Teddy adventures

Last Autumn, my mum thrust my brother’s teddy bear at me and said, “Can you do something with him?” Poor Teddy Sam had spent years living in a cupboard at home in my brother’s old bedroom, and was a bit of a mess. His old t-shirt had gone missing and stuffing was disappearing out of the holes in his neck, head and body. He had been loved too much. His body was limp and flat and he badly needed some TLC, so I agreed to fix him up for my brother for Christmas. Let’s just get a couple of things clear first:

1. My brother is 31 years old
2. My brother named Teddy Sam after himself

Here he is, the poor little man. AAAAAW

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So I took Teddy Sam home and sewed up his head. Then I added some wool toy stuffing to his belly and sewed up the holes there. He was much plumper and, I believe, much happier already!

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Next I had to cover Teddy Sam’s modesty. I was originally going to knit him a fair isle tank top but, with Christmas fast approaching and other presents needing attention too, I decided that might be a bigger job than I could manage. So I turned to my trusty “Stash of Unfinished Knitting Projects” (also known as “Projects I Got Stuck on and Never Finished”) and found the perfect thing.

A knitted child’s dress ended up being far too long, and as I couldn’t figure out why – or be bothered to unravel all the wool – it sat forlorn in my projects box. Luckily for Teddy Sam! It was the perfect shade of cheery red, and I knew it could be easily adapted into a teddy-sized jumper. It would also involve me using a sewing technique I had never used before: steeking.

Traditionally, steeking is used when knitting jumpers or cardigans in the round, without any interruptions for openings or sleeves. After knitting, the garment is sewn and then cut (yes, cut!) to create sleeves and a front opening, if needed. There is an excellent explanation and tutorial on steeking over on Knitty.

So I did a bit of research on steeking – turns out there is a wealth of useful information all over the internet. I then measured Teddy Sam’s arms and body, then used pins to mark out where I would need to sew the piece of knitting to fit him.

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Next, I sewed along my marked lines – twice, to make it as secure as possible.

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I then carefully cut just outside the lines I had sewn, to create a T-shaped piece of knitting. Then I turned it inside out…ta da!

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In the photograph above you can see a pink line of wool along where the neck hole would be. Before cutting the hole, I used an embroidery needle to thread wool through two rows of knitting either side of the neck hole. This ensured that the stitches were secure and wouldn’t unravel when I cut the hole.

As you can see, the bottom of the knitted piece had a few rows of garter stitch. I wanted the top to match the bottom, so planned to knit garter stitch around the neck hole. I realised, though, that Teddy Sam was not going to fit through such a small hole with rigid stitches, so I decided I would have to put him in the jumper and knit the neck around him.

With some, ahem, gentle tugging, I got Teddy Sam into the jumper, removed the pink wool holding the stitches together and inserted four small double-pointed needles around the neckline.

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I then knitted several rows in garter stitch all around the neckline. This was rather fiddly, and I have to admit that some fudging was done.

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But it turned out pretty good!

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Finally, a bit of embroidery along the sleeve edges and a big old S on the front completed Teddy Sam’s jumper.

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And come Christmas, my brother seemed pretty pleased with newly-spruced Teddy Sam. I’m really happy with how this project went, despite at parts having to make it up as I went along. I learned some new skills, and gave a loved teddy a new lease of life. Now I’m looking at my own teddy, who looks a bit scruffy himself…

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