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His Beige Bear

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His Beige Bear

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This is my fourth toy post. To see the progress pics without the notes, just go to the album.

I know a toddler (not the same one who got the last two toys I made) nicknamed Bear, and I have a bunch of beige yarn (I don't recall why any more) so there was a clear course of action before me.

I knew that picking this pattern carried some risk: there's not a single picture of the bear without clothes on. That means there's neither a photographic guide as to how it's assembled nor many clues as to what it would look like finished (and I'm not advanced enough to envision it based on reading the pattern, and may never be, as I am not all that visual a thinker). However, it employs a technique I will be using on a more difficult pattern and I wanted to try it on something simpler first. Also, I was curious about the shaping of the torso, ears and arms, and it was at least cute in the face, unlike many of the free bear patterns I reviewed. As with toys made earlier, the recipient is 1, so I don't anticipate too much pickiness on his part.

As it turns out, I don't care that much for the pattern. The toy it produced IS cute and very squishable, and I consider him a success, but the pattern was written very sloppily. Even after I corrected for errors, there are some things I changed based on aesthetics, and if I make another bear it will probably owe this pattern very little beyond the similarities that all toys that fall into the category of amigurumi (which I think describes everything I've made so far, though I'm not an expert or anything) share.

Process

Initially, I intended to follow the pattern exactly, unless I felt I had no other choice but to deviate from it. The torso and head seemed promising, though I was unsure about whether I liked the size ratio between them:
PhotobucketPhotobucket.

However, the arms and legs I used:
bear

are not the ones from the pattern. When made, the arms from the pattern:
bear

seemed so spindly with the length and the bulbous end that I opted instead to use a shorter, simpler cylinder:
bear

There's no picture of the rejected legs because I was too irritated by the sloppiness of the pattern to finish even one - the last time I checked, 16 was not divisible by 3, a glitch which could have been easily avoided by at least two commonly used workarounds. *smacks pattern writer* I was also irked that the places to switch yarn for the different colored paw pads were not included in the instructions for the limbs. Obviously I figured it out on my own, but why leave it out, especially since it was in the finished photos? However, it's possible that that one is a culture issue, like the difference between recipes from a century ago, when anyone trying to make the dish would already have served an apprenticeship at her mother's side and whose knowledge of basic techniques could be assumed, versus modern ones, where the cook is most likely a hobbyist and requires clarity if not outright handholding.

I also changed the ears. The pattern called for two fan shapes of equal size to be sewn together, but I was using two accent colors instead of the one the pattern called for, so I used the lighter one on the inner fan and the darker accent color as the outside rather than the main color:

bear

I also added an extra row to the outer fan, because I wanted the accent color to come up over the top of the ear and needed extra material to prevent excess tension:

bear'

I made no changes to the eyes, tail or muzzle.

So here he is!
bear

This cutie bear likes hugs but not candlelight dinners (flames and acrylic yarn are not good buddies):
bear

A classic profile!
bear

And check out that toosh!
bear

He hasn't been delivered yet as I don't see the recipient's parents all that often. That gives me plenty of time to test wash him, though, which I failed to do with the two previous toys. There is no reason why he shouldn't survive admirably, but please cross your fingers for this brave bear whose interim name, goodness knows why, is Benjamin Britton. I will try to remember to post about the result of that wet adventure.

Things I Learned

-- The technique I wanted to try was in the muzzle, using the half double crochet for shaping (the bulk of the pattern consists of single crochet stitches). I struggled with shaping in my first design (though I knew at the time that I was jumping ahead of my own learning curve, so it was ok) and want to learn how to use stitches of different heights. This was not much of a demonstration - it was only used in a very minor amount, and stuffing obscures a lot of details. However, nekouken did note an unevenness that he said looked like the bear had chaw (heh), and I think that was due to how the shaping looked with the muzzle crookedly placed. That means it DOES have a demonstrable effect, and it will be in much greater evidence in the next pattern.

-- Speaking of the muzzle, my embroidery's improving:
bear

-- The eyes are clever - just make the beginning round of spiral crochet and there you have a round eye to sew on. It keeps me from having to buy plastic eyes (which I have never yet used and which may be a choking hazard - though they are called "safety eyes," this child is reportedly ingenious in his destructiveness) while being much better than the heretofore joke of my "embroidery." It's so simple a concept that reading that part of the pattern was definitely a forehead-smacky moment for me. Also, speaking of the eyes, I'm pretty sure for a while he could see time:
bear

-- The two piece ears idea intrigues me. The method I came up with adds far less bulk, but this has a look that more closely matches the rest of the toy. I thought this particular execution made for more difficulty in attaching the ear than is justifiable, but I have an idea of how to modify it that might work.

-- I'm still improving on placement of things to be attached. This time I tricked myself about the placement of the ears, partly because of the design of the ears, partly because the spiraling rows of this type of toy make counting the stitches unreliable as an estimation method. I think I was also distracted because rasta bear covers a multitude of sins:
bear

-- The amount of head-jiggliness that I see as "pleasantly wibbly" looks to everyone else like "a broken spine." However, the concentric rings of placement technique remains successful, and he's still able to headbang a little, at least.

-- The shallower items,the muzzle and the tail, proved incredibly difficult to sew on stuffed, so I sewed them on 3/4 of the way, stuffed them and then finished them. Worked very well on the muzzle but it was hard to gauge how much stuffing the tail could really take.

-- I used the same shaping I devised for the rhino's legs to angle the bear legs to be flush with his bottom ratherh than sticking out perpendicularly from his body. It worked the same but I was happier with it because I'd planned it in advance.
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