The request for a nine-inch-tall Christopher Robin made me smile. I have fond memories of my mother teaching me about pooh sticks and tiddly poms and Christopher Robin saying, “silly old bear.” The excitement turned to nervousness when the reality set in that I had to somehow differentiate him as Christopher Robin vs. any other male figure.
I don’t make human figures often and any time I get a request to make one I get nervous. It’s weird. I don’t like painting or drawing portraits, either. In amigurumi world, though, humans pose all sorts of tricky problems. There are lots of ways to make hair, but they are all a little tedious and problematic. Embroider it? Knot it on? Crochet it?
Getting the right proportions are also really important, but hard to judge as you go. Are the legs a bit too long? The arms a bit too skinny? Plus, you have the debate about how cartoony vs. realistic to make the person. Should it actually have fingers? Should the legs start fat and get skinnier or the other way around?
Then you have to try and get it to stand on it’s own….or should it sit? Make a neck or don’t bother? Should clothes be part of the body or separate from the body? How the heck am I supposed to make a V-neck??
I took a deep breath, stared at lots of pictures and made several to-scale drawings. By the end of the project, I had really learned a lot. Most of all, I learned to trust that I have finally gotten to the point where I can really make just about anything I set my mind to making!
I sat down one evening with the goal to get the right shaped head. That way, I could judge every other piece against the head size. I went to bed that night with a head – a head I was sure was all wrong. This was going to be impossible. How could I make him actually look like Christopher Robin? How can I impart youth into a crocheted person?
The next morning I thought, if starting with the head wasn’t going to work for me, then I’d start with the feet and build up from there. I worked on one shoe and, when I was finished with the shoe I found myself surprised and delighted by the result! From nothing, I ended up with this cute little loafer! I could have just made it bigger and Margot could have worn it! Then I thought, if I could do the shoe, then I can do the sock to go in it. Before I knew it, I had a sock! It was easy enough to stick a leg inside that sock and some shorts on top and I realized, I can do this! Why hadn’t I trusted that I would make this work? Why can’t I remember that I always make it work in the end? I was also glad for the extra practice making clothing that looks like it’s being worn (the sleeves go over the arms, the shorts go over the legs, etc.)
Even once I had the entire body finished, including that darn collar, I still looked at the smile-less head staring at me and worried. He still didn’t look like Christopher Robin. I actually had to tell myself to just go for it. Start some hair, increase when it feels right and decrease when it needs to be a little smaller. Before I knew it, this little boy had a full head of hair and had been transformed from Charlie Brown into Christopher Robin! It’s hard to stare at a blank head and imagine that it can turn into a cute little boy, but it just did. It sort of shocked me this time, I’ll be honest. The hair swoop was the definite crowning achievement.
Then came the final test. I stood him up (my heart pounding a bit faster than it should be considering we’re talking about amigurumi not, like, heart surgery). He stood! Without propping! Oh, happy day.
And, hopefully a happy birthday to a little girl turning three. I hope it’s something she cherishes, even if just for that day. It feels good to complete a project, proud of the result, but it feels especially good when you know the finished product has a good home to go to.
He also needed a little something, so I decided to make him a tiny Winnie-the-Pooh. He just didn’t seem to be complete without his Pooh-bear.
Final, and maybe most important note about this project, this Christopher Robin picture shows him standing in front of a watercolor painting I did years ago. I’ve been wanting to paint and create other mixed media backgrounds for my amigurumi creations for a long time, but just haven’t had the time or mindset to really go for it. I also wasn’t sure that they would look very good. At the last minute, before packaging up Christopher Robin, I remembered that picture of the forest I had painted and thought I’d use that as the Hundred Acre Wood. I am really excited by the result! I know that it will probably be a while before I can realistically commit to making my own photo backgrounds, but I now know that I definitely want to.