In 2015 I discovered Sincerely Louise and faux taxidermy. It's reasonable to say I fell in love with it all quite quickly. I knitted the fox head, and when my dad made a shield for it, I think he fell a bit in love with it too. Before too long, a cheque arrived in the post for me to buy the tiger rug kit and make it for his birthday in December 2016.
Now this is what you call a project. I love the heads (I've now made two foxes, a badger and a unicorn) and I do honestly love the finished project, but I don't enjoy knitting them. The super chunky yarn is hard to work with, and I thoroughly dislike sewing them up. No matter how good the instructions are, it's hard making some bits of knitting into a 3D object which resembles a head. And stuff it, and add eyes and ears and other facial features all in the right place. The unicorn took me as long to sew up as it did to knit. But the finished items are so amazing, I can just about overlook how much I don't like knitting them. I seem to forget how bad it is, and remember just as I sit down to knit the next one.
Anyway, I ordered the tiger and it arrived and I looked through the kit. There was a lot of it! I started knitting it in March, it featured in that month's #photoanhour. I could only work on it when I had lots of spare time: it's so big and bulky that you need to sit down, and just knit. In August I was finishing off the top half. You can tell that I wasn't particular enjoying it. Intarsia is not my favourite knitting technique and doing it in bulky yarn held double is even less fun. Because it's so fat you can't wrap it round bobbins, like you would for intarsia normally. So I had massive balls of yarn in bags for life (to try and stop the balls from rolling away) placed around my feet and when I got to the end of a row, and turned the work, I had to then turn it back on itself to try and reduce the tangling. It didn't really work, and there was a bit of swearing, and lots of requiring Ben to come and help me get me out of whatever tigrine mess I was currently in.
Then I had to sew it together. Now, bearing in mind how much I don't enjoy sewing the heads together, I knew I was not going to enjoy sewing this beast up. In November, my sister came to stay and we had no great plans other than to sit and chat and eat. She kept me company whilst I started sewing it up. Sewing from one shoulder, all the way down the body and along the tail took 3.5 hours. Then I stopped counting.
Eventually it was sewn up shoulder to shoulder and I had 'just' the head to do. To be fair, it looked amazing by this point, but the facial features are the worse bit. I needed Ben. I needed lots of hands to hold things in place whilst they were sewn on (and then resewn when I realised they weren't quite in the right place). Ben was in charge of stuffing it as by that point I'd had enough.
Finally, it was done. Complete. Finished. Over.
And he looked bloody amazing.
That week, he came into work, partly because a few colleagues were genuinely interested in him, but mainly because I wanted to show him off.
My office is just off the central corridor in the dept, and I put him on the floor in the centre of the room but towards the door, so when you walked down the main corridor the orange of his tail caught your eye. I had people coming in all day to feel and stroke and touch and hug and admire him.
Then he was taken to Cambridge for his grand unveiling. Dad absolutely loved him, and he has pride of place in the living room, in front of their fire.
I shared many, many photos of him on social media and he was chosen as Sincerely Louise's Maker of the Week. Each month, the Makers of the Week are entered into a competition to be Maker of the Month - her followers can vote on their favourite and the winner wins one of her kits. It was pretty close between me and a mercat, but I won! Or the tiger won. Either way. Hurrah! Thank you to everyone who voted for me/him! I chose another unicorn kit which I'll knit (eventually) and hang in the office - I took the unicorn head I made previously into work for the day and the ladies I share an office with were rather sad when I took it down to bring home. I think they will appreciate having one!
This knitting project has been the biggest I've ever completed - biggest in terms of size, in terms of weight (just under 3.5kg if you're wondering), in terms of time, in terms of ridiculousness, in terms of cost, and most importantly, in terms of satisfaction with the end result. I love him, and everyone who has met him has fallen a little bit in love too.
He was really hard to part with, although I knew from the beginning I was making him for Dad and that he'd never be mine to keep. I would quite like one of my own, but I won't ever make one again.
Although never say never. If I ever have £130 to spare, you never know what I might find myself ordering...