This knitted sphere tutorial was originally posted on October 25, 2012, and updated on December 29, 2017.
So, I finished that ball for my auntie’s dogs today. I used the left over yarn from the scarf in my last post. Being a savvy traveller not wanting to accumulate excess knitting supplies, and being as stingy as I am, I was clever with what I stuffed it with. I went down to Poundland, where everything is £1, and bought some cotton wool, and used that instead instead of regular toy wadding. I also had the option of using bath sponges. The cotton wool made for a heavier ball which should make for a good indoor fetch ball. I don’t expect this toy to last very long, but I think that maybe the stuffing will compact somewhat, which is a negative. When stuffing shapes like this, I usually go for stuffing them as tightly as practical, I think this looks better. Here is the finished product:
To make this ball, I used my trusty sphere formula. I thought this would be a good chance to share it with you. This is an extremely predictable design, and while I didn’t specifically steal it from anyone, I’m sure lots of people have figured out this method for knitting a sphere. This isn’t really a pattern, but I suppose you could call it a recipe. This tutorial is for a sphere knitted flat. You could easily adapt this into an in-the-round pattern thus: once you have cast on, join for working in the round. There will be no seam to join if you knit in the round, so when you have finished the last round, cut a 20cm tail and pass through the remaining stitches. Do not fasten yet. Thread a tapestry needle with another length of yarn and use it to gather and tighten along the cast-on edge. Stuff the sphere tightly first, then pull tail on cast-off edge to close the hole, fasten off and hide tail in the sphere.
I’ve also used this sphere formula to replace pom poms on the end of this baby hat:
NB: you can knit these spheres in stocking stitch or garter stitch. For stocking stitch, knit odd-numbered rows and purl even-numbered rows. For garter stitch, knit every row. If you’re adapting this tutorial to work in the round, work stocking stitch by knitting every round and garter stitch by knitting odd rows and purling even ones.
Select your yarn and appropriate needles. I suggest going for slightly smaller needles than recommended, because a dense fabric will contain the stuffing well.
Cast on a small number of stitches (less than 10). Let’s call this starting number of stitches x.
Row 1: Increase into every stitch. You will now have twice the number of stitches than what you cast on, and will have increased by x stitches.
Row 2 and all alternate rows: Work even (no increases or decreases).
Row 3: Increase evenly along row by x stitches.
Work rows 2 and 3 until the piece is twice the width of your planned sphere. Work Row 2. If you are using a fine yarn with small needles (and therefore small stitches), work a further 2 rows.
Decease Row 1: Decrease evenly along row by x stitches.
Decrease Row 2: Work even.
Repeat these two rows until you have x stitches left.
Do not cast off. Instead, cut a long tail and pass tail through remaining stitches. Pull
tightly. With right sides of piece facing each other, work mattress stitch to join the sides of the piece together. Stop when you are three quarters of the way through the seam. Turn piece right side out. Stuff tightly. Finish sewing the seam closed. Hide tail inside the sphere. If it is a dog toy, give to dog. Time how many minutes it takes for him to destroy it.
I experimented with knitting spheres in a few other sizes and yarns. Here’s what they look like: