Forest School Friends

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It’s been slow going and there have been a few sleepless nights – but this week I finally completed the Forest School Friends for Hollies Nursery and dropped them off ready to be played with!

Hollies nursery are a ‘Forest School’ and participate in activities, helping children to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environments with trees.

They asked me to design an owl, a squirrel and a hedgehog to be used as learning tools with the children. Hollies have developed a story based around the characters and wanted an extra eight of each toy to animate their story-telling and for the kids to play with. Parents will also be able to buy the patterns so that children can have their own knitted set at home! Hollies are currently working with a local college to create a book based on their story, using the knitted characters as inspiration for the illustrations. I have also been asked to design a badger to add to the family!

Sammy Squirrel was the first toy to be completed. I normally go for a fairly neutral expression on toys as I find that smiles can look a bit creepy! But as these were for a nursery, I wanted them to have happy, smiley faces and  I’m really pleased with the results. I love how they all have a slightly different expression and particularly like the one at the back with the wonky smile who looks like he’s saying ‘how you doin’?’.

My friend Pat did a lovely job of knitting these up for me and then I did the sewing up because that’s my favourite bit (yes- I’ve been told I’m weird!). Thanks for your help Pat! x

Ola Owl went through a few colour changes before Hollies Nursery settled on shades of brown and a yellow beak and feet. Sort of like a tawny owl but not 100% true to life! When I’ve designed owls in the past I have always used big 4-hole buttons for the eyes, so I was a bit worried about getting the eyes to look right without adding buttons – which would obviously be a choke risk for the smaller children. I think the intarsia has worked really well and they look suitably wise!

Harrie Hedgehog is my favourite! But I had the same issue as with the squirrel – I wanted to make them smile without looking sinister. I think the little grin works. They look like they’re saying ‘doop de doop de doo – just pootling round the garden’. Although the one on the bottom right seems to be saying ‘mmph – I’m getting squished’.

My friend Steph (aka Nettynot) knitted the pieces for these. Thanks Steph! x

I will be making the patterns for all the Forest School Friends available in my Ravelry shop and they will also be available direct from Hollies. I’ll let you know when they’re ready! x

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