The year of the Rabbit is seen as a year of sweet goodness in all kinds of ways.
I am totally in favor of that, and I certainly hope it will show itself to be a gentle and healing and harmonious year in 2023.
This Rabbit year is a busy one for me.
I am focused on 5 things, as well as all the usual things that unfold in life-
1- Grieving the sudden death of my beloved son in law is hard work, and has revealed the deep paradox that love offers us: The immense gratitude for everything that love brings us, including the shocks and anguish of loss, as well as all the incredible blessings… truly paradoxical.
2- I am knitting as many Comfort Bears as I can get done before the Celebration of my lovely Son in Love’s life this Spring in his honor to give to people at the Celebration of his life.
They were very important to him, and he always had at least 3 in his pockets, as well as his personal Comfort Bear, so he could give them to people who needed comfort. He was such a lovely man that people would confide their sorrows to him, and he would give them a comfort bear, and then see if there was something else that he could do for them. Kindness was truly his religion!
As I have been working on the Comfort Bears, a new design for them has evolved, and I will make a pattern and a video for them when I can get to it.
BUT… this year of the Rabbit is a VERY busy one indeed….
3- I am working to deadline on a new book- Yay! I can’t say anything about it, except that I am working with my much loved editor (hurrah) again at Stackpole Books. Writing this book is really helping me to move forward and it is very healing to be focused on loveliness!
4- I am also working on a new solo show of my woven works for 2024…. again… very healing, very powerful, and exciting as I have had lots of breakthroughs into new places in my wovenworks 🙂
5- And this is the one that is most immanent and that I am scrambling to get the work done on asap:
For about 7 years (!) I have been working on a new set of looms and co-creating them with Donna and Gary McFarland of Dewberry Ridge Looms. I am just a (rather large and longish) Hare’s Breath away from finishing up all the editing, pattern writing, video shooting, photo taking, photo editing and all that that involves, so that I can finally…. F I N A L L Y get these looms out into the world. Whew and yay!
And, oh yes, I mustn’t forget…. my husband and I have unexpectedly adopted a very sweet and rather wild little new furkid who is an astonishing handful and is completely full of adorable love and puppy wackiness…. puppies…. sheesh….. and lots of loving laughter.
He is my devoted studio companion, and has his own chair right beside me. Excellent solution to the problem of him needing to be glued to me 🙂 ❤
I hope that 2023 will be a truly fine one for us all. Happy Year of the Rabbit!
For the last almost 20 years or so, I have been crocheting, knitting and weaving little bears and giving them away as my way of spreading kindness, comfort, solace and delight.
I have made thousands of them, and I have never had anyone say no when I offer them one.
And, the lovely stories that people tell me about their experiences with them are so special.
(LINK to the Craft Yarn Council of America Website for the explanation about how I was inspired by the events of 9/11 to design the first Comfort Bears and the pattern for the very first one.)
So, anyhow… back to Panda Pocket/Comfort/Blessing Bears……
Last week, I had an ‘Aha’ moment… I thought….. I should design a Blessing Bear that is a Panda!
After all…. who doesn’t love a Panda?
I set to work on it and came up with this little darling:
I’ve seen that people love the ‘hugging arms’ that allow the bear to hug them back, so I designed the arms to be all one piece. Perfect for giving hugs.
Although, the little huggetty arms can also cleverly hang onto things….
A dear friend came for tea today and fell madly in love with the Panda, and she was thrilled when I gave the prototype to her. It immediately jumped onto the clasp on her bag:
I thought that that was very clever of her!
Even though I designed the pattern to be a Panda, it doesn’t have to just be a Panda….
Crochet it in blue yarn, and it’s a Blue Bear of Happiness.
Crochet it in brown yarn, and it’s a dear little ‘Regular Sort of a Bear’.
No matter how you crochet it, please put love into every stitch.
Please DO NOT SELL THEM.
Please make tons of them and carry them in your pockets, because you’ll be amazed at how much joy you can spread by giving them away. You will bring kindness and happiness and goodness knows, we all need that.
I make Blessing Bears as often and as much as I can and give them to the ministers at our church, and they give them away as part of pastoral care. Please feel free to do the same.
I love that these bears bring a ray of sunshine. I hope that you’ll enjoy making and sharing them, too!
HERE’S THE PATTERN- IT IS MY ORIGINAL DESIGN, SO PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHT AND SEND PEOPLE TO MY BLOG (AND YOUTUBE FOR THE VIDEO)- PLEASE DO NOT COPY OR SHARE THE PATTERN.
Scroll down the page for the video of how to crochet the Pandas.
CROCHETED PANDA BLESSING BEAR
Designed by Noreen Crone-Findlay (c) 2019
The size of your hook and weight of your yarn will determine the gauge of the crocheting, and the finished size of your bear. When made with worsted-weight yarn, the Panda Blessing Bear is approximately 3 inches tall. When made with thicker yarn and a larger hook it will be bigger. When made with thinner yarn and a smaller hook it will be smaller. To make this bear, you will need to know how to make a chain, slip stitch and single crochet.
The bears in the photos were made with less than half an ounce of worsted-weight yarn or bulky weight yarn. Hand spun is wonderful.
Black embroidery floss for embroidering the features. 2 tiny beads for eyes- but embroider the eyes if you are going to give it to a child who is younger than 3 years old.
Crochet Hook in a size slightly smaller than you would usually use for the size of yarn to give a denser fabric
A tiny amount of stuffing
Darning needle for sewing seams
Embroidery needle for embroidering features ABBREVIATIONS:
Sc= single crochet Turn= turn the work over and start the next row in the last st of the last row
* to *= you will repeat the instructions that appear between the two”*” signs however many times stated in the pattern.
BEGIN WITH THE FIRST LEG: With Black Yarn:
Ch 5, leaving about 4 inches of yarn at beginning of ch. This tail will be used to sew the legs up later. Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch to end. (4 sc). Ch 1 and turn. Row 2: 4 sc, ch l, turn. Cut yarn, and draw end through last ch l.
SECOND LEG: Repeat Rows 1 & 2 for the second leg. Tie white yarn to black yarn end, leaving a 4 inch/10 cm tail.
NOTE: If you are doing a bear in just one color, don’t cut the yarn at the end of the 2nd leg. Just continue working with it.
BODY: With White Yarn: Row 3: Work l sc in each of the 4 sc of one leg, then work l sc in each of the 4 sc of the other leg. (8 sc). Ch l and turn. Rows 4 & 5 & 6: 8 sc, ch l, turn.
HEAD: Row 7: 2 sc in each sc, (16 sc ) ch l, turn. Row 8: 16 sc, ch l, turn. Row 9: (l sc , sk next sc) 8 times, 1 sc in last sc. (9 sc) ch l turn. Row 10: *1 sc, skip next sc* Repeat from * to * 5 times. (5 sc).
Cut yarn, leaving a tail of about 10 inches, pull yarn end through last ch l.
ARMS: Make 1: Note: The arm piece should be about 2 1/2 inches/6 cm long, so depending on your choice of yarn and hook, you may have to change the number of stitches you use to make it.
Row 1: Ch 10, slip stitch in 2nd ch from hook, and in each remaining ch. (9 slip stitches). Cut yarn, leaving a tail of about 4 inches, pull yarn end through last ch l.
FINISHING: HEAD: Take the yarn end into the needle and then go through each of the 4 sc at the top of the head to gather the upper edge of head, then pull up tightly. Stitch to anchor.
-Sew center back seam of head.
NECK: Wrap yarn end around neck of bear 3 or 4 times, and pull up tightly.
– Stitch over the neck wraps 2 or 3 times to lock in place.
BODY: Stuff body and sew shut.
LEGS: Fold the leg edges together. With the starting yarn end, sew the leg seams. Tie the yarn ends in a tight knot and take all ends inside body.
ARMS: Take one yarn end of the arm through the shoulders of the bear. Pull up to lock the arm piece to the bear. Use the end to stitch the other end to the bear’s shoulder. Take the ends inside the bear.
Stitch the other end of the arm piece to the bear and then take the ends inside the body.
EARS: With Black yarn: Push crochet hook into a stitch in the top of the head, yo, pull up a loop onto hook. Ch 4.
-Cut yarn, pull end through last loop on hook.
-Tie a knot with first yarn end, then thread yarn end into darning needle, and hide yarn ends inside
-Repeat for other ear.
FEATURES: With Black yarn:
EYE PATCHES: At the midpoint of the head, take 2 or 3 stitches that cover 2 sc for the first eye, then 2 or 3 stitches that cover 2 sc for the second eye. Note, if you are making a bear that isn’t a Panda, skip the eye patches.
NOSE: take one stitch slightly below and between the eye patches.
MOUTH: Take 2 stitches slightly below the mouth. Take the yarn end inside the Panda’s head.
EYE BEADS: Stitch one small black bead at the center of each eye patch. Start at the back of the neck- take the needle in through the body and out at the neck, then make a securing stitch then take the needle to the front of the face, stitch one bead on for the first eye, then go to the second eye and stitch another bead on. Take the needle back through the head and out at the back of the neck. Make a tiny securing stitch and then take the needle into the body and out, pull up and snip the end close to the body.
Here is a link to a bunch of posts for patterns that I have designed. Sometimes, I call them ‘Comfie Bears’, sometimes, ‘Blessing Bears’, sometimes, ‘Pocket Bears’, sometimes, ‘Prayer Bears’ or ‘Compassion Bears’. LINK
Originally, I designed these little bears for Syrian refugee children, but I wanted to address the critical comments that some people had made. They said that we should be taking care of people who are already here and are suffering.
Well, I agree: We do need to care for those in pain, but it is NOT an either/or situation: It is AND.
I had recently read an article that spoke of acts of compassion and ended by saying that the heart must stretch, or it will break.
I thought: Alright… let’s stretch the heartstrings.
I thought: Who is here that needs me? Immediately, the answer came up: The Women’s Shelter.
So, two weeks ago, I asked the Women’s Shelter if I could donate some of the tiny Blessing/Comfort/Kindness bears to the children in their care.
Confession time: Truth be told, I was still in the design stage at this point… how bold of me to phone them up when I hadn’t even finished the workable prototype! LOL
They said, ‘YES! Please make us 40!’
When I recovered from my astonishment, I said: ‘Of course I will’.
And, so, for the last 2 weeks, I have gotten up early (very VERY early some mornings!) and gone to bed late….
and …. tadah!!!!
40 little Comfort/Blessing Bears in a Basket!(made with love by Noreen Crone-Findlay)
I knew that I could not possibly get them all knitted by hand in only 2 weeks, so I knitted the bodies of most of them by machine, but some of them, I knitted on 2 sets of circular needles (cumbersome) and some on 4 dpn’s… which is much more doable than the 2 circs.
(I have my dpn’s and yarn with a bear on it in my ‘going out the door’ knitting bag… more about that, later).
The hand work of sewing the back seam, stuffing the bear, sewing both ends shut then making the necks, legs, ears, stitching on the arms and embroidering the faces is what takes up most of the bear making time.
It’s slow, but contemplative work, and it brings me such great delight as each little face smiles up at me when I finish embroidering it! Such joy!!!!
I have to race to finish family Christmas presents now, but I will be casting on lots more stitches for more, more, more bears- for Syrian refugee children, and more for the Women’s Shelter to have on hand, and more because I keep meeting people who need them….
This makes me sooooooooooooo happy! ❤ 😀 ❤
Yup, this has been a real heart stretcher… I have so much more room in my heart than I ever thought possible.
Tottie Talks Crafts Blog · Noreen Crone-Findlay talks about the crafts she loves with her friend, Tottie Tomato. They'll be sharing tutorials, how to's and step by steps for spool knitting, crochet, doll making, small loom weaving, wood working, paper crafts and all manner of other fun crafts. This is a family friendly blog.