Before I begin let me explain Knitting in the Tire Swing. My friend, Rob Hunter, has written a book called Midwife in the Tire Swing — It’s About Time (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.) Sarah Drye the midwife or doula and her father, Lucian Hobart, reach out to each other under, over and through time with many side trips and diversions. Sarah is a quilter but, as I see it, other midwives and doulas are knitters, crocheters and passionate crafters and thinkers of all sorts. For me this ride in the tire swing is about knitting and whatever else jumps out of the keys. You can find Rob Hunter, Midwife in the Tire Swing and his other work at www.onetinleg.com.
Jenny is an elementary school teacher, a fellow knitter and the best friend of my daughter, Melissa. I’ve been making finger puppets for her to use in her classroom. So far a donkey, pig, bull, farmer girl and a monkey.
These are mostly based on the finger puppet directions by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2003.) The monkey is adapted from a design by Tommy Smith who writes the blog Yes I knit (http://ohyesiknit.blogspot.com/) I like the Gibson-Roberts designs because they use fingering yarn and small double point needles. They look delicate, proportional and require skill and patience to make though they are, in fact, quite sturdy.
Jenny casually mentioned that a frog puppet would be fun. I thought I could alter one of the Gibson-Roberts designs which seems like it should be easy except that I don’t really understand how to manipulate short rows. I can do them from directions but get confused when I try to apply them to my own designs or alterations. I looked for frog finger puppet patterns on the internet and on Ravelry and have yet to find one that was satisfactory or that I was willing to pay for so this has turned into a challenge and her birthday is in two weeks!
On Craftsy I found an intriguing frog toy. The Super Sonic Froggie designed by Phoeny of Phoenixknits (http://www.ravelry.com/stores/phoenixknits.) Elastic runs from the arms through the body so it can take great frog like leaps. Making this will have to be another project. The three-part eyes are the interesting part–outer lid, eyeball and lower lid. The designer used sport or DK weight yarn on size three needles. I have the right yarn in colors that will work left over from another project. Can it be scaled down to finger puppet size with the eyes from the Craftsy design and the delicacy and proportion of the Gibson-Roberts design?
I found another design for a frog on the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA) website. It is a very simple design for beginners. It uses worsted weight yarn, knits flat, the features are made of felt and glued on and it has very little shaping. Okay, so there are three ideas–guidelines so to speak–and Jenny’s birthday is coming soon.
I used the emerald-green and bright yellow yarns from a previous project (Modern Baby DK by Lion Brand) and size US3 double point bamboo needles. Starting at the bottom following the CYCA pattern I cast on 18 stitches, divided onto three needles for in the round construction and did three garter stitch rows for a border. Then, I knitted on up for two and one half inches for a body that fits over my finger. This is the way Gibson-Roberts does it except she starts at the top with the head, turns like a sock heel and then goes down the body. My frog head increased to 30 stitches to make a bulb shape and at the top closed by pulling half the stitches together on either side to suggest eye humps like the CYCA pattern. I would have liked to make the mouth area bulge out in a frog like manner but again came up against the short row problem. So, I compromised by pushing extra stuffing into the face area and embroidering a mouth to make the shape.
The most interesting part was the eyes that I found in the Craftsy pattern by Phoeny of Phoenixknits on Ravelry. I used just the eyeball and fitted it into the eye sockets I created in the head with finger shaping and stuffing. The eyeball grows by increases from five stitches to twenty stitches using black, green and yellow. A clever addition by the designer is a small embroidered white dot in the center of the eye which, as you can see below, really brings it to life.
To finish, I stuffed the head shaping eye sockets and pushing out the mouth with my fingers. All ends were run into the body and out through the head to be cut off. The last touch was to make the little arms the way Priscilla Gibson-Roberts does it. Push the body flat so you can see the exact side row, pick up 3 stitches from armpit to shoulder and then 3 more in the other sides of the same stitches. Work in the round until they look long enough, gently push in just a little stuffing, change colors and do a hand. Decrease the hand stitches to 3 and fasten off. These arms make the little puppet look like it is reaching out and adds a friendly look.
I am pleased with the way the frog puppet turned out. It looks cheerful, friendly and well made. My husband and daughter thought it looked more like a space alien. I really need to learn more about short row shaping.
I fussed over this for so long that I missed Jenny’s birthday. However, she came to visit later in the month. Anxiously I made the presentation. She opened the box ,pulled back the inner wrapping and declared in a most gratifying way, “You did it. A Frog!”
Then she said that her kindergärtners enjoyed the frog but what they need now is an–ELEPHANT!