Mother Bear Project is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of creating comfort and hope for children in emerging nations. Their brochure describes what these children face:
17.9 million African children have lost a parent to HIV/AIDS. They have little to eat, limited medical care and many have no place to sleep. Something as simple as a hand-made bear can bring comfort and hope to a child who struggles to survive in a world made more difficult by the horrific HIV/AIDS pandemic.
It's very touching to read some of the stores of how much these bears mean to the children. A teacher in South Africa relates "[o]ne little boy risked his life to rescue his bear. He told his sister, 'I have to get my bear. The heart on it means someone loves me.' Their house was destroyed minutes later by torrential rains." This and many similar stories are shared on the brochure and website.
Some things in this world are so clearly good and right and worth your time and money and Mother Bear Project is one of those things. Even if you are not a knitter you can help by donating to help cover the cost of yarn for those knitters who would otherwise be unable to afford the yarn needed to make a bear. For a $10.00 donation you can sponsor a bear and the bear's tag will carry the name of your choice.
Which reminds me each bear comes with a tag from Mother Bear Project and the name of the knitter written on the reverse side so the children know there's a real person who made the bear especially for them. It's that personal caring that makes this project mean so much to the children. On the back of my tag I wrote "knit with love by Claudia."
This is my first bear for the project and I bought the all inclusive kit they sell on their website that includes the pattern, needles and yarn so that I had everything I needed. The project does require that everyone use the same pattern (knit or crochet) but you can buy just the pattern if you already have the yarn and needles. Although each bear will be the same in size and construction you are encouraged to dress them up and make them as bright and fun as possible for the children. I added a colorful bow tie to mine and have shared the pattern below as an easy option to finish your bear off with a cute dapper look!
Knit Bow Tie Pattern
This is my personal pattern designed to fit bears knit with the Mother Bear Project's pattern. If you want to adjust it to a different bear pattern (or another type of toy animal) you may need to adjust the pattern accordingly to fit the size of your bear and/or toy.
Fingering weight yarn (held doubled) or yarn of equivalent weight (you want a fairly firm fabric). I used a light yellow yarn for the collar and a dark yellow for the actual bow tie to give it some contrast.
US 3 needles
CO = Cast On
K = Knit all stitches
SSK = Slip Slip Knit (Left slanting decrease)
K2Tog = Knit 2 stitches together (right slanting decrease)
kfb = Knit into both the front and back of the same stitch (increase 1 stitch)
BO = Bind Off
1. Begin by making a collar that will snugly fit around your bear's neck. Holding your yarn doubled CO 4 stitches using the long tail method. Knit every row (garterstitch) until long enough that when stretched the length will snugly fit the circumference of your bear's neck. BO all stitches and cut yarn leaving a 12 inches tail.
2. Knit the bow tie as follows:
CO 12 stitches using the long tail method.
Row 1 K all stitches
Row 2 SSK knit until last 2 stitches, K2Tog (2 stitches decreased) 10 stitches remain
Row 3 K all stitches
Row 4 SSK knit until last 2 stitches, K2Tog (2 stitches decreased) 8 stitches remain
Row 5 K all stitches
Row 6 SSK knit until last 2 stitches, K2Tog (2 stitches decreased) 6 stitches remain
Row 7 K all stitches
Row 8 SSK knit until last 2 stitches, K2Tog (2 stitches decreased) 4 stitches remain
Rows 9 - 12 Knit all stitches
Row 13 kfb knit until last stitch, kfb (2 stitches increased) 6 stitches remain
Row 14 K all stitches
Row 15 kfb knit until last stitch, kfb (2 stitches increased) 8 stitches remain
Row 16 K all stitches
Row 17 kfb knit until last stitch, kfb (2 stitches increased) 10 stitches remain
Row 18 K all stitches
Row 19 kfb knit until last stitch, kfb (2 stitches increased) 12 stitches remain
BO all stitches and weave in all yarn ends.
3. Sew the center of your bow tie to the middle of the collar you knit in Step 1 above.
4. Weave in the yarn from CO edge of bear's collar. Then place the collar around the bear's neck and using the 12 inch yarn tail from the BO edge sew the collar ends together using a whip stitch. Lastly tack (sew) the collar firmly to the Bear to keep his bow tie from moving about.
I have tried to be as accurate as possible with this "pattern." Should you find an error please accept my apologies in advance and if you let me know I will make the correction.
Particulars: Pattern by Mother Bear Project; all inclusive Kit sold by Mother Bear Project; US 7 doubled pointed needles; small oddments of fingering yarn used for bowtie (I used a lighter color for the color and a darker color for the actual bow tie). This is a very simple pattern and according to the Mother Bear Project website it has been knit by knitters of all skill levels (beginners to experts) from all over the world. The finished bear is approximately 12 inches tall. My kit came with an acrylic yarn which I think is a very suitable and sturdy yarn for this type of project and comes in lots of bright colors which the children enjoy. To see the children when they receive their bears check out Mother Bear Project's Facebook page. Incidentally, to date 120,000 bears have been knit.
I have knit a variety of toys over the years primarily given away as shower gifts, although I have kept a few (as seen in the picture above). The following are links are to various post that feature a knit toy: elephant; mouse (pictured); monster; monkey; teddy bear (pictured); bunny; rabbit; mousie; wet-felted rabbit (pictured); and a felted owl.
Until next time be well, love well and over the long hot summer months is the perfect time to give knitting a toying a try!
Edited to add ~ The following picture was shared by Steve who sponsored three bears in my name! They are all so cute, this makes me very happy. Yep, he's a keeper.