Well, Virginia, that’s a pretty long story. Let’s start here:
I knit each Snooter-doot to-shape first. It is a mostly a series of increases and decreases in just the knit (garter) and purl stitches. I use 100% wool, or wool/alpaca/llama, yarn. I buy it new rather than using upcycled sweaters because after all that knitting I need to be sure it will actually felt well. (We’ll discuss wool & felting later.)
Before & after felting
I’ve got a pretty good understanding of my basic proportions now, and have standardized most of my patterns, so I can usually ‘guess-timate’ what it may take to produce a new critter if it is based on an existing shape. There’s a wide range of shrinkage to account for when you are felting wool. If it’s an entirely new Snooter-doot shape, it usually takes at least three or four prototypes to get it just right. (I’ll tell you all about inspiration another time.)
I run what I call ‘blanks’ on my knitting machine. That produces a straight ‘tube’ that I then finish by hand with all the shaping it takes to create each different softie. Some of our Snooter-doot friends must be knit entirely by hand, like Carl Carrot, Morrie Monster, and our newest BFFs, the Hearts. (I can show you some knitting basics later, if you are interested.)
Once all the knitting is done, wings and fins and greens attached, everybody takes a hot, bumpy ride in the washing machine. Sometimes it takes several ‘rides’ to get the felting done just right. When it is, they all sit out to dry on their special drying rack in the basement.
Now comes the fun part! When they are all completely dry, I stuff ‘em! I use polyester fiberfill, and pack it quite tightly so they will hold their shapes well, but they are still called ‘softies’ even though they are so firm. Then, I attach their whimsical, wonky eyes – that’s what makes a Snooter-doot a Snooter-doot, you know! I do that by ‘needle-felting’ (I’ll show you how that works later).
Needle-felting the eyes
Once their eyes are securely in place, I determine what their name will be. Sometimes they tell me; sometimes I have ideas of my own to suggest. That day becomes their official birthday, and my softies are then ready for adoption into their forever families.
Mama Snooter has been crafting, in one form or another, most of her life. Although she has enjoyed working for over 25 years as a consultant to the horticultural industry in Western Washington, her true passion has always been to ‘make things.’ Inspired by her daughter’s childhood fanciful ‘imaginary friends’, she is now knitting life into those bedtime story critters.
She sells Snooter-doots directly via arts/craft fairs in the Pacific Northwest. Her critters are also available in several high-end shops in the Seattle area, such as the gift shop at the Seattle Art Museum, MOHAI, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Room and Board stores throughout the country.
Her intention is that these creations 'inspire smiles and generate joy; as soft-sculpture, folk-art whimisical creatures that can become a buddy or just look cool on the couch.
Her mission is to create a locally based cottage industry, with production methods that are easy on the environment.