Bella’s Knitted Sloth

sloth hangs from walnut tree and is surrounded by leaves

Every so often a knitted idea that is too fun to pass up comes along; most recently for me it was the challenge to knit my niece Bella a knitted sloth for her birthday, after I learnt that she loves these creatures.

Bella's knitted sloth hangs backwards and upside down out of the walnut tree with little I-cord claws outstretched

I looked at several patterns and purchased several to see how other crafters had tackled the challenge. However, I found myself extremely averse to the idea of doing any seaming whatsoever and couldn’t find any designs I liked that were also worked entirely in the round.

It’s not that I don’t like seaming… I do! It’s just that the way three-dimensional objects form in my mind is very much closer to how they emerge when worked in the round on double-pointed-needles.

Bella's knitted sloth hanging upside down from the mulberry tree

Knitting things flat – especially animals, fruits, vegetables or other tangible objects things – involves a level of abstraction that I do not enjoy as much as simply building the thing on my needles while working in the round. I like thinking about the different faces of an object growing and contracting with decreases and increases placed around a tube – like the way bodies go in and out; like a limb thins from wide at the shoulder to slender at the wrist.

Felix holds the knitted sloth up against a white door, so you can more easily see the details and construction

So although this project looked like a hedgehog at various stages of its construction (many, many needles as limbs were picked up and worked from other body parts, or held on spare circular needles for ease of manipulation), it all made sense to me as I worked through the various stages of SLOTH CREATION.

I began by making the sloth’s bum, using waste yarn to mark the placement of the legs that were then picked up and worked later (afterthought legs!)

I then continued upwards to make the sloth’s chest, using waste yarn to mark the placement of the arms that I picked up and worked later. I decreased to make shoulders and a tiny neck, then made the head separately and sewed it firmly onto the body with strong cotton thread.

Sloth hands backwards off the walnut tree, you can just see the arms and  sloth's head is upside down

The eyes are buttons, and the head was worked from a sphere into a point, with four decrease points on the back to make a sort of roundy back of head, and then five decrease points on the front to finish with a little pointy nose. Facial details were embroidered on at the end, and I-cord claws and toggles were designed so that the sloth can be clipped easily onto anything from which they’d like to hang!

Sloth hanging from pan rail in kitchen

sloth hanging from washing line

My notes would make no sense to anyone but myself viz this design, but it didn’t matter, as I never had any intention of publishing the pattern; this was just a 100% fun, experimental project made purely for the fun and joy of the thing – the kind of project that reminds me why I wanted to knit things in the first place. Do you ever design things on the fly? If not, I can 100% recommend.

Bella's sloth hangs out in the mulberry tree

Sloth is very happy with Bella and Bella seems to be very happy with sloth. This evening I will be tidying up the mess that was created through this project and winding off the spare bits of yarn, extra buttons and so on into a little first aid kit in case sloth ever needs to visit the Felicity (Felix) Ford woolly repairs workshop/animal rescue centre. For those who wish to know, the body of sloth is knit with aran weight North Ronaldsay yarn in a pleasing grey colour held together with a skinny little gingery mohair yarn (used both for fuzziness and colour). The buttons and toggles are ones I had in stash and the claws are worked with white wool – I think it’s Corriedale. The nose is worked in a black yarn I had left over from making some socks for Mark.

Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 news to resume soon, but I couldn’t not share the joy of Bella’s sloth with you!
Yours in the joy of improvising and hanging out in trees –
Fx

13 thoughts on “Bella’s Knitted Sloth

  1. Bella was delighted with her beautifully crafted Sloth on her birthday, she has named him Sid. What a clever Aunty she has xx

    1. Aw, thanks so much for reading and I’m so happy to hear that Sid now has a name :) it was my favourite thing to make him x

  2. How comforting to think that a gifted designer and writer of patterns likes to just mess around for fun with the idea to create a one of a kind never to be replicated sloth!

    1. Aw you’re very kind to describe me as a “gifted designer” – I don’t know about that, but I do know that everything creative I do is 100% nourished and supported by my making time for messing around just for fun! Playing is so underrated I reckon x

  3. I really enjoyed reading the details of how you worked out the construction. Looking at the finished Sloth, I would have been tempted to start at the nose with a pinhole cast-on – like Jen Arnall-Culliford does with her Alex the Mouse in A Year of Techniques. But I suppose starting at the other end is a safer bet than launching straight into the face!

    1. That’s a really good idea and a nose-first approach would be a good way to start in the future if I need to improvise a creature on the needles again!

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