The handknit pattern for my little barn owl decorations is published in Knit Now magazine today (issue 148, the source of the main photo) and combines two of my favourite things: wool and wildlife. They're knit in colourwork in the round, with little wings knitted on and then shrunk into sweet miniatures by wet felting. There's little shaping while you're knitting, as I thought the colourwork was enough to cope with. There's some simple shaping in the little bit of sewing up but much of the shaping is done by moulding them into shape after felting. I originally made a bunch of these on my knitting machine for little Christmas gifts for family but I've now re-designed and improved them as a handknit pattern. These ones show in Knit Now are knitted in Cascade 220 fingering but any 3 or 4-ply feltable yarn would be good. To be feltable, the yarn should be 100% wool and not superwash treated- the care label should say hand wash only. Owls made from 3-ply/light fingering should come out about 7cm tall after felting and those from 4-ply about 8cm. They only use tiny amounts of yarn (22m 4-ply or 19m 3-ply in the darker colour and 10m 4-ply or 9m 3-ply in the lighter colour). I like using lightly marled or flecked yarn for the main colour to give a natural, plumage-like effect. The embroidery of the face and feet is simple and uses a fool proof method for embroidering circles for the eyes.
Barn Owl's plumage varies geographically through their range (their taxonomy is fluid- currently two, three or maybe four species and a load of subspecies) - my favourite version to match our local birds in Scotland is knitted in Jamieson's Spindrift in 'Scotch Broom' and 'Natural White' (like the bigger owl of the two lying on my hand in the images below).