For the love of yarn!
The completion of Practically Perfect Mary, and the warm reception it received from daughter-in-law Heather, kicked off a year of joyous doll creation. The website Ravelry became my BFF, and we spent many hours together daily, happily exploring the talents of the many doll-makers who have come before me.
A few designers became my favourites, particularly: Lorraine Pistorio of Rainebo Designs and MagdaLaine, two very talented designers who made my job so much easier. But it wasn’t just Ravelry that kept me glued to my computer screen. Living in a rural community at the time, with no local yarn store, I discovered the wonders of on-line yarn shopping. I could sit for HOURS at a time, just browsing through the sites, checking out the myriad of colours and comparing prices and shipping costs, trying to find the best deals. There were many successful purchases and a few dismal, and rather expensive failures, especially when it came to selecting various colours for skin tones. I wanted to offer a real variety of skin colours to reflect the fabulous diversity of our population. I collected a number of different beiges, tans and browns that worked very well. But finding fair skin tones proved to be a real challenge, as many doll makers will attest.
The yarn I used for Mary Poppins, Louise Harding Cassia, worked beautifully, but alas, it
was discontinued. Most peach and pink tones are too garish or cartoonish to provide any semblance of reality. A few online purchases illustrated the downfall of virtual yarn shopping. As I was working solely with acrylic yarns at the time, I settled on a few favourites. For the smaller dolls that use DK, I discovered Stylecraft Special DK in the colour Toy (1844) and Amigo DK Col. 46 from Hobbii Yarn. For the larger dolls I use Hobbii’s Tivoli XL, formerly Amigo XL, Col. 48, a heavier weight yarn in the same colour as the DK. I would love to hear from other knitters with other suggestions!
My first couple of dolls were basically experiments, trying out the different patterns and yarns that I had selected. As I find knitting very therapeutic, my own form of meditation, I enjoyed crafting the torsos and limbs, and stuffing them to give them shape. But it was the heads that I was eagerly anticipating throughout each project. Crafting the head, moulding the face into shape, embroidering the facial features and weaving in the hair - that is what makes the process so magical for me. What was formerly a ball of yarn and some fluffy fibrefill takes on a personality and becomes an actual character that cries out for a name.