My Morning at the Library

the Story


Some days just don’t go as planned. But I’m sure you probably already know this. ‘The best laid plans’ and all. Not too long ago I had one of those days that didn’t play out exactly the way I’d anticipated. That seems to happen to me a lot. . . But I suppose this time it really could have been worse, all things considered. After all, I did learn quite a few interesting things, plus I even ended up meeting. . .  well, I think I’m getting ahead of myself. I suppose I should start near the beginning. That does seem a good place to start, right?

So, it was a few weeks ago, and here’s what happened:

Sitting in the incredibly uncomfortable wooden chair in the library’s study room, I flipped my old phone shut. I’d just gotten a text message from the tutee I was supposed to be meeting.

“Slept thru alarm. Will be late. So sry!”

I folded my arms on the table and dropped my head down, letting it rest on my forearms. Listening to the rain crashing down mercilessly on the huge floor-to-ceiling windows, I thought about how much I would have preferred to stay in bed this gloomy morning instead of driving all the way down here to meet a student for some extra study time. I would probably have been really upset at the fact that they had the audacity to be late if I hadn’t been so tired. But there was something about sitting alone, in an empty library, on a cold, rainy day, early in the morning, that just took all the fight right out of me. In fact, it pretty much took all the energy out of me period.

“This really kind of bites.” I muttered into my arm.

“It can’t be that bad.”

I whipped my head up off the desk, searching out the source of the voice. I was sure the room had been empty and I was alone.

“I mean, you’re in a library for crying out loud. This is like, the coolest place to be. Besides a beach in Maui anyway.”

I scanned the big room but saw no other person. I rubbed my eyes and looked around again.

“Yoohoo, over here. Yep, this way, right here.”

Following the sound, finally I spotted who was talking. Sitting across from me at the edge of the table was a small brown turtle.

“Yo.” he said casually, briefly waving to me. I blinked at him, mainly because I really wasn’t sure what else to do. “Um. Hi.” I said tentatively.”

“Hi.” he replied. “I’m Shy.”

“Really? Never would’ve guess.” I mumbled, a bit surprised I was managing to speak. “I am too, actually.”





“Yeah, I never get tired of that joke.” he chuckled. “Seriously, though, my name is ‘Shy’.” he said smiling.

“Ah. I see. Well, nice to meet you.” I wasn’t sure if I meant it or not, but it was really all I could think to say at the moment.

“I’m sure you’re wondering more about me.” he said. I opened my mouth, all ready to tell him that yes, I was wondering something, but it was really more along the lines of my mental health and it’s somewhat frightening current state. But before I had the chance to say anything, some kind of heroic and histrionic music began streaming out from somewhere. “I am the Tortoise of All Knowing.” he said dramatically, standing tall (at least as tall as a six-inch tortoise can stand) puffing up with pride. He posed like that for a minute, as if he were waiting for a crazed group of paparazzi to snap photos left and right of such an honorable and glorious figure.

“Turtle of All Knowing, huh?” I asked skeptically once the music and posing stopped.

“Tortoise. Tortoise of All Knowing. Yes. Go ahead, ask me anything.” he replied, gamely.

“Okay.” I said, figuring what the heck, I’ll play along. “What’s the meaning of life?”

“What, you’ve never heard of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”

“Fair enough.”

“Go on, ask something else.” he said eagerly.

“All right.” I said, trying to think of a question. After a minute I figured I had something worth asking: “Okay, so I know turtles live near the ocean and stuff, but what’s the deal with tortoises? I mean, what’s the real difference between you two?”

“Well there’s a deep question.” he said sarcastically.

“Deep. Hah. I get it. Turtles, the ocean, deep.” I replied drily.

“Hm, thouché” he replied. “All right, well, there are four major difference between turtles and tortoises,” he began. “(1) Turtles primarily live in water while tortoises live almost exclusively on land.”

“Yep, knew that.” I interrupted.

“Hey, who’s the Tortoise of All Knowing here?” he said eying me.

“Sorry. Please continue.” I said, putting on my best “I’m highly interested in what you’re talking about” face and hiding a small, amused smile.

“Okay then. (2) turtles can be omnivorous whereas tortoises are herbivorous. And (3) Turtles can migrate from one place to another, but tortoises tend to stay in one area.”

“You said there were four differences.”

“Yes, and (4) tortoises are much snappier dressers than turtles.” he did a neat little 360 on the table, showing off his bronze colored shell. “See what I mean?” he said suavely, raising a nonexistent eyebrow in a mock come-hither kind of way.

I couldn’t help but laugh at that, and immediately he joined in with me, our brief laughter undoubtedly being the loudest – and oddest – noise the room had ever suffered. At this point I decided to completely set aside the bundle of thoughts crowding my head – such as Okay, where did this tortoise come from, How is it possible that he’s talking to me, and Have I completely lost my mind. I’d already questioned my sanity enough throughout my life. I figured I’d just enjoy this, whether it be a mental breakdown or not.

“All right go for it. Ask me something else. The Tortoise of All Knowing is here to serve and amaze. Mostly amaze.” On the surface he seemed just a bit hubristic and slightly sardonic, but I could tell he also had some kind of charm and a good, albeit slightly unusual, sense of humor. I considered it for a moment and realized those were all probably rare traits to find in a tortoise.

“I dunno. Surprise me.” I said, genuinely unable to think of anything to ask.

“Ah phooey. That’s no fun.” he said, clearly feigning a pout. I began to realize that Shy seemed like the kind of little guy who would heckle you and playfully argue with you all day, a bit of a drama queen even, but really only in the best of ways.

I stifled a giggle, enjoying this little conversation more and more. “Oh but come on. This gives you a chance to show me how all-knowing you really are and truly amaze me by answering questions I never knew I had.” I quipped, guessing that he’d respond well to a friendly tease.

“True.” he replied thoughtfully, his big brown eyes gleaming, a smirk dancing around the corner of his small reptilian mouth. I had guessed right. He placed his little head on his hand, putting on a great thinker expression. “I bet you didn’t know. . . ”

He began telling me all sorts of things about shooting stars and amoeba and elephants and music and and trees and authors and pens and coffee and countries. Before I knew it twenty minutes had gone by.

“No way. How on earth do they do that? Wait, are you telling me you’ve actually seen a clam climb a tree?” I asked Shy, completely hanging off every word of his at this point.

“I swear!” he said, raising his hand and chuckling a bit at my astonishment. “There really are certain types of clams in the Caribbean that can actually climb trees. Of course a few of them don’t, though. Fear of heights, you know.”

I laughed at that and leaned back in my chair. As I sat there thinking about all the things I’d never thought about before, just about to ask Shy what else he could tell me, I was suddenly startled by a new voice that pierced the calm of the quiet library: “Sorry I’m late!” I looked over to see the student I was supposed to be meeting standing in the community room’s open doorway. She looked completely frazzled, wild hair, wet from the rain, spewing out from a clip atop her head, jacket hanging sloppily from one shoulder, leaking books and papers everywhere. I jumped up out of my chair just in time to snatch her notebook from the air as it slid out of her arms. “Thanks!” she breathed, clearly out of breath, as if she’d run all the way here. “I’m really sorry to have kept you waiting.” she apologized. Earlier I had been somewhat irked at her tardiness, but now I found I really didn’t mind so much. “No worries,” I replied. “I actually had someone to talk to.” I gestured back to the table where Shy had been sitting. But when I looked, he was gone. In his place was a small, rectangular sheet of paper. I reached for it and found something had been quickly written down:

“Had to run. But now you know where to go next time you want to know something! – S”

I turned the note over and found that it was actually a bookmark with the library’s hours of operation printed in bright bold letters. I smiled. “Cheeky little thing.” I murmured. Putting the bookmark safely in my pocket, I took one last good look around the room to see if I could spot Shy anywhere. But the only life in the big room now was just me and my tutee. I decided it best that I not tell all about what had happened in the past half hour, and she didn’t ask, so we sat down and got to work, finishing out the rest of the morning as had been planned.

I think deep down I know I’ll never see the tortoise again. But every week since then I go back to the library and look, just in case. And while I’m there, I pick a random book off the shelf and read. That way, if I ever do come across the Tortoise of All Knowing again, I’ll have something to tell him, too.


the P A T T E R N :

Shy the Tortoise by Karissa Cole 2013 promo2

Shy the Tortoise by Karissa Cole 2013 Sides1

M A T E R I A L S :

• Small amounts of worsted wight yarn in three colors:
(1) Main color used for body, head, tail, and legs – “Chocolate” (brown)
(2) Secondary colors used for upper shell – “Earth” (ombre)
(3) Tertiary color used for lower shell – “Warm Brown”

[I used both Loops & Threads Impeccable and Red Heart Super Saver]

• 8mm safety eyes [1 pair]
• Fiberfill stuffing
• Sewing supplies (scissors, pins, needles, thread)
• Craft pipe cleaners (any color – optional)
• G/7 4.5MM crochet hook

A B B R E V I A T I O N S:

MC – magic circle (magic loop/magic ring)
sc – single crochet(s)
IBL – in back loops
inc – increase
dec – decrease
ch – chain
*actions in asterisks should be repeated until round completion or to the indicated stopping point in the round*
(number in parentheses indicates total number of stitches after round/row completion)
FO – fasten off
RND – Round; worked in a spiral
RW – Row; worked back and forth
** a note about this pattern: This pattern is a little unlike some of my others. I freeformed this entire thing and wrote down what I did. I tried out a few ‘techniques’ I haven’t used in a pattern yet, so I do not recommend this project for a beginner. I’ve done my best to explain what I did and how, but I’m not too sure if it is all clear. I don’t want to scare you off though! I just want it to be noted that this pattern has not been fully tested so your results may vary. Any questions regarding the pattern or assembly just let me know and I will be happy to help :] **

Shy the Tortoise by Karissa Cole 2013 promo 3

I suggest reading through all the instructions before you begin.


MC 6
RND 1) *inc* (12)
RND 2) *3inc, 3sc* (18)
RND 3) *3inc, 6sc* (24)
RNDs 4-6) *sc*
RND 7) *3sc, dec* (18) [attach eyes]
RND 8) *2sc, dec* (12)

Little mistake in the original rounds 7 and 8. (Sorry about that!) They should read as follows:

RND 7) *2sc, dec* (18) [attach eyes]
RND 8) *sc, dec* (12)
RNDs 9-10) *sc*
FO. I suggest leaving a long enough tail for sewing head to body.

Stuff lightly and shape.

Here I flattened out the front of the face and the bottom of the head a little. I also pinched the open end to make a little neck.

Here I flattened out the front of the face and the bottom of the head a little. I also pinched the open end to make a little neck.

L E G S (x4)

MC 6
RND 1) *inc* (12)
RND 2) *sc, inc* (18)
RND 3) *sc*
RND 4) 6dec, 6sc (12)
RNDs 5-8) *sc*
RND 9) 6sc, 3dec (6)
RNDs 10-11) *sc*

Shy the Tortoise by Karissa Cole 2013 legs

Legs (head, body and lower shell also included in shot)


Ch 6
RW 1) starting in second ch from hook: 5sc

B O D Y [the body is what we will attach the head, legs, and tail to; it will end up being encased in our upper and lower shell later]

MC 6
RND 1) *inc* (12)
RND 2) *sc, inc* (18)
RND 3) *2sc, inc* (24)
RND 4) *3sc, inc* (30)
RND 5) *4sc, inc* (36)
RND 6) *5sc, inc* (42)
RND 7) *6sc, inc* (48)
RNDs 8-14) [7 rounds] *sc*
RND 15) *IBL: 6sc, dec* (42)

Because the point of this inner body is to more accurately portray the way a tortoise looks, all squidgy and happy encased in a hard protective shell, one could very well stop here and fasten off. Since almost all of this body will end up being hidden away inside our upper and lower shell pieces (instructions for which follow), not finishing the rest of the body will in no way affect the final, outer appearance of the tortoise. You can at this point sew on the legs, head, and tail, then stuff the body. (Stuffing will probably pop out the bottom, but attaching the lower shell later will take care of this.) However, hard-core tortoise makers (and those amigurumi makers who are well aquainted with OCD and could not live with the fact that somewhere inside their adorable finished reptile there was something someone could classify as unfinished) can continue as follows:

RND 16) *5sc, dec*
RND 17) *4sc, dec*
RND 18) *3sc, dec* [Stuff firmly now if you haven’t already]
RND 19) *2sc, dec*
RND 20) *sc, dec*
RND 21) *dec*

Attach the head, tail, and legs. Below are photos of the finished tortoise showing the basic placements of each piece. Use these as a guide now for placing the head, tail, and legs. (We haven’t made the upper of lower shells yet, so keep in mind the limbs will be sewn onto the body you just made. The shells will come in later! I just didn’t have the camera with me when I sewed on the legs and stuff ;])

I sewed the head and front legs near each other on the body, then attached the tail and back legs

I sewed the head and front legs near each other on the body, then attached the tail and back legs

L O W E R  S H E L L

MC 6
RND 1) *inc* (12)
RND 2) *sc, inc* (18)
RND 3) *2sc, inc* (24)
RND 4) *3sc, inc* (30)
RND 5) *4sc, inc* (36)
RND 6) *5sc, inc* (42)
RND 7) *6sc, inc* (48)
RND 8) *7sc, inc* (54)
RND 9) *sc*

U P P E R  S H E L L [this covers the tortoise body from the top; we will crochet the upper shell and the lower shell together right around the tortoise body]

MC 6
RND 1) *inc* (12)
RND 2) *sc, inc* (18)
RND 3) *2sc, inc* (24)
RND 4) *3sc, inc* (30)
RND 5) *4sc, inc* (36)
RND 6) *5sc, inc* (42)
RND 7) *6sc, inc* (48)
RND 8) *7sc, inc* (54)
RNDs 9-13) [5 rounds] *sc*

Don’t fasten off yet. Instead, take the body (complete with nicely fastened head, tail, and limbs) and place it inside the upper shell. Then, take the lower shell, place it under the body/upper shell and pin into place. Be sure to position the upper shell so that the yarn is as shown in the following photo:

Pin the upper shell and lower shell into place around the body

Pin the upper shell and lower shell into place around the body

Since we didn’t fasten off the upper shell, we’re going to crochet the two shells together right around the body. **This can be a little difficult, but as I really don’t like sewing, I opted for this method. Theoretically, sewing the pieces could work, although I haven’t tested how this would work with the rim we add later.**

Picking up where I left off on the upper shell, I crocheted the two shells together, encasing the body. (For those who haven’t crocheted two things together: Instead of inserting my hook through one stitch, I inserted it through the upper shell’s stitch AND the lower shell’s stitch, and then completed a sc like normal.)

When I came to the stitches around the back legs I simply crocheted only in the upper shell’s stitches. When I got past the leg (I ended up doing about 7 stitches just in the top shell around the leg) I continued crocheting the shells together. I repeated the process for the tail, the other back leg and the front legs and head.

Crochet the shells together around the body. I held the turtle upper shell up and started at the left front leg. (I paused and turned the tortoise upside-down for some photos to show how the pieces looked crocheted together)

Crochet the shells together around the body. I held the turtle upper shell up and started at the left front leg. (I paused and turned the tortoise upside-down for some photos to show how the pieces looked crocheted together)

When crocheting the shell pieces together, I worked counterclockwise starting with the upper shell up, starting at the left front leg

When crocheting the shell pieces together, I worked counterclockwise with the upper shell up, starting at the left front leg

Once you’ve crocheted all the way around, your tortoise body should be sitting snugly inside its new shell. But don’t fasten off yet: Next, I added a rim around the shell by crocheting 3 stitches in each stitch around. (For less of a frilly rim, only do 2 stitches in each stitch around.)

I did a second round of sc around the shells, this time doing 3sc in each stitch

I did a second round of sc around the shells, this time doing 3sc in each stitch

When you finish this round you’re done! Fasted off and weave in ends.



You’ve now got your very own all-knowing tortoise. Enjoy!

** Please be sure to note that this is an original design and pattern. I believe in the free sharing of techniques and ideas. Please do not abuse my desire to share with others. You are not permitted to sell any products made as the result of this pattern and/or design, nor are you permitted to sell the pattern or design. Please, if you do use my work in part or in whole, give credit where credit is due: direct others to this original posting so that they too can benefit.**

Pattern, design, photos, and story copyright Karissa Cole 2013. All rights reserved.

Look at that face. He totally wants a hug from you.

Look at that face. He totally wants a hug from you.

    • Anonymous
    • March 30th, 2013

    I love this little turtle, and the story! My kids and I kept some tortoises and hatched the eggs one year, I think I’ll make this for them as a reminder of that. On the hunt for just the right yarn….

    • Phyllis
    • September 12th, 2013

    I love turtles, so I am definitely going to make one of these. Thanks for sharing.

    • AmigurumiLover
    • January 11th, 2014

    When I made the head, I discovered that the first decrease is *2*sc, dec, and the second one is *1*sc, dec.

    • Ooops! I think you’re completely right. All this time I never noticed ^^ Thank you for pointing this out to me :)

  1. January 7th, 2014
  2. February 1st, 2015

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