Latest knits: the Pikachu sweater

“Knit me something next!”

It’s the first thing I hear whenever I finish a knitting project, from whichever kid didn’t just receive a piece of knitted wonder.

pikachu knitted sweater  Whatever it was that I knitted last wasn’t for Duncan, so his little voice was heard the loudest. So I dutifully planned and created a Pikachu sweater for him.

Here’s (almost) finished result. (I made the neck too big and had to unpick and redo it.)

How to knit a pikachu sweater

While I confess to loving the adulation I receive when I post photos of my knitted creations on Facebook and Instagram, I’m sometimes confused by it. Is knitting a sweater really that hard? Perhaps when you don’t know the steps (much like anything else in life that you haven’t tried or figured out the steps to do).

Taking an image and making it into a knitted image is actually quite simple. Pikachu is the latest in many designs I’ve come up with, but it’s not magic (or even artistic talent).

Here’s how I do it.

  1. Find the image you want to knit. Pokemon pikachuI got Pikachu from the Pokemon wiki gallery.
  2. Turn it into a knitting chart. I can never remember the website I use, so I do a web search and usually end up here on knitPro. The site has instructions, but you basically choose the size of pattern you want to end up with and whether you want it horizontal or vertical, and upload your image.
  3. Print the knitting chart. It’ll look something like this (click here for the Pikachu knitting chart I used).
  4. Adjust the blocks of color according to your available yarn colors, style and whim. I used yellow, red, white and black yarn for my Pikachu, as I didn’t have a darker yellow for his shading or lighter red for his mouth. I also decided to outline his body, tail and arms with black stitching so that he retained some definition.
  5. Start knitting — and count your stitches. Cross of each line of your chart as you knit it to help you stay on track.

Tips for intarsia knitting

Intarsia knitting can be tricky at first. My initial projects were a bit too snug in places where I didn’t leave enough yarn at the back of the work. Fortunately, over time and repeated washings, everything flattened itself out.

Here’s what I’ve learned over time to reduce the instances of puckered knitting:

  • Use a new bobbin or ball or yarn every time the color changes. Avoid running the same color yarn behind your work as much as possible and for no more than 4 or 5 stitches.
  • Twist the two strands of yarn whenever you change colors. This prevents holes.
  • Count your stitches and follow the pattern closely. No matter how carefully I do this, I still manage to mess up somewhere. I somehow made Pikachu’s left arm too skinny by one stitch.
  • When you make a mistake, decide if it’s an important one that you need to unpick (because you only notice the mistakes you made 10 rows ago), if you can fix it afterwards with a bit of over stitching/duplicate stitching, or if you can simply ignore it. It’s your call. Just because a pattern says something doesn’t mean you have to follow it exactly. You’ll just get slightly different results.

What sweater pattern should you use?

I’ve knitted enough sweaters that I decided to make this pattern up as I went along. I absolutely love The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns as it teaches you how to knit any size sweater you want just by knowing your gauge (how many stitches you knit per inch with the yarn and needles you’re using). I also like being able to knit a sweater that fits a particular body — in this case, a long, skinny one.

knitted kids pikachu sweaterFor this sweater, I measured my son, knit a gauge swatch and did the calculations. I cast on 85 stitches or so and went to work, knitting the back first, then the front, then both sleeves at the same time.

The only issue I have with intarsia knitting and a design like this is that I can’t knit in the round, so I have to sew up seams at the end, which is one of my lesser favorite knitting activities. There are also a lot of ends to weave in as well.

But you can use any basic sweater pattern that you like, as long as it works for the yarn and needles you’re using.

For this sweater, I used Bernat Satin worsted weight yarn on 5mm needles. I knit about at the expected gauge at 4.5 to 4.75 sts/inch. I used teal for the main color, yellow for Pikachu and, I confess, some black, red and white Pacific Cascade 40% merino, 60% acrylic yarn I had leftover from another prokect. It knits up at the same gauge and Duncan doesn’t have any wool allergy issues (unlike me).

So, there you have it — one cute boy in one cute Pokemon pikachu sweater. It’s cozy, warm and soft, great for a cool Spring day and hopefully with long enough sleeves that it’ll still fit him in the fall.

Next up? A cuddly blue sweater for my daughter featuring her Minecraft character’s likeness (aka skin).