It's Mushroom Week at the Purl Bee! Mushrooms, with their friendly shapes and rainbow array of colors, are pretty irresistible. As homes for fairies everywhere, mushrooms hold a special place in children's imaginations. As we grow up our fascination with mushrooms extends into more culinary or scientific directions, but I think those early stories of wood nymphs grabbing shelter from a sudden rainstorm under the eaves of a toadstool might have something to do with a lifelong attraction for mushrooms.

It occurred to me recently that mushrooms are nature's perfectly engineered baby rattles. An ergonomic handle, an amusing bouncey cap with room to accommodate a noise maker, and a welcome canvas for color and decoration. To carry out my vision, I used Koigu Premium Merino because no one makes better colors, and it won't irritate a baby's skin. This project is also accompanied by our new Double Pointed Needles Tutorial. If you've never used double pointed needles, but have always wanted to try, now is a great opportunity!  

I always say that projects are fun, but this, I assure you, is fun! Make one for your next baby shower. You'll see!! --Whitney

The Materials

TBRmaterials.jpg

  • Several colors of Koigu Premium Merino. An entire skein is enough to make at least one whole rattle, but if you want a multi-colored rattle you'll need small amounts of a few colors.
  • A set of US #2 double pointed needles
  • Stuffing
  •  A cat toy with a bell inside about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. This design is commonly found at pet stores, drug stores and supermarkets.

TBRcattoy1.jpg

The Pattern

Gauge

8 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch 

Finished Size 

About 3 inches in diameter and 4 1/2 inches high 

The Cap

Cast 72 stitches onto 3 double pointed needles. (You may want to visit our Double Pointed Needles Tutorial if this is your first time using them.)

Join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Knit 5 rounds.

Next round: *K7, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (64 stitches)

Knit 14 rounds.

Next round: *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (48 stitches)

Knit 7 rounds.

Next round: *K1, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (32 stitches)

Knit 1 round.

Next round: *k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (16 stitches)

Cut the tail and thread it through the remaining stitches.

The Gills 

With the wrong side of the cap facing you and using a new color if you want, pick up and knit a round of 64 purl bumps from the inside of the cap. Try to pick up the round right above the first decrease round.

If you find it tricky to pick up adjacent stitches, try first threading a contrasting yarn through the round of purl bumps that you are going to pick up. (Remove the waste yarn as you pick up the purl bumps.)

Next round: *K2, p2, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat the last round 4 more times. 

Now is a good time to weave in all the ends, and to generously fill the cap with stuffing, nestling the cat toy in the center of the cap.

Next round: *K2tog, p2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (32 stitches)

Next round: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat the last round 2 more times.

Cut the tail, if you plan to change colors. 

The Stem

Changing colors if you want,

Round 1: Knit.

Bring the two tails to the outside of the work so that you'll be able to later weave them in.


Round 2: Purl.

Repeat the last two rounds 2 more times.

Knit 12 rounds.

Increase Round: *K4, make 1, repeat from * to end of round. (40 stitches)

Knit 2 rounds.

Repeat Increase Round. (50 stitches)

Knit 3 rounds.

Next round: *K3, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (40 stitches)

Purl 1 round.

Knit 2 rounds.

Next round: *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (30 stitches)

Knit 1 round.

Fill the stem with stuffing.

Next round: *K1, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (20 stitches)

Knit 1 round.

Next round: *K2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (10 stitches)

Cut the tail and thread it through the remaining stitches.

 

 

Decorating Ideas

Stripes

Stripes are an easy way to add lots of visual interest to your toadstool. I striped the cap, but a striped stem would look cute too. So would more than two colors.

The stripe pattern for this cap is:
    12 rounds with Color A
    8 rounds with Color B
    5 rounds with A
    3 rounds with B
    2 rounds with A
    1 round with B

Dots

 

 

Use duplicate stitch to make dots on the cap. (For help, please visit our Duplicate Stitch Tutorial.)

To start a new dot, bring the needle under the knitting to the next starting point.

Architectural Detail

Use Duplicate Stitch to adorn the stem with domestic details!

These are just a few possibilities. Have fun coming up with others!