Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Bit of Little Knitting - Finger Puppets mini-tutorial

Yes, you read that right.

Knitting is one of my favorite hobbies.  I have many, but knitting is one I always come back to.  I started knitting 18 years ago when I was just 7-years-old.  My first pair of needles were gold size 10's...I remember my first ball of yarn being a coral acrylic.  Pretty much all I could do was a basic knit stitch.  It wasn't till many years later that my grandmother taught me to purl which lead me to finally get another knitting book and teach myself the other stitches.  For years I pretty much just made dish rags or scarves...nothing fancy....but now I'm a parent.

Parenthood has opened up a lot of doors for me in the world of crafting.  There is just so much more you can do when you have a child to make things for!  I love knitted toy patterns!  So quick!  Plus they are a great use for little bits of yarn left over from larger projects.

I recently went through my copy of The Children's Year and realized a lot more of the crafts are relevant to us now as my daughter ages.  I cannot sing the praises of that book enough!  I originally purchased it after seeing Waldorf Mama's rainbow gnome hat on Ravelry.  I was in love!  I usually wouldn't purchase a book sight-unseen, but I simply had to have the pattern!  Being as the book is as old as me...I was able to get it used on Amazon rather cheaply (bonus!)...and soon made a purple and yellow version of the hat.  It has been a MAJOR hit with everyone who has seen it, by the way.

Currently I'm working on some much smaller projects.  Finger puppets!  They're so much fun!  Quick, easy, and the kids still think they're great.  I'm also quite amused with the itty-bitty needles involved...size 2 double-pointed bamboo needles make you feel as if you're knitting with tooth-picks.  Although, I am very tempted to actually try knitting with tooth-picks and see how it goes.  This is no Mochimochi Land, but I sense a new obsession coming on....

 ~How to make your own knitted finger puppets~

Size 2 double pointed needles
yarn scraps
darning needle
batting or other stuffing material
embroidery floss & needle
small crochet hook (optional)
scissors (obvious)

Firstly, you need to know how to knit.  If you need to learn, I suggest checking out  Knitting is pretty simple so don't be afraid to try!

The pattern I started with called for casting on 18 stitches...but I found with the yarn I was using, it was a bit much.  The book calls for "double knitting wool" which I have no idea what they mean.....this book is as old as me, so some of their terms are weird.  I used a combination of Sugar& Cream cotton yarn and Cascade 220 wool yarn.  The wool yarn was much thinner than the cotton, so I went with less body stitches when using it.

1) Cast on 12 or 15 stitches in the body color (or any number you can divide by 3) onto 2 needles being held together.  This keeps the bottom edge of your puppet from being too tight.  It should look like this:

Once you've cast on, you can remove the extra needle and divide your stitches evenly between 3 needles.

2) Join and knit in the round till the body is as long as you want it.  The book called for 26 rows...but again, I think that was a bit much.  These are for young toddlers after least in my case.  I stopped when it was long enough to go about half way down my finger, like so:

3) At this point, if you want to have a different colored head, change to your face color.  Knit 8 to 10 more rows of the face color, then knit the first 2 stitches on each needle together till you have 9 stitches left.  Cut thread (leave a tail!) and thread it through your darning needle and go through the 9 remaining stitches.  Pull tight and you're done!(at least with the knitting part!)

Variations - For the witch hat I switches to the hat color and then kept decreasing every other row in the same fashion till I had 3 stitches left, then finished off the same way.  Then I crocheted the brim on.

4) At the point where the body and face color meet (if all the same color, just pick a good spot), sew around the piece and stuff the head up to that point.  Then draw up the thread to make the neck of the puppet.  Add extra stuffing if needed (took me a few tries to get it right) and then tie off the neck strings tightly.  Weave in if you'd like.

5) Add hair.  There are several methods to do this, but I prefer to sew loops of yarn directly into the head and then backstitch to keep the loops in place.  You can either clip the loops when done, or leave small loops to give the look of curls.  If you unravel the yarn one strand at the time, it also looks like curly, wavy, or bushy hair.

6} Embroider the face.  I simply added eyes and left it at that...but you can do as much or as little as you'd like!  Faceless puppets would be just as good!

And you're done!  If you'd like to embellish further, feel free!  On the small fairy puppet I gave him a hat and crocheted small wings onto his back.  You can also add animal ears, noses, or more elaborate clothing either by crocheting, sewing on separate bits of felt or fabric, or embroidery.  On the witch I alternated between 2 colors of yarn for the stripes and added a hat (as explained above) and you can change colors to give the look of shirts and pants/skirts.  A simple loop of metallic ribbon or cord will give the look of a crown for royal puppets.  The possibilities are endless!


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