Community · Projects

A small gift makes a big difference

Good evening, dear knitters.

Something mysterious happened to my blog two months ago. An old post from 2012 about knitted teddy bears and comfort dolls for the IWK Health Centre received about 16700 views. Most of the traffic was referred by Facebook but I don’t know who shared it. As a result, many knitters got involved in making knitted and crocheted teddy bears and about 50 new people signed up for the email updates on the blog.

The comments under the post turned into great discussions  — people were teaming up to share yarn, stitch up the knitted bears, and bring them to Halifax from the Annapolis Valley. Soon enough I received an email from the IWK Volunteer Resources manager Kylene Mellor who was thanking the knitters for the outpouring support.

This kindness and generosity of the knitting community is the reason this blog exists. And it is very important for me to make sure that your time, creativity, and yarn are shared with those people who really-really need them. As you will see from the message below, you have met this particular need. Bravo!

The IWK has enough teddy bears at this point, and they would like to ask for the finger puppets instead. I am very grateful for the clear line of communication with the Health Centre and I am eager to share their message with you.

“Good morning IWK Supporters!

I would like to take a moment to thank you so much for your generous donations for our patients and families! When items such as comfort bears, finger puppets and quilts are donated to the Health Centre, there are really no words to express the positive impact these gifts can make to a patient’s visit.

Recently, an old post about our need for comfort bears has resurfaced – and while we can always use comfort bears/dolls, we do not have a current, urgent need for them.

What we could use more of are finger puppets as we can go through upwards of 1,000 in any given month.  We distribute finger puppets to many areas of the hospital – for children having procedures, blood work, siblings waiting for their loved ones etc… so they are well used! And we often hear that our patients keep them for years afterwards. 

Items can be dropped off at Volunteer Resources Monday-Friday 8am-4pm. 

Thank you again so much for your support of our patients and families – you truly make a difference with your contributions.”

Kylene Mellor

Manager, Volunteer Resources

See? There are bears, frogs, dinosaurs, and monsters waiting to be cuddled by children. Some of the knitters said in the comments that they made 36 bears, 15 bears… and who knows how many more bears are in the making now and will be delivered soon? I bet you, a lot. I am going to update the old post too and ask the knitters to channel their endless creative energy elsewhere.

knitted teddy bears

If you would like to make some finger puppets, the IWK website has this basic finger puppet pattern and this one is for the duck and the bunny puppets but you can use any knitted or crocheted pattern you wish. I have published a few patterns, they are somewhat fussy but they have photo tutorials for each puppet.

These are some puppets that the Health Centre received in the past.


There is also an amazing knitter named Dorothy who wrote the very first guest post on this blog about knitting finger puppets for the IWK. (She was featured in the local newspaper as well.) I recommend to look at the pictures just to see how a pile of 3500 finger puppets looks like!

I can tell you honestly that I won’t be making thousands of puppets myself. But if each of us will use some scrap yarn and a bit of imagination to make just a few, the result will be spectacular. Don’t you think?

Charity · Community · Projects

Monsters in the Hospital

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

IWK monsters_20131029_0001
(though, many do still prefer to live under the bed!)

After teaching myself to knit and crochet, it didn’t take long to discover (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!

Monsters in the hospital_20131029_0001-EDIT
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!

Fuzzy Monster finger puppets_20131029_panorama
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.

Monsters in the hospital_20131029_0016
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!

Prize pack_2013Happy 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!

Charity · Community · Events · WWKIP day

We did it!

Today we knit in public. In a pub. In a public pub. Would it be too much to suggest that if it rains during your World Wide Knit in Public day (as it did today in Halifax), you could still make it to your Would Wide Knit in a Pub day? As an official plan B, you know? So, thanks to HRM WWKIP group, the day was saved.

There were about 25 knitters there and we had the whole room to ourselves. Two attending babies brought their moms who happened to be knitters. There were awesome door prizes from local yarn stores, LK Yarns and The Loop, and a tray of delicious cookies from Ciboulette Café.

Also, look what knitters made for the IWK!

That cute bear is made with self-striping yarn but it looks like he is wearing cute summer-y pants. Which immediately gave me an idea to try making comfort dolls with self-striping yarn instead of joining new yarn for different clothing items and then dealing with all those loose ends… If you know of something suitable, please leave a comment.

Also, the game is on. So far I am only taking people’s names for the raffle, and if you want to win these things, you don’t have rely on luck alone. There are two prizes for prolific knitters, and so far we have 4 hats/bears and 10 puppets as top numbers. Whoever makes most puppets, and also dolls/bears/hats combined wins a prize.

For those who didn’t make it to the HRM WWKIP today, keep an eye for the charity knitting display announcements. (I kept typing and deleting the next sentence because I want to sound intriguing but don’t have enough information to start actual planning.) So I gave up and will say just one thing — please draw a little ball of yarn with needles on your calendar,  Saturday, June 23. If this idea works, we will have some knitting fun and do all things we couldn’t do today because of the rain. If not, we will have a draw and announce winners on that day.

How does that sound?