Spring: Early Arrivals to the Bunny Garden

IMG_9258**(Be sure to click each photo to see it in full!)

I was so excited when I saw the two new arrivals to the Bunny Garden; the first this Spring. They’re a continuation of the ongoing evolution of my hand knit bunny creations that began a little over a year ago. Each bunny is one-of-a-kind & I never know who he or she is until they’re totally finished. I’m always  excited to see who emerges from the crossing of two needles and a ball of yarn.

The first arrival this Spring was Olivia.  As it turned out,  Olivia was just passing through the garden- (she sold immediately,)  Assembling her,  a little voice in my head said,  Hmm~  I wonder how she’d look if I attached her ears more behind her head- kind of like this-  and I held them about where I thought they should be…  They might look cute that way!  I’ve seen bunnies hold their ears like that before- and certainly if she was a lop her ears would be like that… but what if they didn’t look good? Once I sew them on I can’t take them off without ruining the bunny-IMG_9247

Then  another little voice sounded in my head~ Why take a chance? Just sew them on top of her head like the others, where you know they’ll look good-  Yes, but…  Back and forth the two voices went- until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I held the ears up to the back of her head one more time~ took a deep breath and began sewing them-  onto the back of her head.  Once I’d finished sewing them on, I looked at her and she seemed to have a little grin on her face. She looked back at me~  (I could swear I saw her wink~ )  with a grin that said, ” Yes!! I’m so cute now!”

That’s an example of the way my bunnies are constantly changing & evolving. I hadn’t planned on putting Olivia’s ears low on her head when I began to knit her. Each bunny is determined more by the shape of their head than anything else.IMG_9246

For some reason I don’t understand, every time I knit a new bunny their head shape ends up being different than any of the others that I’ve knit-  even though I do the same things when knitting them. Once I see the head shape that I’m going to be working with, ideas start coming to mind, guiding me on how to best sculpt the head and stitch the facial features;  my goal being to create a bunny that embodies the unique irresistible nature of live bunnies that I’ve known and  loved so much over the years.

Finished just yesterday, Rebecca is the second of the new Spring bunnies to the garden this year. You can see the difference in head shapes, between Olivia’s, pictured above, and Rebecca’s, (to the left.) Rebecca’s head has a shorter, rounder shape than Olivia’s did. IMG_9382 copyWith Rebecca, I again experimented with the placement of her ears. I also tried to fill her little cheeks out a bit to go with her more rounded head shape, the way real bunny’s cheeks appear. I once had a Netherlands Dwarf bunny that Rebecca’s  more compact, rounded face shape reminds me of. Soon I’ll be ready to begin another bunny. I’m curious to see what my next attempt with the needles is going to produce.
I wonder~ could this be the way a “real” bunny mom feels? Perhaps I’ve discovered the reason bunnies have such large families; they simply can’t wait to see who’s coming next-?
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July/August~ Needles and the Bunny!

Bunnies, bunnies and more bunnies!! Taking a little break from making handsmocked & embroidered dresses, I’ve spent the past few months knitting; one of my favorite things of all, to do. I first learned to knit when I was 12; my teacher was my 13-yr.-old friend who was very gifted & knew how to do more than most adults did. I think of her with gratitude every time I pick up my knitting needles. I never would have imagined when I first held a pair of needles in my hands that knitting would become the much-loved activity in my life that it very quickly became. I’ve truly enjoyed the past two months that I’ve devoted to  knitting!

I started a few months ago knitting a bunny from a Debi Birkin pattern that I found in an Etsy shop and fell in love with. This was the first time in all of the years that I’ve spent knitting, that I knit a bunny doll. I loved doing it! I loved knitting the little bunny so much that I had to knit another right away. To date I have knit several bunnies, each one different. It’s always a wonderful surprise to see the unique personality that emerges with each new bunny.  After knitting the first bunny I started experimenting, making changes to the pattern; molding it to get the “look” that I’m after.

I have always loved bunnies. Over the span of several years, I had 4 house bunnies; all very sweet and very special. I loved to study their faces. There is a special & unique sweetness that even the mischievous ones had. It is that special “sweet” look, so unique to bunnies, that I’m trying to capture in the faces of the bunnies that I knit.

The bunnies aren’t at all easy to make, in fact I find them more difficult than any sweater I’ve  made. It’s not the knitting itself that’s difficult, it’s the assembly; particularly the heads & faces.  To capture the bunny look that I want, requires much more than knitting an oval, bunny-shaped head. I start with that knit shape, but then I need to put a lot of filling into it so that it’s very firmly stuffed so that  I can squeeze the face to make indents where the eyes belong and make it pouffe-out in the cheeks and over the mouth. Once I squeeze an area to be the way I want it, I have  to stitch through the head from one side to the other;  back & forth, to hold the shape permanently.  Sculpting the face in this manner is a slow, difficult process, but one that I love doing, as this is where the bunny is formed as an individual. This is where its personality emerges.  Once the head and face are shaped the way I want them to be, I hand stitch with embroidery floss, the eyes, nose & mouth. Work on just the head/face alone, is very intense and takes several hours. This is the part that I find the most difficult in making the bunny~ but it is also the most fulfilling.

Assembling the rest of the bunny is easier than shaping the head & stitching the face, but it too is difficult. (The details are too long for this post, but perhaps in a follow-up post I’ll describe what that involves.)

Once I’ve created a bunny, it’s time to knit something for them to wear.  Usually I haven’t an idea what it will be until I’ve created them & seen what their personality is. For the first few bunnies, I knit sweaters,  but as I knit more bunnies I felt like it would be fun to knit whole outfits for some of them, so my more recent bunnies are dressed in coordinating outfits; sweaters & pants or sweaters & a skirt- or overalls. I like to hand embroider a little flower~ or vegetable, on their clothes, it’s sort of become my signature.  I will definitely continue with bunny-making in the future, as they’ve become one of my very favorite things to knit. I also knit lamb dolls and have a few patterns of some new animals I’d like to try; an elephant, a mouse, and a puppy, so keep checking back and you may see these in my shop soon.

In addition to my animal menagerie, I’ve knit a few baby poncho & pants outfits that I enjoyed knitting and I just started a new outfit, so it should be in my shop, in about a week. And THAT’S what I’ve been up to!!!

August has started off to be horribly hot. I’m really hoping that this isn’t an indication of the remainder of the month. I’m trying to keep in mind that Fall, my favorite season of the year, is just around the corner~  Trying to knit on a hot day can be a challenge. I find if I imagine Fall outside, with it’s wonderful crisp, refreshing air and brilliantly colored leaves that ride a breeze with the grace of a surfer riding a huge rolling wave, I can almost forget about the 100` plus temperatures outside. Almost!

I hope you’re enjoying your summer and are able to stay cool!