Welcome to Homemade Holiday 101, your passport to a craftier, tastier holiday season!
We’ve cracked open our library to offer you a treasure trove of handpicked, foolproof instructions for projects like knitting your own Christmas stockings, making Brooklyn’s best artisanal candies in your home kitchen, and turning an ordinary bottle of booze into a memorable flavored liqueur. Six days a week from now through December 31, we will email you a project, tip, or recipe to keep you cooking, making, and baking your way through the gifting season. Because a handmade gift is one that brings joy to both its maker and its receiver, it’s a holiday bonanza not only for you but for your friends and family too. (And when it comes to the happy parade of wintertime celebrations ahead, the recipes we’ve pulled from our award-winning cookbooks will have you covered.)
Starting today and continuing through the end of the year, we’ll also be holding our annual holiday ebook sale, featuring 101 craft books and cookbooks for $4.99 or less. We hope you’ll share the cheer.
To kick things off, here’s a project that (amazingly) can be tackled by even a beginning knitter: an adorable knitted toy penguin from Susan B. Anderson’s book Itty-Bitty Toys. (If you’re not a knitter, please feel free to forward to a yarn-happy friend.)
Toy Penguin from Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson
Wishing you a season full of fireside knitting, gourds of all shapes and sizes, and the friendliest of penguins.
Toy Penguin from Itty-Bitty Toys
My kids are especially fond of penguins because they’re the team mascot for their summer swim team. Even a brand-new knitter can make this adorable cold-climate friend, because it’s made completely out of garter stitch squares. With a fold and a pull and a stitch or two, you’ll make your own penguin in a jiffy. Dive right in and give it a try.
6 inches tall, 3 inches wide
Rowan Pure Wool DK (100% wool; 136 yards/50 grams), 1 skein each #013 Enamel (natural), #003 Anthracite (dark gray), and #035 Quarry (orange)
- U.S. size 5 needles or size needed to obtain gauge
- Polyester fiberfill, 1 small bag
- Poly pellets (optional), 32-ounce bag
- Yarn needle
- Tape measure or ruler
6 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch
With Enamel, cast on 36 stitches. Work in garter stitch (knit every row) until the piece measures 6 inches from the cast-on edge.
Bind off. Cut the yarn, leaving an 8-inch-long tail, and pull the tail through the remaining stitch. Lay the piece on a table in front of you with the cast-on edge at the left, and the bound-off edge at the right. Fold over 1 inch of the bottom edge and pin down. Whipstitch the fold down. This edge will become the bottom of the penguin.
Fold the cast-on edge to meet the bound-off edge. Whipstitch this edge and the bottom folded edge together, leaving the top open. Fill the body half full with poly pellets and the rest with fiberfill, or fill only with fiberfill. Stuff until firm. Whipstitch the top seam closed.
With Anthracite, make another piece as you did for the body.
feet (make 2)
With Quarry, cast on 12 stitches. Knit every row until the foot measures 1 inch from the cast-on edge.
Cut the yarn, leaving a 6-inch-long tail, and thread the tail on a yarn needle. Pull the tail through the 12 stitches and gather tightly. Secure with a knot. Fold the piece in half and whipstitch the edges together. Stuff the foot lightly with fiberfill before closing the last edge. Weave the end to the inside and trim.
With Quarry, cast on 10 stitches.
Rows 1–4: knit
Bind off. Cut the yarn and pull through the remaining stitch
Place the Anthracite square on a table in front of you so one of the corners is facing you as if the piece were diamond-shaped. Place the body in the center of the Anthracite square.
Pull the wings inward and sew them together at the neck for about 1 inch. Tack down the wings to the body using a running stitch and leaving the corners unattached. The bottom corner folds to the back to make the tail. Tack down the tail to the body using a running stitch.
Pull the top corner over to the front. Stuff the top corner lightly with fiberfill to form the head. Tack down the sides of the beak to the body with a few stitches. The beak remains unattached.
Whipstitch the neckband under the beak and over the front seam. Whipstitch the feet to the bottom front of the body.
With Enamel and a yarn needle, take 2 small straight stitches to create the eyes, using the photograph as a guide.
For more projects like this, check out Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson—just $2.99 for the holidays!