When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Knitting for little ones

I first learned how to knit when Noah was very small. It seemed the thing to do as a newly-minted mom, to figure out how to weave colourful strands of yarn together, making little sweaters and hats to keep my sweet boy warm and cozy. My sister-in-law Jess, who also had a new baby boy, signed up with me to take a knitting class at the local college. Off we would go one night a week, sharing family stories with each other while we cast on and worked rows in stocking stitch. It's something I'm really glad I did, as I have spent many a cold winter evening in the years since knitting scarves, hats, slippers and the like for the little ones in our extended family. I feel as though I'm carrying on a tradition of sorts, following my mom and my grandma who knit and my dad who crocheted for us when we were small.

A while back I was looking through yarn remnants and I remembered the fun finger puppets my grandma used to make many years ago. They were animals of all shapes and colours, with wild yarn fur and cute sewn faces, and I knew that the new generation of kids in our family would love them too.

Here are a couple of my grandma's originals that I recently found in my old toy box. I love the one black ear on the cat, and the wild pink and turquoise mouse has perfect kid appeal!

Sadly, I couldn't find any patterns like my grandma's, but I was able to knit up a basic finger puppet shape with this method:

Using 4mm knitting needles, cast on 18 stitches. Work 18 rows in stocking stitch. Cut the yarn, leaving a length for sewing the puppet together. Run the end of the yarn through all stitches with a darning needle, pulling them together tightly to form a circle. Sew up the puppet and work in the yarn end.

Once the puppet form was made, I added features using different coloured yarn and a darning needle, and embellishments using felt and a regular needle and thread. I made mostly cats (we have a lot of cat lovers in our family!) with a dog and a few dinos thrown in for good measure. With a little imagination, though, it would be easy to create a whole zoo of different creatures.

In the past year I helped my grandma pack up her home to move, and I was very touched when she told me she could no longer knit and wanted me to have all of her knitting needles, wool, and patterns. As the nights grow cooler and darker, I look forward to rummaging through my grandma's canvas knitting bag to find inspiration for new winter projects. I will use her needles proudly and knit with love, just as I know she did all those years. I hope that when the young ones in the family are wrapped up in knitted warmth, they will somehow feel several generations of affection surrounding them.

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