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« Molly's Sketchbook: A Party Garland | Main | Felted Mushrooms from Kathryn Ivy »

Whit's Knits: Toadstool Baby Rattle

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


  • 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.


The Pattern


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 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




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!

Reader Comments (34)

I love this project and am definitely going to make one!
July 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkat
love them!!!
July 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulia
so cute! I will definitely be making this one for baby #2 on the way!
July 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdelaneysduds
these are just too precious. i featured them on the daily chum, and i'm going to cast on for a pair or two!
July 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteradminnie
I love them, there are soooo many babies being born right now, I think I'll end up making several!
July 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie
This has to be one of my most favorite projects you've ever posted! So so cute! I have many a baby to give gifts to these days!
July 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly
fantastic! thanks for sharing the instructions.
July 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer
These are adorable! Thanks for the pattern!
July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNonnahs
I need to make these for the next baby that comes along. Absolutely adorable.
July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPicot
Lovely... simply lovely.
July 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkatie
I just found and bought a set of 3 rattles and will try this out soon. Would you have any suggestions for yarn substitute? Would acryilic work okay on this?
July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn
This tutorial is amazing! And the end result is adorable. I would be honored if you would let me post a link to this tutorial on my site .

Thanks in advance,
July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStacy
Dear Jocelyn,
Any yarn will work, but try to find one with a similar gauge, otherwise they will turn out to be a different size.
July 31, 2008 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Stacy,
You are most welcome to post a link to our story on your blog. Thanks for your interest!
July 31, 2008 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I have been thinking about this adorable project but hesitated at the "picking up stitches on the inside" bit. I wonder if it would work to increase in every stitch on the row after the first descrease, then put every other stitch from this round on a bit of yarn as a stitch holder,with these stitches held behind. This would make it easier for me to make sure that all the stem stitches were from the same row. I'll have to try this to see if it makes sense. Thanks.!
August 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
I haven't decided whether you are a creative genius or just need good psychiatric help--but the mushrooms rattles are amazing!! They are adorable. Thanks for the great project!
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRMR
love them...!!! Off to the pet store this morning.
How do we wash them?
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret
Oh my gosh, these are SOOO fun to knit! This was my first complete project with DPNs, and I had so much fun, I can't wait to start on another one. Thanks for a great project! (Oh, and PetCo has their own namebrand ball that's a rattle - I like this even better than the ones with a bell, and they're only .59! I have no affiliation with PetCo, just thought I'd mention it, because it's perfect for this project!)
August 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDiane
Just finished my second toadstool rattle - a felted version! It's just about the cutest thing I've ever made! :-) Thanks again for this wonderful pattern!
September 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDiane
Funny and wonderful toy !
It's a great idea for a present !

Thanks a lot for sharing this idea.
October 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPascale
This is genious. My friends have kitties, and my daughter Lily used to love that exact cat toy when she was a baby, weird I know, so I tied it in a pretty baby sock, so she could play with it without choking. :) Love your ideas.
March 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMolly
Love it! I have so many little yarn bits in my stash, left over from other projects.... now I know just what to do with them!
May 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHvnSntRN
Just want to say thanks for such a gorgeous pattern - made the first of what I'm sure will be many today! Thank you for sharing it for free!
July 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicci
Sweet little rattles! I'm thinking I'll make them using a nice cotton, so they can be washed, and aren't fuzzy for baby to chew on. :)
October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim
These are charming. Have you considered just turning the shroom stem into an ice cream cone? Wouldn't take a lot of adjusting and it could be just as fun. Thanks. I especially love the fact that the bell is safely ensconced away from any tricky babies.
October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
I love this pattern, and it will be the first thing I complete as a (k)new knitter! =) I am having one problemand in lieu of going to the knit shop I was wondering if wnyne that sees this post would be able to answer my wuestion. I am almost done (at the point where I am increasing. The problem I am noticing is that the whole under part and stem are inside out. Yes, inside out! I must have done something when I picked up the purl bumps and started knitting! I notice it looked a little different when I changed colors both times, and have a line of new color above the last stitch, a line of the old color, and the new color. When I started to knit on the stem I really noticed it because I was knitting but was it coming out as a purl... I didn't keven know I knew how to do that! So, I'm not sure what I did, and am interested in any thoughts and comments. It still looks really cute and I'm sure my baby won't mind. Also, the inside looks GREAT! I thought about turning it inside out, but then the top would be all purl bumps and the little edge would be covered. Thank you all for your thoughts!
November 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannyn
Hi Shannyn,
It sounds like you're knitting inside out. This happens occasionally when knitters start doing projects in the round. When you are knitting in the round you should be working on the outside of the work rather than the inside... it's sort of hard to explain the difference so we recommend that you check out the circular knitting video tutorials at knitting Here is a link to their page of circular techniques:

Hope this helps!
November 1, 2009 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
so i do not know how to knit...but i LOVE THESE! i have never ever seen anything like this before. is there any possible way i could buy one?
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkaley
These are fantastic! I just finished a little gnome vest for a friend's baby shower and THIS is the perfect companion! xo thanks for a fun pattern
January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan
OMG, these are sooooo cute!
I just start knitting and this makes me so motivated to keep learning, I have to make them! Thank you! :D
February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermevr. Snoeshaan
1 1/2 inches in diameter? Are you sure?
November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatty
HI Patty,

Hmmm.... The finished size is 3 inches in diameter, and otherwise, I'm not quite sure what you might be referring to. Let me know so I can help you out!

November 26, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I am IN LOVE with these. I never really understood the interest in making knitted toys until I became pregnant and started envisioning an amazing nursery filled with hand-made blankets, clothing and toys. so special. I can't wait to make these. They are completely within my skill set but will still be a bit of a challenge and a new learning experience with the stuffing etc.. Thanks for making such a great pattern!!

I plan to start on this right after I finish the easy crib blanket/play mat in super soft Merino and the other crib blanket from madelinetosh merino DK.
September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
OH MY GOSH how cute are these? I can hardly wait to start one of these or a dozen. LOVE THESE
January 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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