Monday, April 11, 2011

Homestead Experiment #20-Knitting Critters for the Textile Challenged

Much to my Mother's chagrin, I am not an apt knitter. My chatty, scatterbrained self is too distracted to be able to socially knit.  I would proudly knit rows on my scarf only to have her check it and pronounce that I had dropped several stitches, repeatedly.  Determined, I finally finished that scarf and the two baby blankets I was knitting for my arriving twins, and then hung up my knitting needles up forever. Oh, the tragedy! (Big sigh)

Well, this past December, my friend's Mother was visiting and she was teaching her granddaughters how to loom knit.  After realizing that I would have a frame to actually hold my stitches for me (meaning less likelihood of dropping them-although it still does happen on occasion :), I decided to give knitting one more shot. The result? I got hooked and dragged my 7 year old daughter down into the yarn-y mire with me.  We've made hats and scarves, and my daughter is even making chick hats for the chicks we are planning to get at the end of April! Talk about a project with fairly immediate gratification. It's only four rows of 8 stitches!

A couple of weeks ago, we were in the toy store and saw a kit to make a teddy bear with a loom set. After looking at the back of the box, I realized that I had everything but the smallest round loom (used for making the legs and ears). The parts are basically just tubes that are stuffed and then the ends are gathered to make little sausages. Sew them together with a yarn neeldle. Add a face with embroidery floss (for babies) or buttons, and there you go. Inspired, we ran across the hall to JoAnn's, picked up the loom and some baby chenille, and headed home. Of course, my artistic daughter was not content to just try and make a bear like one on the box we had seen. Oh no! She wanted us to make a bunny rabbit for another friend's newborn daughter. We figured we could make it the same way, but just do long tubes for the ears and leave them unstuffed for a floppy look. Then I figured we'd make a tail with a bunch of loops to adorn the 'bunny buns', and stitch on a face. Yes, we could do this! I was confident-and this is what we made:

The hardest part of this whole thing was sewing on the eyes. I wanted it to be cute and not scary. With these big knit stitches, it was trickier to make a solid spot than I thought it would. For an older child, buttons would definitely be the way to go!

Tail. Sorry for the fuzzy shot. I guess it's a picture of fuzzy buns-literally! :P
I chose white because I figured I could use the same yarn to make white teddy bears for a couple of little boys who will be arriving shortly.  These are just made using the knit stitch only.
 I did begin one recently, using a garter stitch (alternate a row of knits with a row of purls) and do not like the look. As you can see, it has big ridges that go all around it.
I much prefer the knit rows that go up and down.   
After I made the main body tube, stuffed and closed it, I then ran a running stitch around it with a yarn needle and gathered it to make a "neck".

Now, I know this sounds naive and silly, but I hadn't really done much online searching for loom knitting before now.  I was completely content to use the patterns in the books I had purchased that very first day.  However, I decided to go online "just to see if anyone happened to have other ideas" and boy howdy! I didn't realize loom knitting was so popular.  It's very fun, great for kids, and our family definitely gives it a big endorsement!  And, while it seems like it may be better for a cold-weather activitiy, keep it in mind for any long trips you may be taking this summer.  My daughter and I each have a coffee can to keep our current project in (decorated with scrapbooking paper and ribbon of course!), so that kind of gives you an idea of how small it can be. Now granted, the looms can be much larger, but overall it's a pretty compact way to keep hands busy and minds relaxed.

Here are a couple of other sights to get you started:

Happy Wrapping!
Hillary At Home

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