Sunday, December 23, 2012

Once Upon a Time in the Knitting World

Once upon a time when yarn was plain and simple, there was a dearth of local knit shops and magazines about knitting were few. Knitters did not knit in public. They were solitary and suffered from the lack of inspiration and community.

The bright stars of this era were Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker and one magazine from France – Mon Tricot.
I am a fan of all three. Sadly Mon Tricot stopped printing in the early 1980s but I learned so many things from these three. They were my knitting lifeline and teachers. Among the many wonderful patterns  I learned how much fun it is to make little dolls and toys.
Yes, these are all crocheted.
I loved making them...

...following the patterns at first then I started changing little things – slightly different colors, hairstyles then creating my own little person...

.... like this little spinner. Note she is knitted. She was inspired by an entire tableau of a miniature Arizona ranch made by the Spinning Study Group of the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners. She was my contribution. Some say she is my avatar.

Knitting or crocheting little things like these dolls, the cat and dove on the ramada above, even the knit adobe houses on the side of the ramada can be addicting and incredibly fun. Luckily now there are lots of pattern books for toys of all sizes. Here are a few tips for making them:
Ø  Use a smaller knitting needle or hook then normally used for that the weight of yarn.  A firm fabric is needed in items that will be stuffed.

Ø  Polyester stuffing is usually the best as it does not matt. Use enough stuffing to give shape to the toy and not so much as to make it too firm.

Ø  Have lots of small amounts of yarn available. It only takes bits to sew in the mouth or eyes. It only takes small amounts to make tiny clothes, little bodies and decorations.

Ø  Beads and tiny buttons can be all kinds of things - jewelry, flowers, eyes if you like. Imagination is a good thing.

Ø  Metallic threads and yarns add sparkle and bling.

Ø  Have patience with the faces. Start with the eyes – they are usually slightly above the middle of the face. Often the eyes are all that is needed for a figure to come to life.

Ø  Various needles for sewing are needed – a sewing needle and thread and a large and small tapestry needle at least.

Ø  Start with a written pattern. There are some really wonderful patterns and pattern books now. Many of them give directions on how to do the faces and hair. It is a good starting place – and then you can create your own!
Have fun!

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