The Knitted Caterpillar

Meet Doug the Caterpillar. He’s my draught excluder friend, and is one of very few finished projects that I’ve actually kept for myself. I knitted him a few years ago and he still has pride of place in our hallway; perched right at the entrance to the house, waiting to snuggle up next to our front door and keep the place cosy.

This week I’ve reached that frantic mid-semester point where my life consists mostly of sitting on my sofa in a fort of paper, textbooks and academic journals; leaving only to go to work and buy chocolate. So, since I don’t have much time for knitting or knitting-related adventures right now (sad face), I thought I would look back at this project because it’s one of my favourites. (Incidentally, it turns out it’s also a good week for caterpillars, as husband Alex’s latest blog post also features a caterpillar – albeit, a more nerdy, less cosy type of caterpillar).

If you’re from Scotland, you might recognise Doug: he’s been the star of the Home Energy Scotland campaigns for the past few years, and he’s featured in their TV adverts. As a knitter, the first advert – which I think came on sometime in 2013 – immediately caught my attention: when this colourful, smiley caterpillar with his familiar knitted texture appeared on my screen, I couldn’t get over how cute he was (I’m a sucker for cute animals at the best of times anyway, never mind knitted ones!)

Since he was knitted, I thought maybe I could knit my own, and after a quick Google search I was pleased to find that Greener Scotland had actually considered all the knitters out there and published the knitting pattern online.

So, I ordered the wool, and set to work.

This was actually my first venture into knitting in the round: pretty ambitious given Doug’s size, and a reminder that when it comes to knitting, I don’t do things by halves!

As per the pattern, I used Sirdar Snuggly DK in Denim; Hayfield Bonus DK in Grass; and Sirdar Country Style DK in Rosehip and Maple. It took me a while to get the hang of knitting in the round on double pointed needles (DPNs) but soon I had it and, if anything, the fact that the project is mostly just one big long knitted tube meant it was actually perfect for practicing. I knit up the pattern in no time (the most time consuming part was knitting and sewing on the 46 feet) and, within the space of a week, I had my very own knitted Doug helping to keep my living room cosy.

One of the reasons I loved this project so much is that it’s a perfect example of what happens pretty much every time I learn a new knitting technique: at first I think it’s going to be really complicated and difficult (how do you hold four knitting needles at the same time?!) and I approach it with a degree of trepidation; but then it actually turns out to be really simple and, before I know it, I’ve created something amazing that I never thought I could. It’s one of the little things that makes me love knitting so much.

So now, whenever I need to learn anything new, I jump in with both feet: I pull out my copy of The Principles of Knitting (my go-to knitting bible) or I get on YouTube, I pick up my knitting needles, and just give it a try.

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