Here’s my second design commissioned using my new Commissions process: a Platypus! Thank you to everyone who commissioned this design from me – I hope you like the end result…
You probably already know that the platypus is a highly unusual-looking animal. When it was first discovered, the specimen was thought to be a hoax (like a jackalope) assembled from a beaver and a duck!
Platypus Fun Facts
- Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) are only found in eastern Australia.
- They are monotremes (egg-laying mammals).
- Platypus are semi-aquatic. They live in burrows and hunt for their food (insects and shellfish) along river bottoms.
- It’s almost impossible to breed platypus in captivity, which is why very few people have seen one in real life – you won’t see them in many zoos.
- The plural of platypus is sometimes written as platypus, platypuses, platypi, or platypodes!
I thought I had a pretty good idea what a platypus should look like, based on toys, cartoons, and the description of ‘beaver + duck’, but when I started my research I found I was wrong; a google image search shows a huge confusing variety, so I had to learn a lot more about them before I could truly understand what I was looking at. I watched the platypus section of David Attenborough’s wonderful The Life of Mammals over and over to see what they look like in motion, and spent a long time researching platypus features so I could make my design accurate. Here’s what I found:
- Although all 4 platypus feet are webbed, the front feet are hugely oversized and used for paddling. The back feet are smaller and used only for steering while swimming.
- A platypus uses its tail to store fat reserves, so a healthy platypus does not have a flat tail like a beaver’s tail.
- Platypus eyes are located just back from the beak. It keeps its eyes closed while swimming and uses electrolocation to detect food with receptors on its sensitive bill.
- It’s very easy to understand why people thought the platypus was a hoax: the base of the bill has a really interesting shape which makes the bill look like it’s been stuck onto the front of the face and doesn’t belong there.
So I took all these facts and built them into my design to make it more realistic. My design uses a couple of neat tricks for shaping the beak and feet/legs, but it’s still easy to crochet – I always try to find that balance for my patterns.
It turned out to be more of a design challenge than I’d anticipated, but, several beak and foot prototypes later, I’m very happy with the result – the final shaping techniques are simple and elegant, and I think he looks really sweet. As a fun extra touch, his webbed feet are also slightly poseable – you can move them around to make him ‘swim’ 🙂
I wonder which design will be commissioned next… (By the way, I have many more designs I’m also working on, so don’t worry if nothing else from the list is fully pledged for a while – there are other PlanetJune designs in the works!)
If you pledged towards the commission, you should have already received your copy of the pattern. Otherwise, if you’d like to make a platypus of your own, you can now pick up the Platypus crochet pattern from the PlanetJune shop! I hope you like it 🙂
If you’re not quite ready to buy though, how about queuing Platypus on ravelry so you don’t forget about it?