A whimsical topper can transform an attractive, but simple hat into a creation that brings a smile to children and all those who are young at heart. While reorganizing my yarn tubs I came across several kits from DMC that I had purchased several years ago when they were on sale. I decided to knit them up and gift them to my grandchildren and to my friends' grandkids. While the kits were called Lil Toppers, I found on research that DMC had changed the name to Top This. Kits range in price from $10 on Etsy to $13.49 on other sites. Lion Brand also sells a set of 4 Sesame Street themed hats for $31.99 with Big Bird, Oscar, Cookie Monster,
While I may not be able to execute the detail of the manufactured hats, I wondered If I could create toppers with my scraps and knit or crochet coordinating hats from skein ends at almost no additional cost to me. My first attempts were the teddy bear toppers that attached to knitted beanies. Any standard hat pattern will do. Using worsted weight yarn I cast 72 stitches on straight needles. Knitted a2x2 rib for about 1 1/2 inches and continued with stock and knit. Check standard hat charts for length before making decreases. When I attached the critter to the crown I placed 1 1/2inch button under the surface so that the figure would be secure. Make sure that the button has large holes so that you can get the yarn needle through . The ready-made kits include a foam circle for this purpose.
My first attempts were teddy bears. I found it easier to crochet the heads than two knit them. Row 1:I started out with 6 single crochets in a magic circle
Row 2: sc 2stitches in each sc. (12)
Row 3: sc 2 stitches in first stitch. sc in next stitch. Repeat around to join in first stitch of row. (18). Mark beginning of row with marker. Move marker up as you crochet through the rounds.
Row 4: sc 2 stitches in first stitch, sc in next 2 stitches. Repeat pattern around. (24)
Row 5: sc 2 stitches in first stitch. sc in next 3 stitches. Repeat pattern around. (30)
Row 6: sc 2 stitches infers stitches. sc in next 4 stitches. Repeat pattern around. (36)
Row 7: sc in each stitch around.
Row 8: sc in each stitch around.
Row 9: sc in next 4stitches. Make a sc decrease. (24)
Row 10: sc in next 3stitches. Make a sc decrease.(18)
Row 11: sc in next 2stitches. Make a sc decrease. (12)
Row 12: sc in next stitch. Make a sc decrease.(8)
Row 13: sc decrease around. (4)
Gather stitches and close off. Weave in ends.
For ears work the first two rows of body pattern for 12 stitches.
For the snout, I worked the first 3 rows of body pattern (18)..Then I stitches around with the same number.
The finishing touches were the eyes, nose and mouth. I followed variety of pictures to embroider with black yarn.
For additional models I researched Loveys which had an animal or figure head with a small blanket. It was an easy transition to use the head to top creative hat.
The bunny with the offside ears can be found at Easter Bunny Amigurumi@ravelry.com.
Other interesting ideas can be found at Loveys for Boys@tillysome.wordpress.com
Please compare the manufactured cat hat with the handmade crocheted hat below.
Here are the two butterfly versions.The butterfly from the crocheted hat can be found at How to Crochet Butterfly Video Tutorial at your crochet.com.
Although I ran out of time to make additional hats for this article, I took the opportunity to explore with a few additional toppers. Here are two examples
Creating my own toppers for knitted and crocheted hats involves extra research and crochet time, but I really enjoyed creating my own critters for these winter hats. As you can see from the expressions on my models' faces they were also enchanted. I leave it to you DY I (Do It Yourself) or Buy. Both are good options. With the manufactured option. you get more detail and save yourself the time and effort of making stopper. For the DIY, each piece is unique, and the price (almost none) can't be beat.
As always, I welcome your reflections and feedback. Invite you to join me on my stitching journey. Iwouldlove to see your interpretations of hats with critter toppers.
Creating Comfort Dolls has kept me absorbed in the spirit of the "Giving Season" While so many of us have so much it is easy to get concentrated on the details of preparing holiday celebrations or shopping for gifts for family and friends. Yet there are so many people who have been hit hard by the economy and the pandemic. While monetary donations for just causes are always welcome, I find that giving the work of my hands makes a special connection for me. While I knit and crochet hats, scarves, shawls, and mittens, The Comfort Doll, also known as the Peace Pal or the Izzy Doll, has a special meaning for me. For several years I have donated my dolls to Knitting4Peace, It is a wonderful organization that distributes dolls and other needed pieces to children and families hit by disaster or need in the U.S. and world wide. I use their patterns for the dolls and knitted mittens. Although. I usually ship my works directly to the organization for distribution, I am using their suggestion to take a photo of my pieces and to send the tally to the group. In this way, my local organizations receive the productions, but both Knitting4Peace and I avoid the hefty postage costs. During the last month I have added to my collection to produce over 50 dolls.
Knitting Comfort Dolls is such a win-win for me on so many levels. I get to involve myself in the creative process to explore color combinations, techniques, new hair and costume sales. It is a terrific way for me to work with my small scrap collection. For more information of creations and construction of these comfort dolls, see: http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/knitted-comfort-dolls-made-with-love. Additional creative suggestions can be found in: http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/knitted-comfort-dolls-a-new-look. As you can see from the pants and striped shirts, it does not take many yards to dress up your dolls. I also get to experiment with new yarns. I bought Lion Brand Scubby Sparkel to knit crazy hair for gender neutral dolls in colors red, blue, purple, yellow, and green.
A rough black scrubby yarn makes for realistic locks for boys of color. I added a jaunty headband to coordinate with the outfit to offset the hair with a few rows of color.
A new favorite is my set of dark haired girls with hair tied in colorful yarn. When I have more time I could add matching skirts or dresses, but I was pushed by my own self imposed goals to produced 30 dolls so that my newest group would have dolls for all fo their clients for the holiday season.
'The mission of RKids, located In New Haven, Connecticut, is to reconnect families and children who had been in the foster child system with support and guidance. For children who cannot go home, they also work on adoption. I really enjoyed my meeting with Randi Rubin Rodriguez, an administrator for the organization. She was able to share her vision, and we discussed the opening of the new facility in June, 2022. Since I want to share my skills, we began to explore the idea of starting an intergenerational knitting and/ or crocheting group that would be open to the children and their parents or grandparents. Boys/ Men as well as women would bur welcome. This is just in the wish talking stage, but, we can always plan and dream.
Along with the 34 dolls, Also donated 20 pairs of knitted and crocheted mittens to keep hands warm during the winter. This year I taught myself how to knit and crochet mittens with a thumb gusset. The two needle method made my transition from fingerless gloves easier.
A member of my local knitting and crocheting group at the Woodbridge, Connecticut senior center was collecting for Hartford Bags of Love. A policeman in that city outfitted a van with shelves to store packaged hats, scarves, and mittens to help the needy residents of Hartford warm during the cold winter months. I did not have an opportunity to add dolls this initial donation, but I am working on a new supply.
My last group is the Woodbridge Human Services Department. These dedicated professionals seek out the elderly and families in need to provide services, food, vaccinations, warm clothing, and transportation to doctor appointments. We are a relatively small town with fewer than 9,000 residents, but this group shows that our community has a big heart. Currently, they are putting together holiday baskets with personal items, but they plan to offer an open "shopping" session in which the donated hats, scarves, shawls, mittens, and my dolls will be on display for individuals and families to select items that are most appealing to them. The Human Services Apartment is headed by Jeanette Glicksman and Ellen MacDonald. Kristy Moriarty and Jessica Espito work with the Senior Center. Judi Young is the social worker. Our consistent, hard working, and caring staff may seem to be in the background, but they make an important difference. So here is my shoutout!!!
The tragic pandemic and its effects on the elderly and people of all ages has heightened our awareness of what we as individuals can do in our communities. I have been most fortunate to be able to make the transition from sales of my knitted and crocheted goods to donations. While I still create for family and friends, I no longer have the burden of trying to sell my wares, and, I have the absolute joy of sharing the work of my hands.
As always I welcome your reflections and feedback. I welcome you to join my on my stitching journey.