My friend Stacey from my knitting group was kind enough to test-knit my pattern and bring her ant by for a picnic photo-shoot. The ant i made is the purely red ant, but i sent it off to the intended recipient in a rush (the baby was already born and i didn’t want to stall).
This toy ant was inspired by Jess Hutch’s bunny pattern. I made the bunny for a friend’s baby, and in stopping to admire a progress picture, I noticed how much it looked like the sections of an insect (evidence:
my “peanut bunny” progress pic ). Then an entomologist friend was expecting a baby, so I got downright inspired and came up with this aunt-made ant.
The body of the ant is knit in one piece: you stuff it as you go, slipping a few stitches to be picked up later for each of the legs. When you are done, all you have to knit is the i-cord for the antennae.
one (dependent on yarn used & gauge)
Width: 2.25 inches (without legs. Legs = 3 inches long apiece, stretched out)
Length: 8.5 inches
Red ant: Knitpicks Shine Sport [60% Pima Cotton, 40% Modal ; 110 yards/50 gram ball]
Color: Cherry (less than 1 skein)
Red ant with black legs: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK [55% merino wool, 33% microfibre, 12% cashmere; 125 yards/50 gram ball]
Colors: Red, Black (less than 1 skein each)
1 set US #4/3.5 mm double-point needles
* small amount of contrasting yarn or embroidery thread for eyes
* 3 (or more) pipe cleaners in color to match the ant’s body (use the long ones so one pipe cleaner can be threaded through 2 legs, adding extra support by going through the ant’s body)
* tapestry needle
* polyester fiberfill stuffing
* 6 safety pins or small stitch holders
28 sts/28 rows = 4 inches stockinette stitch
Gauge is not crucial for this project, but it is advisable to knit a firm fabric to prevent the stuffing from showing though.
Toy Safety: please visit this site for information on toy safety. If you plan to make this toy for a child aged 4 and under, I recommend taking special care with the pipe cleaner ends: wrap the ends of the legs with yarn to add extra protection from the wire ends that could work themselves out. If you’re really worried, you can skip the pipe cleaner part and just make the i-cord, but the legs will lose their poseable appeal.
CO 6 stitches. Distribute among 3 needles (you can use 4 needles if you prefer, once you have enough stitches) and join for knitting in the round. PM.
Round 1: K all sts.
Round 2: Kfb into each st. (12 sts)
Round 3: K all sts.
Round 4: Kfb, k1, kfb, k1, kfb, kfb, k1, kfb, k1, kfb, k2 (18 sts)
Round 5: K all sts.
Round 6: *Kfb, k2*, rep 5 times (24 sts)
Round 7: K all sts.
Round 8: Kfb, k3, kfb, k3, kfb, k4, kfb, k3, kfb, k3, kfb, k2 (30 sts)
Round 9: K all sts.
Round 10: Kfb, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k6, kfb, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k2 (36 sts)
Round 11: K all sts.
Round 12: Kfb, k5, kfb, k5, kfb, k8, kfb, k5, kfb, k5, kfb, k2 (42 sts)
Rounds 13-17: K all sts.
Round 18: ssk, k5, ssk, k5, ssk, k8, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k2 (36 sts)
Round 19: K all sts.
Round 20: ssk, k4, ssk, k4, ssk, k6, k2tog, k4, k2tog, k4, k2tog, k2 (30 sts)
Round 21: K all sts.
Round 22: ssk, k3, ssk, k3, ssk, k4, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k2 (24 sts)
Round 23: K all sts.
Round 24: *ssk, k2*, rep 2 times; *k2tog, k2*, rep 2 times (18 sts)
Round 25: K all sts.
Now’s the time to embroider the eyes, while there’s still room to move your fingers around inside the head. I used satin-stitch rectangles for the eyes, but feel free to make the eyes another way if you wish (beads or buttons would work if you’re not concerned about a choking hazard). If you would rather wait to place the eyes until the ant is completed and you’re certain where they need to go, the eyes can easily enough be done at the very end.
Now, stuff the head so it is firm but still squeezable.
Round 26: ssk, k1, ssk, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2 (12 sts)
Round 27: K all sts.
Use satin stitch to create the eyes. Then, either weave in ends or (to make embroidery more secure) tie a knot in back of work using both loose ends, making sure not to pull too tightly, or embroidery will distort the knitted fabric. If choking hazards are not a concern, you can use buttons for the eyes.
Thorax: This section is shaped very similarly to the head, beginning on what is round 4 of the head section. The slipped stitches in this section should be placed on a holder (a safety pin works well) and will later be picked up to create the legs.
Round 28: Kfb, k1, kfb, k1, kfb, kfb, k1, kfb, k1, kfb, k2 (18 sts)
Round 29: K all sts.
Round 30: *Kfb, k2*, rep 5 times (24 sts)
Round 31: K all sts.
Round 32: Kfb, k3, kfb, k3, kfb, k4, kfb, k3, kfb, k3, kfb, k2 (30 sts)
Round 33: K all sts.
Round 34: Kfb, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k6, kfb, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k2 (36 sts)
Round 35: K all sts.
Round 36: Kfb, k5, kfb, k5, kfb, k8, kfb, k5, kfb, k5, kfb, k2 (42 sts)
Rounds 37-41: K all sts.
Round 42: k6, sl3 and place on holder, k24, sl 3 and place on holder, k6 (36 active sts)
(Note: the slipped stitches should be placed in a way that makes sense for the legs. Depending on where you oriented the eyes, you may wish to re-orient the leg holes. I’ve described how many stitches apart they should be, so use that as a reference. )
Round 43: K all sts.
Round 44: ssk, k4, ssk, k4, ssk, k6, k2tog, k4, k2tog, k4, k2tog, k2 (30 sts)
Round 45: K all sts.
Round 46: ssk, k3, ssk, k3, ssk, k4, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k2 (24 sts)
Round 47: K all sts.
Round 48: k3, sl3 and place on holder, k12, sl 3 and place on holder, k3 (18 active sts) )
(Note: as with the first set of legs, the orientation should make sense in relation to the placement of the eyes. If you re-oriented the first set of leg holes, you should follow suit with this set. )
Round 49: K all sts.
Round 50: ssk, k1, ssk, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2 (12 sts)
Now stuff the thorax so it is firm but still squeezable.
Round 51: K all sts.
Round 52: Kfb, k1, kfb, k1, kfb, kfb, k1, kfb, k1, kfb, k2 (18 sts)
Round 53: K all sts.
Round 54: K6, kfb, k1, kfb, kfb, k1, kfb, k6 (22 sts)
Round 55: K all sts.
Round 4: K9, kfb, k2, kfb, k9 (24 sts)
Round 5: K all sts.
Round 6: K9, kfb, k4, kfb, k9 (26 sts)
Round 7: K all sts.
Round 8: K9, kfb, k6, kfb, k9 (28 sts)
Round 9: K all sts.
Round 10: K9, kfb, k8, kfb, k9 (30 sts)
Round 11: K all sts.
Round 12: K9, kfb, k10, kfb, k9 (32 sts)
Round 13: K all sts.
Round 14: K9, kfb, k12, kfb, k9 (34 sts)
Round 15: K all sts.
Round 16: K9, kfb, k14, kfb, k9 (36 sts)
Round 17: K all sts.
Round 18: K4, sl3, k22, sl3, k4 (30 active sts) (Note: remember what you did with the other 2 sets of leg-holes. If you re-oriented them, you should follow suit with this set. )
Rounds 19-20: K all sts.
Round 21: [k2tog, k4] around. (30 sts)
Round 22: K all sts.
Round 23: [k2tog, k3] around. (24 sts)
Round 24: K all sts.
Round 25: [k2tog, k2] around. (18 sts)
Round 26: K all sts.
Stuff the abdomen so it is firm but still squeezable.
Round 27: [k2tog, k1] around. (12 sts)
Round 28: K all sts.
Round 29: [k2tog] around. (6 sts)
Break yarn. Add a little more stuffing if you wish. Thread tail through rem sts and pull firmly. Tie a knot if desired and thread the yarn through the body.
Legs (repeat for all 6 legs):
Place 3 slipped stitches on a dpn, pick up and knit 3 additional stitches. Depending on where the yarn falls, you may need to knit 3 stitches so your yarn is now at the end of the row of stitches. Commence 6 stitch i-cord and work for approximately 3 inches. Place stitches on holder (a safety pin will do the job well).
Antennae (make 2):
Cast on 5 stitches and work i-cord for approximately 2 inches. I skipped the pipe cleaner for the antennae, so 2 inches makes for cute, slightly floppy antennae. Make yours shorter if you want to avoid the floppy effect.
Decrease row: K2tog, k1, k2tog
Next row: K2tog, k1
Break yarn and thread through remaining stitches. Weave in ends.
Note: if you would like a sturdier leg, twist 2 or 3 pipecleaners together to form a sturdier, thicker pipecleaner.
Thread a pipe cleaner through 2 legs (left & right side) as follows: Thread tapestry needle with pipe cleaner and bend pipe cleaner to keep it connected to the tapestry needle when working it through the body of the ant. Begin at the end of one of the legs, go through the body, and out the leg on the other side. Stretch the i-cord out to its fullest length over the pipe cleaner, and trim the excess length of the pipe cleaner.
Slide the 6 stitches from the holder onto a dpn.
Next row i-cord: k2tog, k2, k2 tog
Next row i-cord: k1, k2tog, k1
Leaving a longish tail (at least 8 inches), break yarn and thread through remaining stitches. When weaving in ends, make sure to wrap well around the stitches where the wire end of the pipe cleaner could poke through. I wrapped mine so that I essentially created a little footpad on the end.
Repeat for 2 more sets of legs.
Position antennae on head and use the CO tail to attach.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
efrat is a Texraeli* living in Setauket, NY who learned to knit a few
years ago when she moved to New York and figured an indoor hobby
would be well suited for the winters. She loves repurposing materials
and thus makes art out of beachcombing finds, wallets out of duct
tape, and hula hoops out of irrigation tubing. You can see more of
her crafty endeavors here.
* a Texas-raised Israeli