Archive for the 'toys' Category

I just came across this post in my drafts folder. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it earlier–maybe I was planning to do some big writeup about these items? No big writeup is forthcoming now, but I can share a few comments about these two projects

I made this Little Hanten (from Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders) for a friend’s daughter. My friend and I went to grad school together (I remember many late nights working on our research grant proposals together!), and she now teaches at the University of Toronto. Now that I’m seeing this photo again, I remember how much I liked knitting this sweater. Another friend just had a baby, so I think I may need to cast on for another one of these soon!

Several years ago, I purchased a British knitting magazine (one of those that costs $20 here in the USA) just so I could get this gnome pattern by Alan Dart. My daughter asked me to make this for her, and she loves it. It’s fun to make, but seaming and sewing together all the parts (which are knit flat in the original pattern) is a PITA. So the next time I make one of these, I plan knit it in the round as much as possible.


Two awesome things come together

Miyazaki films and Lego.


Free lunch: More knitted toys

Teeny tiny knitted animals. These are freakin’ cute.

More tiny knitted toys. The author says these are small enough to fit inside a plastic egg (so if you’re starting to plan ahead for next Easter…) She also has a pattern for tiny knit goldfish.

If you’re knitting or crocheting dolls and want to attach yarn hair to them, take a look at this tutorial. I wish I had known about this when I knit the doll Sylvia christened “Sesame” (and still plays with to this day), whose hairline starts right at the top of her head.

Here’s a pattern for a simple doll made of yarn and felt.

Want to stay away from dolls altogether? Try this knitted ball, a Grumpasaurus, or a Kiwi bird.

Looking for a stuffed animal that you’re sure the recipient doesn’t already have? This felted star-nosed mole will surely fit the bill.

Do you think this elephant would be afraid of this mouse? I bet they’d be best buds.

If you want your knitted toys to keep to a marine theme, try a Linux penguin, a frog, or Jacques Crusteau the lobster.

With a name like “monster chunks,” this pattern is hard to resist. (Don’t miss the link on the same page to “bunny nuggets,” too.)

I am very much not a fan of Harry Potter myself, but those of you who are may want to whip up a golden snitch or two.

And if you want the perfect gift for the dentist in your life, take a look at this molar.


Childhood toys

It’s interesting what parents save of their children’s things. My husband’s mom saved books; she was both an author and an editor of children’s books, so there are many interesting/rare/meaningful items in the collection that my daughter now enjoys.

My parents saved all of my (and my brother’s) Fisher-Price toys. There’s a wind-up television set that plays “Three Blind Mice,” has a rolling scene of drawn mice running across the front (think of a player piano’s roll), and has “Made in Japan” stamped on the back. (When did mass-produced American toys stop being made in Japan, anyway? At some point they moved to Taiwan, and thence to China, where most of them remain today.) And there are lots of Original Little People and their playsets (including the airport, the camper, the village, and parts of the farm).

pb275125fppeopleftf.jpgSylvia delights in playing with them when we visit. (The airplane has come home with us, but the rest of the toys remain at my parents’ house.) As we were planning our most recent trip out there, she was eager to play with “the people” again, especially “the woman in the purple dress” (which she hadn’t seen in over a year). It’s fascinating to see her childhood overlap with parts of mine.


Free lunch: Holiday knitting

Halloween is around the corner, so start knitting up some pumpkins with a pattern than works with any yarn, gauge, and needles you like.

After that, it’s time for Thanksgiving. And really, what is Thanksgiving without turkey finger puppets?

If you’re trimming a tree, don’t forget your own handknit-and-felted Flying Spaghetti Monster ornament. And if you’re not a tree decorator, well, I’m sure this little fellow can fit in just about anywhere.

Here’s another tree-trimming idea: knit mini-mittens. I bet they would look cute hanging from an I-cord across the top of a window, too.

The Jingles Bells hat comes in sizes to fit infants through adults, so you can torture delight everyone you know with the gift of festive headgear.

If you’re feeling particularly sadistic, whip up a knitted baby Santa suit and stuff a defenseless infant in it before he or she is told enough to resist.


Thank you

Thanks, everyone, for your very kind words about Britty. We miss her a lot, but we know she’s in a place where she’s not suffering—and where there are lots of yummy snacks everywhere, no doubt. (She did love to eat… I kid you not, that cat knew how to open tupperware in her relentless pursuit of food!)

Here’s one last photo of Britty to share with you all. This one gives you an idea of how she got the nickname “St. Britty.” Sylvia spent about half an hour carefully arranging these toys atop a napping cat…who didn’t mind one bit.



Free lunch: Knitted toys

Easter is just around the corner, and those of you who celebrate it with decorated eggs and the Easter Bunny may be interested in these patterns: Honey Bunny (a knit-and-stuffed bunny reminiscent in shape of a bowling pin—albeit a very cute one), a tiny stuffed bunny made from a four-inch square (at last—a use for all those gauge swatches!), bunny-shaped egg cozies, and little knitted Easter eggs.

If bunnies—or Easter—aren’t your thing, try one of these other knitted animals: Kate the cat, a lobster, and a felted squid.


Memories of my childhood

Not long after my daughter was born, my parents started opening up boxes in their basement. Their contents: toys that had belonged to my brother and me.

The first one, a three-foot-tall stuffed dog, arrived with my parents, when they drove out from Illinois to meet their one-week-old granddaughter. At the same time, they also brought my white wooden rocking chair.

Most of my old toys joined our household bit by bit, either on the times when my parents drove here, when they shipped a box of stuff, or when we visited them in Illinois and carried some small things home in our suitcases.

pa087816tos.jpgDuring my visit to Illinois earlier this month, my parents really outdid themselves: as we walked through the door, we saw arrayed across the family room floor a whole collection of Fisher Price Little People toys. Now, these aren’t the Little People of today–all round and cherubic. These have far more simplistic forms and are made of hard plastic, not rubber. (You can read about the history of Little People–and see photos, at the top, of the old-school figures I’m talking about–here.)

My parents saved the schoolhouse, the town, the airport (the airplane has been at my home already for several months), and the way-cool camper. I loved seeing those toys again. I remembered every single piece and how my brother and I used to play with them together. Jan was astonished at the very fine condition all of these thirty-year-old pieces were in. And Sylvia–she just went nuts playing with them.

(The toys stayed at my parents’ house after we left–something for Sylvia to play with whenever she’s there.)



Several months ago, I checked out Zoe Mellor’s Knitted Toys from my local library. I loved it so much that I immediately added it to my Amazon wish list, and at the end of last month I broke down and bought it for myself.

My first project: a doll for Sylvia. While I had the library copy, Sylvia looked through the book and more or less asked me to make everything in it for her. Lately, she’s been increasingly interested in imaginary play with her stuffed animals and her friends’ dolls, so I thought she should have a proper doll of her own. Neither Jan nor I are keen on most of the rubber/plastic dolls on the market today, and after poking around for alternatives I was all set to make her a Waldorf doll. Simmy has a great tutorial here, but that requires sewing, and, well…let’s just say that my very first sewing project (a snazzy tote bag!), which I started at the beginning of this month, remains unfinished because I can’t figure out how to put the stupid bobbin into the machine properly. (Sigh.)

p7235603sm.jpgI did find in an online shop a pattern for a knitted Waldorf doll (and may yet end up giving that one a try one day), but decided to start with the item in Knitted Toys that Sylvia liked the most: the fairy doll. (It’s pictured on the back cover, which you can see if you click on the “See inside this book” link at Amazon.) As you can see, my doll lacks the waist sash, the tutu, the wings, and a proper face. I may at some point knit a sweater or a dress for her, but for now she’s running around in her birthday suit (which really is a suit of sorts). I left the face off because I have no idea how to add eyes and a mouth after everything is put together. Sylvia noted the lack of facial features immediately, but then decided that the doll has a “pretend eyes and pretend mouth,” so if she’s happy the way things are now, maybe they will stay off altogether.

p7235623sm.jpgI used yarn that I had on hand (mostly worsted KnitPicks Yarn of the Andes) for the body, clothes (which are actually built-in so are really part of the body, too), and head. The brown hair is a skein–an entire skein–of YotA that Gina gave me for this purpose. (Thanks again, Gina!) All together, the knitting, putting together, seaming, and stuffing took me about six hours. Not a huge amount of time–so I knew I wouldn’t be terribly upset if Sylvia hated it. (Besides, it’s impossible to predict what will strike a two-year-old’s fancy anyway.) It was a lot of fun to watch this take shape as I shoved more and more polyfill stuffing into the forms. This was the first time I’d stuffed anything, so I didn’t have a sense of how much filling to use. A few times, when a limb starting to look like a sausage about to burst out of its casing, I took out some of the stuffing. The head is oblong and not as round as the original, but the rest of the body looks more or less on target.

p7235617sm.jpgSo what do you think? Does she like it? Maybe just a little bit…