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For almost 500 million years, nautiloids [see below] were the coolest kids around. They ate trilobites, had shells in a variety of fantastical shapes, and ranged from bite-size to 12 feet long.

Every scary prehistoric beast should be made into a huggable toy, and I say it's the nautiloid's turn. With this pattern you can make one in an evening, in easy stockinette on dpns.

Most nautiloids are gone.

Their living relatives include the squid, the octopus, and the famous chambered nautilus.

photos: Beth Skwarecki [knitted nautiloids], Bob Norton [fossils]
The image of the fossils is from this website and
has explicitly been placed in the public domain.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
Coiled nautiloid: approx. 7 inches long, excluding tentacles
Straight nautiloid: approx. 18 inches long, excluding tentacles

MATERIALS
[MC] Red Heart Soft Yarn [100% acrylic; 256 yd/234 m per 5 oz skein]; color: Off-white; approx. 34yd/31m
[CC1] Red Heart Soft Yarn; color: Blue Sky; approx. 43yd/39.5m

[CC2] Caron Simply Soft [100% acrylic; 330 yd/301 m per 6 oz skein]; color: Sage; approx. 43yd/39.5m
(These are the colors which were used for the coiled nautilus.
If you wish to substitute yarns, any worsted-weight yarn will do.
A solid-colored shell would require 79 yd.)

1 set US #4/3.5mm double-point needles
Tapestry needle
Scraps of black and white felt for eyes
Craft glue or needle and thread to attach eyes
Polyester fiberfill stuffing

GAUGE

Approx 22 sts/25 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Gauge is unimportant for this project, but it is advisable to knit a firm fabric, to prevent the stuffing from showing though.

 

PATTERN NOTES

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here]

Coil Shell
Roll the shell back and upwards, toward your left needle; insert the tip of the left-hand needle into a stitch on the shell (see photo of shell in progress). Knit this stitch together with the next stitch on the needle.

Add Stuffing
This toy is stuffed as it is knit. When instructed to add stuffing, fill the length that has been knit with stuffing. This will begin when only a short length of I-Cord has been knit; at this point, use a knitting needle or pencil to poke a small amount of stuffing down the center of the cord.

For the striped shell, don't worry about making a jogless join. One-row-high stripes will always look perfect at the seam line. (Try it if you don't believe me.)

For the coiled nautiloid, the increases are hidden on the inside of the coil. For the straight nautiloid, your increases will be visible. To disrupt the striping as little as possible, increase by casting on one stitch with the backward loop method.

I-Cord
Using a circular or double-point needle, CO or pick up required number of sts.

Next Row: Instead of turning work around to work back on the WS, slide all sts to other end of needle, switch needle back to your left hand, bring yarn around back of work, and start knitting the sts again.
Repeat this row to form I-cord. After a few rows, work will begin to form a tube.

DIRECTIONS

Shell (Coiled):
Using CC1, CO 3 sts. Work 1 row of I-Cord.

Join CC2 and continue working I-Cord as follows:

Row 1: Using CC2, m1, k to end.

Row 2: Using CC1, k all sts.

Row 3: Add stuffing; using CC2, k all sts.

Row 4: Using CC1, k all sts.

Rows 5-8: Work as for Rows 1-4.

Row 9: Using CC2, m1, k to end. 6 sts. Distribute sts evenly between 3 double-point needles and begin working in the round.

Round 10: Using CC1, coil shell, k to end.
Round 11: Add stuffing; using CC2, k all sts.
Round 12: Using CC1, k all sts.
Round 13: Using CC2, m1, k to end.
Repeat Rounds 10-13 29 times more. 36 sts.

Work Rounds 10-12 once more.

Work 4 more rounds, alternating colors as set.

BO all sts. Break yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread yarn tail on tapestry needle and sew several sts to help secure shell in coiled position. Fasten yarn and hide ends inside shell.

Proceed to Face.

Shell (Straight)
Using CC1, CO 3 sts. Work 1 row of I-Cord.
Join CC2 and continue working I-Cord as follows:
Row 1: Using CC2, m1, k to end. 4 sts.
Row 2: Using CC1, k all sts.
Row 3: Add stuffing; using CC2, k all sts.
Row 4: Using CC1, k all sts.
Rows 5-8: Work as for Rows 1-4.
Row 9: Using CC2, m1, k to end. 6 sts. Distribute sts evenly between 3 double-point needles and begin working in the round.

Rounds 10-13: Work as for Rows 2-5.
Repeat Rounds 10-13 29 times more. 36 sts.

Work Rounds 10-12 once more.

Work 4 more rounds, alternating colors as set.

BO all sts. Weave yarn end an inch or so down into inside of shell; fasten securely. Proceed to Face.

Face
Using MC, CO 36 sts. Distribute evenly between 3 double-point needles and join to begin working in the round.
Rounds 1-6: K all sts.
Round 7: [K10, k2tog] to end.
Round 8: [K9, k2tog] to end.
Round 9: [K8, k2tog] to end.
Round 10: [K7, k2tog] to end.
Round 11: [K6, k2tog] to end.
Round 12: [K5, k2tog] to end.
Round 13: [K4, k2tog] to end.
Round 14: [K3, k2tog] to end.
Round 15: [K2, k2tog] to end.
Round 16: [K1, k2tog] to end. 6 sts rem.
Break yarn, draw through rem sts and pull tight. Fasten yarn on inside of work.

FINISHING

Sew Face to inside of Shell, 4 rounds from end of shell; finish stuffing piece as you sew this seam. Fasten end of seam securely and hide yarn end inside piece. Hide any remaining yarn tails in the same way.

Tentacles (Make 8)
Using MC, pick up and k 3 sts at desired location on face.

Work I-Cord for 18 rows, or to desired length. BO all sts, weave end down into I-Cord. Or you can secure the end with a knit and trim it 0.25 inches from the knot.

Make eyes by cutting two pairs of circles out of felt: a white circle about the size of a dime, and a black circle which is slightly smaller. Cut a narrow wedge from the black circle to make a "Pac-Man" shape. Using photo for reference, glue or sew the black and white circles together, then glue or sew the eyes to the nautiloid's face.

ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Beth Skwarecki lives, knits, and blogs in Ithaca, NY, USA. She enjoys making the simple, the unusual, and the ingenious.

Her alter ego works a day job in bioinformatics.