Sunshine - FREE Knitting Pattern
Last year I designed a giant rainbow pattern, as a big thank you to all the key workers and to help raise spirits during the pandemic. I can't believe it's almost been a year since the first lockdown. Part of me feels it's been such a long year, the other can't comprehend that it's only been a year.
I wanted to knit my rainbow a friend, and my favourite musical is Les Misérables. In the finale they sing "even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise", and it's always meant a lot to me. I feel like now, more than ever, we need some sunshine, so here's my knitted version.
For this project I used Rico Essentials Big which is a chunky yarn knitted on 8mm (US 11) knitting needles, as that's the yarn I designed my giant rainbow in. It's 50% wool and 50% acrylic so it gives the knitting a good structure, which is what I like when designing softies!
As with most of my patterns you can knit the sunshine using the recommended materials below, or you could use something from your stash. Using a different weight of yarn will change the size of the finished sunshine. This pattern includes every row, so it can be scaled up or down easily. Below are the recommended materials for knitting a sunshine in Rico Essentials Big chunky yarn and information on other knitting in other yarn weights.
- M (main colour) - Yellow - 4x 50g balls of Rico Essentials Big chunky yarn - 50% wool, 50% acrylic, 50g, 48m per 50g. You can find substitutions here.
- C (contrast colour) - Pink - 20g of any chunky yarn that can be knitted on 6mm (US 10) knitting needles. This needs to be a lighter weight of yarn than the main colour.
- Eyes - 2 x 30mm black toy eyes and washers. Or you could embroider the eyes instead, using some black chunky yarn. If you're making your sunshine for a child, always embroider the eyes instead of using toy eyes.
- Some black yarn that's chunkier than the main colour. You'll use it to embroider the smile and eyelashes.
- 150g of toy stuffing
- Darning needle for sewing up
- Stitch markers - you will need two stitch markers or a small amount of scrap yarn to mark the stitches. When the pattern asks you to add a SM (stitch marker), either add a stitch marker or tie a small amount of scrap yarn around the stitch that you've just purled to mark it. This will mark where the eyes will be placed when sewing up.
If you're making your sunshine in the Rico Essentials Big chunky yarn, I recommend using 8mm (US 11) circular knitting needles with a 60cm (24in) cable. I used the pair in the image below which are made by Hiya Hiya.
You'll also need a pair of straight 6mm (US 10) needles to knit some rosy cheeks for your sunshine.
This project is not knitted in the round, but you will need the pair of circular needles with a cable to hold the stitches. This is because the amount of stitches on most of the rows won't fit onto a pair of straight needles. Use the circular needles in the same way as a straight pair of needles. The only difference is that the stitches are held on the cable between each needle, as shown in the second image below. The cable can be longer than 60cm (24 in), but I wouldn't recommend using a pair with a cable shorter than 60cm.
If you do want to work your sunshine in the round then you can! Just change the P rows in the pattern to K rounds. You will need to use DPNs or the magic loop at the start and end of the pattern.
FINISHED SIZE: 40cm (16in) in diameter x 8cm (3in) wide
TENSION: 11 stitches x 16 rows = 10cm x 10cm (4in x 4in) on 8mm (US 11) needles. Please swatch before starting this project as knitting it in the incorrect tension can change the size and mean that you could run out of yarn.
CHANGING THE YARN WEIGHT
The finished sunshine can be sized up or down by changing the weight of the yarn and knitting needles you use. Below are my suggestions for other yarn weights and what would happen to the finished knit if you used them.
Using DK yarn and 4mm (US 6) needles will make a mini sunshine. You can use a straight pair of knitting needles as the stitches should fit onto them.
You'd need smaller eyes for your mini sunshine, about 10mm, or you could embroider the eyes using some black DK yarn. You wouldn't need much yarn to make a mini sunshine. I'd estimate around 40g of the main colour. Use the tension advised on the ball band of the DK yarn you're using. For the cheeks use some pink 2ply yarn and 2mm (US 0) knitting needles, or you could embroider the cheeks using some pink yarn instead.
OTHER CHUNKY YARNS
As chunky weight can include a broad spectrum of yarns, I've included some information if you'd like to knit your sunshine in a chunky yarn that isn't Rico Essentials Big chunky yarn.
I knitted a chunky version using Rico Essentials Mega Merino Chunky in saffron and really loved the way it turned out, you can see it below. I used 6mm (US 10) needles and used one ball 100g ball of the Mega Merino for the sunshine and a small amount of pink DK yarn on 4mm (US 8) needles. You can knit with straight knitting needles for both the chunky and DK yarn as the stitches should fit onto them. I'd recommend using 15mm toy eyes for this weight, or you could embroider them using some black chunky yarn. You can find the yarn bundle for these materials here.
For other chunky yarns knitted on 6mm needles, you'd need around 100g of the main colour for a sunshine in this weight. For the cheeks use some pink DK yarn and 4mm (US 6) straight knitting needles, or as it's a small project you could embroider the cheeks using the pink DK yarn or sew on some felt circles instead. I've listed an acrylic chunky yarn materials bundle here.
SUPER CHUNKY YARN
If you'd like an even bigger sunshine you could super size it using super chunky yarn and bigger needles. With super chunky yarn (well, with any yarns) it's best to check the label to see what needle size is recommended. I'd recommend using an acrylic super chunky yarn to keep the costs down. With the yarn amounts I'd estimate you'd need about 600g - 800g, but it would vary from yarn to yarn. If you're worried about not having enough yarn for your sunshine, you could buy an extra ball just in case. Use the tension and needle size advised on the ball band. For the cheeks you could use a lighter weight of chunky yarn than the one you're using for the main colour. For example if you're knitting your sunshine with super chunky yarn on 10mm (US 15) needles, use a lighter chunky yarn on 8mm (US 11) needles for the cheeks.
Kfb Knit into the front, back and front again of the same stitch, increasing from one to two stitches
Kfbf Knit into the front, back and front again of the same stitch, increasing from one to three stitches
K2tog Knit 2 stitches together, decreasing from two stitches to one stitch
K3tog Knit 3 stitches together, decreasing from three stitches to one stitch
SKP Slip a stitch, knit a stitch, pass the slipped stitch over. Decreasing from two stitches to one stitch
SM Stitch Marker
* Repeat the instructions within the asterisk
B Make a bobble. See below about how to make a bobble every time you're asked to B.
MAKING A BOBBLE
Step 1: Knit into the front, knit into the back and then into the front again (Kfbf). This increases the stitch from one to three stitches (highlighted in image 1 below)
Step 2: Turn the work so the wrong side is facing towards you. Then purl the three stitches that you increased in Step 1 (highlighted in image 2 below)
Step 3: Turn the work so the right side is facing towards you. Then K3tog to knit the three stitches you previously purled in Step 2 together, transferring the K3tog stitch onto the right needle as you would a normal stitch.
Step 4: Shows the finished bobble. Then continue working the pattern. Every time you're asked to B follow these steps.
Sunshine - Make one of these pieces.
Cast on 7 stitches in M using the 8mm (US 11) circular needles. If you're making your sunshine in another yarn weight use the needle size recommended by the ball band for the M yarn).
Row 1 K
Row 2 P
Row 3 K1, *Kfb* five times, K1 (12 sts)
Row 4 P
Row 5 K1, *Kfb* ten times, K1 (22 sts)
Row 6 P
Row 7 K1, *Kfb, K1* ten times, K1 (32 sts)
Row 8 P
Row 9 K1, *Kfb, K2* ten times, K1 (42 sts)
Row 10 P
Row 11 K1, *Kfb, K3* ten times, K1 (52 sts)
Row 12 P
Row 13 K1, *Kfb, K4* ten times, K1 (62 sts)
Row 14 P
Row 15 K1, *Kfb, K5* ten times, K1 (72 sts)
Row 16 P
Row 17 K1, *Kfb, K6* ten times, K1 (82 sts)
Row 18 P
Row 19 K1, *Kfb, K7* ten times, K1 (92 sts)
Row 20 P
Row 21 K1 *Kfb, K8* ten times, K1 (102 sts)
Row 22 P
Row 23 K1, *Kfb, K9* ten times, K1 (112 sts)
Row 24 P
Row 25 K
Row 26 P
Row 27 K1, *B1, K2* to the last two stitches on the left needle, then K2. You should have 36 bobbles in total across this row.
Row 28 P this row as per normal. You may find that the stitches that were bobbled on the previous row feel more uneven than usual, but don't worry as this purl row will even them out.
Row 29 K
Row 30 P
Row 31 K1, *K9, K2tog* ten times, K1 (102 sts)
Row 32 P
Row 33 K1, *K8, K2tog* ten times, K1 (92 sts)
Row 34 P
Row 35 K1, *K7, K2tog* ten times, K1 (82 sts)
Row 36 P
Row 37 K1, *K6, K2tog* ten times, K1 (72 sts)
Row 38 P
Row 39 K1, *K5, K2tog* ten times, K1 (62 sts)
Row 40 P
Row 41 K1, *K4, K2tog* ten times, K1 (52 sts)
Row 42 P [adding SMs to the 20th and 34th stitches, this will mark the eye placement]
Row 43 K1, *K3, K2tog* ten times, K1 (42 sts)
Row 44 P
Row 45 K1, *K2, K2tog* ten times, K1 (32 sts)
Row 46 P
Row 47 K1, *K1, K2tog* ten times, K1 (22 sts)
Row 48 P
Row 49 K1, *K2tog* ten times, K1 (12 sts)
Row 50 P
Row 51 K1, *K2tog* five times, K1 (7 sts)
Row 52 P. Cut the yarn leaving a long tail for sewing up. Thread this tail through a darning needle, then push the needle and thread through the 7 remaining stitches on the knitting needle, as shown below. Pull the yarn tightly to secure it. Then see the sewing up instructions below the cheeks part of the pattern.
CHEEKS - Make two of these pieces.
Cast on 22 stitches in C using the 4mm (US 6 needles). If you're making your sunshine in another yarn weight use the needle size recommended by the ball band for the C yarn.
Row 1 K
Row 2 K
Row 3 K1, *K2tog* ten times, K1 (12 sts)
Row 4 K
Row 5 K1, *K2tog* five times, K1 (7 sts)
Row 6 K. Cut the yarn leaving a tail for sewing up. Thread this tail through a darning needle, then push the needle and thread through the 7 remaining stitches on the knitting needle. Just like you did with the yellow part of the sunshine. Pull the yarn tightly to secure it. Then sew up to the cast on edge using mattress stitch to create a cheek, as shown below.
1. Using the tail of yarn that you left, sew up to the bobbles using mattress stitch. I'm only using a contrasting colour in the images so it's easier to see what I'm doing. I like sewing up using mattress stitch as this joins the pieces together seamlessly when you pull the yarn tightly, as shown in the second image above.
2. Place the toy eyes over the stitch markers added at Row 42. If you're making your sunshine for a child, always embroider the eyes using some black yarn instead of using toy eyes.
3. Secure the eyes with washers on the inside of the sunshine. Then remove the stitch markers from the right side.
4. If you'd like to add eyelashes to your sunshine cut a small amount of black yarn and tie it around an eye. Then trim the yarn down to the desired length. Repeat for the other eye.
5. To make the smile, thread a darning needle with some black yarn. In the middle of the sunshine push the needle out of the work, from the inside out, inline with the inside edge of the left eye. Sew a horizontal straight line, ending in line with the inside edge of the right eye. Push the needle back through to the wrong side of the sunshine.
6. Push the line you just sewn down to create the smile and secure it with a stitch in the centre. Weave the loose ends of the black yarn into the inside seam.
7. Place the cheeks either side of the smile and sew them in place using the C yarn. Sew around the cast on edge of the cheeks to secure them. Weave the loose ends into the inside of the knit.
8. Plump up the toy stuffing to make it nice and fluffy. Stuff the sunshine following the shape of it. Take some time and care to make sure the stuffing is nice and even. I always think you should take as much care stuffing a project as you do knitting it. You may find your sunshine looks a little misshapen as you stuff it (as shown in the second image above), I find that pressing on it helps with the shaping (as shown in the image directly above). Don't over stuff the sunshine. You'll know if you've over stuffed it if you can see the stuffing between the stitches. Though if you're making your sunshine to be a cushion you may actually want to slightly over stuff it, as it will start to flatten once it's in use.
9. Once you're happy with the stuffing, sew up the back of the sunshine using mattress stitch in the M yarn, pulling the yarn tightly as you sew up. Once again I'm only using a contrast colour shown in the image above so you can see what I'm doing. To weave in the loose end, push the needle and yarn in and out of the sewing up seam a couple of times. Then trim it down, removing the darning needle.
10. If you're displaying your sunshine in a window hanging it up will depend on the kind of window you have. To hang it up you could use fishing line (or you some strong yarn). Thread a darning needle with the fishing line and sew through the back of your sunshine horizontally, a few rows behind the bobbles. Securely tie the fishing line to a window handle. You might need to get creative to hang it or you could just rest it on the window sill.
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