December 7, 2012

Powers for Good, Mr. Skeesbear!

I might have mentioned that my husband is a teacher. He does a lot for his school, more so than most, I think. He works the after-school program until 6pm three out of five nights a week. He is the moderator for both the Norsemen and the Ultimate Frisbee club. Most days he is on campus from 7am till 6pm.

In past four years he has taught five different subjects. This has allowed him to teach the same pool of students even though they move up in grade every year. This means that for a few kids, he has become more than just a teacher. Talking with someone almost every day for three years is a pretty powerful bond, so much so that he has become as much of a friend, mentor and father figure as a teacher.

Like all high schoolers, they have to graduate. But for a few, it is more like leaving a second home, than just leaving a school. It is difficult to leave the support groups we make for ourselves. It is scary. Not only are there the normal stresses of school, graduating, social identity, friend drama, finals, college applications, and the giant scary question: "what am I going to be", but now they have to try and do it by themselves. At least until they form new groups where ever they end up. I speak from experience, and I know this is case for a lot of people.

The good thing is that even though you might physically leave the presence of your good friends, mentors and family, you certainly can still call upon them whenever you need them. And it is good to grow in your own confidence. To struggle for a bit and figure out what you want without any influences.

Anyway this is getting more emotional than about crochet, so I'll stop there.

For these few kids who are graduating this year, I decided to make them a present. A little mentor and friend to take with them. A little piece of the place they spent so much time in. A little friend to hug. To remind them to be good and that they are loved, special, smart, talented, and not alone!!!

I used the base pattern from PicaPau that I made the monkeys from. I know she has made bears from it by looking at her blog site, so I tried to do the same. I used a round disk of lighter color for the snout and embroidered a nose and mouth in a darker brown than the "skin" tone. I also added some heavy brows and a little goatee like my husband has. The ears are the same as the monkey's minus one row to make them smaller and placed higher on the head.

I also pulled the clothing look from my husband's standard wardrobe for work. I made up a new pattern for the arms (at the bottom of the post), to give it a look like it had rolled up sleeves. I also made up a pattern for a tie and for a vest (also at the bottom). Instead of switching colors for the shirt, I made it a solid in their favorite colors. I then switched to black for pants. And finally back to brown for the feet.

 The tie, embroidered belt, and vest are all in a dark gray. The buttons on the vests are all leftovers from my jar of extra buttons that come with the shirts you buy.

 And of course a tiny bear tail on the butt.

Over the course of making these I couldn't resist giving them test hugs... I did marry the guy they are modeled on after all. :)

Arm Pattern
A note: The arm pattern from the original pattern is worked from the hand to the shoulder, mine is worked the other way, from the shoulder to the hand, so that I could have two pieces to get the fold over for the shirt cuff.

Row 1: Chain 5 in desired shirt color
2: 2 single crochet in each, (10 stitches)
3-10:  sc in each around
11: Sc in each, front chain only
12: Sc in each, bind off leaving a long tail
Fold over last two rows and sew cuff down using the tail. Stuff the top half of the arm here.
13: switch to brown/skin tone yarn, one sc in each open loop of row 11 which should be exposed when you folded it over.
12-16: sc in each (10sts)
17: *sc in one, 2sc in next*, *repeat around, (15 sts)
18: sc in each
19: sc, popcorn stitch^, 13 sc  (^popcorn stitch: 4 double crochet in the same stitch, remove hook, insert in top of first dc, pick up loop and pull through, extra chain to secure)
20: sc in each (15)
21:  *sc in one, decrease next two*, *repeat (10), Stuff bottom half of arm here.
22: decrease around (5), bind off

Vest Pattern
I am sure there might be better ways to make vests, but I wanted to make one single piece vest. The arm holes are a little small, so you have to squish the hand a bit to get them into it, but once the hand is through it fits nicely around the join where you have sewn on the arms. Note, to keep in in my mind I broke it down so that 10 chains is the left side, 15 chains makes the back of the vest and the last 10 are the right side. It should overlap a little on the front of the body if you wrap your chain around the finished bear body. Also note, I used a chain 1 at the beginning of each row to make sure I had room to get into that first stitch and make sure I didn't drop any. The decreases on the end of the rows makes the V neck of the vest. Row 7 makes the arm holes, hence why it is treble crochet to get the height. Also note, this is worked from the bottom of the vest to the neck.
Finished flat vest. Having it be another piece means dolly dress-up fun!

Chain 35, turn
Row 1: Chain 1, single crochet into first chain on from hook, or 35 sc
Row 2-4: Chain 1, sc35, (3 rows)
5: Chain 1, Decrease twice, sc 27, decrease twice more
6: Chain 1, Dec 2, sc 23, dec 2
7: Chain 1, Dec 2, sc 1, ch 4, skip 2 stitches, trebele crochet next 13, chain 4, skip 2 stitches, sc, dec
8: Chain 1, slip stitch in first two chains of 4, sc in other 2 chains, sc in each treble, sc in first two chain, slip st in next two, dec,
Bind off, weave in ends to the inside of the vest piece so you don't see them.