A Fair Trade

While I couldn’t get away with making or trading for Bella’s Christmas gifts (camera, black velour Juicy sweats, knee-high black boots, clapper lights, earrings from Tiffany’s – you get the idea – she made out like a bandit this year between all the relatives…), I DID make and trade for Christian’s gifts this year.

His main gift, Mr. Sterling Doll, I made for him, and his tree stump blocks I traded for. I knit three tiny doll dresses for one set of $33 tree blocks.

They will become the bodies of flower children, like the ones Sierra made below, for Hanukah. I love how homemade dolls have so much personality – the blonde is the pretty one who’s a bit shy and self-conscious, and the redhead is her good-natured friend.

I followed the flower child pattern from Christine Shreier in the Spring 2008 issue of Living Crafts (which I purchased expressly for that pattern). Her flower dolls are darling – but I can’t wait to see what Devana does with the bodies I knit for her.

And soon I’ll get around to knitting a few for myself and Christian.

The pattern is simple, just fiddle-y, because it’s so small. I used #3 crochet thread and 1.75 mm (or US 00) needles. #10 thread had some nice colors but it is hard to work with – check the size difference – the red dress pictured is #10 thread.

We (Sierra, I mean) made some minor adjustments to the pattern, and I’ll post general directions here, although I highly recommend buying the magazine for detailed and illustrated directions. Check out Christine Shreier’s Puppenstube webstore for more of her delectable Waldorf dolls in all shapes and sizes.

Cast 32 stitches. Knit 4 rows in garter, and then stockinette for 2-3 inches. Shreier’s directions call for 16 rows, but that seemed too short.

With the right side facing you, work 8 stitches, and put those on a holder. Large safety pins worked well for this (I bought those golden quilter’s safety pins just for this project).

Knit 2 stitches together 8 times. This creates the gathering of the top of the skirt.

Put the remaining 8 stitches on a holder.

Now cast on (add) 9 stitches for a sleeve. Turn around, purl your way back and add 9 more stitches, for the second sleeve.

Continue in stockinette for 1/2-3/4 inch. (Shreier says 6 more rows. I found I needed slightly more.)

Halfway down the next row, cast off 4 stitches for the neck opening. (Shreier does only one stitch.) Next row, add four in the same spot and continue knitting across.

Continue in stockinette for the same number of rows you did up to the neck.

Then you need to transfer the stitches from the bottom of the sleeve and top of the dress on to a knitting needle for casting off. Pick up 9 stitches from the cast-on side of the sleeve, then 8 stitches from the top of the dress (on one safety pin) and then the 8 from the other side of the dress, and then pick up the 9 more from the cast-on side of the other sleeve. Make sure that your sleeves and dress are inside-out.

Now this is the really fiddle-y bit.

Cast off the stitches using a two needle bind-off (which just means, knit the stitches from both needles together and then cast off). For the stitches from the top of the dress, use two stitches for every one on the other needle, so that you have matching gathers on the back of the dress.

The head can be as simple as a tuft of wool gathered in a square of skin-colored knit fabric, or you can form a more complicated doll head as Sierra did. That means, using a piece of stocking or medical gauze tubing to form an inner head. Then tie off a horizontal eye string. Then gather the inner head into a square of wool batting, and THEN gather that inside the skin-colored square and tie off the neck. Tuck the neck into the neck hole and sew on.

The eyes and mouth are sewn on through the back of the head with embroidery floss. For the hair you can either needlefelt or stitch on a bit of colored wool fleece OR you can crochet a little tiny hair cap with mohair.

The arms are made of pipecleaner, with two small beads covered with skin-colored fabric tied on.

As I said, these directions will only do for somebody with previous doll-making and knitting experience…

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