Yana Knits

Learn to Knit

Mother Bear Project

I made an adorable little crocheted bear for a charity called Mother Bear Project. This organization sends hand-made knitted and crocheted bears to children affected by HIV and AIDS in emerging nations. The way it works is like this: they sell patterns and kits to make bears, volunteers make the bears and either send them back or drop them off at participating local yarn stores. The bears are then batched and sent off to children.

I'd never heard of Mother Bear Project until I came across their booth at Stitches West. It was tucked away on the last isle of a huge conference hall (or maybe the first isle, depending on which end of the hall you started at, I happened to start at the opposite end) and by the time I got there all the knitting kits were already gone. There were a few crochet kits left, however, and I picked one up determined to make a child somewhere in the world a little happier.

The kit contains everything you need to complete a bear: different color yarns for different parts, crochet (or needles), and instructions. The instructions are very simple and easy to follow. You can stick to the exact measurements listed or you can improvise with color, shape, and size. If you purchase a pattern without a kit, you can use your own yarn in any color you want - leftovers and scraps are perfect for this project. The basic pattern is a bear wearing pants and a shirt, but you can make any other clothes and accessories for it: skirts, collars, scarfs, etc... I had a bit of yarn left after completing the basic bear, so I added a little scarf and a skirt.

It took me less than a weekend to crochet the bear. I was excited to get it done and get it sent off. I stitched the seams, stuffed the bear, tied the scarf around its neck, threaded the yarn into a tapestry needle... and that's where everything stalled. For 4 months. I've mentioned earlier that I'm not a sewer. I'm especially NOT an embroiderer. I was put off by the prospect of making the bear face. I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't just slap some buttons for the eyes and nose, like I've done for my other crocheted toys - Spider, Sheep, Moose, and Giraffe. Somehow the bear ended up stashed away in a yarn basket not to be seen again till last weekend.

I picked it up again on Sunday and it made me sad that I abandoned this project for so long. I didn't get any better at or more amenable to embroidering, but I buckled down and did it. It took several tries to make the face look somewhat face-like, but I succeeded in the end. I happen to live not too far from Green Planet Yarn, one of the participating Mother Bear Project stores, so I went there to drop the bear off. There were already a few bears, both crocheted and knitted, sitting in a basket near a window, and mine joined them. Hopefully soon it will be on its way to a child.