Last week I set myself a challenge. I had three days to make my 4 year old cousin a present. We were going down South for a visit and I didn’t want to do the generic Toys’R’Us run for her. When I got married she was the flower girl at my wedding and I made her a little knitted bride for her gift, which she loved, so I knew knitted and pretty was the way to go with this present. So I went through the wool I had which is starting to become quite a large collection, and decided to use a pattern I had fallen out with for a while and improve it slightly for my own end. I used 4.5 mm needles and size 4mm acrylic and baby wool.
I made her a pretty pink ballerina bear. Using a basic acrylic white wool and a baby soft bright pink hand dyed wool. The pink wool was beautiful to use as it has been hand dyed so you get a variety of different effects and patterns in pink and white. The pattern I used was as I said one that I had fallen out with earlier in the year. It is from the book ’20 Tiny Knitted Bears to Make’ by Val Pierce. Which is a relatively cheap book I bought a while ago as it is definitely for beginners. This is the basic bear on the right. It is very simple. Just a triangular shape for the head which is then stitched to create the ears. and then the body is made from 2 pieces sewn together. To make the legs you stitch half of the row, cast off two to create a gap and then turn the stitches so they’re still on your needles, so then you can knit one leg, and go back later to stitch the other. Just trying not to lose count on rows. For this bear I used Stocking stitch, as I have made a few toys in stocking and I do think it looks much neater and more professional. The pattern asks you to do the whole bear in garter which I did for the first two bears, and is partly why I fell out with the pattern it just doesn’t look nice to me.
After the bear is made you have to dress it to give it some character, otherwise its just a naked white bear. I chose ballerina bear and using the baby wool in its ever changing pattern made the dress. This dress was a lot harder than I thought to make. You make two sides of the top which is just a basic shape which you increase and decrease to get a shape and then divide in the middle again to create straps. The skirt was also tricky it’s made in 2 pieces and is quite a lot of stitches on a row, for this ballerina bear it asked you to make the skirt so it’s 5 cm long, as it’s also stocking stitch it curls up at the end which makes a lovely frill. I finished the dress off with a plaited belt and a little silk flower from my odds and ends box. The necklace was also some more string pearls from my wedding cake, like in earlier posts I have a lot of string pearls.
I then made little bootees which you stuff the end to make little feet, the boots took literally 10 minutes to make as they are so small. And to finish off the bear I gave it a little bow for one ear just to drum home that it was a girl. this was made by knitting a small rectangle and wrapping some yarn around the middle. This will be a good thing to make in future in larger dimensions as decoration for hats or headbands. But that’s in the future. I spent quite a while on the face, As I have learnt from making a lot of children’s toys its the face that gives all the character to the creature and for this I used size 2 black arran wool, and using it like embroidery stitching a shape and filling it in for the eyes and nose, and then using it to make a mouth. I was very happy in the end with the bear, and its final pretty pink self. It literally took me 3 evenings and one afternoon to make and my little cousin loved it very much. She was named Amy.
As I said I have made this pattern before, but i followed the pattern to the letter. And I used another alternative coloured hand dyed wool which gives you a multi-colour effect. This bear however is full of flaws so I don’t want to give him to anyone, but I have grown attached the the small misshaped peculiar looking bear with it’s wonky face, and it is now mine. I rarely keep my own knitting but this is an exception, he’s called a very imaginative ‘Ted’.
For this bear I put bells inside so he jingles when cuddled, but as you can see he is very primitive with his garter stitched self. I made him a little jumper also from the book. He was made on 4mm needles so is much smaller than the pink ballerina bear, and when you see projects you made very early on in your knitting quest and what you can make now, you can really see how far you have come. But he is cute isn’t he?