|There's something about hand-knit toys that inspires a happy reaction. Linda holds up her green wool lion for a photo shoot.|
|With a body of variegated yarn and carefully selected colours for paws, mane and tail, toys like this are Linda's chance to make colourful little sculptures.|
|Blue, orange and green lions -- the latest trio from Linda's knitting needles.|
What can be so serious about life when you're holding a little green lion? With a pear-shaped body, curled-up twist of a tail, full-face fringe for a mane and woggly limbs, the little critter is simplicity, childhood and playtime embodied.
The green lion, along with his orange and blue siblings, is the latest in a long line of children's toys created by my knitting friend Linda. Mostly, she makes wearable things -- sweaters and hats and socks and scarves -- but she finds another kind of pleasure in creating three-dimensional figures; little sculptures out of balls of wool. "You end up with something lifelike," she says, adding her favourite part is putting on the facial features. "They come to life then."
Whether it's lions, giraffes, zebras, elephants, bunnies or dinosaurs -- all of which have emerged from Linda's needles -- the process is similar. The bodies and heads are knit in one piece from pure wool and stuffed with hypoallergenic filling; limbs and extras are then attached. Colour is a big part of the pleasure for my artistic friend. She chooses interesting balls of variegated yarn, then slices it up to give her critters different-coloured paws, say, or manes or tails.
Over the years, her toys have gone to the children and grandchildren of a long list of friends, relatives and acquaintances. The payoff is photos of delighted children playing with her creations, or seeing her toys in the strollers of the children she encounters in her neighbourhood.
The effects of the toys aren't limited to kids. When I visited Linda recently, we curled up on her couch, both nursing bum knees, and talked about -- among other things -- the exigencies of aging. But when she brought out her green lion for photographs, suddenly we were laughing our heads off.
|Big smiles from my sister Betty (right) and her granddaughter Maya when Linda made toys for Betty's grandchildren a number of Christmases ago.|
|Maya's smile says it all -- this is why Linda gets such a kick out of making toys.|
|Betty and grandson Jonah, the same Christmas, with another knitted toy.|
|Jonah and his bunny, knit by Linda.|
|A look at the orange lion, with pink mane and pink back paws.|
|A back view, with a cute little tail sticking up.|
|An earlier version of lions, made by Linda several years ago.|
|Linda made a variety of dinosaurs a few years ago. The add-ons are amazing.|
|A toothy grin on this one.|
|Oh, the complications of the spiny ridge on this guy!|
|The dinosaurs en masse. I'm sure some kids were delighted.|
|Linda laughing -- again -- after our green lion photo shoot.|