by Barb Drew
In response to requests to share the pattern for the knitted dollies I put together this “Knit Your Own Dolly” feature.
The pattern has been around for a long time. I remember it from the early 1980s when numerous friends were having babies and I made a few to tuck in alongside their baby gift. If you do a search for knitted dolls online, the variety may astound you. However, this is one of the simplest patterns out there.
Basically, you will knit a rectangle, sew it together at both ends, stuff it (I used polyester stuffing), gather it in at the neck to form the head, sew it down the center of the lower half to delineate the legs, a few stitches on each side will produce the arms and then finish it off by giving it a face. It can be as plain or fancy as you want. Give your doll a skirt or dress, overalls, pigtails, etc.
The following website is the one I used. The simplicity of it is so appealing and the hands-in-pocket casual style of the pattern put a smile on my face. Perhaps it will do the same for the little person you make a dolly for?
For all you experienced knitters, dig into your stash of odds and ends and away you go. For those knitters who would like a little more information, there follows a series of photos which, hopefully, make most of the steps a bit clearer.
I used a light weight yarn and 3mm needles, but any yarn could be used. Keep in mind, though, that the doll will be bigger if thicker or heavier yarns are used.
Begin by casting on 32 stitches in the “shoe” colour. The basic design is shown in this picture with the number of rows listed for all the dolly parts. Some of the dollies I made have a skirt instead of pants. This required the number of “pants or trouser rows” to be divided up into skirt and leg. There is no rule here, just decide on what proportions please you.
Instead of casting off when you reach the last row, leave the stitches on the needle and cut the yarn about 10 inches long. Put the end through a tapestry needle. Thread the end of the yarn through the 32 stitches and pull it tight. You may need to thread the needle through the 32 stitches a second time, as well, in order to secure it.
With the same yarn through the needle, start to sew the back edges together. Once the “head” section has been sewn together, start lightly stuffing the doll. My personal preference is that they are not stuffed too full. It sounds ridiculous, but they seem to have more personality if they are not stuffed to bursting.
Don’t worry if you run out of yarn in the needle. Just thread more onto the needle and keep going. Hide all yarn ends inside the doll.
You can also use the yarn tail from the cast on edge and start sewing up from the bottom. The “shoes” are not gathered together like the top of the doll. Instead, the bottom, or shoe end, is flattened and sewn together.
Once the doll is stuffed and sewn together down the back, it is time to gather the neck. Pick up every other stitch around the neck and pull tight until you get the look you want. Secure the end of the yarn.
Now give the dolly some limbs. Sew back and forth through all layers to create the indentations between the legs and the torso and arms.
Finally, a face. Pins can be used to plan your face and act as a guide as you embroider the eyes and mouth.
As you can see, numerous variations are possible. You are only limited by your imagination. Some people knit whole families of differing sizes by casting on fewer stitches and knitting fewer rows. Most importantly, have fun knitting your own dolly or family of dollies!
And now for another installment in the “Dollies’ Adventures in Guatemala” . (For more information see previous blog , The Dolly Project.)
Patricia writes, “A wee girl came in with her mother and she had a very high fever. She was resistant to being assessed, especially having me listen to her chest. I showed her the dollies and she leaned against her mom, but watched as I displayed 4 of them. When I gave her one, she clutched it and a wee smile came to her. I was able to listen to her chest and check her temperature.”