"Tell me something more about me."
"Well," said Mother Bear, "once you
put on a space helmet and played going to the moon."
"That was fun, too," said Little
Bear. "Tell me more about me."
- Little Bear, by Else
Holmelund Minarik, pictures by Maurice Sendak
Martha and Maurice. They met by chance, as so often happens.
Forces of fate brought them together in my dusty house, over
coffee and crafts. Their meeting pushed me to persevere when I
might have given up. And by doing so, they helped me discover
connections between my work as a children's book
author/illustrator and my yarncrafting adventures.
I am a Martha Stewart fan and when I read about her new
loom kit, I was ready to voyage beyond my usual knitting.
Then a glimpse of the adorable loom animal patterns grabbed me.
They were an easy way to try something different. A spring break
from a winter of shawls, socks, and other utilitarian warmth. And
in the middle of a revision of a new children's book story, I
needed to play. At the top of my list was the bear.
Setting up the loom was a snap. The yarn, Martha
Stewart Crafts™ Extra Soft Wool Blend, true to its name, was
extra soft, and inviting. The pattern clear.
My hands moved very slowly across the rows. My stitches were far
too tight. I pulled out pegs. In addition, I skipped over a
crucial point in the manual's brief introductions--the part about
locking the loom pieces with pegs.
Frustrated and grumpy, I put the project aside.
The next morning carrying my
cappuccino to my knitting chair, I passed the loom, and without
thinking, picked it up. More than half the bear's front was done.
While fumbling through making it the day before, I listened to
tributes to children's book giant, Maurice Sendak, who had just
died. Among the many characters he illustrated, a favorite of mine
was Little Bear, the star of Else Minarik's early reader series.
Is that what pulled me back to the loom? Little Bear? I hadn't
thought about those books in years.
Positioning my coffee on the chair's arm and the loom on my lap,
I looped a row. Then another. Why had I given up so easily? Had I
forgotten about learning curves and perseverance? Now relaxed, I
found comforting rhythm to the loom knitting. The tight stitches,
the bane of my previous day, gave way to a delightful a Zen-like
Later in my studio, I went back to the Little Bear books, and
there in those stories, were keys to revising my own. Little Bear
and his friends were long forgotten roots. Rediscovering them was
a gift from Martha and her loom.
My Little Bear, like the charming cub Maurice Sendak gave us, is
good company. Smiling, he waited patiently for his ears, then his
arms, and finally, his legs.
He is, of course, flawed in the ways many firsts are. Including
first drafts of stories. Like the one on my writing desk. Still,
his imperfections are a testament to perseverance. A valuable
lesson for writers and yarncrafters.
I had planned on sending Little Bear out into the world. A gift
for a baby turning one. But I think I'll hold on to him for a
while. He makes a wonderful studio mascot.
The color coded pegs, like needles and hooks, can be adjusted for
yarn weight and stitch gauge.
Read and consult the
manual [PDF]. Instructions are given in 3 languages. If you
are a more visual learner check out the
Aim for an even and loose tension. If you are bending your loom
tool, your stitches are too tight. Loosen up. Experiment with a
double pointed needle, sewing awl, or your fingers.
Use a crochet hook to rescue dropped stitches. They happen on
Use your row
counter to keep track of rows.
Loom and Literature
Give a literary bent to your gifts and charitable donations to
hospitals, shelters and daycares. Pair Little Bear and his pals
with picture books featuring their kin. Here are some suggestions:
Knit Bear Pattern
Bear Series, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Knit Bird Pattern
Book: Little Chicken's Big Day
by Katie and Jerry Davis
Knit Pig Pattern
and Piggie Series by Mo Willems
Knit Cat Pattern
Book: Millions of Cats by
For additional patterns, knit, crochet and loom, use the Lion
Finder and search "toys".