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Nose and Mouth Tutorial

Here's a handy tutorial for embroidering a triangular nose and smiling mouth on my toys. This style is perfect for many of my toys, such as the Tiger, Polar Bear, or Pupster (shown here).

Step 1: Here is the head: knitted, stuffed, sewn closed, and eyes attached. I've also done a little shaping as described in this tutorial. The columns of knit stitches are a good guide to follow for the shape of the nose, as they make a v-shape as they're gathered in at the nose point. Prepare a sharp tapestry/embroidery needle with a 30 cm (12") length of the yarn you will be using to embroider the face. I like to use a yarn that is slightly lighter than what I used to make the toy, such as DK weight for a toy knit from worsted weight yarn.

Step 2: Insert the needle with yarn from the bottom-centre of the head, and have it emerge about a third of the distance between the nose point and the eye. Pull the yarn through, leaving a short tail (about 5 cm or 2") on the bottom of the head.

Step 3: Insert the needle on the opposite side of the nose, trying to get it as symmetrical as possible (this often takes a few tries) and have the needle emerge back on the first side, just below where you started. Pull the yarn through, but not too tight or the fabric will pucker.

Step 4: Continue as in Step 3, following the lines of knit stitches towards the nose point. Each stitch should be slightly shorter than the one above.

Step 5: Nearly there. If you find you haven't placed your stitches close enough and the nose is patchy, add extra stitches to fill it in, or pull out what you've done and redo it. It often takes me two or three tries before I'm satisfied with the appearance.

Step 6: One you've reached the nose point, which is where you finish with the shortest stitch, have the needle emerge right in the centre of the nose point. Insert the needle directly below the nose to make a vertical stitch. Then, have the needle emerge to the side of the muzzle. Pull the yarn through. Note: The length of these stitches, together with how wide you make the mouth, will determine the expression of your toy. You may want to experiment a bit to discover the style you like best.

Step 7: Insert the needle on the opposite side of the muzzle, checking from the front for symmetry, and have it emerge at the bottom end of your vertical stitch. Pull the yarn through.

Step 8: Finally, insert the needle into the same place you just came out from, catching the horizontal stitch of the mouth by making a loop over top of it. Your needle needs to come out at the bottom of the head, where you started this business. Pull the yarn through and snug up the loop holding down the mouth.

Step 9: Knot the yarn ends securely and trim them to about 2.5 cm (1") long. Make sure to admire your handiwork before getting on with the rest of the toy!

This tutorial was originally published in 2009, when I was still learning a lot about designing knitting patterns. The photos aren't great, because I was trying to chase the sun around my dining table, while holding the camera in my right hand, and the toy in my left. Hopefully, this tutorial is still useful after all these years!


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