Knitted blankets (Charity Knitting)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

An Array of Hedgehogs

Array ~ a collective noun for hedgehogs, as are Nest and Prickle. 

We rescued our first live hedgehog on 17th September 1987. Thatch was an "autumn orphan", too small to survive the winter, so we overwintered him indoors and eventually released him.

Thatch, our first rescued hedgehog.

After rescuing Thatch we developed a small hedgehog rescue unit specialising in babies but circumstances prevented us from carrying on.

Top: Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Mo learning to feed themselves.
Bottom: Eeny, Meeny and Miny just before release. Sady Mo had passed away. 

At the end of 1990 we opened our Hedgehoggery gift shop in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, but with low footfall we were eventually forced to close.

We have been collecting hedgehog related items ever since we married. Inevitably we would have some knitted ones. The most recent is a Large Hedgehog made using purpose bought King Cole Tinsel Chunky and double knitting yarn from my stash.

We spotted a basket full of these delightful knitted hedgehogs in the window of the Poppies Traditional Tea Rooms in Pickering, Yorkshire, on 13th September 2014 while on holiday and just had to buy the pattern and the yarn there and then. Poppies is a yarn shop as well as a tea room and a knit and natter venue. Contrary to appearances, the Tinsel yarn is very soft to the touch. The pattern ~ King Cole 9015 ~ does not give the size of the finished hedgehogs but ours ~ which we have named Tinsel Ted ~ measures 25cm (10 inches) from tip of nose to rear end. The pattern also has instructions for Medium and Small sizes.

Henry Hedgehog was also knitted recently, finished on (coincidentally) 17th September 2014. This was bought as a Henry Hedgehog kit ~ pattern and knitting-in lace ~ more than ten years ago at a Knitting & Crochet Guild AGM for £1. The publisher is stated as Wool 'N' Things & Crafts Too in Ash, Aldershot. There is a similar Harry the Hedgehog free downloadable pattern here.

Henry Hedgehog.

Years ago there was a pattern in Woman's Weekly for a mother and baby hedgehog among other animals (bee, ladybird and mouse). These patterns are also included in Jean's book Knitted Toys. The book acknowledges copyright to Jean Greenhowe in 1986, and also acknowledges that the patterns were indeed first published in Woman's Weekly.

Although I have knitted and given away many of these hedgehogs and not photographed them, for ourselves I knitted the mother hedgehog using one strand of double knitting thickness yarn together with one strand of a silver glitter yarn on larger needles to make a bigger size. The hedgehog was partially stuffed and a cat's play ball with a bell inside was inserted before completing the stuffing. After assembly a red and green picot point garland was attached round the neck and a twisted hanging cord attached to the nose. Result, a Christmas decoration that tinkles when moved or shaken.

This pattern was also used as a teaching aid when I was giving talks about hedgehogs. The knitted hedgehog was made using double thickness Aran yarn on thicker needles to make a bigger size. The hedgehog was seamed but not stuffed. A two-stitch I-cord was made and threaded from the rear end through the underside of the body where the garter stitch tummy meets the knitted loops representing the spines, then threaded on top of the head where the stocking stitch head stitches meet the loops, and then back through the other underside of the body as before. The cord on the underside of the body represents the circular muscle that runs around the body of the hedgehog where the spines end and meet the belly hairs and the head. A simultaneous sharp tug on each end of the cord makes the knitted hedgehog curl up in (an almost) similar way to a real one although the knitted head did need a little poke to hide it inside the 'ball'.

Top/back of rolling up knitted hedgehog.

Top of head of knitted rolling up hedgehog
with arrows showing where the cord is threaded.

Belly/underside of knitted rolling up hedgehog
with arrows showing where the cord is threaded.

Top/back/outside of knitted rolling up hedgehog after the cord has been pulled.

Belly/underside of knitted rolling up hedgehog after the cord has been pulled,
with the head tucked inside the 'ball'.  

Hedgehoggery stocked the Gary Kennedy Intarsia British Wildlife knitting pattern that included a hedgehog.

I made a child's jumper using the pattern to promote it but customers wanted to buy the finished jumper and not be bothered with knitting it themselves. Perhaps it would have helped if we had sold the necessary yarn as well as the pattern. I didn't knit for customers. When we closed we gave the jumper away. There are no photographs of it. The picture shown is taken from the cover of the pattern.

In line with our interests and our business, my mother's sister machine knitted three hedgehog jumpers, one for Dave, one for my mother and one for me. I expanded out of mine and I am not sure what happened to my mother's but Dave still has his. The photographs were taken on 6th October 2014, making these jumpers are more than 20 years old ~ my aunt died in 1993.

My own attempt at designing and knitting a hedgehog was a piece of soft sculpture. At the time, about 1995, I had not made many soft toys so if I made this soft sculpture now I would approach it differently, shaping and attaching the arms more professionally for a start while still making allowances for the width of the skirt. The hat is attached with press studs so that it can be removed and lavender or pot pourri wrapped in a thin fabric or a tissue can be inserted. Alternatively the hat could be stuffed and sewn on. Under the layers of apron, dress, and spines and belly lives a spare toilet roll. My pattern for this project ~ slightly revamped ~ was published in the 2000 Autumn Special of Yours magazine. Unfortunately I did not take a photograph of the knitted hedgehog sent to Yours with the pattern but she had a blue dress with yellow collar, yellow 'handkerchief' lace and yellow embroidered lazy daisy stitch flowers on the skirt and sleeves. There was also a blue and yellow twisted cord neck bow.

I have a copy of Jean Greenhowe's Knitted Hedgehogs pattern booklet, bought for me as a gift when first published in 1999. I have yet to make one ~ or more ~ for our collection.

Hedgehog organisations
British Hedgehog Preservation Society
Hedgehog Care, Authorpe, near Louth, Lincolnshire


  1. I think your missing sweater is here...

    1. The etsy sweater you refer to is very similar to the sweater my aunt made. Thank you for sharing the link.


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