I've been on a stuffed animal kick lately (mostly as a result of purchasing a bag of poly-fill. That stuff is hard to store in a little apartment). It works out rather handily since everyone I know is having children these days. Stuffed animals have three real benefits: first, they are usually less than a foot tall and therefore take only a day or two to knit; second, they are easily gender neutral; third, they are cheap to make.
The downsides to them are usually things like seeming until your eyes and fingers want to bleed, and hand embroidering features on a knitted fabric. I am not against embroidery, per se. I just suck at it rather royally. Seeming, while time consuming, produces predictable, repeatable results. It's really just a long game of connect the dots. Embroidery is definitely a circle in my personal Inferno: I'm inefficient, have terrible aim, and heaven help me if it needs to be symmetrical.
That being said, this weekend's project was a bunny rabbit (this one) for an upcoming baby shower. I love the results I got from this pattern, but I won't go so far as to say I love the pattern itself. It was alright, but deviations were made. First, I changed the head shape so that the bunny would have a jaw and nose. The original pattern had a nearly circular head, and bunnies, well, don't. Next, I knit inner ears a bit narrower and shorter than the brown outer ear. If there is anything I dislike more than embroidery, it is hand-sewing non-knitted things to knitted things. Third, I shrunk the arms a bit. Originally I was going to change them to triangles which merged with the belly, but after re-examing, I decided that 20 rows would make them just right.
Then I had to put the face on this thing... four tries later, I feel moderately successful. I did a bit of shaping with the eyes--rabbits are herbivores, or rather food for carnivores, and surviving means seeing as much as you can as often as you can. It's because of this that rabbits have eyes on the sides of their face rather than in front (like, say, a bear). The nose is a simplified version of the rabbit nostril pattern, or a heart... take your pick.
This leads me to one of those things I always wonder about--how much should a stuffed animal look like a real one? Clearly most teddy bears aren't particularly bear shaped. They are thin, have discrete, separate limbs, and large fluffy ears disproportionate to their body size. But it's still a bear. You still look at it and think, "that's a bear." If I tacked on an extra limb or made something inordinately large, you'd probably think, "that's an ugly bear... thing" but you'd still recognize it. I have 2 pink rabbits from my childhood (must have been a sale). One of them is shaped like a bunny--it's a quadruped, and basically rabbit shaped, except maybe for some of its facial features and that pink fur. The other is done in classic teddy bear style, sitting with big, floppy ears, and also very pink. I'm pretty sure I was told at some point that this one was a rabbit, because it could just as easily be a dog. All that to say I'm curious as to what makes a good stuffed animal.
But not so curious as to stop making them. It's going to be hard to give this little guy away, even if he does have the legs of a Mara (which he totally does. Look at those spindly things and tell me otherwise)
I'll get back to the sweater soon. My life has been consumed by cables and I've got about 3" left before I never knit chart A again. After that it'll be more intellectually stimulating to knit.