Two weeks later, a knock on the door heralded the arrival of a huge and heavy box full of cotton. It was time to officially start. While I had been waiting for the yarn, I had trialed a potential pattern for the feet, body and head to give myself a head start. Armed with my 8mm hook, I started with the six toes. I was feeling very happy when they were completed, until we encountered the first problem. The pipe would need to go through the feet, so I would need to crochet a hole into each one. Oh dear, my trial pattern was already out the window.

Next came the legs, the easiest part of the pattern – a 32 chain joined with a slip stitch to the first stitch and then 40 rows of double crochet into each stitch. Easy peasy. Meanwhile, Alex assembled the inside structure. We live in cosy bijou Hong Kong apartment so a workshop we do not have. Not to worry. The dining room chairs doubled up provided the perfect workbench for Alex to cut and glue the frame, which I then put the feet and leg socks on. It was a great start.

Time to tackle the biggest part, the body. I started with the neck and worked down. The neck was easy as it was the same as the leg, but once I got to the shoulders, every row was trial and error. I started with 32 stitches and by the time I had finished the shoulders to start going straight for his body, I was at 132 stitches. This felt like the longest two weeks of the entire project. Each row took over 20 mins to complete and I needed 150 rows. I thought it would never get long enough. I was so happy when it did finally reach the legs because then I only had a few decrease rows and I could fasten off.  

To stuff the body, I lay Duckee on his back. It was a mammoth task that took just under 10lbs of stuffing and lots of physical exertion. Not to mention a fair few bruises as I not only had to get the stuffing in but also had to keep turning him over to spread the stuffing evenly. Once he was fully stuffed, I needed to make him a gusset. You can see from the photo how the gusset fitted. With Duckee back on his feet and me armed with my weapon of choice, a knitting needle, I used this to manipulate the stuffing to shape the body. 

Luckily, when it came to the head, my trial pattern was helpful, so I was able to get this crocheted up in a couple of days, with just a few adjustments to his jaw line as I wanted his cheeks to be inflated, Again, my knitting needle helped me pull the stuffing into the cheeks to make them look fuller. The face is the most important part of any project and this face needed to look happy. Time to focus. 

I jumped on the bus to Sham Shui Po in search of haberdashery supplies – felt for his eyes, a chain for his pendant, and wonder-web, which I would need to alter his jacket. One jacket didn’t fit all the way round him, so I had to buy two, which I found on the market in The Lanes in Central.  

The next morning, I turned the dining room into an arts and crafts area. The pendant has cardboard inside and felt on the outside. I penciled on the design of the Duckee logo and very carefully glued some gold thread over my pencil lines. Then I created the eyes using a white felt base then a smaller blue oval, then a black one, then a tiny white one for his pupil. Next, the most focal part of all, Duckee’s beak, which involved making top and bottom rectangles with a curved edge, and chain stitching together the top and bottom corners. The top of the beak was loaded with craft wire to shape. Now I could attach it. This Ribbon yarn is very hard to sew together as it’s like a fabric, so if I didn’t get the needle directly into a hole it would get stuck, and I got stuck a lot – extremely frustrating. The sides of the mouth were hot glued into place as it proved too difficult to sew. The eyes fitted perfectly into the dents at the top of his beak. I was very happy at this stage as the face looked happy, which met the brief.

Finally, time for the wings. I had crocheted little feathers every evening for the past six weeks and had the perfect construction plan in my mind. But as I put it together, it wasn’t going to plan. It looked bad, was too bulky and didn’t sit right. For two days I persevered, but in my heart I knew it wouldn’t turn out as I had imagined. My daughter agreed it didn’t look nice, so back to the drawing board. In the end I took inspiration from one of the most famous ducks in the world, Daffy Duck, and decided to make arms rather than wings. Altering the foot pattern, I was able to make a three-fingered hand with a big thumb. The arms were tubes, so despite having to start over, they didn’t take that long to make. 

The most scary part of the project? Cutting up the two silk gowns in order to make one big one. I really don’t like sewing and was very nervous cutting this material up. Thankfully for me it worked out. The Chinese buttons were made using a clever little Clover gadget I found in a local wool shop in Shek Mun. To be honest, I found them extremely fiddly and had to ask my daughter to do them. She had more patience than me and succeeded.

After 12 weeks of working on Duckee, he was finally ready to be placed on his base, which would allow him to stand independently. Feet secured into place, I let him go and there he stood proud and tall. He was now ready to leave the nest! 

The statistics on this huge project:

  • 2,000 metres of yellow
  • 625 metres of orange
  • 3 metres of piping
  • 20lbs of stuffing
  • Too many thousands of double crochets to count 
  • Approx 250 hours of crocheting