June 11, 2009
Introducing Please Love Me the Penguin
It's something of a tradition for an older sibling to receive a gift "from" their new baby sibling upon the birth. I suppose the rite was started as a way for the parents to make the big brother or sister feel special amid all the hullabaloo over the baby, and perhaps a new toy would help keep the older child occupied in those first days as the parents readjusted to the "getting by on 2 hours of sleep" routine. I also like to think the gift is something of an olive branch extended by the parents on behalf of the baby to the older sibling; a way of communicating for the baby in rudimentary toddler-ese, "Look, kid, I am giving you this awesome new toy so please don't kill me in my sleep even though I am about to destroy life as you know it."
Harper has developed something of a thing for penguins of late. It started with his enjoyment of watching the daily penguin feeding at the California Academy of Sciences, and was launched into mild obsession status by his love for the book 365 Penguins, which he would insist we (specifically, the ever-so-patient Byrne) read each time we visited our neighborhood bookstore. So, the baby will be giving him his own copy of the book as well as this pudgy little handknit penguin (I admit, I helped a bit with the knitting part). My hope is that 1) He'll love the gift, and perhaps even his baby sister as well, and 2) He won't immediately request 364 more penguins (this is a distinct possibility, as he is a lover of both large numbers and consistency).
The pattern came from the Winter 2004 issue of Knitty, but I first spotted it in a Hail Mary search on Ravelry for a knit penguin patttern. It was an easy and quick knit that I was able to complete in leisurely spurts over a couple of weekends, and it just may have hooked me on knitting plush animals--I like that all the parts are worked separately and then seamed and stuffed, making these types of projects easy to pick up and put down as needed. I would have liked to use a more smushy, soft, and natural fiber, but I had a big skein of cheapo black acrylic yarn left over from some long-ago learning-to-crochet project, so I picked up some cheapo off white and gold to match and got going. In the end, I am thrilled with the results, and now the toy is imminently washable, a fact I am sure I will praise when Harper's sister ruins his life yet again by spitting up all over his (hopefully) beloved handknit penguin.
P.S.: Please forgive the substandad photo, taken with my phone. I finished knitting this in a bit of late-pregnancy nesting panic, and it immediately went into my hospital bag, which immediately went into the back of the car to await the onset of labor. Ducks--or penguins as they were--must all be in a row at this point, lest I go a little more crazy.