I'm really pleased actually, since that photo won Mr Click £25 worth of vouchers for a music shop. I'm already planning to knit an angel next year to add to it as well. I suspect that this may become a yearly tradition for me now.
But all the same, I've wanted to show off the whole group all together and here they are:
It took me roughly six months to complete, though I should stress that I took some fairly long breaks whilst I was working on them. Joseph alone had to wait six weeks to get his arms sewn on. In reality each of the main figures probably took about a week (with an extra two or three days for each of the Wise Men as they had more bits to knit and attach). The baby, sheep and crib were just a few hours each (in fact, I made an extra sheep, which I modified into Shaun the Sheep, for my stepdad for Christmas and I only had about four hours to do it all in).
The pattern for most of the figures is in Jean Greenhowe's Christmas Special, with the donkey in her second Christmas pattern book Christmas Treasures. As is to be expected with Jean's patterns, they're incredibly easy to knit. They're also unbelievably clever. There were several occasions when I was knitting a Wise man's gift, or a sheep's legs or someone's headdress and I found myself thinking 'this'll never work' or studying the pattern for a part I must be missing. The important thing to remember with her patterns is that if you just do as you're told, they'll turn out perfectly.
Of course, being Jean Greenhowe, everything is knitted flat and then sewn up. This can mean there's quite a lot of sewing up, but I like the fact that her instructions tell you what to do at the end of each section, rather than having to put it aside, then figure out which bit goes where at the end. Plus some of the pieces are really fiddly, like the pot of gold. The pattern does lend itself to knitting in the round if you feel that way inclined though as they're basically tapered tubes.
It's important to remember that unlike most of the other Jean Greenhowe patterns, these are not toys. They are actually left open at the end and reinforced with a circle of cardboard to help them stand. They're the sort of thing you knit as an ornament to be brought out each year or give as a Christmas gift.
Speaking of giving them as a gift, they are incredibly easy to adapt to suit your own style. I've seen people who have done them all in just one or two colours to match a particular colour scheme, others have adapted the figures to use them for non-nativity displays. Plus they're made using DK yarn so you have a whole rainbow of choices for the colours.
I'd recommend stretching this project out over a good space of time the way I did. With the exception of Mary, the figures all follow the same basic body pattern with differences in colours and accessories making them into different characters. It does get a little bit repetitive, though thankfully the different designs help keep you on your toes. Easily the worst part of any of the figures is the robe which is about 60 stitches wide and as many rows again of stockinette stitch. At least it's fairly mindless knitting that can be done while you watch TV. It'd be a good project for a group of knitters too. I've seen a Nativity scene in a local church which had obviously been done using this pattern. I imagine each knitter took one or two figures to spread the weight of the work.
In short, I'm really pleased I made this Nativity scene. I've been saying ever since we moved in that the front windowsill is the perfect place for one (but then we stuck the tree in front of it). I'm already planning on knitting an angel for next year and I'm a little sad to be putting it away after all that hard work. On the other hand, I just know it'll make me smile when I bring it out again next year.