Knitting the Purple Elephant

Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am a knitter with an extremely low boredom threshold.

This makes sweaters and even scarves of any useful length problematic, and downshifting into smaller projects doesn’t seem to work. I have, for example, an extensive collection of single socks, and when I took classes to learn to knit two socks at once, I became bored halfway through and after almost a year, I’ve yet to finish the cuffs.*

My friend and co-worker Grace** knows this all too well, so when a knitting book featuring even smaller projects crossed her desk, she put it on hold for me. I took it home and let the kids look at it.

(click the cover for Anna Hrachovec’s wonderful website)

They immediately demanded a teeny-tiny menagerie, and I was willing to oblige, except . . . all of these projects are done with double-pointed needles. I don’t consider myself to have anywhere near the physical coordination or mental health required to knit with a handful of oversized toothpicks.***

But for something this small—the first cast on for most of these little guys is 6 stitches or fewer—I thought I might give ‘em another try.

It was like thumb wrestling a small wooden octopus. And losing every stinking time.

So this past week, I took Grace to lunch, not only because it was her birthday and that’s just the kind of person I am, but also to corner her into showing me how to use double-pointed needles, which she valiantly tried to do before her salad arrived, even though the yarn I’d brought to the restaurant was a little too thick for the needles I had (rookie mistake).

I went home, found some purple sock yarn^ and tried, tried again. And again. And again and thank heavens the kids were in bed so they didn’t hear me say exactly how much I loathed these stupid wooden pieces of. . . Oh, wait. That worked.

I managed one round of increasing stitches without it falling apart, set it down very gently, and took a break with a nice stiff drink. This might be the perfect time to mention that I picked up knitting to relax.^^

But I came back well fortified, brought up Would I Lie to You ^^^ on the laptop, and got to work. One and a half episodes later, I had accomplished one-fourth of a tiny purple elephant butt, after which it went a little faster:


And an episode or two after that, I had a purple grape on a stick:

I called it a day, did the trunk the next morning, and finished the rest after work.  Elephants have far too many feet, by the way, especially when rendered in I-cord, and it was very slow going until my MIL took pity on me and offered her smallest crochet hook so I could pick up stitches without risk of rupturing that pulsing vein in my forehead.°

But in the end, I got the hang of it.

May I present Brumple, the Tiny Purple Elephant Who Does NOT Look Like a Pig with a Nasal Condition, Thank You So Very Much:

And, yes, I repaired that little, tiny hole I only noticed after I’d uploaded the image and delivered him to his new owner.

To give you a better idea of how small Brumple really  is, here’s a celebrity shot with George Washington:

Sunny’s requested a monkey next—with a banana.

I think I might rest up a few days first . . .



*Mom, if you’re reading this, I swear (again) that they’ll be done by your birthday (again), though this time I’m not going to specify which one.

** Who actually learned to knit because she was tired of waiting for me to start the pair of socks I said, in a fit of self-delusional optimism, that I’d make for her—said, not promised, by the way. She’s a much better knitter than I am now, so my procrastination is good for something, see?

*** When knitting small things in the round, like socks, I use a pair of circular needles. Like so many of my methods, this can be a bit clunky, but it works.

^Which was enough to make baby socks for Sunny at the time I bought it but isn’t quite enough now that she’s almost, um, four and three-fourths . . .

^^That sound you hear is Grace snerking. My yarn tension is so tight that my scarves need to be persuaded to bend. In fact, she suggested I cast on over two needles so I had half a chance of making those increases without snapping a needle in half. I’m a little surprised she didn’t suggest three.

^^^Another one of my new-to-me British comedy panel show finds.

° Probably more for the sake of the kids, who were pressing dangerously close and asking me every ten seconds if I was done yet.