Manatee and Walrus Mods

While I was designing my Sea Potatoes pattern, I thought of two modifications (mods) that people might be interested in trying. The simpler one, shown on the Manatee toy, is to move the face around to the top of the body, rather than have it on the front. This makes the toy seem as if it's swimming forward, or maybe laying on a warm beach, if it's a walrus. If you'd like to make your toys this way, see the photo tutorial below.


The more involved mod which I thought might be interesting to create was to make a walrus in a sitting position, as they're often photographed on beaches. At first I tried to do this with short-rows to shape the body, but that was more complicated than I wanted, and didn't look quite right anyway. The method I landed on was to lengthen the body, and then pleat it along the back. This gives the right shape, and adds the wrinkles you'd see on a real walrus. You'll find photos and more details on this mod, following the manatee tutorial.


Manatee Mod


The first modification you'll need to make is to change the position of the eyes. Instead of Row 12, you'll need to place the eyes on Row 10, at the 7th and 44th stitches of that row. Finish the tail and body as written in the pattern, and make the front flippers.


Then you can follow the directions in the pattern for attaching the snout, although you'll want to make sure the chin faces towards the belly, where the fins will be. The face is embroidered as shown in the pattern, and the front flippers are attached at the positions given in the pattern instructions.


unstuffed knitted manatee toy with safety eyes attached
Manatee head, showing adjusted eye placement.

knitted manatee toy body shown from the top end, with snout piece pinned in place.
The snout is positioned with the bound-off edge between the eyes, the chin towards the belly.

knitted manatee toy body shown from a side angle. Sides of snout piece are just below the eyes.
The snout position from a side angle: the sides of the jowls are below the eyes, angling down to the chin.

Knitted manatee toy shown from the top or face end, showing the embroidered mouth and nostrils.
The snout has been sewn on, and the mouth and nostrils embroidered with black yarn.

Knitted manatee toy shown from the side, with front flippers attached.
Now the flippers have been attached, and the manatee looks like it's swimming.

For even more photos of the manatee and walrus assembly, please visit the Flickr album.


Walrus Mod


For this modification, you'll first need to add length to the body. Make sure you have plenty of yarn if you want to try this! Work an extra 8 rows in the stockinette section following Row 39 of the body (for a total of 17 rows before the decreases, instead of the 9 rows in the pattern). Next, when you stuff the body, make sure the middle section where you added the extra rows has less stuffing than the rest of the body. I've tried to show this in the photo below - basically, the body is easier to fold if there's less stuffing in the way.


To shape the body into a sitting position, pinch the seam so the last set of increases meet up with the first set of decreases, creating 2 folds across the back. With a length of MC yarn, sew through all the layers that are pinched together, making a seam starting from about 5-7 cm (2-3") to one side of the seam, and ending at the same distance on the other side. I used a ladder stitch, going up through the edges of the folds, making a short stitch across, then going down through the edges of the folds, etc. The stitches show a little, but aren't very obvious on the finished toy. Secure the yarn ends from the seam.


When attaching the front flippers you will want to adjust the position so they are a little closer together on the chest, and the ends rest on the ground, supporting the front of the toy.


knitted walrus toy body from a side angle, with a dent in the middle
Walrus body, showing the extra length, and how it has less stuffing.

knitted walrus body, with 2 folds across the back to shorten it and hold the head upright
The body has been folded across the back, and held with pins before sewing.

knitted walrus body from the side, showing how the folds have been sewn together across the back.
The finished seam, sewn with the main-colour yarn and a ladder stitch. The head is upright, in a sitting position.

knitted walrus toy shown from a front angle, with front flippers attached
The front flippers are attached a bit closer together, with the ends resting on the ground.

knitted walrus toy shown from the side, with yarn fringe on the snout for whiskers, and tusks underneath
The finished walrus toy, with whiskers and tusks.