown Sheep, and Cascade 220. Blends with alpaca or llama usually felt very nicely and are lovely to work with – albeit more expensive. For an orange carrot we recommend Ella Rae, Nature Spun, or the alpaca blends as they seem to felt the best.
2. White, pastels and some saturated colors do not felt as well as other colors. Reds, browns, and oranges can also be a challenge. Experiment with different brands to find ones that felt best in the color you wish to use. Don’t give up, it may be out there. We use colors from 4-5 different brands – reds from brand-x, pastels from brand-z, etc. Yarns that are mothproofed or for super-wash will not felt.
3. Most knitted fabric will shrink more in length than in width. So, account for that when developing your patterns to maintain the proportions you want in the finished piece. Different colors and/or brands will shrink, and felt, at different rates also.
We make Snooter-doots quite ‘free-form’ – each one turns out a little different. So don’t worry if you add or miss an extra row or two. That’s what adds to their character and charm. This project is best for intermediate or better-skilled knitters since you’ll be working with double-pointed and circular needles, knitting in the round. With the gift of this copyrighted pattern, you accept and agree that any Snooter-doot created from it will be for personal use only, not for resale.
Stay tuned for Part 2: How to felt and finish your Snooter-doot Carrot
Owner/Artist, Gina McCauley (aka, Mama Snooter) has been crafting, in one form or another, most of her life. Although she enjoyed her ‘real job’ as a consultant to horticultural nursery/greenhouse growers in Western Washington for over 25 years, her true passion has always been to ‘make things’. She now works with fiber and fabric arts full time.