Today, I’m sharing the crochet zebra, stuffed animal I made as a baby gift.
After a 40 plus year hiatus, I retaught myself how to crochet. I was motivated by all the mini crocheted animals seen online, called amigurumi. Many bloggers offer free patterns too.
Crocheting has been a good way to keep myself occupied during the darn pandemic. As a practice project, I found a cute little bee pattern on Pinterest.
When I discovered my college roomie and BFF was to become a grandma again, I quickly got to work on the crochet zebra.
It might be too late to make a crochet zebra in time for Christmas or Hanukkah this year. But it’s a good project to take on during the winter months, as either a baby or child’s birthday gift.
This month’s Craft Hop includes a sweet sixteen of ideas and inspiration. To those visiting from my friend Rebecca of Zucchini Sisters, and her sweet pom pom pillow, welcome!
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Where the Wild Things Are
Regular readers might recognize the setting where I took pictures of Zoe the crochet zebra? She’s sitting on the bench in what was my youngest son’s bedroom.
I was initially inspired by this giraffe and tiger my mom made. Only later did I find out they were knit not crochet.
So I went on a search for a crochet zebra pattern that was easy to moderate difficulty.
Sarah’s zebra was made in soft gray and cream yarns. Others have frequently made the crochet zebra in gray with pink or blue stripes.
But, I wanted mine in more classic, natural colors of black and white.
However, it took a little effort to locate baby-soft yarn that came in black.
Making a Crochet Zebra
Using Sarah’s free pattern makes the crochet zebra project relatively inexpensive. Especially if you are able to purchase the yarn and filling on sale, or with a coupon.
- Yarn (1 skein each of two colors, approximately 5 oz. weight)
- Size G crochet hook
- Yarn markers
- Tapestry needle
- Safety eyes
- Poly-fil Stuffing
Finished size is about 18-inches tall, or teddy bear size. Although Zoe does have an exaggerated-sized head lol!
Having completed the crochet zebra, I would describe the pattern as easy to moderate — depending on if you ever crocheted or knit before.
As someone who had not crocheted in decades, brief online tutorials helped refresh my memory for creating the different stitches, adding/decreasing, changing colors, etc. There are so many good tutorials online to choose from .
Even if you are just starting out, the crochet zebra is a relatively easy, yet rewarding project. Just be sure to practice the various stiches first. And like knitting, you’ll want to get a feel for holding the yarn and hook in your fingers, as well as for the tension of stitches.
Stitches/skills for the crochet zebra: slip knot, chain stitch, changing colors, Magic Ring, single crochet (SC), adding/decreasing SC, SC pieces together, loop stitch, 12-strand braid.
Step 1: Crochet & Stuff Body & Head
Sarah’s pattern calls for using a Magic Ring when starting the body, head, legs and arms.
Bottom, outside of crochet zebra body using a magic ring to start.
“A Magic Ring is the ideal way to start crocheting in the round. You start crocheting over an adjustable loop and finally pull the loop tight when you have finished the required number of stitches. The advantage of this method is that there’s no hole left in the middle of your starting round.” Amigurumi Patterns
If you’ve never crocheted a Magic Ring it’s best to practice and get the hang of it first. It’s a little awkward to hold until you get the second row done. But, it isn’t hard to do if you’re already comfortable holding a crochet hook.
Crochet zebra body in progress, prior to stuffing and finishing off.
I was able to get the hang of starting a Magic Ring pretty quickly. But, I did struggle with identifying and counting what was a stitch or not, particularly when moving from one ring to the next row.
Completed main body of crochet zebra, and white nose started using a magic ring.
Some patterns always say to chain one before starting the next row, but others do not. The crochet zebra pattern did not stipulate one way or the other. So, counting stitches was key!
Although changing colors between black and white stripes was easy, I wasn’t able to create the straightest seams.
That was directly related to confusion on counting appropriate stitches. Just five minutes with someone experienced would have clarified things in a snap. So, it took a little trial and error to figure out. In the end, I just tried to be consistent in what I thought was the first stitch of a new row.
Completed crochet zebra head after safety eyes, stuffing and finishing off.
Crocheting the body and head are very similar, using a simple SC stitch. Both are egg-shaped.
Prior to stuffing the head, safety eyes are put in place. I had to buy a larger size than the pattern called for (12mm vs 6mm). Directions said to place the eyes 12 stitches apart. Looking at Zoe now, I think I should have placed them in the next white strip back. What do you think?
I also should have left the yarn ends much longer on the zebra’s head and body. Suggest you leave about 24 inches of yarn for later sewing the animal pieces together.
Step 2: Crochet Arms & Legs
Just like the body and head, the legs and arms begin with a Magic Ring. They were also the most difficult to get a nice straight seam between color changes.
Because of how narrow the legs and arms are, it’s also tighter working the SC stitches, hook and alternating colors of yarn. Honestly, they were a bit monotonous to crochet and count. I’d just take a break from the crochet zebra, and pick it up a few days later.
Step 3: Crochet Ears
The crochet zebra ears use the easy SC stitch, but with edging.
It takes four pieces to make a pair of zebra ears — two white and two black.
After finishing off the ends, you simply SC one white and black piece together.
I used black yarn to SC the ear pieces together. White is the inside of each zebra ear.
Step 4: Create Mane & Tail
Making the loop stitch mane was fun, fast and easy. Sarah provides instructions with the pattern.
Loop stitch zebra mane after being attached to the head and body.
Surprisingly, the braided tail took some trial and error. The free pattern didn’t provide any instructions on braiding. And, I found it challenging to find online and then replicate the technique for a 12-strand braid.
Most tutorials were for making bracelets. Instead, I doubled up the yarn, and made a 6-strand braided tail.
Step 5: Sew Crochet Zebra Pieces Together
The free pattern didn’t provide any instruction or helpful tips for sewing the animal parts together either. Just a link to a 30-second, time-lapse video that was pretty useless. So, I found a tutorial for a much, much smaller zebra that I used as a basis to follow.
Again, I wish I had known ahead of time to leave much longer strands of yarn for sewing the zebra’s parts together.
That was especially true of the head. It wobbled and required much more yarn and sewing until I felt confident it was secured in place.
Also, I had a plastic tapestry needle, when a metal, tipped edge one would have worked better.
Overall, I’d give the crochet zebra pattern an B+. But heh, it was free! Perhaps if I was more experienced it would have warranted an A? However, it definitely needed instructions on the placement of parts (indicating a row or stripe would have been super helpful).
It’s a Wrap!
As soon as E told me her granddaughter was born, I ran out to Dollar Tree for a purple boa and tutu to embellish the crochet zebra. You see, purple is baby’s mom’s favorite color. I know this because I helped create centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner several years ago.
For $1 it wasn’t worth running around finding fabric and elastic, setting up the sewing machine, etc. to make a tutu. So, I just cut down the skirt — significantly.
After all, the boa and tutu are just a form of gift wrap. They aren’t infant proof and will be removed once the baby is old enough to snuggle Zoe, or drag it around by one leg lol!
Gift Giving Tradition
Giving a stuffed animal became a tradition after E’s children — and now grandchildren — were born. Years later, Winston the teddy bear went to college at our alma matter with E’s daughter. After L’s Love is Sweet Bridal Shower, I was touched to see Winston in her carry bag; enroute to the couples new home.
When E’s son’s little boy was born, I sent Peanuts, a squishable elephant. Now for his daughter, I made Zoe the zebra as a playmate.
It really brightened my day to see Zoe with the baby. Although, the crochet zebra looks a little monster-sized compared to the newborn, lol!
By the time BFF was able to fly out West, her granddaughter seemed to be aware and enjoying Zoe’s company.
Her big brother seems to have taken a shine to her too.
Have you ever crocheted or knit stuffed animals before? Anyone have patterns they’d recommend? I’d like to try an elephant next.
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Monthly Craft Hop
Next up, is a stencil wooden sled from Sara of Birdz of a Feather.
Looking forward to the arrival of fury friends here in Pittsburgh soon. As I mention recently in, Santa Claus Collection is Coming to Town, my youngest will be here soon with four-month old Bentley.
And, Santa delivered a litter of Scottie puppies last week in Ohio — on the anniversary of the passing of my Sweet Scottie Dog. In early February, we’ll be bringing our little boy home. I’m so excited!
My physical therapy is going very well, and this afternoon I replace the walker with a cane. Over the weekend, I plan to get back in the kitchen to bake Christmas cookies. More exciting, is that on Monday I begin transitioning from the boot to a shoe!
Three-day old brindle color Scottie puppy courtesy of Jacqueline Wise, breeder.
Likely, I will be taking a break from blogging to enjoy the holidays, continue time-consuming PT, ease back and assume normal activities, and prepare and care for a puppy.
Wishing you all a most happy and healthy holiday!
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