Back in 1980, my mother decided it was time I learned to knit. She diligently bought me a pair of knitting needles and a Ladybird book entitled Learnabout... Knitting' A hyper-real guide to knitting basics, it specialised in scrubbed blonde girls sporting very clean clothes and polished complexions. There were other titles in the series including Indoor Gardening, Coarse Fishing (a new internet term perhaps?), Heraldry and Handwriting; curious, apparently child-oriented hobbies from the olden days. In spite of my failure to become a knitting prodigy I proudly printed my name in the book and still own it to this day.
Thus began my epic 30-year journey to acquire the knitting basics. My mother succeeded with the help of the book to teach me garter stitch but it was another 17 years before I got the book out again to teach myself stocking stitch, egged on in part by the idea of Julia Roberts knitting herself an angora sweater on the set of Pretty Woman. Apparently, knitting was relaxing for Hollywood stars and I was determined to test the theory, even though I wasn't a Hollywood star.
Not long after that, motherhood took over and at a time when women once knitted layettes of three-piece stroller sets, cable-twist cardigans, matinee jackets and over-knee bootees I had filed my Ladybird book away in the dark recesses of another life. Which brings me somewhat convolutedly to the rabbit; a vintage knit from the New Zealand Woman's Weekly, May 25, 1970 (to be precise). If, like me you've been slow to learn anything other than the basics, here's your chance to shine. Red Rabbit is worked solely in garter stitch, thus giving you the opportunity to feel like a star!
Step 1 - With red, cast on 65 stitches. Knit 2 rows. Join pink. Knit 2 rows. Repeat last 4 rows 3 times. Break off pink. Continue in red only. Knit 2 rows. Cast off 6 stitches at beginning of next row. Continue straight until work measures 16.5cm, ending at straight edge. Cast off 31 stitches at the beginning of the next row. Work 5 rows on remaining stitches. Cast off. Work another piece to match reversing colours (make sure they match in mirror reverse as you will be joining them right-sides facing).
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Step 2 - Join pieces together, leaving end open.
Step 3 - Stuff, then sew opening closed with a large needle and wool thread.
Step 4 - Ears (x2 red pieces, x2 pink pieces): Cast on 12 stitches. Work 6.5cm. Decrease 1 stitch at each end of next 4 rows. Cast off. Join together one of each colour in pairs, leave end open and stuff. Stitch together and sew to head with wool thread.
Step 5 - With red, white and pink, make a pompom for the tail (mine was a bit big) and sew to rabbit with several anchoring stitches.
Step 6 - Replicate eyes (x2 white ovals 4cmx7cm/x2 black ovals 3.3cmx4cm) and nose (x1 black circle 2cmx2cm) as shown, with felt or choose an alternative (such as buttons). Waxed string can be used for whiskers or use leftover wool. Stitch all features in place. Work a row of stem stitch or back stitch on the body as shown.
• Approx 50g each of 8 ply yarn in red and pink (I used Moda Vera Marvel acrylic from Spotlight)
• Small ball of white
• Pair of size 3 needles
• Black and white felt
• Waxed string
• Small amount of black wool and large needle
• Cardboard for pompom