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Brewer Burns

Friday, August 04, 2006

Construction Hell

Yep. The construction of the Laura Jane Bear was hell. Before I get into the specifics, let me give you the vital statistics:

Pattern: Laura Jane Bear from Magknits
Yarn: Lamb’s Pride Worsted in rose and onyx
Needles: Size 6 straights
Mods: None (except yarn substitution)

So, as I’ve mentioned previously, the bear is knitted in pieces: a head, two arms, two legs, two soles, a body, four ear halves, and a tummy patch. That’s thirteen separate pieces that have to be seamed up, stuffed and then sewn together to form the bear. Let’s start with the head. When you knit the head piece you end up with a shape that resembles a T. The directions tell you to seam up the sides of the head, stuff, then gather together and pull tight for the neck. I read these directions over and over again and looked at the T shaped piece in my hand and could not for the life of me figure out what the fuck I was expected to do. Finally, Stephen came home and he figured it out in about 30 seconds. Thank god. So, just in case you were planning to make this bear, this is how you construct the head: okay, you lay out the head flat. Got it? Good. Now, take the two sides of the top bar of the "T" and bring the short ends together. Now, bring the long base of the "T"up and over so that the short end of the base of the "T" meets up with the short ends of the top bar of the "T" that you have just brought together. Now, look at it. See how the little bumps formed from the increasing and decreasing you did are roughly where the ears should go? And see how the short ends of the top bar of the "T," brought together, form a vertical seam that resembles the mouth of the teddy? Good. Now, don’t do what I did. I seamed up the bottom (neck) seam first, and then sewed the other seams. Bad idea jeans. Instead, what you should do is sew the base of the "T" to the top bar of the "T," then sew the bottom (neck) seam. Why? Because when you stop and leave a gap for the stuffing in the neck, and then you stuff, and then you sew up the little gap any wonkiness with the sewing up of the stuffing gap will be hidden when the head is sewn to the body.

Now, I don’t mean to knock the pattern here, but seriously, if I wasn’t married to an extremely visual guy I’m not sure that I would have ever figured out how to sew the head together. I just wasn’t getting it. What this pattern really needs is a good schematic. In fact, I’m thinking of drawing my own rudimentary schematic just to save the ass of other people like me. Anyway, onto the body. The body is pretty easy to figure out, in terms of the sewing up, since there is only one seam. I was stymied when I tried to figure out which way it goes. What I mean is, there is a bulge in one side of the body created by some clever shaping. Should the bulge go in the back (to form a butt for the bear) or should it go in the front (to form a pot belly?) Ultimately I decided that my bear should have a pot belly.

Now, the arms are easy (just one seam) but the legs are a little bit tricky. I think that anyone could figure out how to seam them up, but it is a little tricky when you sew the sole to the bottom of the foot. Not difficult, just a little tricky. Lastly, of course, you have to sew everything together (and sew the tummy patch on.) I found this to be a little fiddly. I also found that I really needed to go back and add some stabilizing stitches, especially for the head. The head is a little large, a little top heavy, and if you don’t want your bear to constantly have a head swiveling atop a narrow ridge line you’re going to have to add some stabilizing stitches all the way around. Ditto for the arms and legs.

Even though the sewing up gave me fits, I like the finished product. She’s cute, isn’t she?

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