Knit toy mojo no. 1

February 20, 2009

Painted Pony

Painted Pony

Dichotomy. And an excuse to use that lovely word. My first in a possible series of tips on making knit toys – or knit toy maker mojo – is all to do with dichotomy. In the knit toy we have an inherent division between two mutually exclusive, opposed parts. These two parts are:

+ the careful knitting (every stitch perfect)

+ the rough stuffing (knead, push, prod and sculpt with all your might)

Being a Libran, I experience the joys of indecision (will I publish this or not, will people think me silly, does that matter, will I publish or not, just do a preview etc etc ad infinitum … oh, if you’re reading I must have decided at last)  and, relative to this article, the inherent drive to balance everything out. So perhaps this is why I love the practical application of balancing opposing forces in the creation of knit toys; bringing together two disciplines in one lovely form.

When I made my first knit toy I was afraid to put too much stuffing in for fear of ‘ruining’ the knitting; busting stitches, creating so much tension that stuffing would poke out a nostril etc. That little donkey is still a little droopy. (But he still gets played with.) It was while being taught how to make a Waldorf doll head that I learned about treating your work real rough. By golly you really need to pull tight on that upholstery thread! What liberation! Using muscle in a gentle art, how rebellious.

Of course it’s the same with other things like baking as my muscly right-armed sponge-cake making ancestors would attest. It’s about getting in there, not being afraid, laughing at the devil of creativity whispering “but you’ll ruin it and all your lovely knitting will be for naught, careful! careful! what if you mess it up…” in your ear, trusting the process and feeling confident about what you’re doing. And deciding that even if it looks rubbish, you’ll treasure it anyway (or turn it into something else).

So when you have finished your beautiful knitted piece and have lovingly sewn it together, shove that stuffing (preferably pure wool, I get my roving from in by the handful. Forget about your knitted stitches being straight for the moment (sort that out later) and pay attention to the shape of your toy.

Guage how much stuffing you’ll need for the head, put the whole lot in at once and push and cramp it down firmly. Remember the neck holds the head up so puts lots in there too. Go for big loads of stuffing, not little bead sizes because you can’t sculpt so well with smaller bits. And for dolls or animals with tummies, do make the tummy very firm because this is where a child will hold them most often and if you’ve ever had your fingers in a baby-finger-vice you know how strong their grip can be so you must have lots of stuffing in there.

Instead of thinking you’re stuffing your knitting, think about sculpting your toy. I find that after paying so much attention to the stuffing, my knitting sometimes feels a bit pressurised at the sewing between the legs. So I darn there. Yes, I DARN there, it’s ALLOWED.

The stuffing and finishing process is your quality control. It is here you will see where your knit toy needs extra attention – better you see it than a child. When you treat the toy rough, you are not treating it any more roughly than a four or five year old might. So get in there with the rough stuff after your careful knitting. Bring harmony to dichotomy. Ah, balance, Libra is happy.


One Response to “Knit toy mojo no. 1”

  1. Covetables Says:

    Fabulous post.

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