If it wasn’t for my chatty friends on Ravelry, I would have assumed a nest box was solely knitted or crocheted for its decorative purpose. But one friend (from the United States) had chickadees nesting in one, last Spring.
With that in mind, I became determined to design a nest box myself. Hoping that birds in my garden can be taken with woolly houses, as they are with wooden ones.
I have taken great care to find out all about the measurements of nest boxes. Not only researching the sizes of the boxes for birds that are known to visit gardens, but also the different sizes for different species regarding the entrance hole or opening. The pattern includes three sizes of nest boxes making them suitable for several sorts of chickadees (US) or tits (UK), sparrows and dunnocks. This design comes without perches, as these would make it easier for predators to get inside.
This nest box comes in three sizes, with the green one on the left being a size S and the blue one size L:
4 x 4.75 x 8.25 (4.75 x 5.5 x 9; 4.75 x 6.25 x 10)” or 10 x12 x 21 [12 x 14 x 23; 12 x 16 x 25] cm.
With the corresponding size for the entrance: 1 to 1.25 (1.25 to 1.5; 1.5 to 2)” or 2.5 to 3.5 [3.5 to 4; 4 to 5] cm.
|Size nest box||Size entrance|
(green one on the left)
|4 x 4.75 x 8.25 inches
10 x 12 x 21 cm
|1 –1.25 inches
2,5 – 3,5 cm
|Medium||4.75 x 5.5 x 9 inches
12 x 14 x 23 cm
|1.25 – 1.5 inches
3.5 – 4 cm
|4.75 x 6.25 x 10 inches
12 x 16 x 25 cm
|1.5 – 2 inches
4 – 5 cm
Two skeins of DK yarn 1.75 oz (50 gram), with yarn held double, or aran yarn that is supposed to be worked with needles size US 8 or 9 (5 or 5.5 mm). You want the knitting to be a tight knit using the size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle, but without risking to strain your hands and arms.
Yardage: 140 (175, 220) yards or 130 [160, 220] m.
The bright blue nest box was knitted just for the fun of it. Natural colors are favored, as not to attract cats or other predators. Wool (preferably 100%) is best suitable, because it is water resilient. Perhaps it is not what you might expect with a project for Spring, but plenty of yarn brands offer high quality wool all year round.
One size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle, length: 24” (60 cm) and two dpn(s) size 4 (3.5 mm).
A crochet needle size D (3 mm); a tapestry needle; a wooden, plastic, or metal ring (please, see size entrance above) or a handmade ring made by taking a bit of wire with some tape wrapped around it, to add to the one-of-a-kind appearance; two empty, washed juice cartons, tape.
18 stitches x 25 rows = 4” (10 cm) in St st.
Please see our standard knitting abbreviations.
JMCO – Judy’s Magic Cast On
m1tw – make 1 twisted (either knitwise or purlwise)
i-cord – use two double pointed needles and cast on four stitches on left-hand needle. Knit these stitches and place them back at beginning (right side) of this needle and start over, the result will look like French knitting or knitting four stitches in the round. Please note, that you can also knit an i-cord using three stitches for a more subtle effect.
This pattern is worked in the round from the top down and starts with Judy’s Magic Cast On. The sides and the back are in stockinette stitch, and the front is purled. Increases are worked similarly on the front (purlwise) and back (knitwise). The bottom is worked from back to front with a three-needle bind off which gives it a lovely, bulky appearance.
The JMCO is really easy once you get the hang of it, but let me admit I was rather intimidated when I first tried it. The advantage of this method is that there is one seam less to close in the end. If you are more comfortable with a regular cast on using dpn(s) or a circular needle, length: 12” (30 cm), feel free to do so. Please note, when using the JMCO or dpn(s), there is no need to place the second and fourth marker.
Knitting Instructions – iManor
CO 40 (48, 48) stitches using JMCO with a size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle, length: 24” (60 cm).
Rnd 1: *K2, pm, k18 (22, 22), pm; rep from * to end
Rnd 2: *Kfb twice, sm, k18 (22, 22), sm; rep from * to end – 44 (52, 52) sts.
Rnds 3 – 7: P4, k to end.
Rnd 8: P1, m1tw, p to 1 st before marker, m1tw, p1, sm, k18 (22, 22), k1, m1tw, k to 1 st before marker, m1tw, k1, sm, k18 (22, 22) – 48 (56, 56) sts.
Rnds 9 – 13: Work sts as they appear.
Repeat rounds 8 – 13 1 (2, 2) more time(s), work rounds 9 and 10 once more – 52 (64, 64) sts. Object measures approximately 2.3 (3.5; 3.5)” or 6 [8, 8] cm. Purl 4 (5, 5) stitches and turn work, from here on work in rows.
Row 1 (WS): SSK, work rest of sts as they appear – 51 (63, 63) sts.
Row 2 (RS): P2tog, work rest of sts as they appear – 50 (62, 62) sts.
Row 3: SSK, work rest of sts as they appear – 49 (61, 61) sts;
Row 4: P2tog, p to 1 st before marker, m1tw, p 1, sm, k18 (22, 22), k1, m1tw, k to 1 st before marker, m1tw, k1, sm, k18 (22, 22), p1, m1tw, p rest of sts – 52 (64, 64) sts.
Row 5: SSK, work rest of sts as they appear – 51 (63, 63) sts.
Row 6: P2tog, work rest of sts as they appear – 50 (62, 62) sts.
Row 7: Kfb, work rest of sts as they appear – 51 (63, 63) sts.
Row 8: Pfb, work rest of sts as they appear – 52 (64, 64) sts.
And we are back to knitting in the round: CO 4 stitches and work rest of stitches as they appear – 56 (68, 68) sts. Make sure your stitches are evenly divided the same way they were before the rows started.
Knit rounds 8 – 13 5 (5, 6) times or until desired length has been reached – 76 (88, 92) sts.
Next rnd: P until m, sm, k until 3rd marker, BO 18 (22, 22) – 58 (66, 70) sts.
Next rnd: P until m, sm, BO 18 (22, 22), k rem sts – 40 (44, 48) sts.
Knit the bottom with 20 (22, 24) sts in rows. Knit that row for 30 rows (or until bottom from back to front is completely covered) in St st. Use three-needle-bind-off with the stitches waiting at the front.
Knit an i-cord, using a single strand of yarn approximately 20 to 24” (50 to 60 cm) and leave a loose end of 8 inches (20 cm) after binding off. Weave in the other loose end from beginning.
Use a wooden, plastic, or metal ring (or even a handmade ring that isn’t a perfect circle). Crochet around the ring by starting with a slip knot, making a yarnover through the hoop. Pull yarn through these two loops and repeat until the ring is completely covered. Leave a loose end of 12” (30 cm). Weave in the other loose end from beginning and use the loose end of 12” (30 cm) to attach the crocheted ring to the nest box.
Build a triangular skeleton from juice cartons by cutting out four pieces sized 4 (4.75; 4.75)” or 10 [12, 12] cm by 8” or 20 cm. Assemble the four pieces like this:
Number 1: fold over at the middle of the 8 ” (20 cm).
Number 2: fold over the sides at 1.5 (1.25, 1)” or 4 [3, 2] cm from the end.
Attach the third and fourth pieces to both sides of the bottom (piece number 2). When adding the first piece to the top, make sure the height of your skeleton is 8.25 (9, 10)” or 21 [23, 25] cm.
Puncture a hole at the top (and one in the middle at the back in case of a second i-cord). Insert this skeleton, with the bottom slightly tucked inwards, through one of the open seams at the bottom. Close both seams. Add the i-cord to the top with the remaining loose end, using the punctured hole in the juice carton.
Hang your finished nest box in your garden and watch your winged friends use it with delight!
About the Designer: Fleur Duivis
Apart from being a knitting designer, Fleur Duivis is an artist, art historian and the founder of the art project Blue Mark For ME.
She is known for knitting mushrooms and hugging yarn.
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