The delightful Brooklyn General (one of my local yarn stores) recently came up with the brilliant idea to hold a handmade squirrel contest. I saw the call for entries a month or so ago and was tempted… very tempted… but sternly told myself that I didn’t need another project, especially one that called for an original design.
Despite that talking-to, an Idea started to form in my head. At first it was swirly and vague: ‘a squirrel with a bagel, like the one I saw during college’. But as I walked the dogs and watered the plants, different parts of the Idea came to life, were labelled with techniques and yarns and shaping strategies, until one day a squirrel with big eyes, a rounded back and an even bigger tail blinked back at me. He was ready to be made real.
The only problem was, that one day was May 11 – exactly 4 days before the competition closed.
I almost said goodbye to him then, with the excuse that I had neither the time nor the money for squirrel supplies. To prove that it was impossible, I took a quick look in my yarn drawer to remind myself that this tiny squirrel couldn’t be made out of blue mohair or aran-weight sweater yarn. That worked, until I pulled out an odd, rough tweedy yarn that I didn’t remember acquiring and that wasn’t even listed in my Ravelry stash. It was brown, with flecks of colour: reds, blues, yellows. It was perfect for a squirrel.
Before I knew it, I was casting on.
There followed 3 more or less frantic days of knitting. I knit on the way to work. I knit late in to the night after coming home. I knit walking home from the train station (a first!) I stayed up late while my husband worked, ostensibly to keep him company but really to knit.
By the end of Ranjit’s second late night shift – 3am on Saturday morning – I had all the parts ready to put together, and a bagel that was cute but disproportionately small. I casually mentioned I might stay up to finish, and was met with disbelief. I was forgoing sleep for a SQUIRREL? Really?
Yes, really. Maybe for another hour or so. I’d set the alarm for 9am and finish them.
An hour turned into two, and then three, and the windows turned from the black of night to the blue of morning. All the body parts were attached except the arms and the big fluffy tail Was there time to make another, bigger bagel? There was, if i put off sleep for a little longer. At 7am I cast on for the tricky tubular shaping of the bagel, and at almost exactly 8am I cast off. Then there was kitchenering, and finishing, and tail attaching…
At 8:58 am I put the last stitch into the squirrel’s tail, and ran down to turn off the alarm before it woke up Ranjit. I was done, and Hepburn had become real.
Then I walked the dogs, and finally got into bed for the briefest of dozes. Poor Ranjit was grumpy from too many nights of interrupted sleep, and I was euphoric, delighted that I’d completed the challenge in just three days. We quickly gave up on sleep and at 10, we left to take Hepburn the squirrel to his new home.
Perhaps later I’ll try to write up the pattern for Hepburn, or at least some design notes. But for now, he’s a testament to what you can do with a good idea, a period of pondering, a lot of swift work and not much sleep!
PS. How’s my Bear Claw, you’re wondering? Despite the diversion, I’m just two small squares away from finishing patch number 3. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to wrap them up now!