There's something about owls. Is it their baby-wide eyes? Their mysterious nighttime habits? Or their totemic gumdrop shape? I'm not sure, but owls somehow manage to be simultaneously enigmatic and totally lovable.

This one is heavy on the lovable! With a big, pudgy belly and a cozy soft alpaca-blend yarn, the Big Snowy Owl is one heck of a hugger. At a foot and a half tall and a yard around, he's just right for little arms to squeeze and for young imaginations to love. Although, you're never too old for an unconditionally amiable friend!

Making the Big Snowy Owl was probably the most fun knitting I've done all year. From easy stitch patterns to simple shaping, there's never a dull moment! Plus I love just being around the downy softness of Blue Sky Bulky, big wonderful stitch after big wonderful stitch!

 

The Materials

  • For the Main Yarn: 4 skeins of Blue Sky's Bulky, 50% Alpaca and 50% Wool. I used the color Polar Bear. NOTE: If you're not very careful with your gauge and conservative with your tails, you may need 5 skeins - it's close! (Looking for another option? Try 2 skeins of Cascade's Magnum.)
  • For the Contrast Yarns: 3 skeins of Blue Sky's Bulky. These colors are Silver Mink, Frost and Gray Wolf. (Want to save a little? Just one skein would be enough!)

 

The Pattern

Gauge

2 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette

Finished Size

17 inches from ground to top of ear

38 inches in circumference

The Bottom

With the Main Yarn and the double pointed needles, cast on 8 stitches. (NOTE: If you're using Blue Sky Bulky and following this design exactly, you'll end up using almost all of the 4 skeins. So to be on the safe side, don't leave super long tails. Stick to 6 to 8 inch tails and you'll be fine!)

Place a stitch marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist your stitches.

Round 1: Knit into the front and back (kfb) 8 times. (16 stitches)

Round 2: Purl.

Round 3: *P1, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (24 stitches)

Round 4: Purl.

Round 5: *P2, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (32 stitches)

Round 6: Purl.

Round 7: *P3, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (40 stitches)

Round 8: Purl.

Round 9: *P4, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (48 stitches)

Round 10: Purl.

Round 11: *P5, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (56 stitches)

Switching to the 20 inch circular needle...

Round 12: Purl.

Round 13: *P13, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (60 stitches)

Purl 6 rounds.

The Body

Round 1: *P1, k9, p1, k1, repeat from * to end of round.

Round 2: *K1, p1, k7, p1, k1, p1, repeat from * to end of round. 

Round 3: *P1, k1, p1, k5, (p1, k1) 2 times, repeat from * to end of round.

Round 4: *(K1, p1) 2 times, k3, p1, k1, p1, k2, repeat from * to end of round.

Round 5: *K2, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1, k3, repeat from * to end of round.

Round 6: *K3, (p1, k1) 2 times, p1, k4, repeat from * to end of round.

Round 7: *K4, p1, k1, p1, k5, repeat from * to end of round.

Round 8: Repeat Round 6.

Round 9: Repeat Round 5.

Round 10: Repeat Round 4.

Round 11: Repeat Round 3.

Round 12: Repeat Round 2.

Repeat Rounds 1-12 one more time.

Repeat Rounds 1-7.

The Head

Rounds 1-6: Knit.

Round 7: *K8, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (54 stitches)

Rounds 8 and 9: Knit.

Round 10: *K7, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (48 stitches)

Rounds 11 and 12: Knit.

Round 13: *K6, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (42 stitches)

Rounds 14 and 15: Knit.

Round 16: *K5, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (36 stitches)

Rounds 17 and 18: Knit.

Turn the piece inside out and weave in the ends. Then turn it right side out and fill the owl with a bag of stuffing.

The Ears

Remove the stitch marker, and slip the last 5 stitches you knit onto a double pointed needle.

With a second double pointed needle, knit the next 5 stitches.

Rearrange these 10 stitches onto three double pointed needles (3 stitches on two and 4 stitches on the third). Join for working in the round.

**Rounds 1-3: Knit.

Round 4: (K3, k2tog) 2 times. (8 stitches)

Round 5: (K2, k2tog) 2 times. (6 stitches)

Round 6: (K1, k2tog) 2 times. (4 stitches)

Cut the yarn and sew it through the remaining stitches.***

Orient your owl so the ear you just made is on the right (as in the above picture). Use the back circular needle to slip 8 stitches from the front needle.

Slip the next 10 stitches onto three double pointed needles (3 stitches on two and 4 stitches on the third).

Join new yarn, and repeat from ** to ***, joining into the round at the beginning of the second round.

Finish stuffing your owl, making it firm and plump. Don't forget to stuff the ears too!

Separate the 16 remaining stitches so that there are 8 stitches at each end of the needle.

Cut a piece of the Main Yarn about 24 inches long. Thread it onto a tapestry needle and graft the two sides of the owl's head together using the Kitchener Stitch.

As you weave in the tails, sew closed the holes.

The Eyes

With Color A (Frost), cast 8 stitches onto the double pointed needles.

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

Round 1: Kfb 8 times. (16 stitches)

Round 2: *K1, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (24 stitches)

Change to Color B (Polar Bear).

Round 3: Knit.

Round 4: *K2, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (32 stitches)

Change to Color C (Silver Mink).

Round 5: Knit.

Round 6: *K3, kfb, repeat from * to end of round. (40 stitches)

Bind off, leaving a 24 inch tail. Weave in all the ends, except the tail. Use the tail to close the circle.

Make another eye identical to the first.

Place the edge of one eye half way between the ears and down at the center of the head. Use the tail to sew the outside edge of the eye to the head. To do this, I sewed under a ladder stitch of the head...

...then up through a bind off stitch...

...and down through the adjacent bind off stitch, ready to sew under the next ladder stitch.

Sew the second eye down also, lining up the outside edge so that the two eyes meet in the middle of the head.

Cut a 30 inch piece of Color D (I used Gray Wolf) and thread it onto a tapestry needle. Embroider around the inside of the first eye by bringing the needle down through the center of the eye and up through the first round of knitting, then back down through the center...

...until you have gone all the way around the center of the eye. Weave in the ends.

Embroider around the second eye in the same way.

The Beak

With Color D and a double pointed needle, pick up 6 stitches along the inside curve of the owl's left eye.

Flip the owl upside down, and with a second double pointed needle, pick up 6 stitches down the inside of the right eye. (12 stitches)

For the beak, you'll work back and forth in rows, working across the first double pointed needle and then the second. Turn the work over between rows.

Row 1: Purl.

Row 2: K3, k2tog, k2, ssk, k3. (10 stitches)

Row 3: Purl.

Row 4: K2, k2tog, k2, ssk, k2. (8 stitches)

Now, with 4 stitches on each needle, cut the yarn, leaving an 18 inch tail.

Hold the two needles parallel to each other, and graft them together using the Kitchener Stitch.

Weave in the ends.

If you have any ends left over, weave them in. Then give your Big Snowy owl a big squeeze!