Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Meet Great Uncle Angus MacScarecrow

I know that I gave a sneak peak of him last week, but I'm so proud of him that I think he needs a blog post all of his own. When I got some money from a relative at Christmas last year I quickly picked the first three Jean Greenhowe knitting pattern booklets that I wanted for myself, but the fourth was a lot harder to choose. There are so many fantastic patterns that I just couldn't quite decide which one I should go for.

In the end Mr Click helped me to make up my mind and I selected the MacScarecrow Clan booklet. It's in the same vein as the Scarecrow family booklet (which I'm going to have to get at some point) but features a different branch of the Scarecrow family; the Scottish ones. Living in Scotland I couldn't resist it but when it arrived I set it aside to tackle after I'd had a go at all of the other booklets I'd bought. I mean, these characters are wearing tartan outfits, how on earth do you go about knitting that!

Cover of booklet from
When I finally came to thinking about knitting my next project I asked Mr Click to help me pick which one I should do next. He took one look at Great Uncle Angus and told me I had to do him. Of course, Great Uncle Angus just happens to be about the most complicated pattern in the book. He's also pretty tall. After the challenge of making Cyril I was fairly certain that I wanted something quick and easy, Baby Bonnie or the Scamp the dog would've been more to my liking; Great Uncle Angus is over a foot tall!

He also comes complete with a small knitted set of bagpipes. As impressive as he looks, I was certain that he'd be a pattern I'd probably not finishing. I mean, there's so much tartan. I was having visions of complicated intarsia knitting and having several balls of wool on the go at once. But being a Jean Greenhowe pattern that was never going to be the case.

I was really surprised at how quickly he knit up. The doll's legs, body and head are all knit in one piece from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. I managed to that that in just over a day. You can't see it because of his trousers (and it would be rude to peak) but underneath those trouser legs are green socks and brown pants because his body is the same as Scotty's and he's wearing socks and pants so I figured it was only polite that Great Uncle Angus wore some too.

He's a scarecrow, hence the carrot nose and slightly raggedy appearance. I was really pleased with how his face turned out. As soon as I got those eyes and mouth on he started to get a proper sense of character. Jean Greenhowe usually stitches mouths on with a slight gap in the very centre, but I prefer to make them all one line. I just did that by bringing the thread down to the centre, then took it under the knitting to the top corner of the mouth and then back down to the centre again.

The hat is knit in that same horrible blue wool that I used for most of Cyril. It's lovely and soft and is a great colour, but so horrible to work with. He's supposed to have a red ribbon on the side of his hat which is done by casting on a number of stitches and then casting off again to make a strip you can tie into a bow. But either my cast on or cast off was too tight and I couldn't make it into a neat bow. I might add it at some point in the future, but I think he's fine without it.

The hair and beard are made by hooking threads through the hat and a knitted beard strip (made in the same way as the bow). That was done with a crochet hook and I wasn't too sure I was doing it right. I definitely did it wrong for the hair on the hat (you were supposed to do it so it just stuck out from under the edge of the hat) but for a first attempt it wasn't too bad.

All the tartan was a bit time-consuming. Basically you knit the horizontal stripes and then do the vertical ones afterwards using a technique called 'Swiss Darning' (better known in the US as duplicate stitch). I was convinced that this would be nearly impossible to do because the description of how to do this including one photograph and about a paragraph of text. But that was all I needed. It was just explained so clearly that the photo and text explained it perfectly.

I ended up taking those bits to work with me for my breaks because I was so keen to get him all finished. I probably spent about a week alone just doing my Swiss Darning thing on all of the bits and pieces that needed it.

And the last week of the three that were spent working on Angus, well that was all devoted to my anatomically correct set of bagpipes. They actually knit up very quickly. The time consuming bit was putting it all together.

The bag was all in one piece, but there were the horizontal stripes to work in (so it wasn't a completely straightforward piece of knitting) and then the Swiss Darning over the top (though the five columns felt like nothing after the fifteen, per leg, of the trousers). The pipe are made of straws with knitting tubes covering them and then there's those little rings on the pipes. I had to make and then sew on all twelve of those rings. That was probably the most frustrating bit because it's so close to being done, but not quite.

I also had to get some help from Mr Click to make the tassels for the cord as well because I needed about four sets of hands to get them to work. The one thing that was missing from the pattern was how to make the tassles. Luckily I had internet access so I was able to look that up and figured it out on the second attempt, but I can't help but think I might have gotten it quicker had Ms. Greenhowe explained it in her own words.

On the whole I'm really pleased with how he's turned out. He's standing on the front living room windowsill looking out at the world as it goes by. I like that you can see him from the front gate, so hopefully people staying in the holiday cottage next door will see him on their way to their house.

There are a couple of iffy bits (like his hair and the curling trousers and sash which I probably should have finished better) but those are all my own mistakes. I think I might have finished him a little better if I'd been making him for someone else, but after giving away so many of my recently knitted toys I kind of decided that I wanted to keep Great Uncle Angus all for myself. I'm really looking forward to knitting the rest of the MacScarecrow Clan, though I'm thinking I'll have a little bit of a break first of all. I've had enough of knitting tartan for a while!


  1. This looks so complicated, you're so skilled to have completed him!
    Also, the baby and the dog on the front of the booklet look SO cute, you have to do those too! :-) x

    1. Thank you. I'm very proud of how he turned out.

      Definitely want to do Baby Bonnie and Scamp too. But I need a break from the tartan for a while, hehe. I'd like to complete the whole set and then if they're good enough raffle off for charity or something. We'll see. ;-)


Let me know what you think. :-)