Knitted puppets

This is Vivian Ickenroth’s The Child. Maybe the Mandalorian’s little chum-in-the-cradle is Yoda. Maybe not. Anyway, he’s a new Disney hit and I’m guessing my 7-year old grandson will enjoy acting out stories with this puppet.

“Judge me by my size, do you?” Knit in DK yarn, this Yoda’s  size is 26 centimeters, just over 10 inches. I only know the real Yoda dialogue though. “Patience you must have, my young padawan.” Check out all the pieces you will be patiently (or impatiently) sewing together for this one:

Plus one more of that center-placed green piece with the nose. More on that later. “No. Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” It’s worth the effort to knit this guy.

Now, for that extra piece. To keep The Child’s head properly stuffed I knit the entire head piece a second time, leaving off the nose. I sewed that extra head piece to the inside of the “real” head piece all around the head except I left the bottom open at the neck. I sewed just inside the outside piece edge so that when the head piece was folded in half and sewn there would be less bulk to deal with. I stuffed the head through the neck opening.  After folding the head section, I smoothed the stuffing away from the fold a tad. That created a nicely shaped head with a finger pocket in the middle. Then I seamed the bottom of the neck, inserted it into the cloak, and sewed the head in place.

I knit my Child mostly in Valley Yarns Haydenville DK, using Fawn for the cloak and Sage for the skin. The skin color is a decent but not exact match to the original. The inner ears are some fingering weight oddment I had in my stash. And the collar and cuffs yarn was a splurge: Lana Grossa Fusione, in tan. The remainder of the ball will make a great teddy bear.

Sometimes children need some help learning to have fun with puppets. You can repurpose a box to construct a puppet stage to help the process along. But the puppeteer can also just duck below a table. That works. Or simply slip a hand into the puppet and make it come alive and the magic will happen. If the adult works the puppet? Many children will soon be talking to the puppet not to the parent. “Always two there are. No more, no less. A master and an apprentice.”

This next puppet is Keyboard Cat by the otherwise anonymous “YoursTrulyKnits” “the artist formerly known as YouTubeKnits.” I’m guessing there’s a lawyer story behind the name change. Keyboard Cat was and remains an iconic early YouTube sensation, a cat playing a piano. This cat doesn’t need any props to be fun.

Mine is knit in the now-discontinued Classic Elite Arietta. It’s an unlikely combination of 80% merino and 20% yak. I decided to knit this in a DK weight instead of the light worsted the pattern calls for because I wanted to downsize it for my now 7-year old grandson’s birthday package.

When I finished knitting my cat and showed him off to a knitting buddy she asked where his tail was. Indeed. So, adding a tail was my only modification.


Rounding out my puppet package is Dinodude Puppet by Gari Lynn Strawn. I’ve linked to what used to be a freebie pattern even though the Ravelry page has fairly recently changed to inform that the pattern is no longer available online. Maybe the situation will change. Or maybe you’ll be able to figure out the Professor’s Wayback Machine internet archive better than I can.

Strawn informs that Dinodude is no dinosaur. He’s a “giant green anole.” OK. That made me feel a bit more creative with my modifications.

I guess I can see the Anole likeness, even with my mods.

I might have gone overboard with the teeth, though. The teeth are my add-on. More on the why of that in a moment. He’s definitely got that inflatable anole pouch on the underside of his neck. And the eyes are the star of the puppet just like the real-life critter. Clearly I’d have done better with a more vibrant green.

The body of the puppet is Classic Elite Arietta, again. The pattern called for a size 8 needle and an Aran weight yarn and gave no gauge. But it soon became apparent that even the largest hand would drown in the puppet at that gauge so I brought it down to a size 5 needle and a DK weight yarn. That worked well. If you acquire this pattern, I have more details on my Ravelry project page where I worked out what I think are a few kinks in the directions.

The reason my anole grew a set of teeth is because the directions for knitting the mouth just didn’t work for me. Once I finished my version of the throat and mouth, I had a major mess where the crimson meets the green. To hide that area of the puppet, I knit a strip of teeth. I cast on 58 stitches with worsted weight yarn and immediately worked a picot bindoff. Bind off one then repeat this to the end of the row: put the stitch back on the left needle, cast on 1, bind off 3. Repeat until you run out of stitches. I sewed the teeth strip in place, from both the inside and the outside of the mouth. No messy edges. Well, mostly no messy edges. Open your mouth and say “ah,” anole-dude.

I think that the teeth compete with the eyes for best feature on this puppet.

The arms hung unpleasantly, to my way of thinking. So I knotted them close to the body and that made them stick out in a more expressive way.

The Child wanted to pop back in to tell you “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”

It’s been such a hoot knitting these puppets! Here‘s some others I’ve knit.


Only a little bit ago I was, well, little bits. Now I am Olivier as designed by Annita Wilschutt. She-who-will-not-be-named says I used to be Dream in Color Calm, Dream in Color Classy, Kelbourne Germantown, Classic Elite Tapestry, Classic Elite Legend, The Fibre Company Cumbria, Swans Island Nature Colors Worsted, and a few other amnesiac balls of something-or-other. Pre-Olivier, I was a bunch of leftover balls of yarn.

Being a bunch of leftovers taking up space in a too-full closet is not a happy situation in this house. She’s listened to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up audiobook. She’s even watched Kondo’s Netflix series. The leftover balls watched with interest while she folded her underwear in odd little packets and put them in new little fake bamboo plastic baskets. They muttered to themselves while she undid all those potato-sized balls of her store-bought socks. She tried to fold her T-Shirts into neat packages to stand them on their end. But her T-Shirts wouldn’t cooperate. That gave all the balls a good belly laugh. They stopped laughing after she listened to Margareta Magnusson read her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death-Cleaning. When she started culling knitting books from her shelf, the balls knew this was getting serious.

Oh, here’s the back of me. Everyone comments that they like my tail.

You can see that the oddballs’ fears were unfounded. She didn’t dump them in the wastebasket. She didn’t bundle them into a fresh ziplock bag and donate them. She didn’t even ask her knit buddies if somebody wanted some leftover balls. Instead, she spread out a 2-gallon size zip-lock bag of worsted leftovers and started sorting through them.

The balls found themselves rearranged because, at first, she was looking for the tons of Classic Elite Tapestry she must have thought she had. There were 3-4 balls left, but not near enough. What the balls understood, from her mutterings, was that she was trying to find all the same yarn so I wouldn’t turn out kind of lopsided. Something about trying to keep to the same gauge, I think. She settled for finding the same yarn for most of the paired body parts.

In the end, she seemed to settle on working out colors that she thought would look right together. I told her I was proud of her because it worked out well. She can use some encouraging because she feels that her color sense isn’t always on-target. One of my legs is a little fatter than the other. But that’s true of her legs too.

This is my ballerina pose.

Here’s me trying to look up at her pleadingly. I probably knew then what always comes next when she writes these stories.

Every piece of me is knitted onto another piece of me. She didn’t have to sew me together. She just left a hole on the seam of my butt and stuffed me through that. It is a painful to remember this phase of me.

It, well, it sort of makes a body think. What was. What will be. What is.

I’ve been sleeping in Isaac’s bed lately. This is-part? It’s the best!


It’s definitely not summer anymore here in Michigan. The boat is stored. The dock is out of the water. The colorful Adirondack chairs are trussed up in their winter covers. And we’ve had our first snow squall. So it’s now officially wear-your-cowls weather.

This is Tanis Gray’s Republic of Splendor Cowl, knit in a Showstopper Gradient pack from Leading Men Fiber Arts. The yarn is 552 yards of light fingering weight in 75% merino and 25% nylon. Here’s what it looked like before my knitting kicked it into gear.

As with many a gradient set purchased without a specific pattern in mind, this one lived in my stash for a few years before I decided what to do with it. Someday I probably need to grow up to be a more disciplined stash enhancer. But pretty much everything ends up being used. At some point. Gray’s pattern was designed specifically for this yarn.

I like the final result. A lot, actually. It’s beautiful and I’ll get plenty of wear out of it. But, despite the color changes, the process of knitting it got a tad boring. And I’m not a huge fan of working pairs of 1 over 1 cables. The fact that I sometimes have a meandering attention span span doesn’t merit marking the pattern down, though. If I were talking to Dick Clark it would be “Good beat. Fun to dance to. I give it a 10.”

Here’s another view of Republic of Splendor.

GlassHead is asking why this cowl is called Republic of Splendor. The only thing that comes up in a google search points to a company’s $26.00 Republic of Splendor “B-Line Eye Pen.” I’m not familiar with eye pens or even with make-up in general. The pen is “the ultimate quick-change artist,” and “crosses smoothly from smoky-eye to cat eye–” whatever that means. It has a “silky matte finish [that] can fake a full night of sleep.”  Doubtful that was the inspiration for the cowl’s name. It’s a great cowl even though it can’t fake a full night of sleep.

Some cowls sit for awhile in my gift stash while I consider whether I want to keep them for me. This next one, Melissa LaBarre’s Elyse Cowl, bypassed the gift stash and went straight to my neck. It’s designed for worsted weight. I used Mirasol’s Umina. It’s 50% alpaca, 50% merino. Ravelry classifies it as an Aran weight. For me it worked up as a worsted.

It’s been a long time since I’ve knitted welts. In fact, my last welt adventure was in 2013. It was the difficult to photograph/impossible to wear Sediment Collar. (If you check out that old post there’s a happy ending to the story. One of my adult nieces actually liked the thing.) Turning to this new welt project. It’s a success!

Knitting a welt, which nowadays most folks call a tuck, involves dropping down a set number of rows and knitting the back of the stitches below into the stitches on your needle.

The welts are a tad tricky to get consistent. I didn’t succeed 100% of the time. I modified the pattern by knitting a total of 4 repeats of the pattern, rather than 3, before working the closing pattern rounds. I had enough yarn and I was very much enjoying the process. To make it easier to pick up the stitches from the rows below, I used a short double-pointed needle 4 sizes smaller than the circular I was working on, so a US 3 rather than a 7, and slipped the lower stitches onto the smaller needle to help complete the join.

My cowl turned out to be 6.25 inches wide and 58 inches long. I didn’t block it because it didn’t need it.

I wanted to make the edges look more finished so I used the so-called “Chinese waitress” cast-on and the matching double chain bind-off. Both create a very tidy, tubular edge.

I have a confession to make on this next one. Pine Sway Cowl is a beautiful freebie cowl pattern from the very talented designer Juju Vail. She’s associated with Loops of London. Pine Sway is designed for the somewhat pricey Fibre Company Cumbria, which is 60% merino, 30% masham, 10% mohair. My Pine Sway is not, in my view, a success.

I had two skeins of Cumbria in my stash, Hellvelyn and Purple Moor Grass.


So, to me they looked like they were a “go” for Pine Sway. Admittedly, the Purple Moor Grass was more electric looking than my skein photo showed. But it’s exactly the yarn the pattern called for.


Hmm. I don’t think so. The colors don’t do well together. I believe it’s likely that Pine Sway is going to be frogged soon. Very soon. Maybe this evening. Alone, these two skeins will make two great accessories. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have to show it to you. But I shouldn’t be prideful about my knitting. Most of it works. Some of it doesn’t. Pine Sway is a wonderful cowl. It was a fun knit. It is beautifully extravagant and covers your shoulders and is totally cozy. Don’t shy away from the pattern because my color sense failed me.

Being prideful about my knitting, I decided I’d end this post with a success. This next cowl is Iris Schreier’s Puffy Cable Cowl. The pattern doesn’t seem to be downloadable but the Ravelry entry identifies where it’s available. Mine was included in a kit that also included 170 yards of DK weight Cashmere Glitter by ArtYarns. Normally, this kit is one of those take-out-a-mortgage kits. But I purchased mine very deeply discounted at a shop closing.

‘Tis a small thing. But sweet. Lovely loping reversible cables. A little bit of glitter that isn’t captured in my photos. GlassHead says she always knew she was glamorous and this cowl proves it. I told her not to get a big head because hers is already stuffed with colorful vintage mohair and that’s not one bit glamorous.

Waiting for the Sun

I thought about just posting this shawl, telling you it’s Ute Nawratil’s Waiting for the Sun, and maybe saying nothing more. I like this shawl so much I can barely find the words.

First, what it’s made of. That’s easy to write about. I used exactly what  Nawratil used in the main pattern photo: Lang Yarns Mille Colori Baby in colorway 14 Infrared and Schachenmayr-Regia Uni 4-ply in the Athrazit colorway. The color-changing Mille Colori is 100% merino. The Schachenmayr-Regia is basically a sock yarn, in “75% wool, 25% nylon.” The sock yarn was totally solid to work with. The Mille Colori, not so much. It’s thick, thin, very thin, and a bit fuzzy. But the colors! Goodness, the colors, There were stretches of the Mille Colori that were basically black and I, as well as Nawratil, cut out those sections as I encountered them. This pattern works best when the solid color isn’t repeated in the color-changing yarn.

My Waiting for the Sun is 66 inches along the top edge and 25 inches at its deepest point. This result is after I soaked it and laid it flat, pinning only the top to ease the shawl into a semi-circle shape.

Here’s a closeup.

And yet another look.

I am in awe of people who can design stuff like this. I was fearful of knitting it. And there were a few “technical” challenges. You can read more about those here if you want a deeper dive into the pinhole caston, the directional shifts, or that long I-cord bind-off that is partly knitted on with picked up stitches and partly worked on live stitches.

I bought my yarn about two years before I cast-on. I kept looking at the yarn, and at the pattern photos, and at the projects and notes of 96 Ravelers who’d knit this before I did. I gobbled up every bit of advice I could gather–even before I actually purchased the pattern. I did what I don’t characteristically do (but should). I read the pattern before I started to knit it.

Do you remember being in say, 6th grade? Do you remember looking at your math book at the start of the year?  Stay with me now. Those first few chapters looked manageable. But the last few chapters? Didn’t they just scare the bejesus out of you? I mean, heavens to Betsy, I’ll never be able to do that. Let’s see if I can convey it with yet more archaic phrases. One of them might make sense to at least some of you.  For crying out loud, this is way too hard. For Pete’s sake, I’m toast.

When I do read a pattern beforehand I fairly regularly can’t make heads or tails of it. But once my needles are in my hands, it makes sense. This time I read the pattern first. Some made sense. A number of the sections left me scratching my head. I felt like that 6th grader taking a peek at the back of the math book.  So I put off knitting Waiting For the Sun.

Finally, I trusted the pattern. The pattern didn’t fail and didn’t let me fail. I am so very glad that I stopped waiting and knit this shawl. It’s already a favorite on these chilly fall days.

Cradle bag and itty bitty doll clothes

All together now: make your happy sound. Like you’re 5 and expected that your grandmother was going to knit your “lovies” the backpack and pillows you asked for (and received) but then she knit this too. It’s Frankie Brown’s Cradle Bag.

The pattern is free and includes the cradle, with its combo sleeping bag, and attached pillow. Here’s one of the best parts of this:

You pull up on the cradle sides, gather the cords together, and your doll is packed up and ready to go. As with all Brown’s patterns, this one’s a freebie. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn. I used Sandes Garn’s “Smart,” a washable wool. I’ve not used this yarn before. It feels great and worked up very nicely.

I had trouble finding a quality 5 inch doll. I purchased my Berenguer Itty Bitty 5 inch baby doll from this Etsy seller. I am tickled with the Cradle Bag and with the quality of Itty Bitty.

Clearly, she needed some itty bitty clothes.

This is Frankie Brown’s freebie Mini Doll Summertime, wearing the hat from the companion rompers included in the same pattern.

I knit mine in Kate Davies Milarrochy Tweed. I bought these colors of this pricey yarn for a special project that didn’t work. But I’ve had fun using small amounts of it in other projects.

This next one is from the same Mini Doll Summertime pattern. Brown calls them “rompers.” Same hat as the red one, but I added a band and a tiny knitted flower. I knit this set in Brooklyn Tweed Peerie. These tiny outfits use so little yarn that I was able to knit them in small amounts of leftovers from other projects. You need about as much yarn as you’d use in the heel of a sock!

Rather than make two straps and fasten them in the back with a small sew-on snap, as the pattern directs, I decided to criss-cross the straps in the back. Then I sewed them both to the ribbed band. Why? I didn’t have any small snaps. My hack makes it harder to dress the doll. But my granddaughter quickly figured it out. You put the feet in first, bring the dolls arms down next to her body, and then the arms go through the straps easily.

Next up Itty Bitty is modeling a heavily modified version of Angelica Dress for 5″ doll by Taffylass. The original is cute, but the size was coming out way off for me, even when I went down a number of needle sizes. The hat is Joyce Summers freebie Sun Hat for 5-inch Doll. The white and yellow are the same yarn as the Cradle Bag. And that green is a bit of Plymouth Yarn Superwash Merino DK.

Here’s the same hat knit in the Plymouth Yarn superwash.

These little bits are such quick knits that even a bilnd follower knitter like me is tempted to experiment. The diaper cover is my experiment. It worked out just fine. I cast on 24 stitches in the round. Then I knit 3 rounds of k2, p2. In the next round, I knit 4, made 1, around the round because Itty Bitty is fat, fat the water rat. I’m sorry, I meant to say that Itty Bitty is chubby. Then I knit 5 rounds. In the next round, I k2 together, k 3 all around the round to the last 4 stitches, k 4. For the top ribbing, I K1, p1 for 3 rounds. I reversed direction and bound off loosely, knit wise. To create the leg holes, I just stitched through the middle stitches at the bottom of the ribbing.

So far, the knits were easy and not really fiddly. These last two were admittedly fiddly, but I like them best of all. This one is Frankie Brown’s Mini Doll Bedtime. My granddaughter reached for these first off. She seems quite taken with these pjs. They are knit in Wobble Gobble SW Merino Fingering Weight.

Brown is really a major knitting talent. And her doll outfits are just the tip of a very big iceberg. This next set is from her Mini Doll Wintertime pattern. It’s a frilly skirt and hat in Socks that Rock leftovers and a sweater in Peppino by Rhichard Devrieze.

Here’s a look at the whole set. You’ll see me experimenting with a pair of underpants. And there’s a pair of pants too.

And, finally, one more look at Frankie Brown’s sweet cradle bag.

My dad might have said it’s “the greatest thing since sliced bread.” What’s the greatest thing before sliced bread, you might ask? The expression derives from a 1921 advertising campaign for Wonder Bread that bragged it was “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.” Somehow our collective brain thought that funny and transposed the expression from wrapping bread to pre-slicing it. This little cradle bag is an old idea. Maybe it helped a child occupy themselves when they needed to be quiet. Like in church. My granddaughter thinks it’s…the greatest thing. Period.