I do enjoy unusual knitted toys - and I had a succession of pet tortoises as a child (when it was legal...) - so this seems a natural choice. I am very pleased with the way he worked out, and he was not as fiddly to make as I had expected; probably about 2 evenings work in all.
The tortoise is knitted in garter stitch (every row knit) throughout.
Cast on 11 stitches, and knit 1 row.
[Editor's note: To increase, I work into the front and back of the first st, knit to the last two sts, then work into the front and back of the next st, then knit the last st. This avoids a stepped effect at the end of the row. If you increase in a different way - for example, picking up the loop between sts - then you may not have this problem. Make sure you know how the pattern instuctions intend you to work an increase by looking at the abbreviations. There is usually an implied difference between "increase in the next st" and "make 1".]
Knit 32 rows straight, then decrease 1 st at each end of the next and
every alternate row until there are 11 sts remaining.
Make another piece the same.
[Editor's note: I embroidered the top half of the shell before sewing up. The tension of the embroidery encouraged the shell-shape of the piece.]
Join the two halves together leaving an opening for stuffing. Stuff firmly and sew up opening.
Embroidery on top half: outer circles in light brown chain-stitch with
smaller dark brown circles inside.
[Editor's note: I am not very good at free-form embroidery, so was a bit worried about this - but it worked out OK. You can see that what I did was very lop-sided, but despite that it looks fine I think...]
Start at neck edge and cast on 10 sts.
Next row: Knit to the last 2 sts; inc in next st, k1.
Next row: Inc in the first st; knit to the last 2 sts; inc in next st, k1. [15 sts].
Knit 5 rows.
Next row: K2tog; knit to the last 2 sts; k2tog.
Next row: K2tog.; knit to the last 2 sts; k2tog.
Make another piece the same. Sew halves together leaving neck end open
Features: Eyes - black and white straight stitches; mouth - long black straight stitch.
Cast on 4 sts.
Shape thus: Next row: k2, turn, k back;
Next row: Inc in the first st; knit to the last 2 sts; inc in
next st, k1.
Now dec. 1st at each end of the next 3 rows.
Make 3 more pieces the same. Sew each pair together, leaving cast off
edges open for stuffing.
Cast on 16 sts, and knit 7 rows.
Next row: Inc in the first st; (k4; inc in the next st.) 3 times.
Sew the short sides together to form a cylinder shape.
Make another piece the same.
Pads: Cast on 3 sts.
Dec 1 st at each end of the next and following alternate row.
Make another pad piece in the same way. Sew pads to cast off ends of
back feet. Stuff firmly; sew open ends to back on underside of shell about
1 inch apart.
Mark claws with 4 black straight stitches on each foot.
Cast on 17 sts.
Sew together along edges to make a cone shape; flatten slightly into a traingle, along line of increases; stuff lightly and sew the wider, open end to the shell at the back, (in line with the head), and so that the seam is underneath.
Edging around shell
Cast on 7 sts.
* Knit 2 rows.
[Editor's note: Again
I altered the pattern here omitting one of the 5 st short rows, making
the shell edge less frilly - this is what I did:
Sew straight edge around the seam of the shell, finishing on either side of the head. Work a line of light brown chain stitch over the join, then a second line in dark brown 2 sts away.
Using an oddment of bright coloured wool, cut into 3 strands and tie round neck. [Editor's note: ...or use a ribbon...]
Original pattern calls for 2oz of DK in French Mustard.
One pair of number 11 needles.
Not given - but DK wool usually knits to approximately 22st to 4 inches
(10cm) on No. 8 (4mm) needles over st. st.
Tortoise measures 8 inches in length and 6 inches across width of shell.
A word on the wool.
I had some difficulty in finding what I thought a satisfactory colour. Eventually I bought some 4ply from eBay and used it knitted double. I use 4ply oddments for the embroidery.