'Sock and Glove' by Miyako Kanamori has been a good investment. Since giving up art school and being a full time mama, I've found a lot of fun inspiration and projects in various books. This one has been used many times to create gifts for new baby's and even big kids. For about $25NZ, that's great value.
The gloves themselves are really inexpensive. Because they are for babies, I have a thing about using new or quality used things. So a new plain cloth pair of gardening gloves set you back about $1 a pair depending where you shop. A multipack of 6 pairs costs about $5 at Pete's Emporium in Porirua. Then you just need some stuffing. For baby toys, I use the new polyfill from Spotlight. I have been unable to source a more environment friendly filler but if you know of one then let me know.
I also have used second hand gloves and socks, washed well of course. Rugby socks, college uniform socks, and work socks all provide interesting textures and distinctive colours, as do stripey or handknitted ones. Its just a matter of preference. I have a good selection of both new and old that I collect and keep an eye out for. I've also found the odd mitten and glove about town lying forlorn and forgotten on a footpath or in some forsaken place. I pocket orphans happily knowing they will become colourful
I knit the ear warmer and little green scarf, the crochet flowers are trims I've collected over time. I really enjoy the white and black theme, and those marle gloves make cute dogs. I hand stitch the details but machine sew the bodies and heads wherever possible when . You can make the whole puppy or rabbit very low tech, handsewing them. Each one takes one pair of gloves, some trims or buttons, and basic stitching (in and out will do) making them ideal for kids or beginner sewers. The every step is illustrated and the instructions are very clear. It only takes a couple of hours to make your first one if your new to sewing.
Because my city is cold, I knit them all accessories and used bright colours, crocheting small noses and eyes to stitch on, using a variety of bright buttons to match. I always make the sample ones in the book to start with, then when I get the general idea, I try and depart from the main idea of the author to create bunnies and puppies that are really mine. I've made several batches of these, and enjoy the making process a lot.
I think because I have three sons plus am constantly surrounded by their friends, and thus live in a fully testosterone loaded environment, I get the odd rush to make something feminine or girly. This is about as cutesy as I get. Having a toddler and children helps disguise that really, this whole exercise is more self-gratifying. A salve to my girl self living in a male dominated house.
These odd creatures are my own creations called "Maori boys". The Maori people are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand. These guys, with their brown 'skin' and big lips made it very easy to name them. I don't usually have strong Maori themes in any of my work, preferring to just think of myself as a maker and artist who is Maori, rather than trying to force culture into my work. The fact that they are made from woollen work socks also refers to many of the brothers who work on our roadworks teams and the Maori wave (lifted eyebrows and slight uptilt of the head) whenever they make eye contact with me or other Maori on the roads.
These two are made from one $2 pair of work socks from Pete's Emporium. The vintage buttons are from my favourite stash of very old buttons from Asia Gallery. I was challenged to stitch a tiki doll but this is what I came up with instead using what I had.
These two leaning against the fence remind me of my cuzzies at the marae. I am happy to take commissions for my toys. I'm also happy to have these very affordable gifts to fall back on whenever a baby is born in my family and community. They are always welcome, these Maori boys of mine, wherever we go. If only they could play the guitar.