People of all ages seem to be attracted to teddy bears, and with Sandra Polley's The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys with Dozens of Patterns for Unique Clothing and Accessories you can share the love of handmade bears with family and friends.
Most of the bears in this collection are small, making them relatively quick projects to whip up for a last-minute gift or as a way to jumpstart a special collection for a child or an adult.
UK crafter Sandra Polley has a love for and interest in teddy bears, particularly miniature bears, which she both collects and makes on her own. That passion shines through in The Knitted Teddy Bear, which encourages knitters to make the tiny toys as gifts or start their own collections.
She says she wants bear making and collecting to become for her readers an "absorbing and addicting hobby, and one which will give pleasure to both the maker and the recipient." She says bears are instantly attractive to people of all ages and are often loved long after those mass-produced plastic toys have been broken.
What's more, the small size of many of these projects makes them easily portable and easy to finish in a handful of evenings.
The book includes a basic overview of materials and instructions necessary to complete the projects that follow. This reference section is handy to refer to when working on the bears, particularly when it comes to finishing.
Tips are given on shaping the ears, sewing on limbs, adding eyes, caring for the bears, even instructions for making your own tiny buttons out of polymer clay.
The book contains 19 patterns for different bears and their accessories, from a simple Garter Stitch bear wearing a vest (pictured on the cover) to larger and more complex bears made in Stockinette or Reverse Stockinette with accessories like a lacy dress, overalls or a soccer uniform.
The smallest bears in the book are 4 inches tall, while the largest are 21 inches. There's a classic black bear with white paws, a pattern for making old-looking bears with less-careful seams and bits of nose missing, and a recycled bear made from yarn previously used on another project.
One project encourages knitting bears in colors other than the traditional black, white and brown and features some very cute bears in red, blue, purple and multicolor.
This book really emphasizes using what you have. Though the yarns that are used in the projects are listed, the instructions themselves just call for, say, 2 ounces of fingering weight yarn (the book was originally published in the UK and yarn measurements are given by weight rather than yardage).
This opens knitters up to being more creative because they can use what they have and ensure that they're making completely unique creations. Each pattern can also be worked in different weights of yarn to make different sizes of bear, though it's suggested the bear and its clothes be worked in the same yarn to ensure the clothes will fit.
Each bear is made up of many pieces (one 6-inch bear has 12 pieces just in the body) all knit flat and seamed together. The sewing up will be tedious, but the results are worth it.
The Knitted Teddy Bear offers a bunch of cute ideas and patterns for knit bears that knitters who like making toys will enjoy. The range of sizes means there's a project for any time frame and just about any recipient.
While more experienced knitters may use these instructions as a jumping off point to designing their own bears knit at least partly in the round, for newer knitters these projects are easy to knit and a lot of fun just the way they are.
Publication date: August 2004.