Witchy Woman . . . (including BONUS HACK)

Raven hair and ruby lips
Sparks fly from her fingertips
Echoed voices in the night
She’s a restless spirit on an endless flight

Woo hoo witchy woman,
See how high she flies
Woo hoo witchy woman
She got the moon in her eye
— The Eagles, Witchy Woman

Pattern: Little Witch Charm Set

Designer: Susan B. Anderson

Yarn: Barrett Wool Co. Home Fingering Weight I purchased a kit several years ago that (I think) included the following colorways: Inkwell (black), October Road (orange), Chestnut (brown), Fig (purple), Terrarium (green), and Birdie (pink). (I used all the colors except the pink.) NOTE: I do not see the specific kit I purchased listed on the Barrett Wool Co. website anymore, although there are a couple of similar kits.

Needles: US size 2/2.75 mm double-point needles, 4

Finished: October 2023

Made for: one for Erin & Keith, one for Brian & Lauren, and one for me

Details and Notes: I’ve had this kit in my stash for several years now. Each year I get the pattern and yarn out and take a good look at it. Last year I actually wound all the yarn into balls. But I was never quite in the mood to make the Little Witches happen.

Until this year!

I really like Susan B. Anderson’s little animals and creatures and toys, and have knit many over the years. Her patterns are generally well-written and easy to follow. Fussy, yes. But as simple and straightforward as can be, given the tiny nature of the projects. Her instructions are clear, and there are plenty of photographs. The Little Witch set is no exception (although I did have a Real Time with the first of the little witches brooms — but thanks to Vicki ¬†[who was making one at the same time] the light bulb finally flashed on for me).

I played around with my own color and stripe combinations, and decided to make the face/hands green (√° la The Wicked Witch of the West). My only disappointment . . . is that they won’t stand up on their own (neither the witches nor the cats) and must “lean.” I considered adding big washers in the bottoms as I stuffed them, but . . . didn’t have any available and didn’t want to wait.

I tend to get a little cranky when I have to start one of these little projects . . . because having just a few stitches on double-point needles while you’re Kfb-ing and joining while trying not to twist? Well. Not so fun. I do have a little “cheat” or “hack” to get things started, which I’ve included at the bottom of these project field notes as a Bonus Hack.

You can also find this project on my Ravely page here. (Although my notes just include a link back to this page.)

==

BONUS HACK!!!

I hear from a lot of knitters that they avoid making little “things” (toys, ornaments, animals) because they can’t stand the fussy beginning parts. And I totally understand that. Because they are definitely fussy!

I . . . cheat.

Here’s what I do . . .

  • I cast on the required number of stitches (per pattern instructions) . . . but just on ONE needle.
  • Then I start the project going back and forth – flat – using two needles. (Note: I do have to pay attention to the pattern and figure out whether I’m working stockinette or garter stitch – or even ribbing – and knit back-and-forth accordingly.) (I do NOT add any “extra stitches” for seaming.)
  • Once I have a more substantial chunk of “fabric” on the needle (usually the first 5-6 rows of the pattern), THEN I split the stitches onto three needles, join in the round (being careful not to twist. . . ) and continue to follow the directions for knitting in the round.
  • I do have a substantially bigger “hole” to fill (and a seam to close), but that’s easily done. Much less fiddling, and a better attitude to start the project!

Here, you can see the short seam I need to sew back together, and then the stitches that will need to be pulled tight to close the hole.

Using the cast-on yarn end (that orange yarn hanging to the far right in the photo above), I use a simple mattress stitch to close the seam, but I’m not as particular about it as I am when I’m seaming up . . . say . . . a sweater.

This next photo shows my seam all closed up! Now, it’s time for me to tighten up the hole/gap.

And I do this the same way I would have had I cast on and immediately started knitting in the round. I just gather the original cast-on stitches and tighten, closing the hole.

It’s magic! No one would ever know I had “cheated!” (And then I’m much less cranky about the whole thing, too.)