One of the most pleasing things that I’ve ever made for the kids are these dolls. This last Christmas I made five for Max and Neve and their cousins. This was a BIG project, but they turned out so adorably that for me it was worth every late night, regardless of anything that the kids think!
I created this pattern outline to make my dolls (it’s an 11×17 sheet, so you’ll have to print it in parts and tape it together). I sewed bits of cloth together for trousers and body, then cut a front and back from these pre-sewed pieces. To make the hair, I applied some wool to the front and back of the head, tacking it down with a zig zag stitch within the selvedge. Then with right sides together I sewed all around, leaving about an inch and a half open at one side of the body. Once I turned the dolls right-side out, I stuffed them with some stuffing and hand-sewed the sides up.
After the doll bodies were complete, it was time for sweaters! I had made a prototype doll the previous year, so the red sweater for Danny Dolly was already complete. But I needed sweaters for the other 4 dolls. Morag got a sleeveless number made from swatches from this design. Carmen of the fabulous side-ponytail got a sweater made from a fingerless mitten which I cut up to become a sweater body. I knit the sleeves then joined them with the mitten cuff to work a bottom-up sweater. My daughter Neve’s ‘Donna Dolly’ was the last one to be completed (and let me tell you, it was REALLY LATE at night on Christmas Eve when all this was occurring), so I just stuck an odd fingerless mitten on her, and called it a night!
A Tiny Sweater Recipe: The little red sweater uses the same construction method as our free Flax pullover. If you are unfamiliar with knitting garments top-down, check out our tutorial here. The basic doll sweater recipe is as follows: Use 4.5mm needles and DK or Worsted weight yarn, or whatever you need to achieve a gauge of about 5 to 5.5 sts / inch. Cast on 30 sts, work 3-4 ribbing rounds. Mark the 10th, 14th, 26th and 30th (last) stitch. Increase 1 stitch each side of the four marked stitches (8 stitches increased) every second round. Continue in this manner until there are a total of 70 sts on the needles. Place sleeve stitches (and marked stitches, a total of 16 each side) on hold on waste yarn. Work body stitches (38 sts) in the round for about 3” or as long as desired. Work sleeves in the round for about 2”, or as long as desired. I included a little colourwork pattern on the body of Danny Dolly’s sweater for fun!
Max named his little fellow ‘Danny Dolly’. He sometimes needs to have Danny Dolly in order to go to sleep, and one night he woke, crying and demanding that we find Danny Dolly for him before he would go back to sleep. Neve is a bit more ambivalent! She’s not all that interested in toys, unless they happen to be the toy that Max is playing with, in which case she really wants it, will try to grab it and tears are the inevitable result!
Donna Dolly has some pretty serious hair; I imagine as Max and Neve get older there will be some hours spent braiding and styling and re-braiding…
Do you make handmade gifts?
Alexa is totally into gift knitting but I give gift knits relatively seldom. I usually feel like the time commitment required in knits is a bit too much for gifts. This project, while it was very time consuming, was a big win for me! It was a challenge, but both the process and products were a pleasure. I loved every bit.., except maybe embroidering the faces on at 2am Christmas morning…! But c’est la vie, perhaps I’ll have Christmas presents ready a few days earlier next year.
TCK patterns perfect for gift knitting: