Thursday, 23 July 2015

Rosie cheeks for knitted dolls

If you are a knitter who is nervous about giving your newly knitted doll some rosie (blushing) cheeks then you might find this post helpful.

I always give my dolls rosie cheeks. I expect I’m influenced by illustrations in children’s books like the one above but mainly I think it is because rosie cheeks bring a dolly to life and even make her look happier.

Needless to say I had a rush of volunteers who were very keen to show off their glowing cheeks for the photo. (Thank you girls, you all look absolutely lovely!!)

Searching through my 2010 photo archives I found this picture of Lucy Lavender when she had just been completed but before she was given rosie cheeks.

The photo below shows her just after she was given rosie cheeks and I think she looks much happier don’t you?

I’ve always applied colour with pencil crayon or wax crayon and these days I prefer wax. Crayons with rounded ends, like the two in the centre, are much kinder to the knitted fabric. Crayons with sharp points like the one on the left are to be avoided as they can snag the stitches.

Cheeks tends to fade eventually and Little Daisy now needs a new application of colour. 

When making cloth dolls it is often best to first add the colour to a clean piece of cotton cloth and then gently rub it on the cheek area until you've deposited enough colour.

Unfortunately this method can cause the fibres of knitted fabric to lift and dolly might end up with ‘fuzzy cheeks’.

I like to apply colour directly onto the face with the crayon and Little Daisy knows to sit very still while I give her ‘the cheek treatment’.

USEFUL TIP – If you haven’t done it before you might be afraid of spoiling your newly knitted dolly so why not practice making cheeks on the back of the doll’s head just before you add the hair. You will soon achieve the effect you require and the hair will hide your test cheeks.

When making cheeks avoid horizontal colouring (left) or haphazard colouring (right) as these will pull the stitches apart and distort the face.

Careful circular colouring can work (left) but the method I prefer is to make vertical strokes as this follows the direction of the little ladders made by the knitted stitches. Start in the centre and work outwards making light strokes at first but then gently add more pressure until you have the depth of colour you require.

NB - If your doll has a nervous disposition you might want to skip the next bit!!
When I’ve coloured cheeks with wax crayon I sometimes place a tissue over a finished cheek and gently apply the tip of a ‘warm’ iron. The iron should be just hot enough to melt the wax under the tissue so that some of it will be absorbed by the knitted fibres and some will be removed by the tissue. Add more colour and repeat the process if necessary. This method isn’t something I’d advise everyone to try but if you’d like to give it a go then experiment on a spare piece of knitting before doing it on the doll’s face.
The finished cheeks should be more permanent and less likely to fade.
Finally, two of my dolls have stepped in to insist that their felt cheeks are by far the best!!

Simply cut two identical circles of pink felt and stitch them in place. I’ve found the easiest and most secure way to fix the circles is to make 8 stitches to create a cartwheel pattern. Use 2 strands of embroidery floss or ordinary sewing thread and with every stitch make sure you come up through the centre of the felt circle and go back down at the edge through the face not the felt. Don’t be tempted to go from one side of the circle to the other with a single stitch as the result could look untidy and the felt won't be as secure. If you aren't happy with the way the cheeks look then you can simply cut the stitches and start again.

Happy cheek making everyone!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Alice in Wonderland

This year, 2015, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll celebrates it's 150th anniversary. It was first published in 1865 and has been a popular children's classic ever since.

The story has been illustrated many times over the years by a wide variety of artists, all with their own individual styles and interpretations of each character.
Perhaps the most recognisable illustrations are the originals done by John Tenniel in the 1860s. He produced satirical cartoons for Punch magazine and this style is evident in his Alice in Wonderland illustrations which were originally in black and white. Later they were tinted with colour.
Tenniel's tinted illustrations became very popular and were used for a number of children's games and toys (see above).

It is the brightly coloured Disney cartoon illustrations that today's children will recognise (see above).
If you would like to make a Wonderland Rabbit like these you will find both colour combinations in my knitting pattern. There is even a template for the pocket watch which is of course an essential addition!

The doll in my Alice in Wonderland pattern has yellow hair (tied with a ribbon). She wears a blue dress and white apron just as the Disney Alice did. The original Alice in Tenniel's tinted pictures wore a yellow dress but somehow I think blue suits her better.

Knitting patterns for Alice and the White Rabbit can be found in my Etsy and Ravelry shops and on Loveknitting where patterns are prices in GB pounds.

Monday, 8 June 2015

FREE PATTERN - Fairy and pin cushion

I thought I’d start the week by showing you the free knitting pattern I’ve just put online. This tiny (5cm) fairy is attached to a pin and happily sits in her pin cushion garden.

The fairy would, I'm sure, be happy to sit on any pin cushion but this pretty one is quick and easy to knit and easily constructed from two 13cm (5in) squares knitted in garter stitch.

It is very easy to stitch together in the biscornu style (Google for 'biscornu' if you aren't familiar with this).

The fairy pins are quick and easy to make from short lengths of yarn. Make one and I'm sure she'll soon be joined by a friend!!

The FREE download for the fairy and the pin cushion is currently
You'll find regular updates about my knitting and family of knitted dolls

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Yarn choice

Dolls come in many different colours and styles these days and (like people) their skin tones vary widely around the world. So when asked to recommend a particular yarn for a flesh colour I find it difficult and am only able to tell you which yarn I use here in the UK and why I choose it for my dolls.

The question I get asked most frequently by knitters is "Which yarn shall I use as the flesh colour? Should it be baby pink, peach or cream?"
I never recommend baby pink; cream can be OK but can be a bit bland, so a shade of peach seems the best option. But if you want to put your dolls in pale coloured clothing a peach colour can appear too strong (see photo above).
Luckily I have found what is for me the ideal colour and this is the one I recommend (see below). I suppose I'd describe it as a warm cream with a hint of very pale peach. It is widely available here in the UK but for obvious reasons I'm not able to guarantee it's availability in other countries.
My number one choice is Hayfield Bonus DK and the colour is 'Flesh Tone'. The shade number is 0963. The 100g balls are 100% acrylic. The thickness and quality of the yarn is perfect for dolls heads, bodies, arms and legs.
This flesh colour works well with pale pinks and other pastel shades.
I use it for my largest dolls and my smallest.
I've used this yarn for a number of years and so asked for a few dolls to pose with a ball of Hayfield Bonus DK. As you can see I was inundated with volunteers. Looking at their smiling faces I think I can safely say they are all very happy with the way they look!
By now many doll knitters will have discovered their own favourite shades but if you are still undecided then try Hayfield Bonus DK. It is available from many high street shops and by mail order from online companies many of whom will mail it oversees if you are unable to find it closer to home.  Happy dolly knitting to you all.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Which yarn colours to choose?

I think all knitters must have been bitten by the same bug as few of us can resist popping into a wool shop whenever we pass one. This invariably means, of course, that we won't be leaving the shop empty handed.

Once home the yarn is unpacked and admired and unless it has been purchased for a particular project it is added to the ever growing stash.

I store my yarn in large cardboard boxes and like to keep tones of one colour in the same box.

I've always loved working with colour. In my early childhood I played shops with the buttons in my mother's button tin, mixing and matching colours and grading sizes.

Choosing interesting colour combinations when knitting a garment isn't easy. A favourite method of mine is to use shades found in pretty fabrics. Floral dress fabrics are ideal and the colours always look good when used together.

It isn't necessary to have the actual fabric in front of you as it's easy to find numerous attractive fabrics pictured on the internet. 

I very often find pleasing colour combinations using this method; ones that I wouldn't have selected if I'd chosen at random from my yarn boxes.

I sometime use dark colours to enhance the vibrancy of other shades. In this example navy could be the dominant colour or simply used occasionally, perhaps as a narrow stripe.

My Rainbow Rascals love posing for the camera so little Poppy was happy to model her two skirts. The colours in the floral fabric were used for the knitted skirt so Poppy has ended up with two skirts, one for winter and one for summer. Little girls loving giving dollies a new 'look' so the easy to remove skirts are ideal and of course Poppy is able to swap clothes with her other Rainbow Rascals friends. 
I'd just like to put a good word in for green yarn. When I ask for green DK in wool shops I'm invariably told it isn't popular so green isn't stocked. This is a shame as I'm lost without green in my yarn colour palette. When knitting dolls it is natural to choose pastel shades and pink is very definitely the number one favourite. When I made Kate she reminded me of a little girl I sat next to at school when I was six. She often wore a green cardigan and in my yarn stash I had just the right shade. So I made Kate a green cardigan and have been amazed at the number of knitters who have said they like it. My school friend's green cardigan didn't have pink buttons but Kate insisted on having them!!
 Kate's cardigan is made from Stylecraft Special DK - colour is 'Meadow'1065.
I'm now addicted to the colours in the Stylecraft Special DK range as there are so many to choose from and I'm happy to say there are several different greens. The 100g balls are excellent value for money and ideal for making knitted toys. It is widely available in the UK and also in selected outlets in other countries.

You'll find a large selection of Stylecraft Special DK online and the Loveknitting website is currently offering 10% discount on this yarn when you also purchase a knitting pattern from an Independent Designer on their site. If you are looking for particular Dollytime patterns you'll be able to find them in the Indie section (search for Dollytime). They are all listed in UK pounds sterling and all are instant downloads so you can start knitting straight away!
I'm hoping to write something next time about choosing a suitable flesh colour for my dolls. Below are a variety of colours currently used by knitters. Next time I'll tell which one is my favourite and why. I update my Facebook page frequently so I'll let you know on Facebook when I've written the blog post about flesh coloured yarn. 
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