Saturday, August 13, 2016

Calling All Knitters! Knit a Chow for Charity!

The other day, I received one of the best emails ever from Jeri Sayer in New Jersey.

"I have special needs kids, so spend lots of time with therapists," Jeri wrote. "Our youngest has speech issues. Her therapist had a great plastic mouth that everyone borrowed ... and one day, it turned up missing. Being a great knitting fan, I found CHOW on Ravelry ... knit it up and gave it to her. She was beyond thrilled, to say the least."

The therapist shared a photo of Chow on her Facebook group page, and suddenly, the idea for a charity fundraiser was born!

The Chow Hand Puppet
"Believe it or not ... my speech therapist says she has 100 people that want one," Jeri exclaimed, "which is amazing, as she also knows of a disabled kid who has a mom who knits in hopes of raising funds for a van to transport [her]. "

What started out as a thoughtful gift, has turned into a wonderful opportunity. The clients and staff of the Kireker Center for Child Development, part of the Valley Health Care System in New Jersey, have spearheaded a fundraiser, knitting and selling the Chow puppet in the hopes of raising enough funds to purchase the special-needs van.

This is where you come in! If you would like more information, or if you'd like to volunteer to knit a Chow to help raise funds for the special-needs van, please email Jeri at: It would help her stay organized if you could put "Knitting Volunteer" in the subject line. If you would like to purchase a finished Chow, please email Jeri and put "Chow Purchase" in the subject line. Jeri is hoping to set up a Facebook page for knitters, so please let her know if you'd like to be added.

Click here for my Chow Pattern, available for free on the website.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Making and Selling Finished Pieces

Recently, I have been overjoyed with the wonderful notes I have received from people who have knitted up my Chow Hand Puppet design.
I have been asked what my policy is on selling items made from my designs. I am truly honored that so many people have found joy in my humble toys and decorations!!
I do believe in promoting handmade toys, and I want to be as supportive as possible. However, I also want to protect my designs. So, I ask, if you would like to use my patterns to make toys, decorations or novelties to sell, you will need to purchase and attach a hang tag onto each item sold to identify it as an Anita M. Wheeless design.
The hang tag on the item will serve as my licensing requirement. You can purchase a package of 24 hang tags for $5.00, plus the cost of actual postage (unless you are making and selling them for charity ... in which case, I will pay the postage). It will look like this, measuring 2" x 3 1/2" ... and it will come with a pre-drilled hole to the left ... and a little string and tiny safety pin for attaching.

Please contact me: for more information about ordering. And thank you so much for your kind notes and enthusiasm!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A New Use for Yarn!

A new use for yarn ... pom poms!
 Here is Bif enjoying his pom pom ball pit ...

 Introducing a happy chick, bearing a little Easter lily! He's my first attempt at pom pom animals ... I stitched the smaller pom pom onto the larger ... glass shoe-button bead eyes (size 5mm) sewn in ... I used an awl to open a path for pipe cleaner arms and legs and needle felted a bit of orange roving for his beak.
 Pink rabbit has pipe cleaner arms and legs, too ... but I needle felted a bit of pink wool over top ... pink ears cut from felt ... whiskers are waxed thread  ... 4 mm bead eyes sewn in.
 I really made the pom pom body of the swan too small, so I tried to compensate by needle felting wings and tail feathers! 4 mm glass bead eyes.

Monday, February 15, 2016

My First Waldorf-Style Doll ...

Okay, so he's definitely not perfect. All in all, though, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with this little guy! I haven't used my sewing machine in years ... so, yes, his stitches are awkward looking ... and his crocheted cap for his hair leaves much to be desired. But already he's got a little personality! I'm trying another first ... a tiny sweater knitted up just for him. Of course, he'll also get a little pair of pants!!!

I'm calling him "Bif" ... in fond remembrance of a Little Kiddle doll my sister gave me when I was about 6 years old.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Anatomy of a Jingle Column

There's a certain sound that some little children's toys have. It's not just a rattle. It's something much more ... it almost sounds like a sweet little chime. It's soft. It's delicate. It's musical. All in all, it's pretty wonderful!
For years, I've been listening to this little sound, wondering how it was made. Then, one day, I decided to do it. *Gulp* Yes. I would dissect a toy to find out what made that sound!!!

First: Here are a couple of  little videos that demonstrate the sound:

This one is found in an owl that came with a play mat.

And this one is in a little duck.

All right. My curiosity got the better of me! I simply had to know what made this wonderful sound! I took a little rabbit toy (he was very obliging when I promised I would stitch him back up again) and, very carefully, I removed the stitches from the bottom.

After taking some of the stuffing out, this is what I found:

A little muslin bag ... and inside this bag was:

This small plastic tube, its end glued securely shut. I had to take a pliers and crush it to get it off!

Well ... inside this little tube was ... (drum roll, please):

Wait! What?? When I opened it ... I was amazed! No, SHOCKED! This weird little metal thing is what makes that beautiful sound?? It works kind of like a tee-tiny wind chime. The cotter pin with the flat head moves around when shaken, hitting the metal pins.

So ... the mystery is solved! Strangely, you can't seem to find these to purchase from sellers in the USA. I could only find sellers in Australia/New Zealand ... and from the manufacturer in China. I do think they could be made ... but that's a project for another day!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Say Hello to Dandy!

Bring a whimsical touch of spring ... and a sprightly splash of color ... to these cold, bleak winter days with this quick knitted/felted flower! Introducing ...

A Sweet Little Flower 
Copyright © 2016 Anita M. Wheeless
What you'll need:
  • 100% wool worsted weight yarn (not superwash!) in green, yellow and fuchsia (or whatever colors you'd like!)
  • Size US 8 double-pointed knitting needles
  • Locking-ring stitch marker (to mark start of round)
  • Regular stitch markers (for marking increases for leaves)
  • Matching thread
  • Scrap yarn or stitch holders
  • Wool stuffing
  • Water-soluble embroidery stabilizer
  • Embroidery floss (use three strands each of black and red for eyes, eyebrows and mouth)
  • Sewing and embroidery needles
  • Optional 18-gauge wire so your flower can bend
  • Lingerie bag
Holding two strands of yarn together, cast 9 stitches onto a size US 8 double-pointed needle. On the first round, divide by knitting three stitches onto each of three needles. Place a locking-ring stitch marker in front of the first stitch on the first needle, joining on the next round.
Knit for 40 rounds.
Round 41: On Needle One, knit 1, place a marker, increase in next, place a marker, knit one (4 stitches)
On Needle 2: Knit the three stitches.
On Needle 3: Knit the three stitches.
Round 42: Needle One: Knit 1, place marker, increase in next, k1, place marker, k1 (5)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: Knit (3)
Round 43: Needle One: Knit 1, place marker, increase in next, k1, place marker, k2 (6)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: Knit (3)
Round 44: Needle One: K1, slip stitches between markers onto waste yarn or a stitch holder (3), then knit the remaining two stitches on the needle (3 stitches on the needle, 3 stitches on the waste yarn)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: Knit (3)
Rounds 45-54: Knit these 10 rounds
Round 55: Needle One: Knit (3)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: K1, place marker, increase in next, place marker, K1 (4)
Round 56: Needle One: Knit (3)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: K1, place marker, increase in next, k1, place marker, K1 (5)
Round 57: Needle One: Knit (3)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: K1, place marker, increase in next, k1, place marker, K2 (6)
Round 58: Needle One: Knit (3)
Needle 2: Knit (3)
Needle 3: k1, slip stitches between markers onto a piece of scrap yarn or a stitch holder, k2. Again, 3 stitches are on the needle and 3 stitches are on the scarp yarn.

Rounds 59-68: Knit these 10 rounds.

Switch to the color yarn you would like to use for Dandy's center (face). 
Round 69: K1, increase in next, k1 (4) on each needle
Round 70: Knit (4 stitches on each needle now)
Round 71: K1, increase in next, k1, increase in next (6) on each needle
Round 72: Knit (6 stitches on each needle)
Round 73: k1, increase in next, k1, increase in next, k1, increase in next (9)
Round 74: Knit (9 stitches on each needle)
Round 75: K2, increase in next, k2, increase in next, k2, increase in next (12 stitches)
Rounds 76-77: Knit these two rounds
Now begin to decrease:
Round 78: k2, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k2, k2tog (9 on each)
Round 79: Knit
Round 80: k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog (6 on each)
Round 81: Knit
Round 82: k1, k2tog, k1, k2tog (4 on each)
Round 83: Knit
Round 84: k2tog, k2tog (2 on each)
Bind off ... leaving a little hole for stuffing later.

Back to those hanging stitches! They are the leaves:
Slide the three stitches onto a needle.
Working back and forth:
Row 1: Increase in each stitch (knitting front and back) 6 stitches now.
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: Purl
Row 5: Knit
Row 6: Purl
Row 7: k2tog, k2, ssk
Row 8: Purl
Row 9: k2tog, ssk
Row 10: Purl
Row 11: k2tog
Pull to tighten. Knot off. Cut yarn. Repeat for other leaf.

Now, for the petals!
There will be 7 petals. Each will be knitted back and forth separately. Again, holding two strands of yarn together, choose the color you want for the petals and begin.
Row 1: Pick up 7 stitches along the outer edge of the center you've just finished. 
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: Purl
Row 6: Knit
Row 7: Purl
Row 8: k2tog, knit to last 2, SSK these last two stitches
Row 9: Purl
Row 10: k2tog, k1, SSK (3)
Row 11: Purl
Row 12: k2tog, k1 (2)
Row 13: Purl
Row 14: k2tog (1)
Pull to tighten. Knot off. Cut yarn.

Repeat these 14 rows for each of the remaining petals.

When you have finished, put the flower in a lingerie bag and drop it in the washer. Set your washer on the smallest load with the hottest water. Add tennis balls for more agitation, if you'd like ... and just a little sprinkle of powdered laundry detergent or a drop of liquid laundry detergent. 
Continue to check on your flower about every 5 minutes. It helps keep the flower stem from felting together if you poke a skewer up inside every time you check. 
After the stitch definition has all but melted away into a nice, firm fabric, take your flower out and rinse it. Then, towel it dry.
You can pull it a bit, shaping the petals and the stem.

If you'd like your flower to be able to bend, measure the stem and cut this amount (it will be about 12 inches long) of 16 or 18-gauge wire. Bend the ends under with a needle-nosed pliers. Wrap wool tightly around the wire, completely covering it. Carefully push the covered wire all the way up through the stem as far as it will go. Using more wool, and a wooden skewer, stuff little bits all the way up the stem, around the wire. Also stuff the little flower's face through the tiny hole you've left in the center. When completely stuffed, sew up the center hole and the bottom of the stem, using matching thread.

Embroidering the face:
Take a bit of water-soluble embroidery stabilizer (or just try embroidering freehand) and draw a little face. Pin the stabilizer to the center of the flower. Using three strands of black embroidery floss, first use a satin stitch and embroider the eyes ... and use a back stitch to embroider the eyebrows. 
The mouth is worked with three strands of red embroidery floss. Use a back stitch to to stitch the top of the mouth line and again for a smaller line underneath.

If you've used the stabilizer, you must remove it with boiling water. Remember ... it must be boiling, not just hot if you want to get it all off. (And believe me, you do!) Pour the water over the face.

Set it aside to let it cool and dry. That's it! Stay tuned for Dandy's friend Daisy!!!
Please do let me know if you decide to knit her! As always, if you run into any bumps or trouble spots, please email me and I'll help!

Monday, September 21, 2015

At Last! A New Design: Cone Puppets!

I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote anything. I have lots of toy patterns waiting to be written up and lots of other projects to share. I moved my website to Shopify at the end of December and had all kinds of great ideas to post more tutorials and feature more designs. As usual, life seems to come at me full force when I'm least expecting it. That's okay, though! What's new? My first little grandson! Born July 16, he's just a little over two months' old and sleeping peacefully (a rarity!) as I write this. And now I have more motivation than ever to keep my toys coming!

After working on my Walkabout finger puppet dolls for two years  I started working on another collection of puppets. I am excited to finally share my pop-up cone puppets! They are composed of only two actual pieces ... the main puppet, knit in the round from bottom to top ... and a covered dowel in the middle that controls the action.
Meet Mr. Rabbit ... styled after Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit, he even has a waistcoat and pocket watch!

 When popped up, this is what he looks like (above) ... but when you pull the dowel down, you can make him hide!

As with all the pop-up cone puppets, he can also twist right and left ... so, be careful! He likes to keep a close eye on you!

After the rabbit, I experimented with a playful purple cat.

And after that, I decided I would make a whole puppet show full of characters!
So I made a queen, a king, a dragon ... a knight, a wizard, an owl ... and I am still working on getting the princess to look right! Her overskirt is too thick for her to hide properly inside her cone! Next time, I think I will leave it off and embroider her details, instead.

They are a lot of fun ... it's very interesting to experiment, because, just as I found when making the Walkabouts, different dyed wool yarn, even from the same manufacturer, felts or fulls, at different rates. This can sometimes be both challenging and annoying! It takes lots of time to find the consistency that I want when hoping to write up a pattern ... and this is why I make the yarn recommendations I do.
Watch for the patterns ... coming soon!