Stoneleigh Dolls

Sunday, 8 January 2012

'Wanna be Startin' Somethin'...

Going back about eight months now... I had the urge to knit (quite an interesting development since I hadn't actually done any knitting since my childhood... er... 25 years ago). I had no yarn, no equipment, no patterns... so typical me I went nuts and raided craft shops galore, creating a huge mountain of yarn and anything else that I thought would be useful.

Now the question was, 'What would I knit?'

I love dolls. Always have always will. As a child I had (still have) the biggest barbie doll collection ever. I was meticulous with them, nothing was ever broken or lost and my collection just grew and grew. The other thing I always wanted as a child was a rag doll. One with a big wardrobe that I could dress up every day. I never actually had one of these... but when I was eight I tried to make one. I drew up a pattern on some material and enlisted my Dad to sew it all together (my Dad was extremely handy with a sewing machine having been in the clothing manufacturing industry since he left school). It wasn't the best looking doll in the world but the process of making it and attempting to make clothes for it was really fun.

So... what would I knit? I had zero interest in knitting jumpers and hats so I decided I would make the dolls I always wanted as a kid. All sorts of dolls... I could start a hobby and be a dollmaker! My imagination ran away with the possibilities. I decided I could sew rag dolls too and maybe down the track get into sculpting dolls. I wanted to get started instantly! Of course the next thing to do was buy every book I could find on the subject. I bought dollmaking books, doll wardrobe books, knitting patterns and anything else I could find. I googled everything I could think of and spent hours and hours reading and getting ideas. Once my brain was full I was ready to start. I hadn't yet bought a sewing machine so I decided that I would start with knitted dolls.

I discovered something... I LOVE knitting dolls. I am still yet to make a sewn doll even though the sewing machine has been sitting in its box for a while... lol.

My favourite doll pattern is the last one from Fiona McDonald's 'Babes in the Wool' book. These dolls looked gorgeous in the book. I decided to use the basic pattern but I already had ideas for how I wanted to do the faces. I was creating dolls that I would have wanted to play with when I was a child so I decided I needed a sewn on face instead of paint and glue.

I thought my first effort wasn't all that bad... at the time. I named her Jemima (seemed like a fitting name for my first soft doll). Looking back on it the face proportions are all wrong and my stuffing effort was woeful! I made some clothes from the book and sat back and looked at my first effort.

(It is worth noting that this doll is currently being remade. She was my first so I need to keep her... but she looks all wrong next to the others)

There was no way I was going to stop there so I made some more clothes from the book...

By this stage I was hooked. I decided I would try to design something myself and came up with this dress.

There is a lot I would change about this dress now that I have spent 8 months designing knitted clothes for these dolls... but at the time I thought this was pretty good.

At this point I was ready to make my second doll. I had some burnt orange yarn that was calling me to turn it into doll hair. So began the next project... but more about that later...


  1. I found your blog through Ravelry today! These dolls are so cute. I have the book and have thought of making them too.

  2. When I was eight a relative promised me a rag doll made by a friend of hers. I waited and waited. I'd day dream about this tall, slim doll with big eyes and masses of long hair. When she arrived she was a thickset Raggedy anne type doll with very short curly hair. I was sooooo disappointed.

    When my daughter was five I decided to make a doll for like my dream doll. This doll was sewn (hoping to get the patterns available to the public this year). She was a real hit.

    My daughter called her Irene and she has been her best friend fo over 20 years.

    I've written a series of stories about her and the raggedy Anne doll whom I eventually called Gillian.

    So I can relate to your story really well.

    Beautiful blog.

  3. I love the dollmaking journey that you have been taking with your knit dolls. Surely Fiona's book "Babes in the Wool," has to be one of the best dollmaking books I've seen.

    Your interpretation of her doll is wonderful. Keep up the great dollmaking!

    Beth (from byhookbyhand)