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. 

Thursday 21 May 2015

Giveaway - Milly Molly Mandy Doll

It's four weeks since my last dolly giveaway and at that time I promised I would make a little Milly Molly Mandy doll as another giveaway and here she is. To enter the giveaway please go to my Dollytime Facebook page.

This little doll is 15cm (6in) tall and wears a pink and white striped dress (Milly Molly Mandy always wore pink and white stripes). My aim was to make her as similar as possible to the little girl in the story books.

Milly Molly Mandy lives with her family in a 'nice white cottage with a thatched roof'.

Here is a map of the village where she lives. Her cottage can be found top left. She often takes her basket to visit the village shops in order to buy things for the family. The shops are on the right. Her village school is in the bottom right corner.
And here she is at her school sports. With her friend Billy Blunt she is winning the three legged race. Don't you just love the 1920s clothes worn by the onlookers.
And here is Milly Molly Mandy having her photograph taken (looking very serious and trying to keep very still).
There are several Milly Molly Mandy books written and beautifully illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley. In my view the modern day reprints with coloured pictures are nowhere near as charming as the originals with detailed black and white line drawings. The books date from the 1920s and the short stories have never lost their appeal. They aren't exciting by today's standards but each one is a reflection of village life in days when children could safely roam the countryside looking for blackberries, ride bikes along country lanes, camp in a farmer's field and cook potatoes on a bonfire.
I know many of you are familiar with the Milly Molly Mandy stories but if you aren't and would like to read the books they can usually be found online in second-hand bookstores. I think you'll enjoy them.
Each book contains one coloured picture at the front. This one is in the book entitled 'More of Milly Molly Mandy' and shows her making the bed in her new attic bedroom. The creation of the new bedroom is one of the stories in the book.
Don't forget to visit Facebook if you'd like to enter my Milly Molly Mandy doll giveaway.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Am I too old for a doll?

Knitters sometimes say to me . . . “I really love the little doll I’ve just knitted and I don’t want to part with her. But I’m too old to have a doll so I’m giving her to a friend who has children.”

When knitters tell me this it makes me feel really sad. Not because it isn't a nice gesture to give your knitted dolly to a friend's children but because no one is ever too old to have a doll, especially a doll that you've put your heart and soul into creating. 

So, if you love your little knitted dolly then keep her at home with you where she belongs. If she takes up too much room on the sofa you can consider getting her a little chair of her own.

My father made this doll's chair many years ago from wood that he found around the garden. With a couple of coats of varnish it has stood the test of time really well.

I guarantee your doll will love sitting in her own chair.

But if you think she looks a bit lonely sitting there all by herself then why not make her a friend?

And of course once she's found one friend then it won't be long before another friend comes along. And of course the big dolls will eventually want little dolls of their own!!

Their happy smiling faces will always be there to greet you when you come into the room and I'm certain the dollies will receive cuddles from all your friends and relatives whatever their ages!

So please remember . . . . . No one is ever too old to have a doll (or several!)

If you can knit but have never made a doll you will find my patterns easy to follow with lots of photos to help you. The dolls shown in this post are Belinda Jane, Alice in Wonderland, Tilly and the three little dolls are from the 'Jenny and the Jolly Dollies' pattern.
Patterns are available as instant downloads from Etsy, Ravelry, and LoveKnitting which is a UK shop.

Sunday 3 May 2015

FREE PATTERN - Baby in a basket crib

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who now have a sweet baby daughter and Prince George has a little sister.

To commemorate the happy arrival of the baby princess I have created a FREE knitting pattern for a tiny baby in a Moses basket.

The baby measures just 5cm and the basket is 9cm, the perfect size to sit on top of a Christening cake. I've dressed the baby in white and she has a pale pink blanket and pillow.


Pair of 2.75mm needles (US 2).
Double knitting yarn (or 4ply) in following colours.
Beige for basket.
White for baby.
Pink for blanket and pillow.
Flesh colour for face.
Small amount of stuffing.
Brown sewing thread (or single strand of embroidery floss) for eyes.
K - knit
P - purl
St - stitch
St-st - stocking stitch
K2tog - knit two stitches together to make one
*    * - repeat the pattern within asterisks
Kfb - Make 2 stitches out of one by knitting into the front and back of a stitch.
I advise knitting the basket first as it is easier to make a baby that will fit the basket than a basket that will fit the baby!

Using beige yarn cast on 66 stitches.
1 – 2. Knit.
Start basket pattern.
3 – 4. *K3, p3* repeat across row.
5 – 6. *P3, k3* repeat across row.
7 – 14. Repeat rows 3 – 6 four more times.
15 – 16. *K3, p3* repeat across row.
17. K4, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k15, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k8, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k15, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k4 (58st).
18. Knit.
19. K4,*k2tog* (twice), k13 ,*k2tog* (twice), k8 ,*k2tog* (twice), k13 ,*k2tog* (twice), k4 (50st).

20. Knit.
21. K3,*k2tog* (twice), k11 ,*k2tog* (twice), k6 ,*k2tog* (twice), k11, *k2tog* (twice), k3 (42st).
22. Knit.
23. K3, k2tog, k11, k2tog, k6, k2tog, k11, k2tog, k3 (38st).
Cast off.
Over-sew the two short sides together and then fold the basket in half with the seam at one end. Over-sew the cast-off edges together to create the base of the basket.

HANDLES (make two)
Cast on 12 stitches and then cast off loosely. Stretch the knitted piece. Stitch a handle to each side of the basket (use picture as a guide).

Cast on 20 stitches in pale pink.
1 – 3 Knit.
4. K3, p14, k3.
5. Knit.
6 – 23. Repeat rows 4 and 5 (x9)
24 – 26. Knit
Cast off.
Press lightly with cool iron if necessary.

The baby can be wrapped in the blanket or fold the blanket to create a mattress.

Cast on 12 stitches in pale pink.
Work in stocking stitch for 24 rows.
Cast off.
Fold in half and stitch each side seam. Put a tiny piece of stuffing into the pillow and over-sew the open end.

Cast on 6 stitches in flesh.
Row 1. St-st starting with a purl row.
Row 2. Kfb across row to last stitch, k1 (11st).
Rows 3 – 9 . St-st.
Row 10. K2tog across row to last stitch, k1 (6st).
Cut the yarn leaving a 15cm tail and using a tapestry needle remove the 6 stitches onto the tail. This will be the top of the head so leave it open for stuffing. Over-sew the sides of the head together and stuff the head. The finished head should be approximately the size of a hazelnut. Gather the top and fasten off.

Make the head ball shaped.

Cast on 18 stitches in white
1 – 2. Knit.
3 – 8. St-st.
Cut the yarn leaving a 15cm tail and using a tapestry needle remove the 18 stitches onto the tail (don't gather, leave open).

Wrap bonnet round the head as shown above.

The gathered edge at the back should be left open until the eyes are stitched in place. Using a single strand of brown sewing thread or floss, push the needle from the back of the head to the front and make one or two stitches to create sleeping eyes. Fasten off at the back. Now gather the back of the bonnet and then stitch the white edges of the bonnet together at the base of the head. Fasten off.

Cast on 15 stitches in white.
1 – 16. St-st.
Cut the yarn leaving a 15cm tail and using a tapestry needle remove the 15 stitches onto the tail (leave open for stuffing). Whip-stitch the cast-on edge and gather. Stitch the sides together. Stuff the body (not too much) and gather the open end. Fasten off.
Stitch the head to the body.

Cast on 6 stitches in white.
1 - 8. St-st.
Cast off.

Cast on 4 stitches in flesh.
Cast off.
Fold the white arm in half lengthways and tuck the flesh piece of knitting inside so that only two stitches are visible (these will create a tiny hand). Over-sew the arm seams.
Bend each arm slightly and stitch them to the baby as shown below.

Tuck the tiny baby into her cosy basket crib.

Sweet Dreams

There will be another FREE knitting pattern coming soon. You'll find regular updates on my 'Dollytime' Facebook page.