Wednesday, 7 October 2015

You Great Big Beautiful Doll: A Selection of Knitted Doll Patterns

I've found myself thinking lately about putting "knitted dolls" on my project list for 2016. They'd be a great way to use up some of the odds and ends in my stash, they'd make terrific make-ahead baby shower gifts or contributions to Christmas toy drives, and they look like they'd be fun to make. These intentions gave me an excuse to spend a happy hour researching doll patterns on Ravelry — which in turn gave me material for a post of selected doll patterns. And as you have probably gathered, this is that post.

This is the first doll pattern, Catherine, A Tudor Lady, designed by Joanna Marshall and available for $4.00(USD). Making dolls in historical costume could be a fun way of encouraging a child's interest in history.

This doll is Forget-Me-Not, designed by Irish Magda. The pattern is available for €3.75(EUR).

Almost any child would love to get a character doll from his or her favourite story. This is an Alice in Wonderland doll, by Wendy Phillips, and the pattern is available for $4.99(USD).

What's cuter than a doll with a doll? Maisie and her little doll, designed by Elizabeth Phillips. This pattern is available for $4.95(USD).

This is Belinda Jane, designed by Wendy Phillips, who has a real gift for making adorable doll clothes. This pattern is available for $4.99(USD).

These Amish Plain Folk Dolls, designed by Debi Birkin, are made to resemble traditional Amish cloth dolls, which never have facial features as the Amish believe making dolls with faces contravenes the Biblical fourth commandment as well as other Old Testament injunctions against making idols. This pattern is available for £2.00(GBP).

For the little, or not so little, Sherlock Holmes fan in your life. This is the Detective doll, designed by Jean Woods. This pattern is available for download for $3.00(USD).

I don't know how many children watch Charlie Chaplin movies these days, but certainly a number of adults do. Dolls aren't, after all, the sole property of children. My sister, who is a big fan of the current Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has asked me to make her a little Sherlock amigurumi, and I intend to make one for her this year's Christmas stocking. This is the Comedian doll, designed by Jean Woods. This pattern is available for download for $3(USD).

These carolers would make special Christmas toys. The patterns for A Christmas Carol: The Boy, and A Christmas Carol: The Girl, designed by Jean Greenhowe, appear in Christmas Treasures, FORTY PAGE SPECIAL!.

Here's the perfect doll for the child who aspires to be not only a cop but an English bobby when he or she grows up. Some children do have very specific dreams. The pattern for the Policeman doll, designed by Jean Greenhowe, appears in Jean Greenhowe's Mascot Dolls Knitting Pattern Booklet: Ten Dolls with Knitted Display Stands.

The Toy Soldier pattern, by Jean Greenhowe, appears in Jean Greenhowe's little gift dolls: Eighteen delightful knitted characters.

And here's one for a future Shakespearean scholar. The Romeo and Juliet pattern, designed by Alan Dart, is available for download for £2.50.

I wish I'd come across this pattern when my niece Peaches was small and dance-mad. I love the details on this one. There's even a layer of tulle under the skirt. Peaches is nearly nineteen now and studying medical science rather than dance, so any ballerina dolls that I happen to make will have to go to some other little ballerina. The Ballerina Girl pattern, designed by Irish Magda, is available for €4.00(EUR).

I wish this post weren't almost all white dolls. I searched quite specifically for dolls of different ethnicities, but found very, very few, and some of those I found were poorly rendered. A doll's skin tone can always be changed with a simple yarn substitution, of course, but it's helpful to have examples of different types of hair and features to use and I'd have liked this post to be more inclusive on general principles. This cute little moppet is one of the Dolls from the Tearoom, designed by Susan Hickson, and this pattern is available for £4.25(GBP).

Love this little witch. Spelladonna, designed by Deena Thomson-Menard. This pattern is available for $6.00(USD).

Would this one mysteriously travel from place to place in one's home? The Green Fingers Gnome, by Alan Dart. This pattern is available for download for £2.50.

I can remember really wanting a topsy-turvy doll when I was very little. I never got one, but I think I can satisfy that childhood desire by making one and giving it to a little girl who would love it. The Cinderella Topsy-Turvy Doll pattern, designed by Jean Greenhowe, appears in Jean Greenhowe's Christmas special.

Isn't this a scurvy beauty? I especially love the parrot. This is Barnacle Bill, designed by Alan Dart, and the pattern is available for download at Alan Dart's website for £2.50.

For the future, or present, physicist in your life. The Einstein Baby, by Loly Fuertes. This pattern is available for $4.50(USD).

This scarecrow is totally cute and could also come in handy for a Wizard of Oz re-enactment. The Sam Scarecrow doll pattern, designed by Jean Greenhowe, appears in Jean Greenhowe's scarecrow family: Seven knitted dolls and baby's pushchair.

I absolutely loved the Hans Christian Andersen "Snow Queen" tale when I was a little girl, and this doll is a very worthy, and well, cool, depiction of the titular character. The Snow Queen doll pattern, designed by Alan Dart, is available for download at Alan Dart’s website for £2.50.

I couldn't resist including one more Wendy Philips creation. Lucy Lavender and her Rabbit look like they should be members of the 1980s-era Strawberry Shortcake gang. This pattern is available for $4.99(USD).

Monday, 5 October 2015

Knitter's Magazine 120: A Review

Knitter's Magazine has released issue 120. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Bias Blues. This looks more ragged than stylish. It reminds me of the dress Cindarella's woodland friends made for her... after her stepsisters had torn it to pieces.

Taura. Not a bad little vest, though it could do with some waist shaping and perhaps a little more length.

Texture at Play. Interesting texture, and the shaping isn't bad, though again it could do with some waist shaping.

Sunshine at Sea. After staring at this design for some minutes, I surprised myself by liking this one. The unusual yarn choice and stitchwork give it a lot of visual interest, and the cowl neck gives it a certain style. I would make it a bit more flattering and wearable by neatening up the fit a bit, adding waist shaping, and adding more toggles or buttons to the front.

Rustic Zen. Did they take this one off a cattle rustler or sheep stealer? I could imagine people engaged in such lines of work need a lot of freedom of movement, but most contemporary women aren't being pursued by bounty hunters, don't need their clothes to be so loose fitting, and can afford to care about whether a piece is flattering or not. I'd like to see this design translated into a piece with a flattering, wearable shape.

Agate Ripples. Quite like this striped kimono. This could have looked very afghan-ish, but the design combines stripes and ripples so cleverly that it elevates it above couch wear.

Not Quite Nautical. Very much like this African textile-inspired piece too, which is a sharp and striking piece of design.

Carved Kiwi. This is rather a nice textured pullover, but all I can think when I look at this is how much I am lusting after that turquoise-flecked green yarn.

Hatchmarks. Very sharp and sophisticated hat and cowl set.

Peak and Valley Skirt. This piece looks like it came straight off an old landscape couch in someone's musty basement.

Double Take. The colourwork and yarns used here are gorgeous, but I don't know about the shape of this piece. It lies so well, but that bottom edge looks so awkward and abbreviated, as though there should be more of the design. I'd like there to be more of this shawl or scarf.

Shawl Strategy. Very pretty and simple eyelet shawl.

Blue Phoenix. Very attractive, and the description promises that it will lay on the wearer's body much like a cardigan thanks to its shoulder and neck shaping.

Uppercut X2. Nice minimal sort of piece. The tunic length won't be for everyone (i.e., it will work much better on tall women than short ones), but it can be easily shortened if that's what the wearer wishes.

Uppercut X2. This kind of trapeze-shaped knit will look dowdy on most women. Even this model isn't able to carry it off.

Hill Country Cables. I rather like the fleece-backed scarf with pockets, which seems a rather handsome and practical piece to me, but I can't with the boot toppers, much less the little pom poms attached to it.

Woodland Patches. I think I might actually like this one if it were in a decent colourway, but the colour combination they've used here is so searingly awful that it's effectively blinded me to the vest's good qualities.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Mysterious Case of the Amoebas and the Staircase and Other Knitting Fables

Cybil had always thought that if she were Scheherazade, she would enchant the Shah by mesmerizing him with her knitwear rather than by telling stories.

Marguerite and Barton liked to wear outfits that not only matched each other's but also evoked the brickwork, chrome, and black leather decor of their condo.

Rusty and Henrietta had no qualms about letting the world know about their poultry fetish cosplay.

Geraldine saw herself as an über mother, who knitted her own styling pantsuits and dragged her daughter Jemima to the top of mountaintops to show her what she could achieve while simultaneously looking fabulous. Her friends and family, who had repeatedly tried and failed to convince Geraldine to dial it back a little for pity's sake, had been secretly contributing to a therapy fund for Jemima for years.

Twyla had always had a fondness for the halcyon days of 1980s knitwear, when it was an unwritten rule that one must style one's hair in geometric shapes that coordinated with one's knitwear and jewelry.

Paulette, self-published author of many mystery novels, liked to knit whenever she was having problems with her current manuscript. This was the sweater she had produced while working on The Mysterious Case of the Amoebas and the Staircase, and she hardly knew which creation she was prouder of.

Errol felt one was never too old to enjoy the Harry Potter series. As he liked to explain to others, he still enjoyed it just as much as when he was a kid, but now he'd moved on to doing so in a very adult way -- that is, one with much more depth and nuance.

Alastair decided he need to stop inviting Errol to his backyard crafting cosplay events. Sure, Errol always kept to the letter of Alastair's rule that all guests must show up in costumes they had made themselves, but he always got the tone wrong.

Lena had hoped that wearing what was essentially a crafted lampshade on her head would help make her the life of Alastair's party, but here she was, a painfully shy wallflower yet again.

Melba decided to wear the costume she had created for her role as Nick Bottom in her women's college stage production of Midsummer Night's Dream to Alastair's party.