Knit Your Own Zoo Challenge – Polar Bear – Day 1

The Big ‘Knit Your Own Zoo’ Sponsored Challenge has officially started!

Today is day 1 of my huge task to knit 10 zoo animals in 10 weeks, all without ever having knitted before! You can read all about the challenge, which is in aid of the World Wildlife Fund, in detail in my previous post, here. I woke up early, poured myself a tea, brought up a plate of ginger biscuits, & propped myself up in bed with my books on learning to knit & my new knitting-work bag full of my wool, needles & other bits. I need to learn everything; how to cast on, how to knit, purl, cast off, the lot.


The first pattern I’ve chosen to tackle from the Knit Your Own Zoo book is the Polar Bear, mainly because it’s all one colour & will therefore be easiest to learn. Looking at the pattern (which seemed rather like trying to decipher a foreign language) I saw that I also needed to learn to k2tog, inc, & st st.

But what of my knitted bear’s real life alter ego? Polar Bears have adapted to survive in cold climates & can be found living in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia & Norway. Contrary to popular myth Penguins & Polar Bears never get to hang out. Polar Bears can be found in the Arctic circle surrounding the North Pole, whereas Penguins inhabit the Antarctic (which comes from the Greek meaning without bear) The biggest threat to Polar Bear’s today is climate change. Global warming is reducing hunting time, leading to malnutrition and starvation. On their website, the WWF say they are helping Polar Bears in two main ways –
“Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible in part for the melting of the polar bears’ sea ice habitat &
Addressing the direct threats from shipping, fishing, and oil and gas activities, particularly in the Norwegian and Russian Arctic regions of the Barents Sea.”


I spent a long time watching YouTube tutorials, practicing how to cast on (why did I find the slipknot so hard to master?) & doing rows of basic knit stitch. Learning how to increase a stitch was particularly difficult & I won’t lie, I raged around my bedroom for a while after repeatedly getting it wrong. So, come this evening, I have the four legs of my Polar Bear knitted and I feel quite proud. I’m sure they’re very untidy, and with the odd mistake, but still it’s a start.

Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 19.06.37

I am, however, completely stuck on what I do next. The pattern told me to ‘hold’ stitches on a spare needle for each leg (which you can see in the right picture above), which I’ve done, but now I don’t know how to use these ‘held’ stitches in making the right side of the body. Can anyone help?!
The bit of the pattern I’m stuck with says
Row 1: With fr, cast on 1 st, with RS facing k9 from spare needle of Right Front Leg, cast on 5 sts. (15 sts) Row 2: Purl.  Row 3: Inc, k14, cast on 6 sts. (22 sts)’ Edit – All sorted now! Thanks for all the help!

Do you have two lots of yarn on the go? Do you cast the 1 st onto the needle where the 9 stitches are already on?  I’m so confused! Once I get my head round this bit, I’ll start knitting again & I’ll be sharing more photographs of my progress on Facebook, Twitter, & in next week’s blog post about the Challenge! I hope you’ll all follow me as I undertake this project, in aid of the WWF, & if you feel lovely enough to sponsor me, you can do so on my JustGiving page.


This is the first Handmade Monday I’ve joined in with for a while, as I’ve been really busy, but I’m really eager to share this project with other crafty people, especially any knitters out there! I can’t wait to go & catch up on all the great craft blogs that take part! Hope you’ve all had equally busy, productive weekend’s!

Knit Your Own Zoo Project Logo

21 responses to “Knit Your Own Zoo Challenge – Polar Bear – Day 1

  1. What a fabulous project to be involved with – and you’re very brave to tackle it without being able to knit beforehand. I can do very basic knitting but I’m not confident enough to try a pattern yet. Can’t wait to see how the zoo animals progress.

  2. What a great challenge!Look forward to seeing how it comes on.I’d have to have the knitting in front of me to answer your question so I’ll leave it to the experts!

  3. You need to break the yarn from your stitches on your spare needle I think, then start a new row and join in your held stitches. But I don’t know what ‘fr’ refers to! I’m sure someone more experienced than me will answer you question but if not, I’d be happy for you to email me and we can try and sort it out together!

  4. Hi – Just cut the yarn from the spare stitches – leaving a few inches hanging, and use the wool ball as normal. You would cast on the one stitch on a new needle and then keeping this as the right needle knit the other nine from the leg as normal so that the 9 end up on top of the one – all on the right hand needle, then cast on the 5 on top of these so you end up with the 15 they say. Hope this makes sense! Happy to help if I can. xx

  5. I am really impressed with your determination. I really struggle with knitting, I can do it but so slowly. I can’t wait to see how you progress, good luck.
    Ali xx

  6. Although challenging its a great idea to start knitting with lots of small projects. You certainly won’t get bored and you’ll have mastered so much by the end of it. Well done so far!

  7. As a fellow beginner knitter i have huge admiration for your courage in starting this challenge! It sounds like you’ve made an excellent start and i really look forward to following your progress 🙂 you can do it! x

  8. i just happened upon your blog while trying to help a fellow knitter on i’m amazed you just decided to knit one day, and then to tackle such a diverse project the first time out – good for you! i’ll have to check out more entries to see how it all turned out.

    • Thank you! It was a very fun project. This has reminded me that I still need to do my final blog posts tying it all up. I definitely hope to knit some more animals in the future 🙂

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