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Anatomically Correct

Since I interviewed Louise of Faux Taxidermy Knits and wrote about her interesting new book earlier this week, I thought I’d continue on with the theme of animals and preservation today.

I’ve seen some of these before and the part of me that always found dissection educational and was interested to see what’s inside and how things work (who knew there was so much happening in earth worms and frogs?) cheered at this unique idea. The part of me that found it just a little bit gross (I can still smell the formaldehyde coming from the Earth Science room in junior high) and mourned the loss of life so I could study someone’s insides is glad to see these knitted up and not in a jar waiting to be sliced open…

Original article here.

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Learn Anatomy From Dissected Knit Creatures By Emily Stoneking

I can’t say I ever expected to see anyone make animal dissection cute, but knitting artist Emily Stoneking has done it. Her aKNITomy artwork faithfully recreates typical high school dissection projects as arguably cute knit panels.

If you have a visceral or ethical problem with animal dissection, Stoneking’s artwork also can potentially help you learn about what makes animals tick without making you hurl or cry. If your memories of those high school classes are less than fond, she also has alien knit dissections as well.

Stoneking sells these knitted animals dissections on her aKNITomy Etsy shop, where she has a load of other educational knit projects as well. Take a look!

Emily Stoneking’s knit animal anatomy pieces can be found on her aKNITomy Etsy shop!

Faux Taxidermy Knits

I love when people do interesting things with knitting! When I heard about Louise Walker‘s new book, Faux Taxidermy Knits, I was instantly intrigued. My grandfather had taxidermied pheasants in his basement, and while they creeped my out a little, I always found them fascinating. Knitted taxidermy? Crazy cool!

Louise was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book all the way from the UK…

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Faux Taxidermy Knits: 15 Wild Animal Knitting Patterns (David & Charles/F+W; $22.99; Available Now)

Tanis Gray (TG): This is a wonderfully creative idea – a book full of knit faux taxidermy! How did it come about? 

Louise Walker (LW): For me, the faux taxidermy started when I was a student. Whilst studying commercial photography I began crafting my own props for my shoots. The first one being a hunting editorial where I replaced all the trophy heads and stoles with knitted versions. After graduating I was approached by Boden and a few knitting magazines to work on faux taxidermy pieces after seeing the photos I’d made at university. I was selling finished pieces alongside designing for the magazines and when approached by my publishers, how could I saw no to writing a whole book of faux critters.

TG: Any interest in becoming an actual taxidermist?

LW: I love taxidermy, but from afar! I’m in awe of the artists who have used it in the work, such as Walter Potter, but don’t think I could do it myself.

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TG: You’re a photographer who fell into knitting by chance. How have you married the two?

LW: I think being in education and solely studying photography for five years gives me a different approach as a designer. Maybe I see things a little differently as I’m always planning for the final stage of the design and how its going to be presented. It’s a great skill to have as it means I can knit a design and once it’s finished work on the photographic side. I don’t think I use my photographers background as much as I should but hope to expand on it as the business grows.

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TG: You used some of your own hand dyed yarn in your book. How was that process and would you do it again?

LW: I liked the process of hand dying but it’s just finding the time amongst everything else to expand the range. In the future I’d like to have a set of patterns designed in my own yarn so thought the book would be a great place to start. I found it really interesting and frustrating finding the perfect colours and would love to do more. I might go and put a pot on now.

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TG: You photographed your own book! Were you able to look at it with a photographer’s eye rather than a knitter’s? Was there anything particularly difficult about being responsible for the look of the book?

LW: I was able to look at the pieces from a photographers perspective, however as the designer I knew exactly how I wanted them to look. I think I would have been awful on the shoot if someone else had been taking the photos. I did have a lot of help with it, from an art director friend who made sure I was on the right track. I think the book needed to really focus on the pieces, so everything else needed to compliment them. The concepts naturally fell into place but it was the shooting of it that proved most difficult.

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TG: What’s your favorite project in the book (mine’s the moose head!)?

LW: My favourite might be the mole, but it does change from day-to-day. I’m really proud of the tiger as it took so long to design and put together. But there’s something about the mole that just makes me smile. I recently brought a cross stitch of a mole that’ll match my door stop perfectly.

TG: Did you have an idea for a project in the book that didn’t come to fruition due to time or impossibility?

LW: The mole was actually supposed to come in a set of three or four but after knitting him he looked so cute by himself. There were time restrictions which meant I’d left the extra moles until the end but I was so happy with him I wasn’t worried about making them.

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TG: You sell some fantastic kits on your Etsy shop. What’s your best seller?

LW: My best seller is the fox kit, I usually make up a lot more of those to take to shows too as they are so popular. I’ve just launched some dinosaurs though and I think the triceratops is now giving Mr. Fox a run for his money.

TG: Any plans for another book?

LW: There might be, I’ve put in a hint that I’d like to do another so it might just be a case of finding some new inspiration.

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TG: What’s your favorite animal?

LW: As a child it was always an elephant, then as a teen a giraffe. Now I don’t know, maybe a fox. Can I choose a Pokemon?

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Thanks, Louise! check out her new book here.

Bits & Bobs

As a child, I loved when my mother would let me play in her button stash. I’d stack, organize, make rainbow arches out of all the colors, spend hours sifting through the tiny world of color and texture that lived in her button box, then close the lid and look forward to the next time.

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my button stash

All the women in my family have button boxes. I inherited my grandmother’s, my mom gave me hers and I have built my own impressive stash that lives in an old letter press drawer. I ran across this post and spent longer than I should have staring at these wonderful images. It was the buttons that drew my attention first, but they are true works of art (of works of art)! Enjoy!

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Artist Uses Hundreds Of Found Objects To Recreate Iconic Paintings And Portraits

Source: bluebowerbird.co.uk | (via: mymodernmet)

In her “Plastic Classics” series, British artist Jane Perkins uses almost anything she can find – buttons, plastic toys, LEGO pieces, etc. – to re-create recognizable iconic paintings like DaVinci’s Mona Lisa and portraits of stars like Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela. Although she has her artistic roots in textile work, she works almost exclusively with plastic parts.

Each portrait or “painting” she has created, when inspected close up, reveals a miniature textured world of forgotten knick-knacks, somewhat like an impressionist painting.

By creating her work from found objects, her works not only make a strong and important statement about our mass-consumption society, they also join a long line of other awesome artists we’ve covered on Bored Panda who have also created amazing works from found or recycled objects. Edouard Martinet’s amazing retro insect sculptures, Susan Beatrice’s elegant recycled watch part sculptures, and the amazing textile flora and fauna of Mr. Finch are all excellent examples of what an artist can do when they out their mind to reducing the amount of waste we create.

Talking “Knits for Boys” with Kate Oates

I got a chance to work with Kate Oates on my most recent book (coming this fall). Kate is the designer for Tot Toppers & When I Grow Up and the author of a new book, Knits for Boys and before that Knitting Clothes Kids Love.  She enjoys designing hats and garments for babies and children in particular, these projects often reflect a whimsical spirit. In her non-knitting life, Kate holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Florida and lives with her family in South Carolina, which includes husband Ryan, boys Jesse, Charlie, Oliver & Eliot. She has so many super cute patterns on her Ravelry profile here!

Kate was kind enough to sit down and talk with us about her new book, Knits for Boys!

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Tanis Gray (TG): There are a lot of knitting books for kids out there, but as the mom of a boy, I find there aren’t an overwhelming amount of functional, modern, cute sweaters for boys. I was so happy to read through your book and see how many great designs for little men there are in there! How did the idea for this book come about?

Kate Oates (KO): I have four boys! I started off doing mostly baby design, but as mine have aged I couldn’t help but start sizing more broadly.  Really, it is kind of lucky for me that there is a need for more patterns in this area because I probably would have done it anyway.

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Tucker Military Jacket

TG: You are not afraid of color or texture! How did that influence your collection of designs for your latest book?

KO: No, I’m not.  I love love love color! My parents used to joke about me talking about “pretty colors” growing up as a kid. That has definitely stayed with me.  I really enjoy knitting things that I find interesting to look at and to touch (hence my texture obsession).  Fortunately for me, my kids either inherited a love for color and texture from me, or else I have taught them well.  There is very little neutral in any of our wardrobes.

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Jake Jacket

TG: Something particularly great about this book is your “Grow With Me Tips and Tricks.” This is an idea that knitting moms or anyone knitting for children will really appreciate. Tell us more about that.

KO: Grow-With-Me came from my hearing knitter’s lamenting on how much time they labor over a project for the child to wear it once or twice and then outgrow it.  I also am NOT a fan of the knit-it-4-sizes-too-big-and-they-will-grow-into-it approach.  So, I started experimenting with techniques to extend the fit and longevity of a sweater in ways that made it wearable and attractive no matter what phase.  Of course kids are still going to outgrow things–but using some Grow-with-me will definitely help to extend the fit!

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Jesse Half-Zip

TG: I appreciated the very clear schematics and photo tutorials. Why was it important to you to include those in your book?

KO: In order to really take advantage of Grow-With-Me, schematics are a must!  I have always provided schematics in my patterns. Although it is usually easier to fit a child into a standard size than an adult, there are plenty of occasions where knowing that you have a long and skinny or a shorter muscular frame mean that you can tailor the fit for the child. I’m a very visual person so photo tutorials were also a must! Finishing skills can really make or break a knit, and I wanted to provide all the tools for knitters to be successful.

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Imagination Sweater

TG: The Jesse Half-Zip and Imagination Sweater are tied for me as my favorites. What’s your favorite design in this book and why?

KO: Ha!  You have great taste.  Those two are in the top for me as well.  I also love the Prepster Vest and T-Rex Pullover. But I have so many favorites…I truly love them all. I’ve already talked about my love for color and texture and so that probably explains my top choices.

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T. Rex Graphic Pullover

TG: You have FOUR boys and they modeled for your book. How involved were they in the process? Did you run ideas by them or did they make suggestions?

KO: Yes absolutely!  My oldest was the inspiration for the T-Rex sweater, he has always been really into dinosaurs. The sections of the book sort of ended up being based on my older two boy’s preferences.  I have one who loves color and one who loves texture and that’s how I came up with that particular break down. They had a lot of fun at the photo shoots and we pretty much just let them do their thing, they came up with “poses” or things to do and we just chased them around.

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Prepster Vest

TG: Which project in the book was the most fun to knit? 

KO: The Imagination Sweater.  I pretty much came up with the stitch patterns while I was knitting it, so that was fun.  I go through phases where color work is my favorite thing to do, and then cabling is my favorite… It just so happened that I knit this book during a color work phase!

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Outdoorsy Sweater

TG: Did everything you envisioned for the book end up in there or did you have outtakes?

KO: Hmm let’s see.  I don’t think anything totally flopped.  Although the project that did cause some headaches was the Prepster Vest.  I had a few sample knitters helping me with the book and Prepster was a project that I handed out.  First, I messed up the ribbing on the back and I forget exactly what happened but she got about 4″ (mind you this is a fancy cabled fingering weight project, so 4″ is no joke!) and had to rip out and start over.  Then, we had a nightmare of a time with the neckline.  I didn’t like what I had initially written out, so I tried about 3 different options before settling on something really basic!

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Stripy Socks

TG: Describe the book making process to our readers.

KO: It’s a loooong process but in a nutshell, this was my project from beginning to end.  I wrote up a full proposal including sketches for all the designs and that was sent out to publishers.  I settled on a publisher that was willing to really let me do my thing (as an indie designer, it’s hard for me to relinquish control!) from choosing yarns to directing the photo shoots (and using my boys as models). In between signing the contract for the book and me starting to knit designs, I had a premature baby so I did get waylaid for a while which meant I ended up with about 9 months to write all the patterns and get everything knit AND photographed before sending my finished manuscript to the publisher.  Then, I went back and forth with the editor for a while making corrections and adjustments. Finally I got to see the cover artwork and the drafts of inside pages and was able to give some input as well.  And now, here we are!

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Long John PJs

TG: What’s coming up next for you?

KO: We are about to start a knitalong in my Ravelry Group for Knits for Boys and hope to have lots of folks join us!  Almost all of the yarn companies that were kind enough to send me yarn support for the book have also provided KAL prizes which is so fun.  Outside of KfB, I’m continuing to self-publish patterns from baby to child (boy and girl!) to adult for the time being, and I’ve had fun really exploring ways to be involved with other aspects of the industry, from yarn companies to local yarn shops.  I’ve been doing some teaching as well and I find that really fun and inspiring–I love meeting knitters and enabling them to do some of the basic math that will help them utilize Grow-With-Me or even make projects for themselves fit better!

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Big Bad Vest

Thanks, Kate! The new book is adorable and chock-full of over 25 patterns that any boy would love to wear and any mom or dad would love to knit for them! I know I’ll be casting on a new sweater for my son soon!Order Kate’s new book here.

(Yet Another) Snow Day

I loved snow days as a kid. My brother and I would walk up and down the hill next to our house dozens of times, sliding down in our bright orange sleds into our neighbor’s yard. We’d come in shivering, clothes dripping, noses bright red, unable to feel our hands or feet and my mom would help us take off our wet things, warm us up and give us hot chocolate.

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It’s hard being on the flip side of things, of being the parent now rather than the kid and hearing the words “snow day” on the radio. My son is 3 years old and can’t be out sledding by himself. I count on those 3 hours a day when he’s at preschool to get work done, then stay up late trying to pack in a full day’s work on limited time after he’s asleep. “Snow day” means “no work day” and that’s hard, especially when you have multiple snow days in a row.

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That certainly doesn’t mean that snow days don’t come with their own brand of magic. We trudge through mountains of snow, making a game out of digging out our walkway and clearing off the car, then walking down the road and digging out some of our elderly neighbor’s and friend’s walkways. I’m trying to teach my son the value of helping people just to be kind. Neighbor’s come out and say hello, people we’ve never met before stop and chat in the street with their snow shovels. There’s a sense of community in both tragedy and snow days – different types, but so rarely do we all just stop our busy lives and say hello. We wade our way through the backyard, digging out tricycles and balls covered in sheets of ice, lamenting the boxed garden covered in snow and dreaming of the bounty it will provide in a few short (and warm) months. We build snowmen and make snowballs, snow angels and hide in our “secret fort” where the branches from a small tree are so laden with snow the branches have fully arched down to the ground, creating a magical, snowy hideaway.

Just like my mom did for me as a child, I peel off the wet layers from my son when we come inside, give him something warm to drink then it’s off to the couch where we read. We’re a little book obsessed in this house, but I’d rather my kid be surrounded by stacks of books than plopped in front of video games or TV shows. That got me thinking about some of my favorite books that we read. Many of them center around my love for knitting, and I’m pleased that some of them are favorites of my son as well.

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Frequently I am asked about book suggestions for young children with knitting themes, or books with knitting in them. These are just a handful of favorites and some of the ones we read this morning after coming in from playing in the snow.

The Huey’s in The New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers

We are HUGE Oliver Jeffers fans in this house. We have every book he ever wrote or illustrated, one of them is almost always part of our bedtime reading stack and I’m constantly on the lookout for his next publication. His books are beautiful and this one is too, just way more minimal than his usual fare. I enjoy this story because it’s about someone wanting to break the norm. The Huey’s are a bunch of folk who look, act and think the same, until one decides he wants to knit himself a bright orange sweater. He shatters the mold, then others want sweaters, too. It’s a great book for a kid who feels like they don’t belong or wants to try something different from what their friends are doing.

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© Oliver Jeffers

 

The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool, Illustrations by Alison Jay

This book is simply beautiful. The illustrations transport you into a world where you wish you could book a ticket too. Lush colors, lots of sheep (knitters love sheep) and great character design, I love when my son grabs this one off the shelf. A story about a young man who spins cloth and scarves out of the clouds, a greedy king who wants them all for himself and the lesson of not taking more than you need, it’s a great addition to your library, even if you don’t have a little one in your life.

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© Michael Catchpool & Alison Jay

 

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

This book feels like an old-world fable. A story about a young girl in a fabulous knit cap, she longs to speak to the moon. With the help of her animal friends, they search for a way to make that dream a reality. Part of a series, I love the hand painted vibe of this book and it reminds me of my childhood, running around the woods behind my parents’ house. I like the idea that you can try the impossible, even if it seems silly to others.

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© Naoko Stoop

 

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen is one of the best children’s book illustrators out there, hands down. We have every book he’s done the artwork for and they are not only beautiful, but fun and extraordinarily innovative. Being a knitter, this particular book is one of my all-time favorites. A story about a clever girl who finds a box of yarn that never runs out (reminds me of the Mary Poppins bag), a greedy prince steals it, only to find the magic of the yarn doesn’t work for him. The box finds its way back to the girl, and she continues to transform her community with her knitted creations. Touching on the idea that most of us knitters embrace – knitting for others can be just as much fun as knitting for yourself, and not coveting what is not yours, the story is good but the illustrations are GREAT. A fine gift for any knitter!

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© Marc Barnett & Jon Klassen

 

Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

Again, this Irish-born, Brooklyn-Based author and illustrator is a favorite in our house. While of all his books are wonderful, this is my husband’s favorite. A simple story about the friendship between a boy and his penguin, they find out that sometimes after you get what you want, it turns out that it wasn’t what you expected. Jeffers must have someone close to him (or maybe it IS him!) who knits, because in many of his books there is someone knitting.

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© Oliver Jeffers

 

The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt, Illustrated by Yaroslava

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. There are probably dozens of versions of this classic Ukrainian tale, but I was always partial to the illustrations in this one. Filled with simple pen and ink drawings – some with color, some in black and white, I thought of it often growing up. One day I saw it in a little bookstore by the National Zoo and sat there reading it to my son. We bought it and brought it home, and he enjoys it as much as I do. A tale about sharing and there always being room for one more, a boy trudges through the forest in mittens his grandmother made him. Dropping one, animal after animal comes by, cramming into it for warmth. Eventually, the mitten bursts at the seams and everyone tumbles out. While Jan Brett does a beautiful version of the same story, this is still my favorite.

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© Alvin Tresselt & Yaroslava

I hope this post brought you some inspiration on a cold, snowy day. Happy reading!

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Tuva Hat

I just wrapped up my first ever world-wide KAL (knit-a-long) with Craftsy! If you missed the original post, read about it here.

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With hundreds of students across the globe, it was a great experience having everyone come together, working on the same project. Knitters always embrace other knitters (ever been to your LYS on knit night?) and I love the sense of community and helping each other that we have, but this was a new experience on a much larger scale. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed watching people knit their way through the pattern in lands both near and far.

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After 2 months, the KAL has concluded, and now the Tuva Hat is available for all to enjoy!

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Knit with 1 hank of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted on US 7s and starting with i-cords and earflaps on DPNs, we join all the pieces together and start with the brim of the hat. Working in the round with lace and decreasing in pattern, this unique lace hat is topped with a pom pom. I’m a sucker for cute earflap hats and pom poms and the Tuva Hat is no exception! I want to knit one for myself in bright green, hoping my yarn choice will push winter out and welcome in springtime. I love that people around the world are wearing their Tuvas, and for so many of them it was their first lace experience, first time reading charts (the written pattern is included as well) and working in the round or on DPNs.

Lace knitters unite!

The Tuva Hat is available for download here.

Lars & The Real Girl

I’m so excited to share a project with you that I’ve been working on for a while with a dear friend.

This project came about in an interesting way…

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© Lars & The Real Girl

Louisa Demmitt and I met on the set of Knitting Daily TV, way back when we were filming season 12. Louisa was my ride to and from, well, everywhere, and we met at the airport sight unseen as if we were on a blind date. We hit it off right away and from that time on have never run out of things to talk about.

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Somehow in our conversations in those first few days of meeting each other, the film Lars and the Real Girl came up. An interesting movie about a lonely man and a blow-up doll (sounds like we’re gravitating close to porn here, but firstly, get your mind out of the gutter and secondly, not even close) and how the town embraces them both, this movie has so much heart. The first time I saw it, I thought “wow, I need to watch this again.” Louisa felt the same way and we talked about this movie extensively. She said, “The most charming part of this movie is how Lars’ family and community rally around him. They come up with a schedule for Bianca, the not so real girl, to really make a full life for her. People take her places and treat her with great care, as though she was alive. Which is really all for Lars, and I think is probably the best expression of love and friendship that I’ve ever seen.”

Lars, the main character, has a blanket his mother knit for him as a child. With his mother long gone and having lost her at a young age, he clings to this blanket like any small kid would – it’s more or less the only link he has to his mom. The blanket shows up here and there in the film and the knitter in me always looks at it with eagle eyes, mocking up the stitch in my brain, thinking about the yarn they used and about who made it. During a conversation about the film I said to Louisa, “wouldn’t it be fun to knit that up and put it up as a free pattern?” The idea clicked and before we knew it, we hatched our plan – I would design it, supply the yarn and photograph it and Louisa would knit with abandon. We parted ways after filming ended, both excited to get started.

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As soon as I got home from filming in Ohio and had unpacked, I pulled the DVD out and watched it again with my husband. Every time we watch it I feel another layer of emotion, I cheer and cry with the characters, I look for the blanket, I move my way through the story and love how it ends. I swatched up what I thought would be a “pretty darned close” version of the stitch and had done the math and written out the pattern by the time to credits were rolling.

Digging through my stash, I came across 8 balls of Be Sweet Bamboo in a sage green (not exact, but certainly close to the original color in the film). Sending off both the yarn and pattern to Louisa in Colorado, we agreed that we would take this project at our own pace, get to it when we could and above all else, enjoy working together on something fun and interesting. Time rolled by and the project would occasionally get pushed aside with real work, life and for Louisa, wedding planning!

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A couple of weeks ago a large box landed on my doorstep. Opening it up and shaking out the amazing knitting Louisa did, having it look just like we wanted and being able to put it up for fellow Lars and the Real Girl knitting fans like us was magical. She says, “I loved working this pattern because it was therapeutic and soothing. Once you did one repeat, it was easy to remember what you were doing and to get into the rhythm of it. I had also never knit with bamboo for anything larger than a scarf, so it was nice to see how bamboo creates such a great drape, and infinite cuddle-ability.” It was fun working on a tag-team knitting project together! Lousia says, “There are knitting inspirations everywhere, and if you keep your eyes and mind open to them, your creativity can really have a chance to run wild. I wouldn’t have thought of knitting this blanket if Tanis hadn’t pointed it out. I’d always thought, ‘oh, that’s cool, he’s wearing a knit blanket as a scarf.’ But I never would have taken this realization any further. Sometimes you need a jolt to your creative system, and that thing that you think looks cool turns out to be totally knittable if you give it a try!”

I’ll admit that part of me is sad to see our project together end, but who knows what else we’ll cook up together in the future? We hope you enjoy this blanket pattern and if you haven’t watched the movie, Demmit and Gray give it 2 thumbs up!

Download the free Lars & The Real Girl Blanket pattern here.

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