She started with a teddy bear pattern, and a YouTube video for left-hand knitters.
Patti McDonald never looked back.
She’s since knit dozens of amazing bears with custom outfits and stories - Harry Potter bear, snowsuit bear, dancer bear - and the orders are coming in at warp speed.
Patti is a longtime volunteer, donor and supporter of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. She’s deeply invested in making life better for women and children in Ethiopia, consistently coming up with new ideas to raise money.
This one has got to be the cutest, though.
Patti remembers when her mom, a professional knitter, tried to teach her how to knit and crochet as a child, but because she was left-handed, the training never made sense.
After her recent retirement, she took another shot. She made it her mission to teach herself how to make our cute little Bears for Busajo as a way to take pressure off other volunteer knitters.
“I honestly just took it up to help. I thought ‘this is something I can do year-round.’ And then I found out how much fun it was,” she said.
But that wasn’t enough.
“For my own sake, to make it interesting, I wanted to start playing with themes,” Patti said.
It all started with Dancer Bear. She added tights, a fluffy tutu, and a hair bow. Then came Singer Bear.
And when she posted about her bear-making escapades on Facebook, the whole venture exploded.
An entire women’s choir placed orders for music-themed teddies. Family members started knocking. Friends suggested new themes.
Now Patti’s made dozens of hand-knit bears, shipped them as far as Thunder Bay and South Carolina, and has a long list of orders for more.
“The best part is, I really haven’t spent a cent, because my mom has an entire closet of yarn ends,” she said.
She’s become a knitting machine, producing an entire bear in just a few days.
Patti says her friends can’t believe it. But she’s even started recruiting new knitters.
“My friend saw these bears and said ‘I want to learn how to make those.’ We get together every Wednesday, and she’s almost done her first bear. I’m so proud of her.”
Three more knitters are waiting in the wings.
“The army keeps growing,” Patti said with a laugh.
She’s far from done.
As Patti keeps cranking out her new orders - everything from Farmer Bear to Nurse Bear to Business Bear - she’s dreaming up new ideas, too.
She’s plotting a way to develop a dog bear, complete with a miniature pup alongside.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m just having fun!” she said.