Sunday, July 31, 2016

For the Wee Folk

some of Annake's puppets
Some of Annake's many puppet designs
If you have followed this blog for some time, you have read about my puppets occasionally. I started making them for my own children, made more for the children of family and friends, and used many as teaching aids throughout the years.

Earlier this year (February 29, 2016), I showed a puppet made into a simple stuffed toy. I call these toys ‘loveys’ because they remind me of simple, even crude, toys called that which I saw as a child when living in the southern United States. Here are some other examples:

'Loveys", made from Annake's puppets

Lately I have begun combining the ‘loveys’ with another of my favorite pastimes, making afghans in this case, baby afghans. I've never cared much for the “Pink is for girls, blue is for boys” idea. Babies don't see pastels very well. The first color that babies really focus on is usually bright red. Toy manufacturers know this and make good use of the fact. I used bright colors for my children and incorporate them in most of my afghans.

big red barn afghan and lovey
"Big Red Barn" afghan/lovey set

I mean for the afghans to be used long after they are needed to wrap a tiny baby. I envision toddlers using them as nap blankets and play mats, cuddling in them while being read to or told stories, even using them as “security blankets”. Therefore, I try to incorporate features that inspire “teachable moments” for parents and care-givers. “Cottontail's Garden”' for example, could help children learn colors, associate the colors with favorite vegetables and fruits, and learn the names of those edibles. That should make trips to the grocery store more fun. (J. D. says it makes him hungry just to look at that afghan.) The association of the garden pattern with the rabbit ‘lovey’ leads naturally to reading storybooks like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series.

cottontails garden afghan and lovey
"Cottontail's Garden" afghan and lovey set

Later this spring (May 12, 2016), I used a puppet to show how simple designs like those in coloring books could be adapted to create various kinds of needlework items for children and decorations for their rooms. The first thing I did was to convert my lion puppet pattern into a down-loadable outline drawing, similar to a coloring book picture, suitable for several kinds of needlework projects.

Puppet and new design outline
Puppet and new design outline

I used a copy of the outline pattern to cut out pieces of felt. Then I stitched the felt pieces together and appliqued them to a background. At this point, the picture would be suitable to be framed or to be made into a small wall hanging. There were, however, several other options. Eventually the picture was used to decorate a tote bag a nice place for a coloring book and crayons perhaps?

lion applique tote bag
Lion applique on tote bag
Needlework pictures, wall hangings and other decorations are ideal for a child's room because they are not likely to cause any injuries to the children. I never put glass in a picture designed for a child's room, and I use narrow, light-weight frames. I learned this lesson the hard way. One day when my oldest child was about 14 months old and already walking and climbing out of his crib I found he had climbed onto the bench of my spinet piano. From there he had climbed onto the closed keyboard and then onto the top of the piano. He was trying to lift a framed painting that was bigger than he was off the wall. The painting had glass in it and a very heavy frame. There were dangers of several sorts of disasters. I think I got my first gray hair that day! We moved all the pictures closer to the ceiling and secured them to the walls with adhesive. Then I began making things for the nursery that weren't hazardous to young would-be mountain climbers, like this blackwork cat embroidery which, even framed, weighs just a few ounces.

cat nap framed blackwork
"Cat Nap",  framed blackwork embroidery
I'm still embroidering animals in blackwork, redwork, whitework, and Holbein embroidery (which is essentially blackwork stitches done in many colors). I decided to do the lion design in Holbein embroidery on checked gingham. Once again, I used the simple outline design, this time to make a hot-iron transfer that I ironed onto the gingham. You will notice that the pattern is reversed when you use the iron-on technique. You can see more animal designs these destined to become a child's quilt on the blog post for October 18, 2013. Go to our Archive or the search engine on this blog to find them, along with a pattern you can download.

lion Holbein embroidery
Lion pattern done in Holbein embroidery
The last little lion is done in latch-hook, a soft medium that children like to touch. I traced the outline directly onto the latch-hook canvas with a permanent marker. I had to adjust the position of the tail a little to make it look right. This little fellow became a small wall hanging. As you can see, the three projects are similar, but different.

lion latch hooked
Lion pattern as a latch hooked wall hanging
I hope you will try one or more of these projects, whether with the downloaded designs or ones of your own making. If you don't have children or grand-children of your own, please make something for a child in need of kindness. There are far too many of them out there.

Thank you,

we love you this much wall hanging
"We Love You THIS Much", latch hooked wall hanging from our Etsy shop

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