Like anyone, I love to make stuff out of old sweaters. But, unlike people of average or lower-than-average mechanical aptitude, I am sewing machine impaired. Go ahead, smirk, you smug people who can change a bobbin without your deluxe 1960 ZigZag machine disintegrating into a pile of rubble. You don’t know what it’s like to be marked by the bobbin gods.

I’m not sure what kind of deal my amazing seamstress mom made with the Dark Priestess of Stitchery before I was born, but suffice it to say that if I were that young lady in Rumpelstiltskin, my special talent wouldn’t be spinning straw into gold, but rather transforming fabric into tangled, amorphous blobs of shit (with salty tears and frightening curse words as byproducts).

Sweater puppy and bunny painstaking and inexpertly wrought by Marla Goodman

Sweater puppy and sweater bunny, painstakingly and inexpertly wrought by Marla Goodman

I can see no other explanation except that I happen to have special challenges, possibly otherworldly in origin. Occasionally, though — in spite of the certainty that I will soon be up to my armpits in thready loops and yelling F*CK!!!!! through my tears — I decide to sew something.

And that’s how these two little gems came into being!

My friend Meggan (who happens to be an incredibly talented photographer) had a baby in April. I wanted to give her something special, so out came the tub of washing-machine-felted sweaters and my grim determination to create. I grabbed some scissors and whacked out arms, legs, ears, bodies and started sewing like a madwoman. After a few hideously abortive attempts (future Christmas gifts for my forgiving family: Surprise!) I came up with something not too creepy. I needle-felted on a face, and — in spite of the fact that it was intended to be a bunny — my puppy stuffed animal turned out pretty cute.

Meggan, bless her accepting heart, loved the puppy (possibly the post-natal hormones helped her to love its “uniquenesses”) so much that she asked me to make an animal like it as a gift for the baby of our mutual friend, another Megan (who happens to be a kick-ass graphic designer).

Again, out with the tub: whack, whack, tears, rage, needle-felt, a minor emergency stuffed animal craniotomy, and: Tada! A cute inexpertly sewn bunny with slightly off kilter arms and legs was born!

Now the Megans are encouraging me to make more one-of-a-kind (you can say THAT again!) animals to distribute among a whole crowd of babies who are just itching to gum on some fuzzy ears and misaligned toes. Maybe I could even sell them on Etsy.

I’m willing to embrace my ineptitude, if I can get the damn machine going for a third-time miracle. Of course I know that anyone (seriously, anyone) who can sew their way out of a wet paper bag could easily make these things better than me.

But what other stuffed animal would represent this level of sacrifice to the bobbin gods? Maybe its the evidence of the struggle that makes them appealing? We’ll see.

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