This is a guest post by Karen Adams, a fellow knitter and an artist.
Like all readers of this blog, I enjoy knitting, but I don’t make many hats or mittens, and I’ll probably never make a baby blanket, so as a guest blogger, what can I write about? Well, monsters of course!
I grew up in a world before Monsters Inc; when the alternative to dolls was stuffed animals. I still love my animals dearly, but as an adult I’ve also gotten to experience the wonderful world of monsters. No longer scary, mythical creatures living under the bed, monsters are now known to be fun, and friendly protectors, with colourful bodies, and even more colourful personalities
(though, many do still prefer to live under the bed!)
After teaching myself to knit and crochet, it didn’t take long to discover www.Ravelry.com (a crafters’ network that is free to join) and their wonderful collection of patterns to make, and customize my own toys. My book shelves and tables were soon overrun by wooly creatures, and the search was on for a deserving recipient of my monstery goodness. As children, my sister and I spent a fair bit of time at the IWK Children’s Hospital, and remember receiving hand knit finger puppets from the phlebotomists, after “finger pricks” and blood collection, so the IWK was the obvious choice for my own charity knitting!
As kids we always appreciated being first on the Phleb’s schedule, giving us first pick of the best puppets, with the most character. We always disliked the puppets with dead-looking X’s for eyes, and preferred those with a tuft of hair, or colourful detailing. As a knitter, however, the challenge was to find an interesting design that is simple enough to keep up with the hospital’s demand of 1,000+ puppets per month. For me, the solution came back to my monsters. I took the simplest of all the puppet designs, 12-15 stitches, by 10-15 rows, knit in-the-round, but using novelty yarns like eyelash, fun-fur, and glow-in-the-dark varieties to add interesting texture and fun, without need of complex colour changes or shaping. From there I added simple eyes, and sometimes noses, using pompoms and felt circles, secured with thick felt-glue and simple French knots, which add security, pupils and loads of character!
The result was a first batch of 80 fluffy monster puppets like none my sister and I had ever seen. (Not to mention The Uglies, The Monkeys, The Bunnies, and The Eensy Weensy Octopussy.)
Next came some larger, stuffed monsters. With an amazing selection of easy and fun little patterns available, I found it impossible to resist making a collection of Goofballs and Gumballs, Thingamajigs and Whatsits, and one little ninja to head to the hospital too. My latest delivery of yarny goodness arrived just in time for the monsters to spend Halloween with the children.
Some of my little guys were nervous about going to the hospital, frightened of the dreaded “finger pricks”, but I reminded them that they don’t have fingers, and that they were going to console the kids who would be getting the tests and treatments. They liked that idea much better, but still felt some trepidation over the enormous responsibility. To make them feel better, my larger house monsters joined us as we went on a little tour of the hospital. They met Janet, the Manager of Volunteer Services. She was very nice and happy to meet them all. She explained their new duties and introduced them to other critters in the program.
By the time we said our good-byes, they felt right at home and looked forward to meeting the children.
For any readers looking for easy, unique little toys for their own families, friends, or charity knitting, Ravelry is an excellent source of free and paid patterns in a multitude of styles and sizes, for knit and crochet. For one new and comprehensive resource by the queen of monster knitting, may I recommend 50 Yards of Fun, by Rebecca Danger? Famous for her large, and medium-scale monsters, dinosaurs and animals, Rebecca’s latest book is devoted to the miniature, stash-busting creatures; like my Nano Ninja; that are perfect for little hands in need of a little comforting. (Just remember to replace any plastic eyes or buttons with felt and/or embroidery!)
Has everyone been inspired yet? Need one more piece of encouragement? How about a giveaway? I have compiled a creature kit, complete with eyelash and spun yarns, stuffing, felt, a pair of circular needles, and a small collection of patterns. With Halloween over, and Christmas coming fast, the package has a Christmas colour theme and includes a seasonal pattern collection generously donated by Susan Claudino, a talented new designer of small toys, ornaments, and best of all, monsters!
Happy Knitting to All!
Please leave a comment to enter into a draw for a chance to win a monster kit from Karen! A draw will take place on Saturday, November 16th, and a random number generator will tell us who the winner is. Good luck to all!