Saturday, March 3, 2012

Knitted Hobby Horse

This is a project I'm really quite proud of, they turned out so much better than I had anticipated! I would not say that they are easy, but I am a novice knitter (still taking classes!) so I think if you have modest ability and can read a pattern, you can make these. You do need to know how to surface crochet, but there are tutorials for that too, and it is super easy!
You can google any of the techniques to see how to do them, or visit


CO = cast on
K = knit
P = purl
M1L = Make one Left
M1R = Make one Right
S1 = Slip one
T = Turn
S + K + PSSO = Slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch back over (also called skp)
K2tog = Knit two together
P2tog = Purl two together
SSK = Slip, slip, knit (

2 colors of worsted weight yarn, + a little black and a little white, + multicolored scraps for hair.
Set of 5 (size 3) double pointed needles
2 stitch markers
Size F crochet hook
Size H crochet hook
Tapestry needle
1" dowel rod, hole put in end, painted if desired
Pillow Stuffing

On 4 double pointed needles, CO 32 stitches - 8 on each (or onto a set of circular needles).
Bring together and knit 5 rounds.

R6 - K1, M1L, K6, M1R, *K2, M1L, K6, M1R - Continue from * to end of round.
R7 - K round.
R8 - K1, M1L, K8, M1R, *K2, M1L, K8, M1R - Continue from * to end of round.
R9 - K round.
R10 - K1, M1L, K10, M1R, *K2, M1L, K8, M1R - Continue from * to end of round.

Making the increases, knit the first stitch on each new needle you come to. Pull the stitches apart and find the horizontal bar and lift it over onto your left needle. The M1L increases will have your left needle scoop up the bar from the front, the MIR will have your left needle scoop the yarn up from the back.

R 11 - 15, K rounds (should have 56 stitches)

Changing colors is as easy as sliding the needle in for the new row, loop the new color over it, and pull it back through to knit it. Don't be tempted to tie the new color into the old color, leave it be and you can snug them up and secure them later.

R 16 - 25, K rounds in alternate color.

I placed a stitch marker on one side, just so I could keep track of which side I was working on without having to look for my tail string.

R 26 - 50, K rounds in original color.
(Make a flap)
R 51 - K 14 stitches, place next 28 stitches on reserve, place remaining stitches onto 1 needle.

OR knit 14, across to the end of your 1st needle, then slide the stitches from the fourth needle onto the right side of that first needle to give you a triangle with 28 stitches on one needle, then 14 on both 2nd and 3rd needles. Leave needles 2 and 3 alone, then the work, slip one stitch and purl across for row 52.
Even rows 52 - 78 - S1, P 27, T.
Odd rows, 53 - 77 - S1, K 27, T.

This is the same technique used to make socks.

(Turn the Flap)
1 - S1, K 15, S + K + PSSO, K, T
2 - S1, P5, P2tog, P1, T
3 - S1, K6, S + K + PSSO, K, T
4 - S1, P7, P2tog, P1, T
5 - S1, K8, S + K + PSSO, K, T
6 - S1, P9, P2tog, P1, T
7 - S1, K 10, S + K + PSSO, K, T
8 - S1, P11, P2tog, P1, T
9 - S1, K12, S + K + PSSO, K, T
10 - S1, P13, P2tog, P1, T
11 - S1, K14, S + K + PSSO, K, T
12 - S1, P14, P2tog, P1, T

I was following a sock tutorial for this section of the horse, and being fairly new to knitting, I was sure that I was mis-reading the pattern. Nope! It was right and magically, a little cup formed, perfect for the top of the horses head!

Knit back to end on the left side of the work. Go around the opening, picking up all of the stitches and placing them back onto the 4 DPN.

To pick up the stitches on the sides of the opening, you have these nice edge stitches from where you slipped the first stitch on either side. You can use a needle to go into the front of each stitch, wrap the yarn and pull it back through, but what I did was use a small crochet hook to reach in and grab the yarn. I then just slid my needle in under neath it once all of the stitches were picked up.

K 1 full round, the end of the round will be at the top left corner, when looking from the front. You want to have 14 stitches on top, 16 on both sides and 28 on the bottom, take a couple rows to increase or decrease to this number, if necessary.
Switch to alternate color, K five rounds.

The stitch marker at the top is completely unnecessary, but I liked it there to mark the center of my work since I was now free forming. You can see this is a rather convenient shape to our horses head, with it being much wider at the bottom than the top.

Switch back to main color (row count starts over from here)
1 - 12, K round.
13 - K 16, SSK, K 52, SSK, finish round.
14 - K 16, SSK, K 50, SSK, finish round.
15 - K 16, SSK, K 48, SSK, finish round.

With that last batch of decreases, you created a couple of little "eye sockets". This is a very subtle bit of shaping, and you've marked where you will place your eyes later.

16 - K4 rounds.
17 - K 34, place stitch marker, K 14, place second maker, finish round.

You place the stitch markers on the bottom needle, seven stitches in from both ends.Your decreases will be between these two markers. It's not the prettiest seam, but it's on the bottom and won't show, but your head will have the right profile.

Decreasing the muzzle.
18 - 23, K to marker, K2tog, K across to 2 before next marker and K2tog, finish round.
24 - 27, K rounds (should be 56 stitches)
Switch to alternate color
28 - 32, K rounds.
Switch back to main color
33 - K 22, K2tog, K22, K2tog, finish round.
34 - K round.
35 - K 21, K2tog, K22, K 2tog, finish round.
36 - K round.
37 - K 20, K2tog, K22, K2tog, finish round.
38 - K round.
39 - K 13, SSK, K35, SSK, finish round.
40 - K 11, SSK, K32, SSK, finish round.
41 - K 10, SSK, K31, SSK, finish round.
42 - K 10, SSK, K30, SSK, finish round.

After the last set of decreases, you should have 10 stitches on your top needle, 8 on both side needles, and 16 on your bottom needle.

Closing the mouth - knit upper and lower flaps, bind off.
Bottom Flap:
1 - K 17, T.
2 - S1, P 16, T.
3 - S1, K 16, T.
4 - S1, P 16, T
Bind off.
Top Flap:
1 - K 10, T.
2 - S1, P9, T.
3 - SL, K9, T.
4 - S1, P9, T.
5 - SL, K9, T.
6 - S1, P9, T.
7 - SL, K9, T.
Bind off.
Bind off both sides.

Once you have knitted your flaps, you should have something that resembles a catfish with a big gaping maul and lots of loose strings - two ends for each side, except the top.

Turn work inside out and weave in all ends. Use a tapestry needle and main color of yarn to sew the mouth flaps shut. You want to take care to get the mouth symmetrical.

You want to place two tie strands on either side of the head, to tie into the hole in your dowel rod so that your horses head doesn't go flying off of the stick while your child plays. Just put a piece of yarn, about 12 inches long through a loop in the knit just behind the middle color band, about eye level. Just make sure you get them in the same place on each side of the head. Now turn the head right side out and do the finishing.

Make 2 eyes:
Make a magic loops with 5 stitches, using black worsted weight yarn. Slip stitch to close. Crochet single stitch twice into each base stitch, for a total of 10 stitches. Slip stitch to close. Bring needle up through center of ring and pull the tail of the yarn to the back. Weave it over to the side, opposite the ending tail string so that you have a string coming off of each side.

Hook a short strand of white yarn and pull it up through the center of the round, then pull it back through somewhere in the middle of the round to make a small "highlight".

Find the eye sockets that you made on the horse head and pull the 2 white strands and 2 black strands into the head. Make sure the highlights match on both eyes.

Use the main color of the horse to surface crochet the top of the eye, this will secure it better and make an eyelid.
Slip the needle through the bottom hole of each stitch, through a strand of knitting behind the eye, wrap one over and pull through. Pull all of the tail ends into the head and weave them in.

Use the main color of the yarn to surface crochet two upside down horseshoe shapes to create nares (nostrils), near the front of the mouth where you made decreases in rows 33 to 36. Pull both tail ends into the work and weave them in.


Find the seams where you made the cup for the top of the head. Fold the seam down and you will find 6 vertical stitches evenly placed on either side of the top of the head. Slide a double pointed needle into these on both sides and start a new strand of yarn.

1 - Start a new strand yarn from the right, knit the first row, turn.
2 - K1M1 for all six stitches, so that you have 12 stitches.
3 - S1, P11, T.
4 - S1, K11, T.
5 - S1, P11, T.
6 - S1, K11, T.
7 - S1, P11, T.
8 - S1, K11, T.
9 - S1, P11, T.
10 - SSK, K8, SSK, T.
11 - P9, T.
12 - SSK, K6, SSK, T.
13 - P8, T.
14 - SSK, K4, SSK, T.
15 - P6, T.
16 - SSK, K2, SSK, T.
17 - P4, T.
18 - SSK, SSK.
Cut the yarn yarn leaving a good six inch tail. Pull the tail through the remaining two stitches. Pinch the ear together, where it is naturally trying to roll inward. Use a tapestry needle and your tail string to sew this closed to the point where the decreases begin so that the bottom of the ear remains opened and the top is permanently shut.

Once the ears are in place, you can stuff the horses head. After filling the muzzle, turn the neck inside out and slip your tie strands into the hole of your dowel rod and tie them. You do not want these to be tight, you want about 3 to 4 inches of slack on each side. Finish stuffing then neck, your horse may have dimples from the tie strands. This is fine so long as they are not too super tight. Once the neck is all the way full, use your crochet hook to weave a doubled over strand of yarn through the bottom of the neck hole. Pull it tight and tie it shut. If you want, you can do this with a second doubled over strand of yarn, just below the head to give it a bit better definition between the neck and the head.

Cut six pieces of yarn, about 3 feet in length. Fold each in half and use your crochet hook to pull them through a loop of yarn at the front color band near the horses mouth. You want 3 pieces on either side of the "bridle", looping them through as if to surface crochet and them loop them onto themselves to secure them. With the now six long strands attached at either side of the horses muzzles, braid them together until you get to the second color band behind the horses cheek. Use the crochet hook to pull them through three loops to secure them, then continue to braid them together. When you get both sides finished, tied them together to have a reign that is not too long or too short.
The mane:
Using the same technique that you used to make the reigns, cut many strands of yarn in your desired colors, about six to eight inches long and slip them through two at a time and loop them onto themselves until you have built your horses mane. Once the mane is finished, so is your childs new hobby horse!


  1. WHOA, Nelly!! Those are TOO Flipping cute!! Will you come hang out and teach me how to do one? Do you know if I can do them in the round?

  2. Thank you! I'm sure you could do these in the round, I would be more than happy to hang out and show you how to make one! ;D

  3. Hello I think your horses head is brilliant and want to make one for my daughter but how do I attach the head to the rod. Can you please help? Barbara.

  4. Hi Barbara, thanks for your comment!

    I drilled a hole into one end of the stick, and on the inside of the hobby horse, I inserted a strand of yarn onto either side, just behind the reigns. I could then pull these strings through the hole in the stick and tie them. I found that I needed to replace these two ties a few times, as my children would become a bit crazed in their cowboy play and the ties broke. I suggest three strands into either cheek, then.

    Also, it is important to not get the stings too tightly, you want a couple of inches of length between the stick and the side of the horses head.

    I hope you enjoy the pattern!

  5. I live in Kentucky and love your horses! I would love to try to make one of them to sell at a craft show later in the year. May I have your permission? I will, of course, note you as the creator of the design.

    1. Hi Lois, thank you for your interest, and thank you very much for asking permission before using my pattern to make items for sale. Unfortunately, my patterns are shared freely for personal use only. Otherwise, I could wind up with a lot unfair commercialization of my work. I hope you understand!

  6. These are amazing!! Congratulations on such an awesome project. I love knitting but will probably take this inspiration and make some out of felt for my kids (I love felt and sewing and I think it will be quicker) I'll plan on making some of these for my Grandchildren when I have the luxury of knitting time again!!

  7. These are awesome. I haven't knitted in years but am looking for something to do in the evenings after I have lost my husband. I am going to try to make these to sell at our SA Lipizzaner souvenir shop. I'll obviously do them is white with some grey and pink noses, if I can get it right. Thank you for sharing. So many of these links are so complicated. XXX