Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

The song and flight of birds are miracles of nature perfectly compatible with the miraculous spirit of the holiday season, a spirit of industry, generosity and joy. Everything we make this time of year seems to be imbued with cheer, like the excited chirp of one bird to another.

I had a lot of fun experimenting with different fibers to bring these five unique birds to life, each with its own personality. Some have the happy chubbiness of city sparrows, while others appear to be on more intense missions, streamlined for efficiency. They’re so quick and easy to knit that you’ll have your own ornothological family before you know it!

Materials

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

I used very small amounts of mostly fingering weight yarns to make my ornaments, although any weight will do. Bigger yarn will make bigger ornaments; smaller yarn, smaller ornaments…

These yarns, from the top left, are:

For needles, I used US #2 double pointed needles. If you’re using different yarns or knit at a different tension than I do, just make sure that you choose double pointed needles that are one or two sizes smaller than you would normally use. You want the yarn to knit up quite tight so the stuffing doesn’t show through the stitches.

Gauge

The gauge is not important for this pattern (yippee!). You just want the stitches to be close enough together that the stuffing doesn’t show through the knitting.

Finished Size

Using fingering (or sock weight) yarn, 3 inches from tail to beak.

Note

For this bird I used Koigu’s Premium Merino (pink for the tail and wings and white for the body and beak). There are photos and descriptions of other yarn combinations at the end of the pattern.

Pattern

Tail

Cast 8 stitches onto a double pointed needle.

Using two double pointed needles, knitting back and forth:

Row 1: Slip 1 knitwise, knit to end.

Row 2: Repeat Row 1.

Row 3: Slip 1 knitwise, ssk, k2, k2tog, k1. (6 stitches)

Rows 4 and 5: Repeat Row 1.

Row 6: Slip 1 knitwise, ssk, k2tog, k1. (4 stitches)

Row 7: Use a cable cast on to cast on 2 stitches at the beginning of the row…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

…and knit to end of row. (6 stitches)

Next: Using the cable cast on, cast on 2 stitches at the beginning of the next row. Don’t knit the row. (8 stitches)

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Body

Distribute the 8 stitches onto three double pointed needles.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Note: If you want the tail to be a different color than the body, now would be a good time to start with the new color. You won’t actually join the work into the round until Round 2. That’s ok!

Round 1: Join for working in the round, and knit to end of round.

Round 2: Knit into the front and back (kfb), knit to the last stitch, kfb. (2 stitches increased)

Rounds 3 – 5: Repeat Round 2. (16 stitches)

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Knit 10 rounds.

You might want to start stuffing the bird now because you’re about to do some decreasing…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Next Round: K2tog, knit to the last 2 stitches, ssk. (2 stitches decreased)

Repeat last round 2 more times. (10 stitches)

Stuff some more!

Head

Round 1: *Kfb, k1, repeat from * to end of round. (15 stitches)

Knit 5 rounds.

Get some stuffing in the head…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Next Round: *K1, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (10 stitches)

Next Round: *K2tog, repeat from * to end of round. (5 stitches)

Use the tip of a knitting needle to poke a last bit of stuffing into the head.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Beak

Note: If you want the beak to be a different color than the head, now is when you should start using the new color.

Knit 2 rounds.

Squeeze a tiny bit of stuffing into the beak.

Next round: K2tog, k1, k2tog. (3 stitches)

Cut the yarn and sew it through the 3 remaining stitches.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Sew the tail down through the end of the beak into the body of the bird. Pull it out of the bird somewhere and cut the tail. (If you want the hanging cord to be the same color as the beak you can pull the tail out the top of the bird’s back, and don’t cut the tail.)

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Left Wing

Note: The “left” wing is the one that is on the left as you look the bird in the face.

Slide a double pointed needle under a column of 6 stitches near the top of the bird to mark the location of the left wing. You should see 6 “ladders” (horizontal bars).

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Now is a good time to mark the placement of the right wing too, as symmetrically to the left wing as you can.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Returning to the left wing, hold the bird so the back (not the belly) is facing you. Start at the tail end of the 6 ladders, and pick up 6 stitches.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Working back and forth with two double pointed needles:

Row 1: Slip 1 knitwise, knit to end.

Rows 2 and 3: Repeat Row 1.

Row 4: Slip 1 knitwise, k to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. (1 stitch decreased)

Row 5: Repeat Row 1.

Rows 6 – 9: Repeat Rows 4 and 5 two more times. (3 stitches)

Cut the yarn and thread it through the remaining 3 stitches.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

If you changed colors for the wing, you’ll notice a body-colored stitch at the base of the wing that bothers me and may bother you. If it does, thread the tail down the side of the wing…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

…and sew over that offensive stitch to make it go away!

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Right Wing

Start at the head end of the 6 ladders you have on hold for the right wing…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

…and pick up 6 stitches.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Row 1: Slip 1 knitwise, knit to end.

Rows 2 and 3: Repeat Row 1.

Row 4: Slip 1 knitwise, ssk, knit to end. (1 stitch decreased)

Row 5: Repeat Row 1.

Rows 6 – 9: Repeat Rows 4 and 5 two more times. (3 stitches)

Cut the yarn and thread the tail through the remaining 3 stitches.

Two wings!

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Finishing

Hanging Cord

Decide what yarn you want the hanging cord to be. Sew two tails of that yarn through the bird to the top center. Hang the bird from your fingers to make sure the cords are at the center of gravity. You may have adjust the placement a few times to get it right. Tie a knot to make a loop.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Eyes

Decide what color you want the eyes to be, and sew a tail of that yarn through the body to where you want the first eye.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Sew whatever kind of eye you want. Bring the tail to other side of the head to make a matching eye.

Ends

Sew up the base of the tail with a nearby end of yarn.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Sew the remaining ends through the body of the bird. Bring the yarn out anywhere.

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Then cut the tails.

And you’re done!

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Variations

There are countless ways to play with this basic pattern. You can decorate your bird with duplicate stitch, or knit stripes, or use multi colored yarns, or add plumes and crests.

For my bird ornament collection, I explored different yarn combinations:

This bird is made out of Alchemy’s Silken Straw and Blue Sky’s Brushed Suri

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

This one is Tilli Tomas’s Beaded Lace and the Brushed Suri…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

This bird is the Beaded Lace and Koigu’s Premium Merino

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

And here’s another all Koigu version…

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho

Have fun devising your own combinations and variations. We would love to see the results!

Holiday Bird Ornaments | Purl Soho