A few years ago, my cat captured a nest of sparrow chicks. In a desperate attempt to save them, I took the entire family to a wildlife refuge and rehab center here in the mountains. While touring the center, one of the vets introduced me to a nest of screech owl hatchlings someone had saved. There they were, three incredibly fluffy little balls of gray feathers with enormous sleepy yellow eyes. I was immediately smitten.
Excerpted from "Knitwits," by Katie Boyette, published by Sellers Publishing. Image by Katie Boyette.
For small owl:
-1 skein Cascade 220 in 8907
-1 skein Cascade 220 in 8010 for feet
-1 set US 5 (3.75 mm) double pointed needles
For large owl:
-1 skein Cascade Jewel 9931
-1 skein Cascade jewel 9890 for feet
-1 set US 8 (5 mm) double pointed needles
-2 safety pints
-Scraps of wool felt for eyes and beaks in black, white, beige and orange
Glossary of Abbreviations:
-CO cast on
-dpn double pointed needles(s)
-k2tog knit two together
-kfb knit into front and back of stitch
-pm place marker
Body (Knit from the top down)
For the large owl, knit the entire owl on size 8 needles. For the small owl knit the entire pattern on size 5 needles.
CO 5, pm and join to knit in the round.
Round 1: Kfb 5 times. 10 sts
Round 2: (kfb, k1) 5 times. 15 sts
Round 3: (kfb, k2) 5 times. 20 sts
Round 4: (kfb, k3) 5 times. 25 sts
Knit 7 rows even. Place all stitches on a piece of contrasting scrap yarn. Repeat rows 1–11 again, to make second eye.
Place first 6 stitches from each eye on a needle. Place the eyes side by side, needles parallel, upside-down like two little cups…or a little bra. Reattach yarn. Take the first stitch from each needle and knit together. Continue to knit together each consecutive stitch. After you finish the row, and have 6 stitches, turn and knit back across the row, binding off as you go. When you have one stitch remaining, carefully pick up the next stitch to the left from the contrasting yarn. Be sure to bind off remaining stitch from the center of the eyes. Pick up and knit each remaining stitch around the perimeter of the owl, distributing them evenly among the needles. When you complete the row, pm, and knit another row in the round. 38 sts.
Round 3: K7, kfb, k3, kfb, k14, kfb, k3, kfb, k7. 42 sts.
Round 4: Knit.
Round 5: K7, kfb, k5, kfb, k14, kfb, k5, kfb, k7. 46 sts
Round 6: Knit.
Round 7: K7, kfb, k7, kfb, k14, kfb, k7, kfb, k7. 50 sts
For large owl: knit 15 rounds even.
For small owl: knit 10 rounds even.
Decreasing the bottom
Round 1: (K2tog, k8) 5 times. 45 sts
Round 2: (K2tog, k7) 5 times. 40 sts
Round 3: (K2tog, k6) 5 times. 35 sts
Round 4: (K2tog, k5) 5 times. 30 sts
Round 5: (K2tog, k4) 5 times. 25 sts
Round 6: (K2tog, k3) 5 times. 20 sts
Pause at this point to stuff the toy, poking and squeezing the eyes to get the desired shape.
Round 7: (K2tog, k2) 5 times. 15 sts
Round 8: (K2tog, k1) 5 times. 10 sts
Round 9: K2tog all the way around. 5 sts
Fill the toy to the top. Cut yarn and pull through remaining stitches, pull tight, knot, and use yarn needle to pull knot to inside of toy.
In contrasting color, CO 4. Divide stitches between 2 dpn needles. Join in the round.
Knit 10 rounds.
Next round: Kfb 4 times. 8 sts
Next round: Kfb, k2, kfb 2 twice, k2, kfb. 12 sts
At this point you will divide the stitches to knit the toes. Put the first 4 stitches from the top needle on a safety pin, and the 4 stitches below on the other needle on another safety pin.
Knit the remaining 2 stitches from the top needle, turn, and knit the 2 remaining stitches from the bottom needle. Join to knit in the round. Knit 7 rounds. K2tog twice. Cut yarn.
Leave 6 inch tail. Pull yarn through 2 remaining stitches and knot. Using a yarn needle, run tail downward through the stitches along the bottom of the toe. Pull until toe has the desired curve. Knot, and pull into toe.
Pick up the middle two stitches from the top and bottom needles. Follow the directions for the first toe.
Follow directions for first toe with the remaining 4 stitches.
Wings (make 2):
Knit the first and last stitch of every row.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K1, p3, K1.
Row 3: K1, kfb, k1, kfb, k1. 7 sts
Row 4: K1, p5, k1.
Row 5: Knit.
Row 6: K1, p5, k1.
Row 7: K1, kfb, k3, kfb, k1. 9 sts
Continue to increase 2 stitches every fourth row until you have 13 sts. Knit 2 rows even. Bind off.
Place the feet in the shape of a V, and sit the body on top. Adjust the position of the feet until they look symmetrical. Use straight pins to secure them in place on the bottom of the owl. Use a yarn needle and the long tail from the foot, sew into the body, parallel to the foot, then through the foot, and down through the body along the other side. Continue this until the foot has been secured to the base of the claw. Repeat for other foot.
The placement of the wings is optional. They can be secured to the sides flat all the way down, or can be folded in half, to the shape of a triangle, and attached along the side of the body.
From scraps of felt, cut 2 each of: Eyeballs in white, iris, pupils in black, eyelids in beige.
Cut one triangle from orange felt for beak. Cut embroidery floss and using a blanket stitch to attach eyes to head, doing one circle at a time.
For the beak, use a matching color of thread and a ladder stitch to attach between eyes.