Totoro and mitten ornaments

Everyone, I would like to introduce you to my newest addition to my (l)amigurumi creations: Totoro!  This 5-inch piece of anime comes from Haruki (no that’s the author) Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, a movie about a little girl and, well, a big smiley animal that rides around silently on a tiny spinning top.  It gets creepy if you think about it too much, so just enjoy the plushiness.  To be completely honest, I am not a diehard Totoro fan with the life-sized Totoro doll and other such paraphernalia.  I actually only saw the movie once, and it scared me (making this doll was a big step for me) because of the creepy smile (if you’ll notice, I’ve made the Totoro without a mouth.  It no longer has any power over me.), but I know people go crazy for this kind of stuff, so I bit the poly-fiber stuffing filled bullet and did the best I could.

These pictures are purely for those who want a full 360 (360 plus 45 in the z direction to be exact) close-up of my tiny Totoro.  See, no misplaced stitches or ungainly seams!  For those of you who are scouring my pictures, trying to figure out how I made this so you can go off and copy it and make your own and tell everyone that you made up the pattern (as I often do), you will have a hard time finding my cast-on row because, there is no cast-on row. (For those of you thinking Kung Fu Panda, I’m right there with you.  For those of you thinking The Matrix, …eh, not quite as good but still a valid association.)

When I first started this project, I decided to create as few seams as possible because I suck at sewing up seams evenly, and the resulting shape is always lopsided with a huge, noticeable line running along its side like someone who’s received brain surgery (coughselfshoutoutcough).  So, I searched the cyber-libraries of possible cast-ons from the Turkish cast-on to the Old Norwegian cast-on and all the way to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s cast-on.  For those of you who need some brushing up on early 20th century knitting history, Elizabeth Zimmermann was a revolutionary knitter (oxymoron?) during the WWII era who apparently was really really good at casting yarn onto a needle.

Anyway, I ultimately found the perfect casting-on technique for my seamophobia: the provisional cast-on.  As per usual, I’m too lazy to actually create my own tutorials, so I’ll just point you to the one I used.  The provisional cast-on essentially casts the yarn onto a piece of scrap yarn, which you can later replace with another needle and, voilà, you can knit from both directions!  In the case of Totoro up there, the provisional cast-on allowed me to knit the front and back simultaneously, and then, to avoid even more seams, I kitchener-ed the ends together to form a smooth Totoro-loop.  Alas, the time came when I had to sew the front and back together on each side, but you have to admit, two seams are better than four.

After finishing this project, while I was contemplating what fantastical scenario I should throw myself into to produce a mind-blowing anecdote to recount here in written form (sad but true), a serendipitous, dignity-saving miracle fell into my lap in the form of my aunt (My aunt didn’t actually fall into my lap, the miracle metaphorically did.) and her inability to knit.  She had planned to learn how to knit awhile back and even bought the yarn for it, but she never found the time, and so graciously gave the unused yarn to me.  And what was the consequence of putting free yarn into the hands of a knitter with nothing interesting in his life to blog about?

Baby mittens/Mitten ornaments!  There wasn’t enough yarn in one color to make a set of regular sized mittens, so, in honor of the upcoming holidays, I made miniature sized mittens that can be used as ornaments on a Christmas tree, stocked in a stuffing, or even hung on a wall or door to winter-ify the home.

If you have a small infant (of which I am lacking at the moment) these mittens could also be for them!  The connecting I-cord prevents you from losing one of these little guys under a seat cushion, but will still give your baby some latitudinal range of motion.

Moment of transparency here: This might be my first creation where my first words after finishing it were, “Dude this is so freaking adorable.”  No lie.  I was even considering pinning this on Pinterest (except I don’t have a Pinterest, of course…).  Can’t you just see these kind of impractically small mittens on someone’s pinboard (is that what they’re called?)?

Okay, it just turned Thanksgiving around 5 minutes ago, and I would find it somewhat sad if I spent a lot of time alone in my room trying to think of a good pun including the word “mitten”, so I won’t belabor the point.  (knittin’ mittens!)

If you like what you see, the Totoro and mittens will be available for sale on my etsy soon.  So, while everyone else may be out running like headless chickens on black Friday (or contrastingly lazily lying on their sofas on cyber Monday), you can relax at home with a pair of my mittens wrapped cozily around approximately two of your fingers.

***Among her many contributions to American knitting, Elizabeth Zimmermann was a big proponent of re-introducing the Continental style of knitting back to the U.S., which had become less popular in previous years due to its association with Germany during WWII.

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