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Big Snowy Owl

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!

 

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69 Responses to Big Snowy Owl


  1. purl bee says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    If you're overwhelmed by backtracking (which, honestly, is a little tricky with the Kitchener Stitch), then I would suggest just threading your tail through the remaining stitch purlwise. Then, use the tail to sew up the holes. Should work fine!

    Thanks for asking and please let us know if you have any other questions!

    Whitney

  2. sadi snyder says:

    I made one for my sister in law who loves owls but when my 8 year old grand daughter saw him it was love at first sight, she calls him Chubby and I have now made a second one. SO easy it can be made in a day or 2 . Thanks for the great pattern.

  3. Tricia says:

    I've admired this owl for well over a year, and I have finally started to knit it. How wide in diameter should the eyes be?

    Also, I'm not sure about the beak. Do I treat the two DPNs as one needle, and use a third needle to knit the picked up stitches? Thanks!

  4. purl bee says:

    Hi Tricia,

    The finished eyes measure 6 inches in diameter.

    And, yes, you have the right idea for the beak! You just work the stitches of one double pointed needle using a third needle, then move on to the second double pointed needle, using the newly freed needle. Once you're actually doing it, this will make more sense!

    Thanks for your questions and good luck!

    Whitney

  5. Ann says:

    Awesome site! Love all of your free patterns… I'm a beginning knitter and I've gotten to the beak portion but I don't really know what you mean by picking up stitches? How do I do this?

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Ann,

    "Picking up stitches" is a very useful knitting technique that involves dipping your needle into the knitting, wrapping the yarn around the needle, and pulling out a new stitch. We sadly don't have a tutorial on the subject quite yet, but there is a very useful one right here: http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter04/FEATwin04TT.html .

    I hope this helps and please let us know if you have any other questions!
    Whitney

  7. Ale says:

    I'm a knitting beginner that decided to start with the owl as one of my first projects. My knitting friends are not available and I don't have anyone else to ask… I'm stuck when I need to add new yarn to make the second ear. Where can I find a tutorial for this. Sorry for the (maybe) stupid question!

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Ale,

    We don't have a tutorial for that (yet!), but what you do is insert the right needle into the first stitch, wrap the new yarn counter clockwise around the right needle (just like a normal knit stitch), and pull the yarn through the stitch (again, just like a knit a normal knit stitch). Then continue to knit!

    Make sure when you do start the new yarn that you leave at least an eight-inch tail so that you have plenty of length to weave in at the end.

    Thanks so much for asking and please let us know if you run into any more questions. None are "stupid"!

    Whitney

  9. Whitney says:

    I made this for my nephew before he was born; his mama loves loves owls.
    It turned out perfectly, so wonderfully fluffy and adorable. Now it's being used as a prop in his monthly photos to show how much he's growing and changing.
    Thanks for a great pattern!

  10. Ann J says:

    Love this! I am at the ears, not sure I get what I am supposed to do. How many stiches am I knitting on rows 1, 2 and 3. I had 36 when I finished the head, then slipped last 5 to dble-pt., then knit the next 5 on 2nd dble. pt., leaving me with 26. Am I to knit the 26 on rnds. 1-3?

  11. Martina Bade says:

    Thank you so much for this pretty pattern. I made the owl as a Christmas-present fo my adult daughter who loves owls so much.
    Because of her joy and because some wool was left I made a second owl. I used the same pattern but a smaller needle (US 7 – 4.5 mm). Mama owl an babyowl are so cute!
    If you like to see them you should visit my account (luna-berlin) at ravelry.
    And I hope you'll enjoy it too.

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Ann J,

    You should be knitting the first ear on 10 stitches, leaving the remaining 26 stitches on hold. The 10 stitches come from having slipped 5 onto a double pointed needle and then having knit 5 with a second dpn, which it sounds like you already did!

    I hope this clarifies things for you. Please let us know if you have any other questions and thanks so much for this one!

    Whitney

  13. Karen says:

    I love your website. So many wonderful free patterns. Thanks for sharing all the great patterns. I'm working on the owl. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. She will look great on my bed. I've made the hedgehog and the mushrooms. Looking forward to working on the snowman family and the felted trees.

  14. Sheyla says:

    Could you tell me what circular needles are in the pictures, I have been looking for those very ones, are they by Skacel, when I click on your link the needles look different but I could be wrong so I would appreciate your response…I cant wait to make this beautiful owl!

  15. Chally says:

    Hello
    Thank you so much for sharing this awesome pattern.
    I'm a newbie for knitting a doll and stuck at the end of the head. The pattern described to turn the piece inside out and weave in the ends. Does this mean to use a tapestry needle or continue to knit in the wrong side?
    Thank you ^^

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Sheyla-

    The circular needles used in this project are Addi Turbo's. Here's a direct link: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/8-Skacel-Addi-Turbo-Circular-Needles
    Thank you!

    Molly

  17. purl bee says:

    Hi Chally,

    It does mean to use a tapestry needle but not to continue to knit in the wrong side. What the pattern is talking about there is neatly sewing in the tails of yarn you have from casting on and from starting new balls of yarn. We have a tutorial that explains it all right here: http://purlbee.squarespace.com/knitting-tutorials-finishing/2011/7/14/weaving-in-your-ends.html

    I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions and thank you for this one!

    Whitney

  18. Chally says:

    Hi Whitney,
    I was confused because the picture below this sentence of the head pattern "Turn the piece inside out and weave in the ends…". It shows a long tail of yarn that allows to continue to make the ears. I totally forgot the tail of yarn from casting on. lol. Thank you so much.

  19. sabine s says:

    Hi!
    Thank you for this lovely owl. Will make one now!!
    greetings from germany

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