Monday, February 27

Let's Talk about Finger Puppets

Almost 18 years ago my husband and I had our first child, a little boy. Then we found out that he has Opitz FG Syndrome. This begana a journey of doctors visits, specialists, and questions. Lots of time spent at the IWK in Halifax.

One thing we noticed at the IWK was finger puppets. Cute little puppets that seemed to be everywhere. Child had to get blood drawn, they were given a finger puppet to help ease the tears. Going to see a doctor and a bit scared ... they were often given a puppet to help ease their fears. What's that little basket on the information desk? Why, it's finger puppets.

One day I asked about the puppets. Who made them? Where did they come from? I was told at the volunteer office that there are people who knit the puppets for them. I wanted to be part of that group :) They told me that not only are puppets used at the IWK, but when doctors go to overseas countries to do volunteer work, puppets might be used as packing material, and then given to the kids there. The number 3000 sticks in my mind as to how many they were using a month at that time.

I was given a basic pattern; cast on 12 stitches, do one row of k1p1, then knit about 12 rows. K2tog across the next row, purl one row, draw yarn through the stitches and finish it off. Sew up seam, add a face and voila ... a puppet. ** just added ... I use a worstered weight yarn and 3mm needles. If this seems to be too small a puppet to you, add more stitches or more rows. It's not a stamped in stone pattern :)

So, almost 18 years ago I started knitting puppets. Got my mom and sister in on the act. A few years later my MIL joined in as well. Then my mom got a couple of other ladies knitting them. Sadly my Mom and MIL are both gone now. And the other ladies still knit, but not as much. My sister, she still knits them like crazy. On Thursday I'll be making a delivery of puppets that will include the last ones my MIL knit. And most of the rest of them are knit by my sister.

We have her 5 year old helping out now too; she trims off the ends of yarn, and will be helping to count them from now on. We've decided to keep track of how many we make from now on :) 3500 puppets in this delivery ... my husband and I just counted them all ... phew ... big job!!

Over the years we have knit countless puppets. Would have been fun to kind of keep track of how many. There was one time we took 2000 in, they were all in strings of 100 puppets. Looked like a bunch of snakes :) Took a blue bag full in one time. Another time was only a plastic grocery bag full. The amount didn't matter; what mattered was that it was puppets. This next delivery is in a bag that a double sized duvet came in ... and it's stuffed full. We have had friends do deliveries when we've had a bunch to go, getting them to stop at the IWK. Or if someone was going for an appointment, ask them to drop them off. A friends little girl loved carrying the "suitcase of puppets" in with her.

One time I took puppets in, there was about 4000 in the bag. I walked into the volunteer office, and the lady there just beamed. Told me how happy she was to see me. Told me that they were almost out of puppets, and to look in their storage box. I looked in, and there were only 6 lonely puppets at the bottom ... I filled it :)

As you can tell by the pictures, our puppets are simple little guys. Nothing fancy about them ... but we know they are appreciated. Cast on 12 stitches. 1 row of k1p1 then knit/purl for about 12 - 15 rows. K2tog across the next row. Purl one row. K2tog across next row, pulling yarn through the stitche as you go (to bind it off), sew your seam, and put on a face.

I do not like sewing seams. So I knit mine on 4 needles. Yup, 12 stitches on 4 needles. I AM that crazy :) My MIL would knit hers on 4 needles ... and then use 2 washers to make a little pompom to put on top of them. I'm not that crazy :) See, here's a picture of some of hers; see those pompoms?

I couldn't tell you the last time yarn was bought to make them. Friends who knit will save me their scraps. Other people will pass on yarn from inherited stashes. I have so much yarn in my craft room that is for puppets that I could supply many knitters for quite some time. I also pass on bigger balls of yarn to a friend who knits vests, socks, mitts, etc for her churchs mission work; and she saves me her small balls for puppets.

So, if you are looking for a simple way to make a big difference ... I recommend knitting puppets for the IWK. Or your local hospital (we give them to our hosptial here, when they ask for them) There are lots of fancier puppet patterns you can find online; knit them as plain or as fancy as you want.


Toutoune98 said...

WOW!!!! You and your friends a simply wonderful ladies. I'm sure those puppets will make a difference in those little ones lives.

You're so generous!

Does any yarn can be used? Even cotton one?

Fingers are hitching!!!!



Dorothy said...

Only yarn we don't use is rough feeling stuff. Anything else is "fair game" :)

Anonymous said...

Dorothy! You are a kind and generous woman! Keep on knitting!

Barbara from Nova Scotia said...

Hi Dorothy! I just found a lonely puppet here from the first time I made them and my daughter wanted to keep one. I will share your post around, if you don't mind, to inspire others. I will link directly to your blog. Thank you for making such a difference to young lives.

Amanda Pedro said...

what a great story! wonderful work.