Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Introducing Miss Sophie

On Easter Monday, I finally got to visit Toft Alpaca's which was holding an open day. We had a fantastic time and the alpacas were a big hit with M, who thoroughly enjoyed walking her own alpaca around an obstacle course (with a bit of help from Mummy). M chose her own animal, picking the feistiest alpaca available which meant it was given to sneaking cuddles and sitting down while we were trying to walk it.
M walking an alpaca (with Daddy's help, while I take a quick piccy)
M however was smitten.

The next day, M was inspired and so she made her own alpaca herd. She also decided I needed to knit something.
An alpaca in progress...
Now, anyone who has read back through the archives of this blog will know that in the dim and distant past, I used to knit quite a bit. Not one to let a good opportunity pass, I cast on immediately. I was very relieved to discover that my fingers remembered how to use two sticks and some string to produce fabric!

By picking up and knitting whenever I got a spare moment, within a week I'd amazed myself by producing this collection of bits:-
Knitted bits...
Which when sewed together and stuffed (with lots of help from M), became this:-

Ta da! Miss Sophie Bear.
M immediately named the bear Miss Sophie Bear and I began to work on phase two - a ballet outfit. In the meantime, Sophie began to explore the world around her and turned out to be quite an adventurous, outdoors loving bear.

M and Miss Sophie explore a hedgerow at Brandon Marsh.
The pattern I was working from, within a book of charity knits called “Knit Together For Short Lives”, published by Hobbycraft. The original pattern was by a lady called Val Pierce and as far as I can tell, the basic bear comes with lots of options for clothing, according to occasion. The big stumbling block with the patterns in the Knit Together book, was the assumption that the clothes would be sewn onto the bear. M had very definite ideas that she wanted a bear that she could dress and undress, which of course meant I had to modify Miss Sophie’s clothing to allow this.

I started with the ballet dress from the book, knitting it as per pattern but adding a crocheted tab on one shoulder to hold a press fastening. I had left over tulle from M’s tutu, which was pressed into service for Sophie’s skirt and I raided my ribbon bag for lace trim picked up from Croft Mills a few years back.
Miss Sophie's tutu - added shoulder tab, ribbon at waist, lace trim at the hem.
A close up of the tulle underskirt - I added maybe four times the amount recommended by the pattern.
Rather than sewing flowers or pre-made bows onto the dress, I opted for sequins, of which I have a huge stock  for general craft purposes. I’d intended to just put a few butterflies and flowers onto the bodice, but once M saw that sequins can be sewn onto things, she was hooked. I did dictate how big the sequins could be, but otherwise M directed and I did the sewing until Miss Sophie had a dress fit for a ballerina bear.
Teeny, tiny ballet slippers.
The final touch was the ballet slippers, which proved to be a challenge. In the original pattern the toes are stuffed, then the slippers are sewn directly onto the bear’s feet. For Miss Sophie, I stuffed the slippers’ toes, before sewing in a tiny knitted (eight stitches by eight rows in stocking stitch) panel to keep the stuffing in place. Ribbons tie the slippers onto the bear’s legs.
Miss Sophie Bear, complete with tutu and ballet slippers.

Back view of Miss Sophie's tutu.
And there you have it. One ballerina bear.

All pieces were knitted from standard cheap acrylics in DK weight, on 3.25mm needles. I used a 3mm hook for the crocheted extension. Apart from the ribbon, which was bought for this project, all other materials came from my stash of crafting bits. M was delighted and is now designing the rest of Miss Sophie’s wardrobe.

As for me… Gosh, it feels good to have knitted something. Really good.