Friday, 28 September 2012

Sand Dollars

Last week someone very cleverly managed to guess what my next knitting project is. Unfortunately they chose to remain anonymous, but well done anyway.

After I published my little collection of sea creatures back in the summer I had an email from Mary Ann on Ravelry, asking if I had thought of designing a sand dollar. 

Well you don't get sand dollars around the UK, and I had never heard of them, so I decided to do a bit of research, and found them really intriguing. The best website I can find for them is called Echinblog

Mary Ann's sister-in-law decorates her ocean house with sea creatures for Christmas, so she was hoping for a Christmas sand dollar decoration pattern. I thought that idea was so original. There are so many similar Christmas decorations, so why not go for something a bit alternative. (I do know Christmas is all about tradition, but why not start a few new traditions.) I think my starfish and minnows would also make nice Christmas ornaments.

So I started working on a pattern, but was finding it difficult to say the least. But when Mary Ann really kindly sent me a little collection of real sand dollars things seemed to fall into place.

Sand dollars are consider symbolic, and I found this poem, which explains the legend of the sand dollar.
The Legend of the Sand Dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lovely shell.
If you will examine closely,
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes a fifth one
Made by a Roman's spear.
On one side the Easter Lily,
It's center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.
The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of his birthday,
Our happy Christmas tide.
Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace
This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.

So it does seem appropriate that they are used as Christmas decorations. The poem is slightly wrong, as they are not shells, but the internal skeleton of the sand dollar.  If you break one open you find what look like five small doves, (but are actually its jaws). We did break one open, but I slightly regret it, as they are so beautiful.  Many sand dollars do have five holes, but mine did not, so I have not included holes in my pattern.

I started off trying to design my sand dollars with a minimum of sewing up, and incorporating the five pointed star into the knitting. It is possible to knit a circle, starting with all your stitches on one needle, and decreasing at regular intervals. But when the real sand dollars arrived, I realized that an important part of what makes them sand dollars is that they are not round, and also that the shape of the star has to be just right. So in the end I resorted to knitting five sections which have to be sewn together, and making the star with wool embroidery. (Hubby kept asking me why I was sewing marijuana leaves. Sigh!) My favourite technique again, but it did seem to work well. I've knitted mine in a variety of light coloured wools to make them realistic, but I think they could be jazzed up a bit too, if you wanted to add some brighter colours.  My favourite ones are in a lovely wool called Echo Freedom. It is a recycled wool and has the feel of knitting with really nice string.

So some sand dollars are on their way to Mary Ann as a thank you, and the pattern to knit a Christmas Sand Dollar is available on Ravelry.


  1. WOW!! These are amazing, well done! They are so cute.

  2. These are so lovely! Looking forward to the pattern.

  3. Those are fabulous, wow very creative!

  4. They are so clever. I love sand dollars

  5. Really beautiful
    thanks for sharing

  6. I love these!!! Very new and different and cute!

  7. I love your sand dollars-and love the real ones too-I was able to pick up some from Florida several years ago and they are very special to me.

  8. Those turned out great! I love seeing the photo of the real sand dollar next to them.

  9. I'd never heard of sand dollars either - none here in NZ. What a lovely idea for Christmas.

  10. Your sand dollars are beautiful, and I love the poem you found. Thanks for sharing. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a real sand dollar before.

  11. I too love your sand dollar ornaments. All someone need do is use a little metallic yarn for the contrast color to make it a little more festive-like. :)

  12. So unique and pretty. They will definitely be great in a group with your other objects of nature.

  13. What a lovely idea, and a change from snowflakes!

  14. These are amazing. Thanks for sharing a bit about them as well as your wonderful designs. It is definitely time for a new tradition.

  15. What a fascinating story, I have never heard of sand dollars but they do sound intriguing, as its for Christmas you could knit them in red and white? x

  16. Well you learn something everyday from peoples blogs. Never heard of sand dollars either. Good for you making a knitting pattern.

  17. They are really pretty. I'd never heard of sand dollars so it's lovely to learn something new!

  18. Clever you! You're dead good at making knitted sea creatures! i'm envious!x

  19. They're really lovely - and you've taught me something too!!

  20. we don't have sand dollars in Australia either. their beautiful and your knitting pattern captures them perfectly! I love the idea of a beachy Christmas, it would suit our aussie summer Christmas well

  21. I had heard of sand dollars (misspent youth playing American computer games!) Yours are lovely, and do work really well as an alternative Christmas decoration.

  22. Really lovely and what a great idea for a Christmas decoration. I love the poem too. Thank you for sharing! (How I wish I could knit!!)!

  23. Gosh we do sound an uneducated lot don't we?? I've never heard of them either, they are beautiful, I wish we had them on our beaches here. You have done well in making them into ornaments too, they look great hanging from the tree.

    Jan x

  24. Really pretty and unusual. I think they look very pretty hanging on the tree.
    Ali x

  25. Really informative blog post and some lovely items to boot!

  26. What a clever notion! I would not have thought of sand dollar ornaments, but seeing yours, they definitely work.

  27. Wow, so unique and given the history very relevant to Christmas!

  28. this is such a fun and original idea!

    they look fab, well done! x