Giant Rainbow - FREE Knitting Pattern
I love spotting all the pictures of rainbows in people's windows when I'm out on my walks with Mr. SL. I really wanted to join in too. As I have a room full of yarn, I dug out some wool from my stash and spent a couple of evenings knitting my own rainbow. I didn't intend for it to have a face, but after sewing it up thought how could it not?!
I used Rico Essentials Big chunky yarn to make my rainbow as I've been using it to knit lovely chunky jumpers and really liked working with it. As it's 50% wool and 50% acrylic 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 rainbow using the recommended materials or use something from your stash. Using a different weight of yarn will change the size of the finished rainbow. All of my patterns include every row so they can be scaled up or down easily.
Rico - Essentials Big chunky yarn - 50% wool, 50% acrylic, 50g, 48m per 50g. I've included the shades of the colours I used in the brackets below. Find substitutions here.
A - Red (shade: light red) - 2x 50g balls
B - Orange (shade: pumpkin) - 1x 50g ball
C - Yellow (shade: saffron) - 1x 50g ball
D - Green (shade: neon green) - 1x 50g ball
E - Blue (shade: turquoise) - 1x 50g ball
F - Purple (shade: blueberry) 1x 50g ball
G - Pink (shade: pink) 1x 50g ball
You'll also need a small amount of black chunky or super chunky yarn for the mouth of your rainbow.
- Eyes - 2x 24mm black toy eyes and washers. Or you could embroider them using some black super chunky yarn. If you're making your sunshine for a child, always embroider the eyes instead of using toy eyes.
- 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 either add a stitch marker or tie a small amount of scrap around the stitch to mark it. These will mark where the eyes will be placed.
If you're making your rainbow 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.
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.
FINISHED SIZE: 48cm x 40cm x 4cm (19in x 16in x 1 1/4 in)
TENSION: 11 stitches x 16 rows = 10cm x 10cm (4in x 4in) on 8mm (US 11) needles. Please swatch in G before starting this project as knitting it in the incorrect tension can change the size of the knit, and could mean you'll run out of yarn.
CHANGING THE YARN WEIGHT
The finished rainbow can be sized up or down by changing the weight of the yarn and knitting needles. I know the yarn it has been designed in is a little uncommon, chunky on 8mm (US 11) needles, and buying Rico Essentials Big just for this project may be a little pricey.
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 rainbow. You may be able to get the amount of cast on stitches onto a long pair of 4mm straight needles or you can use circular ones as recommended above.
You'd also need smaller eyes for your mini rainbow, around 8mm or 10mm, or you could embroider them using some black DK yarn. I love the idea of making a set of mini rainbows and turning them into a garland or rainbow bunting! You wouldn't need much yarn to make mini ones, and I'd estimate around 20g of each of the colours used. Use the tension advised on the ball band.
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 rainbow in a chunky yarn that isn't Rico Essentials Big chunky yarn.
Using some chunky yarn, such as Stylecraft Special Chunky, and 6mm (US 10) circular needles would make a rainbow just over half the size of the original. I'd recommend 12mm toy eyes for this weight or you could embroider them using some black chunky yarn. I'd estimate you'd need around 50g of each colour of the rainbow in chunky yarn and will update this material list once I've made one. I'm thinking of doing a knit along on my Instagram in this weight in the next few days. Use the tension advised on the ball band.
SUPER CHUNKY YARN
If you'd like an even bigger rainbow, 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 2-4x 100g balls for each colour of the rainbow, 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.
K2tog Knit 2 stitches together, decreasing from two to one stitch
Kfb Knit into the front and back of the same stitch, increasing from one stitch to two stitches
SKP Slip a stitch, knit a stitch, pass the slipped stitch over. Decreasing from two to one stitch
SM Stitch Marker
Rainbow - Make two of these pieces. You'll sew them together later.
Cast on 96 stitches in A.
Row 1 K
Row 2 P
Row 3 K
Row 4 P
Row 5 K22, SKP, K8, SKP, K8, SKP, K8, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K22 (90 sts)
Row 6 P
Row 7 Change to B, working all stitches in it until stated. K
Row 8 P
Row 9 K22, SKP, K7, SKP, K7, SKP, K6, K2tog, K7, K2tog, K7, K2tog, K22 (84 sts)
Pattern note: the K6 is intentional and is not an error.
Row 10 P
Row 11 Change to C, working all stitches in it until stated. K
Row 12 P
Row 13 K22, SKP, K6, SKP, K6 [adding a SM to the 4th of these 6 stitches], SKP, K4, K2tog, K6 [adding a SM to the 3rd of these 6 stitches], K2tog, K6, K2tog, K22 (78 sts)
Pattern note: only add the SMs to one side of the rainbow, or if you'd like it to have a face on both sides add them to both pieces. You'll need an extra pair of eyes if doing this.
Row 14 P
Row 15 Change to D, working all stitches in it until stated. K
Row 16 P
Row 17 K22, SKP, K5, SKP, K5, SKP, K2, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K22 (72 sts)
Row 18 P
Row 19 Change to E, working all stitches in it until stated. K
Row 20 P
Row 21 K22, SKP, K4, SKP, K4, SKP, K2tog, K4, K2tog, K4, K2tog, K22 (66 sts)
Row 22 P
Row 23 Change to F, working all stitches in it until stated. K
Row 24 P
Row 25 K22, SKP, K3, SKP, K3, K2tog, K3, K2tog, K3, K2tog, K22 (61 sts)
Row 26 P
Row 27 Change to G, working all stitches in it until stated. K
Row 28 P
Row 29 K22, SKP, K2, SKP, K5, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K22 (57 sts)
Row 30 P
Row 31 Cast off.
1. Take the two rainbow pieces and place them together with the wrong sides facing in. The edges will curl, so pin or tack them together so they match up. You can weave the loose ends in before sewing up, but I find it easier to tuck them in and sew them into the seams as I go along. One side will be plain and the other will have stitch markers. I'm showing the plain side at the moment.
2. Sew the cast on edges (the red sections) together using horizontal mattress stitch in A. This is the kind of stitch that's used when sewing a shoulder seam together. You can YouTube this stitch if you're unsure how to do it you can check out my knit along I posted on IGTV.
Then sew one of the shorter multicoloured sides together using regular mattress stitch, tucking in the loose ends as you go. As you're using mattress stitch you can still use A when sewing up, as you shouldn't be able to see the stitching on the finished knit. Then, sew up the other side of this shorter multicoloured using A. Weave the loose ends in to the inside seams. Finally sew the cast off seams together using horizontal mattress stitch, leaving a hole for stuffing. You can use G to sew this up, but I continued with A as you won't see the stitching. I've annotated the image above to show which stitches you should use where.
If you prefer you could use backstitch and place the pieces with right sides facing in, pin or tack them and sew up leaving a hole, then turn the rainbow inside out.
3. Plump up the toy stuffing to make it nice and fluffy. Stuff the rainbow 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 rainbow looks a little misshapen as you stuff it, but I find that pressing on it as you stuff it helps with the shaping. Stuff all around the rainbow, filling out the edges. Don't over stuff the rainbow. You'll know if you've over stuffed it if you can see the stuffing between the stitches. Though if you're making your rainbow to be a cushion you may actually want to slightly over stuff it, as it will start to flatten once it's in use.
4. On the other side of the rainbow you'll find the two stitch markers you added earlier, on Row 13. Place the toy eyes over the markers and into the stitches that you marked. If you'd like your rainbow to have a different expression you can try moving the eyes around. Remove the markers and secure the eyes using the washers on the inside of the piece. If you prefer you can embroider the eyes using some black wool. If you're making your sunshine for a child, always embroider the eyes using some black yarn instead of using toy eyes.
5. On the blue section of the rainbow (two sections below where the eyes are), embroider the smile using some black yarn. This should be in the same weight or similar weight of yarn as you used to knit your rainbow. To make the smile, thread a darning needle with some black yarn. Push the needle out of the rainbow, 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 rainbow. My rainbow's smile is inline with the insides of the eyes, but you can play around with the placement to give your rainbow it's own personality.
6. Add a stitch in the centre of the smile to keep it in place. Tie the two yarn tails on the inside together to secure. Then finish sewing up the open hole on the side of the rainbow. Push the needle and yarn in and out of the rainbow a couple of times, then remove the needle and trim the yarn down to weave in the loose end.
7. If you're displaying your rainbow 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). I sewed through the back of my rainbow in two different places along the yellow section, shown in the image above, and securely tied the fishing line to the the window handles. You might need to get creative to hang it or you could just rest it on the window sill instead.
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