Animal Faces

Remember my ‘butternut squash’ dog that I was making using the ‘Edwards Menagerie Dogs’ Book?

He was looking a bit sad, which isn’t surprising as he hadn’t been sewn together yet and had a knitting needle through his head to hold it on to his body for photo shoot purposes which I don’t think would be anybody’s position of choice.  I say he was looking sad but, not having a face, we could only guess at his emotions although I think the body language was clear.

Anyway, the reason I don’t usually make toys of any description – or one of the many reasons – is that I can’t get those features right.  I’m not at all skilled with embroidery threads of any sort .  However, having ‘rediscovered’ crochet fairly recently, I wanted to try my hand at amigurumi because there are lots of cute ones out there and I haven’t done much crochet in the round so thought it would be a challenge.  Impatient to start, I only had this very chunky wool available in a vaguely suitable ‘dog colour’ and that’s why I went for the large size to start instead of the standard.  I think that is what scared me most about adding the nose and eyes so I asked my friend Sandra – who has made quite a few toys and is also au fait with the embroidery side of things – to do the nose for me.

She was a bit disappointed with the result but I pretended to be happy and brought him home.  She doesn’t read my blog (I hope) so I’m going to unpick it and try it myself.  I don’t like the eyes either.

Any tips would be appreciated but, firstly, I think the features should maybe be chocolate coloured instead of black.  Secondly, I think the nose might be too big (as well as being a bit on the wonk) and, thirdly the eyes are probably too high up.

What do you think?

Other than that, I think he’s kind of cute – I say ‘he’ but I think this might be a girly dog for some reason – I’m getting a feminine vibe off this particular arrangement of yarn which is not something you hear me say every day.


Leon is unimpressed.

Mac thinks it’s hilarious

and I think we can all tell what Yuki thinks of it.

Sorry about that last bit but, the post is called ‘Animal Faces’ and any excuse to put photos of my lovely cats on the blog, especially when they’ve obliged me with such ‘appropriate’ expressions, is not to be ignored.

Seriously though – if you can offer any advice on getting features looking just right, I’d be very grateful.

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  1. #1 by Chris - makeandwear on April 11, 2018 - 10:58

    Would it be helpful to cut eyes and a nose from brown felt/fabric and play around with the positioning? Then you could mark the positioning and embroider the new features.

    • #2 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 11:27

      Yes, it probably would, thank you. My husband suggested something similar and I think it’s a good idea. I’m also wondering whether I could crochet (or knit) a nose for him rather than embroider one.

      • #3 by Chris - makeandwear on April 11, 2018 - 11:50

        Yes I could see a crochet shape working and it would allow for playing around with the positioning too:)

  2. #4 by Jo on April 11, 2018 - 11:20

    Awww, I think he/she looks rather sad. Sorry I can’t help, you’ve seen Paula Pig on my blog recently and that’s one of the reasons I don’t make animals. Love the photos of your cats, we should definitely be seeing more of them on the blog.

    • #5 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 11:29

      I think he might always look sad with that long face no matter what I do with the features.
      I like taking photos of the cats – they stay still for longer than the dogs who like to lick the lens and try to climb on me when I’m crouched down in ‘David Bailey’ position.
      I thought your Paula Pig was very cute.

  3. #6 by katechiconi on April 11, 2018 - 11:42

    The shape of his eyes makes him look sad. I think they probably need to be much larger, rounder, lower, and have a twinkle, a little spot of white off to the side to make them look shiny. The nose is a bit huge, but if he had a smiley mouth underneath it, that would work to give him a cheerier expression. It’s not so much the shape of his face as that he looks a bit sad rather than cute…

    • #7 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 18:48

      My old German Shepherd dog, Phoebe, always seemed to have a sad expression whatever mood she was, in bless her, so I’m not so worried about the sad v cute but more about the proportions and placing of the features. I will have another play with it when I’ve finished up a couple of other projects.

  4. #8 by claire93 on April 11, 2018 - 12:30

    hhmmm! I’ve just googled other images of Edward Menagerie animals and I think they all look a little wistful – that’s part of their vintage charm, and probably what made you buy the book in the first place. I actually think the nose is pretty good! It’s a nice size although, yes, it could have been a little less lop-sided lol. In my opinion it’s the eyes you need to unpick (carefully) and do as Chris & Mr T suggested, although I think they are also a good size & shape. Cut out 2 shapes iin paper or felt, or use 2 small buttons, just to play around with placement. It’s amazing how one row lower or one stitch closer together (or further apart) can change the expression. Most designers state, on the pattern, where to place features (usually specifying between row X & Y and Z stitches apart).

    • #9 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 18:45

      Yes, I definitely like this look better than more ‘obviously cute’ creatures – each to their own.
      There isn’t overly much guidance on placing the features but I suppose she’s of the opinion that you want to make your dog an individual.
      I will have a play once I’ve finished joining the Eastern Jewels blanket and sewing in the interminable ends and doing the border :/

      • #10 by claire93 on April 11, 2018 - 19:43

        ah whereas I really like cartoony type cute ^^ except for teddy bears where I prefer the vintage look.

  5. #11 by KerryCan on April 11, 2018 - 12:46

    I like his sort of sad, droopy look–it makes me want to cuddle him and cheer him up (and I get a male vibe from the yarn–but, to me, dogs are generically male and cats are generically female, although I have 3 male cats!) I think, after you’ve made your own menagerie of these, you’ll decide that they each have there own personality and not worry so much!

    • #12 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 18:42

      I know what you mean – my Mum used to say ‘he’ whenever she was referring to any of my dogs and ‘she’ for all the cats. I sort of get why that is.
      I am getting used to his face but might tweak it a little bit. My next one will be smaller so the features should be easier to do.

  6. #13 by sewchet on April 11, 2018 - 14:42

    I seem to be alone in thinking he’s perfect as he is and yes, I did say ‘he’! Handmade, quirky and perfect-as-he-is. So there.

    • #14 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 18:39

      I’m warming to his hangdog expression actually.

  7. #15 by PendleStitches on April 11, 2018 - 15:48

    I like his face. It’s kinda hound dog. You could do crochet eyes like I did with the pug. They’re super easy and then you just stitch them on. I can send you the details if you like. X

    • #16 by tialys on April 11, 2018 - 18:38

      That would be great, thanks – let me know if you need my email address.

      • #17 by PendleStitches on May 19, 2018 - 16:46

        This got lost in my spam file! I wasn’t ignoring you! ;-( Do send me your email address if you’d still like details of the crochet eyes.

  8. #18 by mariannasew2pro on April 11, 2018 - 19:46

    I like him as he is too, he looks sweet and modest in that position! But I was going to suggest you doodle a butternut squash and draw alternative eyes and noses till you come across an expression you like and the right proportion.

    The cats are fabulous! I see little Yuki has thrived.

    • #19 by tialys on April 12, 2018 - 08:08

      Good suggestion – I’ll give doodling a go too.
      Yuki is like a giant hairball with a tiny body underneath it all – she is a cutie though.

  9. #20 by CurlsnSkirls on April 12, 2018 - 00:01

    Sorry, Lovely, can’t comment on stuffed things as they’re all in a blind spot for me… but I do love your moggy piccies and would enjoy seeing more!

    • #21 by tialys on April 12, 2018 - 08:06

      I’ll try to oblige from time to time 🙂

  10. #22 by Beads and Barnacles on April 13, 2018 - 16:01

    Lol I think she looks cute. I would agree it’s giving off a female vibe.
    Possibly eyes a bit lower and the nose possibly just a little higher rather than smaller. But I think she would look cute even if you left it.

  11. #23 by Julie on April 14, 2018 - 11:07

    I was going to suggest cutting shapes from felt so you can play around with features but I see someone else has already suggested that. I think slightly larger, lower eyes would be better, and the nose could be smaller, but is actually just fine as it is (as long as you don’t hate it) Good luck!

    • #24 by tialys on April 14, 2018 - 13:37

      I might actually try crocheting the nose and see how that looks. I’m not sure about the eyes yet but agree they should be lower. I will try the felt placement trick out first and then have another think. Thanks so much for your input.

  12. #25 by Kim on April 14, 2018 - 21:56

    I think he’s just adorable as he is. Yes, his nose is a bit wonky but so what? None of us are perfect and most of us are lucky enough to have someone love us. Whatever you decide I’m sure he will also be loved.
    Your cats will still regard him as a lower being. After all, he’s only a dog 😂 .
    (Great cat pics BTW)

    • #26 by tialys on April 15, 2018 - 09:40

      Thanks Kim. My cats regard everything as lower beings – I am just a food dispenser and door opener with the occasional role of fur smoother thrown in if they’re in the mood.

  13. #27 by nettyg on April 15, 2018 - 10:10

    I quite like her as she is, although you could add a ‘light spot’, that usually gives the face a bit of a lift. Usual rule of thumb for faces is divide the head into thirds, for a young animal (or doll), eyes go lower down, just above the centre line, higher up for an older being. You could add a bit of a mouth under the nose,a whimsical smile…….all depends what sort of look you’re going for. I usually do my eyes in felt, sometimes a white one with a dark iris. I think you might be happier if you undo the face and do it yourself, good practise, but the face will then take on some of your character.

    • #28 by tialys on April 16, 2018 - 12:17

      I’m just putting the border on my Eastern Jewels crochet blanket – oh and making a dress – but, when those things are finished, I will have another look at her and see what can be done. Thank you for all your suggestions – although I think I’ll need to practice quite a bit to produce a ‘whimsical smile’ in case it turns into a ‘gruesome grimace’.

  14. #29 by Catherine on April 16, 2018 - 14:02

    Oh, he does look a little sad. I actually quite like his little nose, I think it’s the eyes that need to be changed. And would a ‘mouth’ under his nose help? It seems the felt placement trick might do the trick! Good luck!

  15. #30 by Born To Organize on April 24, 2018 - 04:49

    Your plushy puppy is looking *right* at me! I think he’s adorable (yes, that oatmeal wool makes me think it’s a he). Funny how we can anthropomorphize things. I’m in love with your three kitties. Aren’t they a cute bunch. My son went through a stage were he wanted me to make him teddy bears. I made three: one was fairly complex with articulating joints and ended it far too large. Then a friend’s college son claimed him, making it all feel worth the effort. The second bear was much smaller and softer and by the third, I was hand-stiching a felt kit. Your post brought back all those memories. Here’s what I think about embroidered features: they lend an individual air to each piece. You are so skilled with a needle and a hook. Jump right in…you’ll be fine.

    • #31 by tialys on April 24, 2018 - 08:19

      I do love a hand made teddy bear – preferably with articulated joints and clothed in mohair – but I leave the making of them to others. I’m in the process of crocheting a smaller dog at the moment and, when I’ve finished him (for this one is definitely a him) I’ll have another go at the big dog’s features.

      • #32 by Born To Organize on April 30, 2018 - 15:09

        I’ll come visit your blog soon. I’ve finished my 30 day garden challenge and all the college tours. I’m looking forward to catching up here.

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