Tag Archives: handmade gifts

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).

Christmas knits

One of the (few) advantages of having pneumonia in December was that it gave me the opportunity to knit and watch a lot of 30 Rock in bed. December knitting means knitted Christmas presents for everyone!

String bags

Admittedly, I did have some Christmas presents knitted before pneumonia rolled around. Over the summer I started projects to use up my leftover yarn from other projects (some of which has been toted around with us since my Mum and I left England when I was 10 years old).

This string bag, for instance, made use of a skein of Lily’s Sugar n Cream yarn that I dyed. A few relatives received these this year in various colors.

Bottom of hand-dyed bag.


Cotton string bag (from a different dye batch)

R2D2 hats

A trio of R2D2 hats.

I initially planned to make one R2D2 hat for my 8-year-old nephew. But it came out bigger than I’d planned (I swear I knit a gauge swatch). So I knit another one. It came out even bigger than the first. I decided to knit one more final one and it came out tiny.

I based my hats off this pattern, which you can download for free on Ravelry, but changed a few things and knit it intarsia rather than duplicate stitching at the end (although I did a bit of that for the black circle on one or two of them).

Once the 3 were finished and I wasn’t certain of the sizes for any of them, I decided to send them off to France to my nephew, the original intended recipient, his baby brother and their Dad.

The report back is that Art2D2 wouldn’t take it off, they couldn’t get the littlest to keep it on and no word on whether my brother is wearing this hat of sheer awesomeness.

A dress for Maisie bear

A dress for Maisie bear

Berry’s beloved Maisie bear (featured here in a post of her own) loves being a Paramedic. But even a dedicated bear like her needs a change of clothes every once in a while. Over the summer when the kids went to see their Dad, Berry dutifully packed Maisie a bikini to change into (originally created for Hello Kitty). I thought perhaps Maisie might like another change of clothes for the Christmas holidays and, after perusing the Build-a-Bear online clothing catalog decided I’d knit her something myself (again using leftover yarn, this time from Duncan’s Moshi Monster sweater, seen here in my 2013 knitting roundup).

Maisie models her new dress.

Given that I was following no pattern at all and using a similar Build-A-Bear from Duncan’s pile of stuffies as a model, it turned out rather well. And Maisie bear? She loves it. She loves it so much she hasn’t taken it off since Christmas Day. She’s a hardworking bear and deserves some time off, but I’m not sure when she’s going to put her Paramedic uniform back on and go back to work.


A bear for Baby Simon

I love having nephews (nieces are good too) and watching them grow, even though almost all of them (the little cute ones, anyway) live far away. *sniff sniff* I also like the excuse to knit new things that I haven’t tried before.

This bear was a first for me. I’ve crocheted amigurumi dolls before and knitted some play fruit (for a nephew, of course), but hadn’t attempted knitting a toy.

I got this pattern from Gregory Patrick at Mad Man Knitting, whose blog I enjoy reading.  You can buy the pattern from his craftsy store (he also has tiger and bunny patterns that I haven’t tried yet).

I attached his head on the wrong way round while assembling him, but once I got that fixed, he came together nicely. And I’ve received photos of a really cute baby cuddling him which makes it all worth the effort.


Goof butt Berry and her scarf

On Christmas Eve, I decided to keep on knitting, and whipped up a couple of scarves from some Paton’s Pirouette yarn I found on sale at some point during the year. I didn’t get any good pics of the scarves, but here’s one of the recipients enjoying hers.

A Christmas stocking

Honoka’s Christmas stocking

Finally, I knit a secret Christmas present — secret because it was for someone living in the house. The only one of us without a Christmas stocking: Honoka, a foreign exchange student from Japan who’s staying with us for the school year.

I can’t give credit to anyone for the pattern as I made it up based on knowing how to knit socks and finding a couple of Christmasy patterns that I then modified to fit my stitch count. Perhaps one of these days I’ll write about it in more detail.

In any case, it turned out really well and Honoka was happy. And now she has her very own personalized stocking to take home with her and theoretically hang next year (and get her entire family to join in and pass it down the generations, telling her children about the crazy family she stayed with in America).

And that wraps up this year’s handknitted Christmas presents. Not bad for a month of pneumonia and a little bit of pre-December knitting.