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Tip: Bunimal Mods

Basket of knitted bun shaped animal toys in a mix of pastel colours

My Bunimals (bun+animals) pattern was intentionally designed to be easy to modify into other types of animals. The pattern includes a variety of shapes with the ears and other appendages, while all the other details are kept as simple as possible. This way you can easily modify the pattern by changing the yarn colour or texture, mixing and matching the pieces, or making small alterations to the pieces provided, such as adding or removing length.

One simple modification is to change the yarn colour to better match the animal you want to make, such as using black and white to change the robin into a penguin. Another is to use the frog leg instructions to make legs to add to the other animals.

A more involved modification I tried was to use chunky weight yarn and 5 mm needles to make a larger toy. I used about 75 g of a single colour to knit the seal toy, and it turned out about 50 cm around and 10 cm tall (20"x 4"). To make any of the two-colour designs in this way, make sure you have about 60 g of the MC and 15 g of the CC. You’ll also want safety eyes that are 15-18 mm in size.

A stack of two bun-shaped toys, a rabbit and seal

Below I’ve described a few of the modifications that I imagined when designing the pattern (some I knit, the others I sketched for you), but I hope you use your creativity to make many more. At the end of this post, you'll find instructions for making an Axolotl Bunimal. If you're not sure they're all that cute, wait until you see what I made!

Cat pattern → Squirrel or Fox

To create a squirrel or fox from the cat pattern, choose a reddish-brown or orange yarn for your main colour (MC), and white for your contrasting colour (CC). Then just knit the pieces as written. I also used a fringe/eyelash yarn to knit the tail, adding a few extra rows because the gauge of the fringe yarn is different from the worsted weight yarn. I omitted the bit of CC at the end of the tail to make my toy look more like a squirrel. Embroider a small nose and a happy mouth.

A squirrel bun-shaped toy, sitting on a plate

Side view of the squirrel toy, showing the bushy tail

Frog → Seal

To make a seal, you’ll need 50 g of yarn in grey, white, or maybe purple. Knit the whole body in your colour of choice. Then knit four leg pieces, but leave them unstuffed. Two of these will be attached at the sides of the face as front flippers. To make the tail flippers, fold the other two leg pieces in half lengthwise, then place them on either side of the seam at the centre-back. Make sure the folded side faces up, and that you catch all the layers as you sew them onto the body. Embroider a V-shaped nose and wider mouth (see photo above).

Side view of the seal toy, showing the placement of the fins

Robin → Chick or Ducking

To make a chick or ducking, you’ll need 50 g of light yellow yarn, plus about 5 g of orange yarn. Knit the body, wings, and tail from the yellow yarn. For a chick, knit the beak from orange yarn. For a duckling, knit a second “tail” piece from orange yarn to make a bill, and add a bit of stuffing. Assemble the toy pieces as described in the pattern.

Front view of a chick bun-shaped toy

Mouse → Panda

To make a panda, you will need 40 g of white for your MC and about 10 g of black for your CC. Knit the body all in white. Before attaching the eyes, embroider small eye-patches with some black yarn, using a duplicate stitch technique. Knit the ears in black, and omit the pink duplicate stitch on the front. If you have enough black yarn, knit the legs from the frog pattern, and add them to the toy. Embroider a medium-size nose and a downward facing mouth.

Mouse → Koala

To make a koala, use grey for your MC and white for your CC, then knit the pieces as written. Embroider the front of the ears with your white yarn (if you have some fuzzy white yarn for this, even better). Embroider a large nose, positioned slightly above the centre of the eyes. A simple mouth works well for this toy.

Rabbit → Dog

To make a dog, use a lighter brown yarn for your MC and white for your CC. If you like, use a dark brown or fuzzy yarn for the ears. Knit the body and ears as written, but exclude the tail. Attach the ears to the head so they hang down beside the face. Or, attach the ears pointing up, then fold them forward and sew in place. After you embroider the nose and mouth with black yarn, embroider a little pink tongue.

For a tail, CO 10 sts with whichever yarn colour you like. Work in stockinette until the tail is about 7 cm (3”) long. Then cut the yarn, thread the end through the stitches, and pull tight to gather. Sew along the tail seam, but don’t add stuffing, so the tail will remain flexible. Attach the tail to the centre-back of the toy body.

Frog → Axolotl

To make an axolotl (a type of amphibian), I used lavender as my MC (about 45 g) and mauve as my CC (about 10 g). I knit the frog pattern as written (body plus 4 legs), as well as the tail and gills from the instructions below.

Front view of the axolotl bun-shaped toy


CO 20 sts with MC.

Row 1-3: Beg with a WS row, work in st st.

Row 4: k1, [k4, k2tog] x 3, k1. (17 sts)

Row 5-7: Work 3 rows in st st.

Row 8: k1, [k3, k2tog] x 3, k1. (14 sts)

Row 9-11: Work 3 rows in st st.

Row 12: k1, [k2, k2tog] x 3, k1. (11 sts)

Row 13-15: Work 3 rows in st st.

Row 16: k1, [k1, k2tog] x 3, k1. (8 sts)

Row 17: Purl.

Cut yarn, thread end through rem sts, and pull tight to gather. Sew seam from tail tip to cast-on edge, adding stuffing as you sew. Leave the cast-on edge open for attaching to the body. Place the tail on the back seam of the toy body, then sew the cast-on edge of the tail to the body. Secure yarn ends.

Tail and gills of the axolotl toy, before being stuffed and attached to toy
Tail and Gills of the Axolotl. I blocked the gills, using a pin to help maintain their shape.

Special Stitches for Gills

m5 = make 5 stitches into next stitch. Without slipping the stitch off the left-hand needle, knit into it, bring yarn forward and purl into it, bring yarn back and knit, bring yarn forward and purl, bring yarn back and knit, then slip original stitch off left-hand needle.

s1 = slip 1 stitch purlwise, from left-hand needle to right-hand needle.

Gills (make 2)

CO 7 sts with MC.

Row 1: Purl.

Row 2: k1, m5, s1, m5, s1, m5, k1. (19 sts)

Break off MC and change to CC on next row.

Row 3: p6, s1, p5, s1, p5, s1, p6.

Bind off all stitches. Secure the CC yarn ends on the WS. Place the gills to the side of the face, just above and in front of the fore-legs. Sew the cast-on edge of the gills to the body, then secure yarn ends.

Side view of the axolotl toy, showing placement of tail and gills


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