Knitti Politi Blog
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Posted on 2:33pm Monday 6th Aug 2012
My daughter once had a doll, and that doll was called Emily. Lovingly knitted for her, when she was small, by my grandmother. We had her for many years, but due to moving house several times, somehow she got lost along the way. Fast forward a few more years…I decided to recreate her, so my daughter could have her back. Even though she’s now a teenager, I thought she would like it.
Because of writing this blog and reconstructing another family doll we have who was a bit worse for wear (in this blog post!) I realised that Emily had a similar look and face and was probably a pattern from the same designer. I found out that she’s a Jean Greenhowe design. I obtained a copy of the pattern booklet Emily is featured in, “Traditional Favourites”. Then my daughter and I went out and had fun picking out all the right coloured yarns for making her. Which then languished in their shopping bag for quite a while! Here she is in her “raw” form…
The pattern sat in my to-do list for a while until I decide I would participate in the Ravellenic Games*, for my team Southpaws United. We all knit left-handed** and really want to show that we can create beautiful knitting, we can follow patterns well and our work does not look any different! (to dispel a lot of popular misconceptions about how we knit). So I thought I would use Emily as my project for the games and this would give me some extra motivation to get her done and to do her as well as possible.
On day one I had an accident moving things in my garage and really hurt my left index finger badly so throughout this project I had it strapped up as it was healing, which made things a bit more difficult!
Here are the seven stages of Emily as she progressed…
1) The body and head were the first piece. The features are made with wool and embroidered on. The pink blush on the cheeks is really cleverly done by rubbing a pink pencil in a circular motion over the cheek area as instructed in the pattern. She was already looking really cute! The neck is drawn in by weaving a piece of yarn through the neck area and pulling up tight, then extra yarn wrapped around to keep the look neat. I actually used two strands here for neatening it off; I felt it was tidier than one. I took a lot of care with the stuffing as I think it’s so important with toys to get the amount just right. I measured the circumference as I was stuffing to get it to match the amount of stuffing in the pattern directions exactly.
2) Next she got her main hair piece, it’s like a small cap made in the hair colour which is stitched into place on the head. Also some feet and legs. I love the way the little feet were made, similar to baby booties. On the needles next to her are the start of her “pantelets” which are bloomer type under-trousers.
3) The pantelets were such a lot of work! Made in two pieces and stitched up with a picot hem at the bottom, not difficult to knit and shape, but all knitted on 3mm needles quite finely. And in the double crepe yarn I picked, which looks lovely but is not particularly smooth to knit, so it’s quite tiring on the hands.
4) Skirt and belt. The skirt has a deceptively large amount of work in it! Also on small needles at a fine gauge, my hands were really aching after this. It is seamed up at the back and gathered in at the waist. The patterns instructs to use a backstitch seam on the skirt and similar parts but I find it hard to avoid getting a seam gully with it on this kind of work, so I used the bickford seam for most of Emily’s sewing. I blocked the skirt really carefully before attaching it as I wanted it to look nice and smooth and keep a nice shape. The little belt was just a small strip which was a relief after the huge skirt!
5) Arms and hands. These were quite quick to make. The important things to me here were achieving a nice neat oversew between the hands and sleeves (even though this would later be mostly hidden by the ruffles), and the stuffing again. I just didn’t want to get the “muscled” look that can so often happen when stuffing toy arms so I was quite sparing with the filling at the tops of the arms and the shoulders.
6) Ruffles, ringlets and bows. I really enjoyed this part, where Emily really came to life a bit more! The ringlets are such fun, my daughter calls them “sausage hair” which is funny. The little ruffles are all made with picot edging. I spent quite some time making sure everything was pinned very precisely, where the details would look best, before stitching on. It’s well worth it to me to take the extra time to be picky. Even though I never feel like it after so much knitting and sewing already!
7) The hat! Oh my goodness, this took so much yarn! I had bought a 50g ball of pure wool for this, thinking it should be more than enough. I wanted wool for the hat and flower details rather than acrylic or a blend as I knew it would keep the best shape. It’s superwash baby wool so it can be machine washed and I’m not concerned about mixing it with the acrylics in the other parts, so long as Emily is washed in cold water, which she will be. I finished the hat with just a little bit left for sewing it together and onto the head, and only had a few millimetres left over once it was done! Again I did some blocking here, the top of the hat and the brim won’t lie flat without it. I blocked the hat upside down with a can inside it to flatten the top and give a good shape to the sides.
And Emily was done! A few more photos of her lovely decorations….
You can see all the yarns I used in the project page I made for her on Ravelry, which I have set to public. Her project name is “Emilefty” to reflect my team.
*The Ravellenic Games is an online event held on the fibre arts social networking site Ravelry. It is held at the same time as the Olympics and it is a personal challenge to complete an entire project during the games, either participating in a team or individually.
**Left-handers can and do knit in a variety of ways, but here by left-handed knitting I mean knitting off the right needle onto the left needle. Also known as “mirror knitting”.