Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Lessons of a Teddy Bear Sweater

Teddy Bear SweaterThe teddy bear sweater lingered for months. It was another Barbara Walker formula from Knitting from the Top. The Patons Shetland Chunky Tweed was soft and knitted up quickly in just two evenings. All that remained was a tiny sleeve. Even the ends were already woven! Still, there it sat in my main knitting bag for months. I'd see it occasionally while looking for other things, but it never did capture my attention long enough to finish that darn sleeve!

Then it dawned on me why I couldn't finish this project. The sweater, though cute and in a delicious red tweed, was of freakish proportions for a teddy bear. The same formula for a human adult would be fine, but scaled down, I couldn't find a single doll in DD's room that could fit its head through the neck opening. It finally fit over a Barbie, but then the rest of the sweater was hugely out of proportion, even on Ken.

Ashland Sky Knitting Needle OrganizerIn a post-holiday sweep of my needlework collection, I frogged the sweater. I also sold unused tools & yarn on Ebay, organized my stash of everything, and designed a better storage system. Now all my yarn is either in Space Bags, in pretty baskets, or in ziplock bags inside a variety of bigger bags and purses already taking up space in my closet. Ravelry inspired me to inventory everything, so now I know what I really have. I cleaned up and old Ashland Sky knitting needle organizer, a gift from a favorite shop customer who recycled it to me years ago, because she didn't like the sticky plastic. After a thorough rub down with rubbing alcohol to clean up the ink pen stains (probably the real reason she stopped liking it) now it holds my entire circular needle collection. I should've done this years ago!

Now there's no evidence of those lingering UFO's anymore, the ones that start with excitement and good intentions, or a new novelty yarn, or a questionable substitute for the actual yarn in the pattern. As I rewound the yarn into balls, I reflected upon why I never finished the projects. One scarf, from eyelash yarn, would've been a fun scarf, but I didn't like the yarn nor the color, so after 3/4 of the way through, it sat indefinitely, I didn't even bother to take a photo of it. There were many projects like that, some even minutes away from completion, and because they were so quirky, didn't fit, or just plain ugly, I felt they weren't worth finishing, nor even posting on this blog, so I tucked away, and now they're gone for good.

Hand Knit Bulky SockOn the other hand, some projects had a glimmer of hope. There was a slipper, basically an experimental sock knit on super-bulky yarn and giant DPN's, and the finished one is warm & functional, so I'll finish the other soon. Then there were these caps, in various stages of dissatisfaction. You may recognize the upper-right hat. It was a Kool-Aid dyeing creation, so bright even a clown wouldn't wear it, so I overdyed it with black food coloring, and though the colors are better, it shrunk from overzealous simmering. The others, I estimated the gauge and haphazardly casted on, and even after discovering they wouldn't fit, I finished them away.

Hand Knit CapsStill, the hats would fit somebody else's head & taste, so my daughter and I marched them up to the Children's Hospital to donate them to Knitting for Noggins. A nurse whom we asked directions, commented on how many there used to be, but probably weren't any left to fit us. I raised my bag full of hats and showed them to her. "No, I'm here to DONATE, so where do I leave these?" The showed us a table across the waiting room, where there were just a few crocheted acrylic caps in baby pastels, all too small to fit anything but a teddy bear. I added my hats to the table, as a few curious onlookers admired the hats, so I'm sure they're gone by now. Hopefully they're keeping a little kid warm this winter. That thought alone gives me deep satisfaction, even if the hats themselves didn't.

Handknit with LoveIn conclusion, I've decided that when current projects linger into UFO's status, I'll ask myself, "Will this make a nice gift?" If yes, then I'll finish the thing anyway. You know those projects, like when, you thought you liked purple, but when you wrapped that half-knit bright purple scarf around your neck, it made you look washed out. Or like that poncho that seemed fabulous, but then you realized your gauge was off, and that you didn't even like ponchos in the first place. Well, most kids love ponchos, and there's someone out there who's everything is purple, so I will finish them anyway and give the gift of hand-knits, even for no reason at all. Everyone loves to receive a gift!


  1. I like the dyed hat - I don't think it's too bright at all! Hopefully someone will get some use out of the hats. The sweater is really cute too, even if it came out the wrong size! I love the color - I have a wool sweater from Old Navy in the same color, and it's one of my favorites.

  2. that teddy bear sweater is SO SO CUTE!!!

  3. Great site with good info. I am on a "quest" however. ABout 38 years ago, my wife made a baby afghan --green, yellow and white. Daisies were made with a small loom and then linked together. She wants to recreate for our grandchild. Can anyone help find such a pattern. Thanks Gpoppy from Pa.

  4. I'm not sure, but somewhere in here may be what you're looking for....

  5. Is the pattern for the teddy bear sweater in Barbara Walker's book? It is just adorable.
    I would love to be able to make dishcloths with my own colors - maybe I will have to try dyeing one of these days.

  6. Knitting from the Top is not your typical step-by-step pattern book. It's more of a guide for understanding basic garment construction when starting from the top and knitting circularly. It's "patterns" are instead tutorials and formulas to design your own patterns. Simply put, you plug in your gauge calculations and tweak the formula to your own size. It contains different types of tops, caps, capes, poncho, and even skirts and pants, but no socks.


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