Monday, April 8, 2013

Flat Rat Pack

I know, the posts are few and far between. But, as I stated a long time ago, I only post when I have something to say that I think my readers would want to hear. Listens to the annoyed mumbles. Well it's true. You don't want me to start posting recipes for beets, do you? I could do that, you know. And add some pictures of the grandkids at Disney World. Looks offstage. Well, they don't have to know we don't have grandkids. I won't tell them if you don't.

 ==> Beet lovers, please, no emails, phone calls, or howlers.

I haven't been blogging lately mostly because I haven't been knitting very much. I did finish a Bohus sweater, though. Considering it was knit with a heavy laceweight yarn, it took me a couple of months to finish. That's my excuse, and I'm standing by it.

Well, back to the rats. Those of you who spin know Neal Brand, a maker of exquisite supported spindles and, incidentally, a math professor. For this past term's project, Neal had his calculus students design the perfect supported spindle. He then turned a sample of each project on a lathe. The results are diverse, imaginative, and of course, incredibly beautiful. They can be viewed by cruising Neal's thread in Spindle Candy, starting around here. Neal kindly allowed me to choose one of the designs and made me my very own Flying Saucer of Awesomeness.

In return, I offered to spin some yarn with the FSoA spindle and make each of the students involved in the design process their very own Flat Rat Bookmark, an item which no one, especially calculus students, should be without.

Note that if you have converted your entire library to eBooks, you can just drape your Rat over the top of your reader to keep it warm. (I notice that the pronoun "it" in the last sentence is ambiguous. The answer is yes, you can keep either the rat or the reader warm.)

The original design, The Squashed Rat Bookmark, is cute, but I wanted something, um, rattier. You know, with a pointier nose, fatter body, and beadier eyeballs. And thus, I spent some time with needles and crochet hook developing a pattern so all of you can make your very own Flat Rat. Mine were made with fingering-weight handspun Tasmanian Corriedale, which, oddly enough, is the stuff Malcolm Fielding's spindles come wrapped in. I dyed the finished yarn Rat Gray, of course.

Here's a close-up of the completed Flat Rat. 

 And here's photo of the Flat Rats in action:

When not in use, these rats stack well.


Make a provisional crochet chain and pick up 18 stitches. Circularize on two or more needles. I found the crochet provisional method the easiest way to make the head. I made decreases on both sides of the head, which produced a pointier nose than decreasing around a single stitch, like you do for a sleeve.

knit 4 rows
knit 3, ssk, k8, k2tog, k3
k1 row
k3, ssk, k6, k2tog, k3
k1 row
k3 ssk k4, k2tog, k3
k1 row
k2 ssk, k4, k2tog, k2
k1 row
k2, ssk, k2, k2tog, k2
k1 row
k1, ssk, k2, k2tog, k1
k1 row
3 st left on each needle.

Join black yarn for the nose.
k1, ssk, k2tog, k1
knit 1 row

Run black tail through stitches, run black through stitches again until nose is roundish--about three times. Pull all ends inside of the head.

Stuff head.

Turn the head around and pick up 18 stitches in such a way that the decreases fall on the sides of the head and aren't obtrusive. Put nine stitches on each of two needles.

Do a 3-needle bind-off by knitting together one stitch from each of the two needles. That is, insert the third needle through a stitch on the front needle and a stitch on the back needle and knit both of them off. You now have 9 stitches. Or you should. If you have ten, well, just go with the flow.


knit 2 rows
k1 kfb (knit in the front and back of the stitch to increase), knit to the last two stitches, kfb, k1.
k1 row
Repeat increases 2 more times, to 15 st. That is, increase row, plain row, increase row.

For the first leg, cast on 6 gray and 2 pink stitches by knitting on. Bind off two stitches in pink and the rest in gray.

Knit to end of row, turn and repeat leg on other side.

Resume increases 4 times until you have 23 st. After each increase row, knit a plain row.

Knit 9 rows.

Decrease back to 11 stitches via these two rows:
k1, ssk...k2tog, k1.
k1 row

Do another set of legs.

Repeat the two decrease rows three more times--you will have 5 stitches on the needle.
Bind off.


Crochet a chain for the tail. Double yarn between bound-off stitches, chain 17. Knot the ends and trim. Or knit an I-cord. The chain is flatter, but you will probably have to wet and pin it to make it lie flat. Mine curled up into pigtails, which would have been terrific if I were making flat piglets.

Knot pink paw ends together and weave in ends.

Ears are crocheted directly to the head.
SC in two stitches, ch1, turn, single SC, bind off, run ends through head. Or make any other teeny blob-shape using a needle, hook, loom, or potato peeler.

I dampened my rats and pinned them out to make them flatter...I hope PETA doesn't see this picture....

You could just squish the rat in an unabridged dictionary or a Uline catalog for a while if this concept makes you squeamish.

And finally, if you have no inclination to knit a flat rat, you could make one using this handy method:


I want to remind everyone that I can't respond to comments without an email address, Ravelry name, or other means of contact. Too often these days there's just no way for me to thank you for your comment or answer your question. Along these lines, I notice fewer and fewer active Blogger profiles. That makes me sad, but as technology and social networking advance, sites such as Facebook and Ravelry have replaced blogging as a primary means of communication. And no, I don't have a Facebook or Twitter ID. I think Facebook and Twitter are creepy. However, you can always ping me on Ravelry if you don't want to leave a public comment.


Liz R. said...

OMG what a great pattern! We have had rats as pets and they're awesome. I'm going to make one of these for my daughter today.

Thank you so much for sharing your pattern!

Liz R

stashmuffin said...

Good to see your post today! Brightens my day as I write and study.

That flattened rat with the red tail looks like it got its innards squashed out it's you-know-what!

So... did the "best" spindle really spin best?

Your knitting shetland shawls with two balls of yarn post encouraged me to try it yesterday... still a project in motion...

Laura "beet lover"
chrisandlaura AT rtcol DOT com
Stashmuffin on ravelry

Nicolette said...

Thank you so much for making me laugh today. Loved your post. The flat rats are just brilliant. Couldn't resist pinning the photo with the rat head sticking out of the side of the book to my Books Worth Reading board on pinterest.
Nicolette on Ravelry

Anonymous said...

Dear Fleegle, I have your blog in my reading list for a long time. I'm glad it's not a frequent blog. When it pops up in my list I feel exitement and wait for a quit moment to read because it is always worthwile, funny and informative. Thank you!
I love your rats!
Mieke, who has no facebook- or twitter or whatever account.

Cheryl S. said...

How fun - love your "rat pack".

Louisa said...

I'm streaming with tears! Poor rats. Tears of laughter of course. They are hilarious! Thanks so much for the pattern, Fleegle.

Stripeyspots said...

That's adorable! I had no idea how badly I needed a flat rat until I read this...

Sligo said...

I love this project. And I have lots of dictionaries in which to flatten rats. Fun!

yarnlot said...

This is an awesome rat pack! I want one of my own, in lace yarn to make them nice and flat. No animals were hurt in the designing process of course?

Anonymous said...

Love these and am going to make them.....they will be a housewarming present for my son cause his house really needs a flat rat stack. he can use them as beer coasters ; )

GerryART said...

It looks like I'm not alone
What is this fascination with flat rats?

This is just marvelous?
Just too funny

Gonna go get my grey yarn scraps


ripple said...

You are brilliant - your evolved flat rat is a step up/down/out from the pattern.

Incidentally, I have never been tempted to spin in 30+ years of assiduous knitting, but your coverage of supported spindling is luring me to the dark side. And the tools are so pretty.

Sheiladeedee said...

Such a pretty spindle. Not pretty enough to make me want to spin, but pretty enough to make me wonder what else I could use a spindle for... would it froth cream to put on top of my BEET SOUP?

Unknown said...

I keep coming back to re-read this post because that picture of all the rats in the book just makes me laugh! Thanks for that!

Monika said...

Your flat rats are adorable! Love the photo with the car tire too. :o) Thank you for sharing the pattern!

kneyda said...

Wonderful rats! Just too cool!

Cindy said...

This is totally awesome! I work in a warehouse environment and, yes, we have real rats! Big ones! I am going to make a few of these for my boss. said...

Thank you for sharing your Flat Rats! Very cute bookmarks.

Anonymous said...

Goodness---I the Flat Rat pictures are a stitch! (Pun intended.) I had a Yorkie whose favorite toy was a rubber rat that was flat and had tire tracks on it---we would ask her "Where is the Flat Rat?" and she would run and get it---she chewed up the first one and I had to buy her another. I have some gray Corrie here, somewhere---I think there is a pack of flat rats in my future.

Anonymous said...

These are soo hilarious! I love them! :) I love the shot you took of them behind the tire, too!

Toffeesmum said...

Thank you, thank you, I haven't had such a good laugh in ages!


Toffeesmum said...

Thank you, thank you! I haven't had such a good laugh in ages.


If this is a duplicate entry click on delete please!

Anonymous said...

They look awesome! Love them!

Sylvia Pache said...

OMG these are soooo cute. I'm still laughing. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern and for your funny photos as well. What a great sense of humor you have as well as being creative.

Cynde said...

The best I've seen in ages. Thanks! Much nicer than the originals. Cynde

cindy said...

What size yarn and needles did you use? TIA Email me at

Life's Rich Bouquet said...

Hi, its Katicakes from ravelry. love the rats. thanks for making me laugh.