Finger puppets are great knitting projects for a lot of reasons: they're really quick and easy, you can use up bits of yarn from your stash, they're great fun for people who love embellishing and miniatures, and you can make a set to suit any kid on your list without a lot of investment in time and supplies.
Meg Leach has been obsessed -- in a good way -- with knitting finger puppets for more than 40 years, and she shares basic patterns and instructions for making your own unique puppets in Knitted Finger Puppets: 34 Easy-to-Make-Toys.
The beginning of Knitted Finger Puppets goes through all the basics of why you'd want to knit finger puppets and the basic skills required to do so. Because the projects are so small -- most of the bodies are made up of fewer than 24 stitches worked for fewer than 24 rounds -- there's not a lot of room for fancy stitch work, but there is a lot of room for embellishment to turn each puppet into a unique character.
The patterns are all worked with medium-weight yarn on size 1 US knitting needles (that's 2.25 mm), which is sure to be difficult at first but produces a firm knit fabric that will withstand a lot of playing. Basic crochet is also used in the patterns, but if you can make a chain and a slip stitch you'll be fine.
Leach offers patterns for finger puppets in general themes: Christmas at the North Pole, Under the Big Top and the Enchanted Forest. This last category is probably the most fun, with puppets for Hansel and Gretel, a witch, Cinderella and Prince Charming, the Three Little Pigs and more. How fun would it be to tell these stories to a little one with puppets to go along with the action?
The vast majority of the patterns are rated as easy; some require a little more in the way of technique such as making I-cords or more shaping (as for the dragon's head). The little embellishments are what really make these puppets shine: Goldilocks' curly hair, the giraffe's spots and the little red coat and mustache on the circus ringmaster take these wee toys beyond the basic to something that will really be treasured by the recipient.
Making Your Own Puppets
Once you've gotten inspired by Leach's ideas, you might want to strike out on your own and make finger puppets that the kids (or adults, for that matter) in your life will enjoy. Leach provides lots of instruction and basic templates for different shapes to make it easy to mix and match bodies, heads, facial features and hairstyles to make a puppet just the way you want it.
There are seven different body types and seven different heads, as well as ides for making animal heads, attaching ears, making noses, mouths and eyes and styling hair in six different ways.
She also offers tips for thinking about accessories for your puppets, which is sure to inspire readers to head to their craft stashes for the perfect little bits for their individualized finger puppets.
I love the idea of knitting a bunch of finger puppets for my own daughter and, if I had the time, for her friends. They're such quick projects and such an easy way to make a personalized gift, and Knitted Finger Puppets gives you all the information you need to make Leach's designs or branch out on your own and make any kind of puppet you or your kid can dream of.
Publication date: May 2008