The big swaps that Mel organizes each month are awesome. People put a lot of thought and care into their swap package and really try to personalize it to the person who is receiving. But for some, especially newer members of the group, these swaps are a bit intimidating (they are a very friendly, welcoming place, but I can see their point of view).
One member of the group has taken it upon herself to organize mini-swaps. These are called the "Single Ornament Swaps." The idea is that you get your partner's name (it's kept a secret), and you're allowed to create one ornament for your partner and ship it off to him or her. You're allowed some leniency if you choose to add an additional small item, but it's not supposed to be a really big package. It's meant for the swaps to be approachable, especially to those who are new or don't have the time or money to dedicate to the larger swaps.
That's where this knit came about. I was trying to find a pattern that I could knit as an ornament. At the time, I wasn't feeling any of the holiday ornaments that were on Ravelry. There are some great patterns but you know when you get in that mood or funk that unless it's exactly what you're looking for, you really just can't knit something else?
Enter the Big Snowy Owl. This is a free pattern from The Purl Bee. The original patterns calls for bulky weight yarn and is intended to be something like a pillow-sized owl. I've loved the owl on their site for a long, long time and thought it would be perfect as an ornament. And I was especially drawn to the colors they chose for their owl. I looked through other project pages and nothing called to me quite like the soft gray owl with giant blue eyes. :)
My version is much smaller than the original. This sweet fowl is about as tall as my hand is long, and perfect for little hands. But, in my opinion, much too large for a tree. So we kept him at home, Lovebug is quite attached. (I think it's the eyes...) I am in love with how he turned out, just bummed he wasn't small enough. I am planning to attempt this again, but with either fingering or lace weight yarn. And tinier needles. Eventually I'll get it right.
There are actually three patterns in this series. A pig, a bunny and this owl. I want to knit all 3. I'd like to knit them in bulky weight, but I may just see what's in my stash and find the appropriate needles. I think that Lovebug and Squishy need the full set. :)
As an aside, the eyes are crochet. It's very simple crochet, but I know a lot of knitters are intimidated by the crochet hook. So if you like the pattern but don't want the crocheted eyes, you should be able to find a pattern that tells you how to knit circles. Honestly, it's the eyes that really make this pattern. (The beak construction is pretty neat too.)