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Martha and Maurice

"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.

Little BearThe 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 looseness.

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 YouTube videos.

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 looms, too.

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:

Loom Knit Bear Pattern
Books: Little Bear Series, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Loom Knit Bird Pattern
Book: Little Chicken's Big Day by Katie and Jerry Davis

Loom Knit Pig Pattern
Books: Gerald and Piggie Series by Mo Willems

Loom Knit Cat Pattern
Book: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

For additional patterns, knit, crochet and loom, use the Lion Brand Pattern Finder and search "toys".

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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