Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spider Making 101

As promised, here is a tutorial on how I made the spiders. First off I should mention that I used the Spider pattern from Amigurumi Knits: Patterns for 20 cute mini knits by Hansi Singh. She is amazing and her patterns are incredible. The instructions in the book are terrific, detailed and easy to follow.

First, you start with the legs - you knit those over and over and, if you are making 3 spiders, keep knitting until you think if you ever knit one more of those stupid things, you will die.

The next step is even worse, because now you have to sew them up. On the first spider, I made them knit in a tube longways. It worked, but the tube is so thin that you can't push the pipe cleaner down it, so you have to knit it around the pipe cleaner. I couldn't decide if that was worse than sewing or not but I decided to knit them properly on the other three spiders. The pattern calls for them to be knit sideways, so the rows of knitting go the length of the leg. They use a lot of short rows for shaping, but go fairly quickly. They do look better when knit accoring to Hansi's pattern, but man the sewing . . .
Next, you knit the abdomen - finally, something that has more than a few rows per piece, no sewing at all and no short rows. It's just knit like a ball and when you're done, you're done.
One more set of pieces to knit: the chelicerae or fangs. They start out flat with short rows and then you join them into the round and decrease to points. After you've made the two of them, you start to put things together.
First, you pick up stitches at the tops of two legs, then the two chelicerae and then two more legs. This is the beginning of the head or cephalathorax and you knit the top first with lots of short rows for shaping - it ends up making a very nice spider head (or cephalathorax).

After you've knit most of the top of the head and it's shaped and looking like a head, you add two more legs, the abdomen and then the last two legs - all by picking up stitches. Then you knit them into a round and graft the two sides together to complete the top of the head.

Now the spider actually looks like a spider - at least from the top. On these spiders, I used safety eyes rather than embroidering eyes on so the eyes had to be added at this point. The director and I decided that since this is a play for children, we would only use two eyes on each spider because 8 might be a little scarey. Then you turn the spider over, stuff it, bend the pipe cleaners together inside and get ready to make a bottom to the cephalathorax. You pick up a set number of stitches from each piece (chelicerae, legs, abdomen) starting at the front of the spider and knit a few rows and then start decreasing down to make a flat circle. At the end, when you have few enough stitches, you just run your yarn through and pull the last couple tight. No finishing at all but tuck that last end in.

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