Wednesday 10 June 2015

What to make Wednesday: Softies

Basil the Brontosaurus was the first softie I ever made.
I have a little niece who is about to turn 2 and I love making her things as much as I love making things for my own kids. However, she lives in Texas and it's summer over there so I won't be making any worsted weight sweaters for her, ever because even the winter doesn't get cold enough for those kind of garments.

I know that she is really keen on soft toys so I thought this year I would send her a softie for her birthday. A few weeks ago I have a look around Ravelry for some softie patterns and here are a few of my favourites.

1. Totoro designed by Mimouna Anderson.
I know that since my little niece has a part Japanese heritage, Totoro will be a hit. For those who don't know, Totoro is an iconic character from Studio Ghibli's animated film, 'My Neighbour Totoro'. The first time I saw this film I was just a little girl and I was watching a Cantonese dub of it so I didn't understand much but this character stuck in my memory. It was not until my teen years that I discovered the original Japanese film and worked out that the character that I was fixated with was Totoro.

This little softie pattern is offered for free on the designer's blog but it is in Norwegian. However, a kind Ravelry user has translated the pattern and if you send her a pm via Ravelry she will email you a copy of the pattern. Another great thing about this pattern is that it uses very little amounts of yarn so I have already stash dived and found some remnants that could be enough to knit it up.

I can foresee myself knitting up a little family of Totoros for my kids too especially since Miss L has a bit of a Totoro theme in her bedroom already.

2. Basil the Boogie-Woogie Brontosaurus designed by Rebecca Danger.
I made this super cute little dinosaur for a friend's baby last year and it was the first softie I ever made. The process was made super easy by the designer Rebecca Danger's extremely clear pattern instructions and the series of tutorials on her blog.

Basil can be made with any weight yarn and as for needle size, Rebecca recommends just going two sizes down from the needle size that is recommended on the yarn label. The reason for going down needle sizes is so that a very tight weave fabric w ill be made when you knit and that will prevent any bits of stuffing poking through.

3. Melvin the Musical Monster designed by Rebecca Danger.
Actually, I find all of Rebecca Danger's softie patterns very appealing and I would make any of them. Her series of knitted monsters are just so cute and this one particularly appeals because it share a name with my BIL.

Rebecca keeps the shaping simple so that there aren't many extremely fiddly bits with decreasing and increasing for necks and heads and other bits like that. She essentially designs the main body as a large ball with either a striping design or colour block patches for the belly making it a very easy knit that looks very huggable.

The one difficulty with this pattern is that it is featured in a print book and not available for purchase as a digital download through Ravelry or Rebecca's Etsy store. It's not a terrible difficulty since there are a number of adorable patterns to choose from that are similarly shaped.

Image source: © Lebenslustiger
This is one of the simplest softies I have seen. It is essentially a small garter stitch square sewn in a particular manner to create bunny ears and a body. There a few of these bunny patterns around but I like this little one because there is a very good tutorial on the blog where it is posted.

It's not really a significant enough project to make for a birthday present but I think it would be a perfect little beginner project to make with the kids when they are learning to knit. Once they have mastered garter stitch making this little bunny will be a quick project to whip up and the young crafter will be able to enjoy their handiwork fairly quickly.

Can't wait to turn this gorgeous pattern into a doll for my niece.
5. MAE doll designed by Jhoanna Aranez.
After looking at all these knitted softie patterns I had every intention of making the Totoro for my niece but I'm a bit swamped with WIPs at the moment; through no fault by my own because I keep starting new things. So, I decided to order this MAE doll kit from Jhoanna's Etsy store because I remember my friend making one recently and recommending Jhoanna's dolls.

A MAE doll is a 'make and embellish' kit where the doll pattern has been printed on a piece of cotton poplin fabric and all I need to do is cut it out, sew it together and stuff it. Then I can make my own little embellishments to personalise the doll.

I think Jhoanna's doll designs are so cute. They have a very retro mod style to them and I think the doll can be enjoyed by girls across a broad age range. They aren't babyish in design nor are they all sexualised like many of the commercial doll ranges that are available these days. And, what I love most is that it's still handmade with love.

I'm going to make up this little doll in the next day or two and then I'm thinking of making a little matchbox suitcase for her because she is going on a journey all the way to Texas. I'll post my finished handiwork when I'm done.

Off to get making now.

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